The Top 5 Camping Sites from My Past 5 Years in Colorado
By Hollie Farrahi
I like some variety to my lists/life, so the following roundup includes some paid, some dispersed and some just-outside-of-Colorado spots.
I typically choose my camping spots based on:
- Distance from Denver
- Need for reservations
- Natural beauty
- Proximity to planned activity (ex: rafting trip)
Hope you enjoy, and please remember to always leave your site tidier than you found it :)
The longer you live in Colorado, the more outdoor-hot-spot knowledge you amass. This particular site is from a list of GPS coordinates supplied to me on a second Bumble date. Unfortunately, we did not work out, but I still have plenty of super-secret sites to check out!
The nice thing about this site is that it’s actually very close to a town, but the scenery gives you the feeling that you’re pretty far off the grid. The town of Hot Sulphur Springs is aptly named; the campsite is actually off the same road where the hot springs resort is. I’ve visited the resort a few times myself. It boasts several pools of varying temperatures and a lovely rotten-egg, pure-sulphur stench to go with each. Worth a visit, especially at night and in the colder months!
The site is situated off a jeep road, so make sure you have AWD/4WD and a high-clearance vehicle in order to access it (pretty much the rule of thumb for Colorado dispersed camping). This is definitely not accessible when there’s any snow on the ground.
Fun (?) fact: there’s a pet cemetery in the woods just off the road the campsite is on…
This little place is a favorite of mine for a few reasons. Not only is it a quick drive from Denver, but it also features a sizable lake, which makes it a desirable Colorado summer spot (read: SUPs, kayaks, etc). For that same reason it requires reservations (accepted six months or less in advance) and can fill up VERY quickly.
Because this is an actual campground you pay to stay at, there are bathrooms and some other basic amenities.
Pro tip: Just visit for the day! $5/vehicle day pass, and you if you wanted to, you could probably find some dispersed camping options not too far from the campground itself. Some of the day spots have a fire pit and picnic table, so this is a good option for an all-day hang.
The whole area is dog friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friends!
There are several campgrounds located around Twin Lakes, but I’ve only checked out White Star Campground. I was not disappointed. Yes, you should reserve in advance, but the effort is well worth it. Perhaps the best feature of this campground (other than the two beautiful lakes) is the part of the Colorado Trail that runs around almost the entire length of the larger lake. Our group chose to mountain bike it, which is a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
Apparently, this spot has been a popular tourist destination since the late 19th century, when visitors would travel by steam train to reach the historic lakeside Interlaken Resort. The trail I mentioned will take you right by some of the original resort buildings!
Pro tip: Be mindful of pitching your tent up on the ridgeline that runs behind some of the campsites. Sure, the view is beautiful, but the wind can be brutal at night, and you’ll end up wrestling your tent stakes back into place in what is surely a losing battle.
Distance from Denver: 356 miles, 5 hrs 45 min sans traffic
OK, so this one is not technically in Colorado, but as a popular destination for Denverites, I figured I’d throw Moab on this list. Plus, the landscape is totally different from what you’ll find in Colorado, so it provides a nice change of scenery.
My friend and I happened upon this spot while we were looking for a trail to hike. We were already camped elsewhere nearby but decided to move camp to get a couple nights at this spot. The site is actually right at a trailhead, but there’s not a large parking lot, so it doesn’t get too busy or overrun (at least when we were there in mid May). We especially loved the ample shade and small stream near this spot; two difficult things to find in the desert.
We ran into a nice fellow camper who told us about a waterfall hike across town. If you want to check this hike out, be prepared to get wet! The trail has several creek crossings and eventually takes you to a waterfall that drops into a swimming hole. Try to get there toward the end of the day, as the parking lot fills up quickly!
Pro tip: Moab, Utah, is surrounded by Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, land. Anyone can camp anywhere on BLM land, but do not expect any amenities, cell service or even to see another soul for days.
Warning: not for the faint of heart nor the vertically terrified.
Ever feel like you really want to work for that prime campsite? Like, maybe walk straight uphill gaining about 1,500 ft in elevation over the course of 3 miles while carrying all your camping gear on your back? Look no further!
Yes, this is a backpaging spot, but it is hands down one of the most epically gorgeous hiking and camping experiences I’ve ever had in Colorado. The trail is steep, but the views are incredible, and no less than three alpine lakes await you at the top. I visited in late August, which was prime wildflower-viewing time. Although the trailhead is quite the haul from Denver, the hike is brimming with those magical mountain moments we all live to ‘gram. Plus, you get to drive the Million Dollar Highway and see a different mountain range that many will never make it all the way out to see while they live in Colorado.
Pro tip: Bring your bear bins! And, you’ll want to get an early-morning start on this one, so it’s a good idea to dispersed camp the night before you begin your hike. There are plenty of options along the gravel road leading up to the trailhead.
Colorado is full of natural beauty, and I feel like I’ve just barely experienced all it has to offer over the course of five years. I cannot wait to continue my camping adventures this summer! #optoutsideCome check out our Camping Package so you can build these same memories with great gear!!!