The BEST Turquoise Lake Camping

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Turquoise Lake is one of Colorado’s best high-country summer destinations. Located just a few miles outside of Leadville, Turquoise Lake features boating, fishing, a swim beach, and miles of hiking and biking trails. The spectacular backdrop of some of Colorado’s highest peaks makes this a must visit spot in the area.

Our favorite way to visit is to take advantage of the some of the incredible camping available at Turquoise Lake. This includes nine developed campgrounds surrounding the lake as well as a few opportunities for free, dispersed camping nearby.

We’ve put together this guide to help you pick the right campground for your Turquoise Lake camping adventure!

Let’s get started.

Turquoise Lake Camping Guide


The Basics

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to plan a camping trip at Turquoise Lake. This includes everything from when to camp, what to bring, how to get there, and how to make a reservation.

You’ll have tons of camping options to choose from, including nine distinct developed campgrounds as well as free, dispersed camping. You can see your options on the map below, with each campground described in more detail in the following sections.

When to Camp at Turquoise Lake

Turquoise Lake sits at 10,000 feet above sea-level meaning a camping trip here is most enjoyable during the summer months from May – September. In fact, all of the developed campgrounds at Turquoise Lake are open seasonally, generally from late-May through early-September.

Of course it is possible to camp at Turquoise Lake outside of those dates, but you won’t have the amenities of the developed campgrounds and will instead have to find dispersed camping in the area. If you plan to do so, be sure to come prepared to be self-sufficient in freezing temperatures and snow.


What to Bring

While we’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for Turquoise Lake camping:

  • Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this National Geographic map to cover Leadville and the Turquoise Lake area.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – A portable water container is a life saver while camping.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is critical when camping. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

Turquoise Lake Camping

Permits, Fees, & Reservations for Turquoise Lake Camping

Of the nine developed campgrounds at Turquoise Lake three are first-come, first-served while the other six all accept reservations. You can reserve the campgrounds at accept reservations via up to six months in advance of your trip.

Camping at Turquoise Lake is incredibly popular during the summer, so we highly recommend making a reservation in advance or getting to the first-come, first-served campgrounds as early as you can.

Campsite fees vary depending on the campsite, and generally range from $26 – $28/night. The group sites at the Printer Boy Group Campground range in price from $75 – $100/night depending on the site.

For dispersed camping at Turquoise Lake there are no permits or fees required, but we always recommend checking with Leadville Ranger District for the most up to date regulations.


Other Considerations

  • Environmental Impact: Camping at Turquoise Lake is incredibly popular and it is a favorite destination for many Colorado campers.  That makes it essential to minimize your impact, practice Leave No Trace principles, and always leave your campsite in better shape than you found it.
  • Fire Bans: While fires are generally allowed at all of the campsites in this guide, be sure to comply with any fire bans in place. This is especially true for those who are dispersed camping.
  • Ranger Districts: For more information, current conditions, and camping advice we recommend contacting the Leadville Ranger District office.

Turquoise Lake Camping

There are nine developed campgrounds at Turquoise Lake, each offering its own unique camping experience. We outlined each campground below and provided some recommendations on which campsite to choose depending on your preferences.

The majority of campgrounds at Turquoise Lake are located on the east side of the lake, with the May Queen Campground the only one located on the western edge of the lake. The USFS map below gives you an overview of the lake, surrounding area, and various campgrounds.

Map of campgrounds at Turquoise Lake.
Turquoise Lake Camping Map. Map credit USFS.

If you’re struggling to decide which campground is best for your Turquoise Lake camping trip, our recommendations are below:


Baby Doe Campground

Number of Sites: 50 sites
Fee: $26 – $28/night depending on site.
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open seasonally.

The Baby Doe Campground is located on Turquoise Lake’s eastern shores and features 50 campsites with several right on the water. This is a great option for those camping with families as the sites are large and close to many of the amenities and activities at Turquoise Lake.

Campsites at Baby Doe can be reserved up to six months in advance via, and all sites feature a picnic table and fire ring. The campground has vault toilets and a drinking water source available.

On weekends there is a minimum Friday & Saturday night stay requirement, while a three-night minimum is enforced for holiday weekends. Given that you’ll want to reserve early to secure your site and enjoy the stunning views on offer!

