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Are you a planner? ME TOO! We used to disperse camp with a tent, but as we got older we desired sleeping up off the ground. Now we have a camper and enjoy a good night’s sleep between hiking adventures! So while there are many amazing places for dispersed camping and we have many great memories of tent camping with our kids and dogs – like a week straight of rain in Telluride one summer – we enjoy reservations and a level place to park our trailer.

Winter Camping in Moraine Campground RMNP

Getting reservations keeps getting more and more difficult, so it pays to plan ahead.  Are you camping in Colorado next summer?  You need to be ready to make your reservations six months in advance!  Ask me for my recommendations on best sites in our campgrounds, too.  

Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park. This campground has great views, lots of wildlife and is close to popular parts of the park. Flush toilets in the bathrooms, but no hookups. (Cell coverage is poor, but you might get lucky! My husband was able to stream TV while in Glacier Basin campground on ATT, but my Verizon had zero bars.)

Lake Irwin outside Crested Butte is such a great campground, but very high elevation. It usually doesn’t open until July 1st and the lake is very cold, but stocked for fishing. Some sites are reservable, but they can be hard to get. View of the campground from across the lake: 

Difficult Campground outside Aspen is along a river with lots of trees and frequently bears! The campground is very nice and you can easily ride bikes to town, which my teenage daughter loved. There are nice places to hike and explore along Independence Pass (no trailers), especially the grotto.

Pearl Lake State Park is a really nice state park with non-motorized boats. We had a great site right on the water, which meant we could just walk from our site out to the water! It’s just a half hour north of Steamboat Springs. View for our site:

Kalaloch campground in Olympic National Park was amazing! We had a (tiny) site that overlooked the ocean and we could see orcas from our camp chairs! Our memories include stopping in Astoria where we bought freshly-caught Maco shark, which we cooked over the fire.

A list of other campgrounds around Colorado that we have enjoyed:

Campgrounds with amazing hiking close by:

  • Pawnee in Brainard Rec area Hike to Lake Isabelle, Blue Lake and more beautiful trails!

  • Anything in RMNP.  Seriously.  I camp here every summer and never tire of the hiking!  
  • Ridgway State Park Want to hike to Ice Lakes? Blue Lakes? Visit Telluride or Ouray?  Ridgway is a perfect home base to visit the most beautiful part of Colorado! 

Good for paddleboards:

  • Pearl Lake State Park Lakeside is best, if you can score these desired sites!

  • Lake Irwin This amazing campground west of Crested Butte has stunning views around a high altitude lake.  It doesn't open until the 4th of July, but is stunning until Labor Day!

  • Taylor Park Reservoir Located between Buena Vista and Crested Butte, this area You can drive right onto the beach with your car, your boards and your chairs!

  • Stillwater Campground We drove to the boat ramp for paddleboard access but there are some sites that offer closer paddling access.

  • Ridgway State Park You can't access the reservoir from the Elk Ridge campground, where we like to stay due to its great cell service, but it is a quick drive 

  • O'Haver Lake South of Salida, this campground looks lovely, but I have never been lucky enough to be able to reserve a spot.

  • Eleven Mile State Park This lake is made for fishing and paddleboarding, but go in the morning before the wind kicks up.

  • Twin Lakes Lakeside or White Star campgrounds; Lakeside is prettier, White Star is closer to the lake)

  • Sylvan Lake State Park has easy access to the cute town of Eagle and a small lake perfect for paddleboards and kayaks.  The campground doesn't have electric but has showers and flush toilets!

  • Chambers Lake West of FoCo and not close to Denver, this campground had nice sites with tall pine trees.  Our site was right on the water but we had carry the board down a pretty steep slope for direct access.  It was easier to drive the board just a bit down the road for easy access.  

  • Dowdy Lake/Bellaire Lake I have had reservations at each of these lakes 3 or 4 times but never camped here.  Someday...

Campgrounds with electric hookups: 

  • Mueller State Park This is a gorgeous campground, but dogs are not allowed on trails here; instead, head to the Crags!

  • Golden Gate Canyon State Park Pretty campground, but some sites are crowded.  Do your research on and google maps before selecting a site!

  • Ridgway State Park Electric hookups, showers and great cell service!  This is a good place for summer working from the road​

  • Stillwater Campground Although parking a large camper can be a challenge, this cg has electric hookups, showers and 360 views of Lake Granby!

  • Heaton Bay Right on Lake Dillon, this campground has some small sites but also some with water access and full hookups

  • Eleven Mile State Park We visited here in October, when the nights were cold and the campgrounds mostly empty, but really enjoyed our visit!

  • Matterhorn outside of Telluride is a good spot to visit the town.  

  • Chatfield State Park We like this campground for spring trips to get the camper ready for summer.  Bonus for us, it is just 10 minutes from home in case we forget anything and the cell service is solid.  

Rustic Camping:

  • Mount Princeton/Chalk Lake/Cascade near Nathrop (All three are great campgrounds with close access to hiking, Salida and 4-wheeling) 

  • Geneva Park Close to Denver with good hiking and jeeping along Guanella Pass

  • Difficult Campground (he sites are beautiful, but it's tight to park a camper.  Close access to Aspen by bike and overall a lovely place to stay.  They often have bears here, so from time to time the campground closes to tents and soft-sided campers to stay bear-safe.

  • Prospector Campground Overlooking Lake Dillon, this campground has many exposed sites, but some stellar sites with trees and space to look at the surrounding peaks and lake views!  Plus, you're only 10 minutes to Dillon or Frisco and 20 minutes to Breckenridge!

  • Pinon Flats at Great Sand Dunes National Park The best time to visit this park is around Memorial Day weekend, when the the river is flowing with a current and sand isn't too hot!  The sites that open to the dunes without trees get really windy, so be prepared if you are in a tent.

Moraine Park


Lake Irwin


Difficult Campground


Pearl Lake State Park


Kalaloch Campground

My favorite campgrounds

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