Baby Doe Campground at Turquoise Lake
Baby Doe Campground. Photo credit USFS.


Belle of Colorado Campground

Number of Sites: 19 sites
Fee: $26/night
RVs: Not allowed.
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open seasonally.

Belle of Colorado is s tent only campground on the eastern shores of Turquoise Lake. This is a quiet campground, with only 19 first-come, first-served campsites situated right on the water. There is even a small “beach” area that provides access only for those camping at Belle of Colorado.

Campsites here feature picnic tables, fire rings, and small grills. The campground has vault toilets as well as drinking water available.

Given that there are no advance reservations at the campground, it is essential that you arrive early on summer weekends. Sites tend to be full starting on Friday night, but you’ll have much better odds of securing a site if you can arrive on a weekday.


Father Dyer Campground

Number of Sites: 26 sites
Fee: $26/night
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open seasonally.

Father Dyer Campground is a mid-sized campground on the east end of Turquoise Lake that is a good bet for those with RVs or trailers. The 26 sites here can accommodate a variety of set-ups, and each site has a picnic table, fire ring, and small pedestal grill.

The campsites are situated in a beautiful pine forest, and all have easy access to vault toilets and drinking water. From the campground its just a short walk to connect with the Turquoise Lake Nature Trail, a popular easy hike in the area.

Individual campsites at Father Dyer can be reserved up to six months in advance, with reservations bookable on

Matchless Campground

Number of Sites: 15 sites
Fee: $26/night
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: All sites first-come, first served.
Season: Open seasonally.

The Matchless Campground is your best bet at Turquoise Lake if you’re camping in a larger RV or trailer. However, there are just 15 sites here and all are available on a first-come, first-served basis. That means you need to arrive early if you’re hoping to secure one of these great sites for a weekend night.

The campground sits on the southeast side of Turquoise Lake, and has a bit of privacy and seclusion from the other campgrounds on this side of the Lake. Individual campsites have picnic tables and fire rings, with firewood available for purchase from the campground host.

There are bathrooms as well as drinking water available for all campers at the Matchless Campground. You’ll be adjacent to the Matchless Boat Ramp here, making this an ideal campground for those looking to do some boating on the crystal clear waters.


May Queen Campground

Number of Sites: 27 sites
Fee: $26/night
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open seasonally.

Located on the far western end of Turquoise Lake, the May Queen offers a respite from the busy eastern shore of the Lake. Although the sites here are relatively close together without many trees separating them, you’ll enjoy the quiet solitude of being on this end of the Lake.

There are 27 sites here which can accommodate both tent campers as well as RVs. Individual campsites feature picnic tables, fire rings, and small grills. The campground also provides restrooms. Drinking water has not been available over the past few years, so be sure to check the current status before heading out.

As with other campgrounds at Turquoise Lake, the May Queen Campground can be reserved up to six months in advance on

May Queen Campground
May Queen Campground. Photo credit USFS.

Molly Brown Campground

Number of Sites: 49 sites
Fee: $26 – $28/night
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open seasonally.

Named after the Leadville legend, the Molly Brown Campground is one of the larger campgrounds available at Turquoise Lake. However, don’t let the size dissuade you as the campsites all have a decent amount of privacy and there are ample restrooms for all campers.

The campground is easy to access, with the entrance right off of Turquoise Lake road and just a few short miles from Leadville. Campsites include the usual amenities of picnic tables and fire rings.

The Molly Brown Campground can be reserved, with the reservation window opening on a six month rolling calendar via This is a popular campground, so we recommend making a reservation for summer weekends, if possible.


Printer Boy Group Campground

Number of Sites: 4 group sites
Fee: $75 – $150/night
RVs: Yes. Dump station nearby.
Reservations: Required. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open seasonally.

The Printer Boy Campground is the sole campground that can accommodate larger groups at Turquoise Lake. The campground has just four campsites which can accommodate between 35 – 75 people per site. Campsites #1 and # 4 can each host up to 75 people, while #2 and #3 can host up to 35 people each.

Each of the group campsites has multiple picnic tables, a fire ring, and basic grill. There is also a large cooking shelter that serves all four campgrounds.

Reservations are essential at Printer Boy, especially if you’re looking to book a site over a busy summer weekend.


Silver Dollar Campground

Number of Sites: 43 sites
Fee: $26/night
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open seasonally.

The Silver Dollar Campground is set back a short distance from the eastern shores of Turquoise Lake and features 43 individual campsites. A popular spot for families, the campground is set in a beautiful pine forest and campsites are well shaded.

Here you’ll find a clean campground and individual sites each have picnic tables and fire rings. The campground also has several bathrooms and provides drinking water. The camp hosts also frequently have firewood for sale.

Siler Dollar can be reserved up to six months in advance, which we highly recommend for summer weekends.


Tabor Campground

Number of Sites: 44 sites
Fee: $26/night
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: All sites first-come, first served.
Season: Open seasonally.

The Tabor Campground located on the northeast side of Turquoise Lake is the largest first-come, first-served campground at the lake. That makes it a great option for those showing up without a reservation, as you’ll likely have the best chance of securing a site here.

The campsites are very near the the shores, so you can enjoy some beautiful views and easy access for boating or paddle boarding. Individual sites include picnic tables and fire rings, and the campground has restrooms and drinking water available.

Keep in mind that the host here is often strict enforcing quiet hours, which can be either a blessing or curse depending on your circumstances!


Turquoise Lake Dispersed Camping

For those looking to avoid the developed campgrounds in the section above, you will find some excellent dispersed camping near Turquoise Lake. It is important to note that dispersed camping is not permitted in the immediate vicinity of the lake, as shown on the USFS map below. Dispersed camping is prohibited in the area highlighted pink.

Turquoise Lake Dispersed Camping Map
Dispersed camping is NOT permitted in the pink shaded areas. Map credit USFS.

However, don’t let that dissuade you. There are several dispersed campsites in close proximity to Turquoise Lake where camping is permitted, outlined below:

County Road 48

Restrooms: No

County Road 48 just south of Turquoise Lake is the closest dispersed camping area to Leadville. This is a popular camping area, so expect neighbors and be sure to leave no trace if you do camp here. You’ll be well located to explore Turquoise Lake as well as the Mt. Massive Wilderness Area. Views of Mt. Elbert from the camping area are also stunning.

To reach the dispersed camping area here head west on 6th Street from central Leadville until it dead ends into County Road 4. Turn north on County Road 4 and continue until you get to the junction with County Road 48. Proceed a short distance on CR48 to find the dispersed camping area, with sites on both sides of the road.

The road is gravel and should be passable by most vehicles and rigs.

Forest Service Road 105A

Restrooms: No

Although there is no dispersed camping permitted in the Turquoise Lake Recreation Area, there are ample opportunities to pitch your tent for free in the surrounding wilderness. In addition to County Road 48, described above, there is also excellent dispersed camping available on Forest Service Road 105A above Turquoise Lake.

This area is best suited for those with 4WD and high-clearance as the road up can get quite rough. However, for those who are prepared you’ll enjoy a beautiful hilltop campground overlooking the lake.

To get here take County Road 4 along the southside of Turquoise Lake. Stay on CR4 (also known as Hagerman Pass) until you get to the intersection with Forest Service Road 105A. From here, head up the road until you reach the camping area.

Dispersed camping near Turquoise Lake carries some additional Leave No Trace responsibilities compared to staying in one of the developed campgrounds.

Please always follow these principles when dispersed camping:

  • Plan Ahead & Prepare: Have an idea of where you’d like to camp and always be sure you are camping in an area that permits dispersed camping.
  • Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces: Never camp on fragile ground or create a new campsite.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Pack out all of your trash and bury human waste away from water sources. Ideally, carry out human waste or use a portable toilet.
  • Leave what you find: Never take anything from your campsite. Other than trash of course!
  • Minimize campfire impacts: Never create new fire rings and only have fires if permitted.
  • Respect Wildlife: Properly store food at all times and be aware of the area’s wildlife.
  • Be considerate of Other Visitors: Pack out your trash, don’t be loud, and leave your campsite in better condition than you found it.

You can read more about the seven principles of Leave No Trace camping here.

If you’re looking for more dispersed camping opportunities in the area, be sure to check out our guide to the best dispersed camping near Leadville which has some additional options in the area.

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan a great Turquoise Lake camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure!

Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

Leave a Comment