Best Camping in Colorado, According to Locals

This isn’t some glossy top ten list you’ll read in your airline magazine. This unofficial list has been culled from a neighborhood Facebook group of real Coloradans who know their mountains and own their gear.

Without further ado, here’s the list:

Lake Irwin Campground – near Crested Butte/Gunnison. Takes reservations. Trails, scenery, fishing, canoeing. 10,200 elevation. Cool days, chilly nights in summer. About a four-hour drive from Denver.  

Grand Lake — there are a number of campsites at Grand Lake, it just depends what you are looking for. Boating, swimming, fishing, horseback, wildlife. Seems fairly populated. 8300 elevation. About 2 hours and 15 minutes drive from Denver. 

Vedauwoo Campground – located in Wyoming. No reservations taken. Hiking, climbing, scenery. Used to be a hideout for outlaws. Check out the Snowy Range Scenic Byway when you’re up there. Just 3 and a half hours north of Denver, off Rte 80 between Cheyenne and Laramie. 

Deckers – super close, located in the San Isabel National Forest. Lots of campsites. Seems well-traveled but could be a good weekend. Just an hour and 15 minutes south of Denver.

Half-Moon East Campground – Pike & San Isabel National Forest. First come, first served. Hiking, fishing, scenery. Elevation 10,000. Two hours and 15 minutes from Denver. 

Guanella Pass – Elk and Big Horn Sheep! Hiking and fishing. No large RVs. West side, good campsites. Elevation 11,000 feet.  One hour and twenty minutes from Denver. 

Turquoise Lake – near Leadville. Multiple campgrounds, some take reservations. Camping, trails, scenery, fishing. Two hours from Denver.   

Mueller State Park – Views of the famous Pike’s Peak. Trails, wildlife, fishing. Elk, black bears, hawks! Less than two hours from Denver. 

Staunton State Park – Reservations only. Hike-in only. No RVs. Black bear country. Less than an hour from Denver! 

Southfork Campground – Rio Grande National Forest.Trails, rafting, horseback riding, fishing, scenery. Four hours fifteen minutes from Denver. 

Lake McConaughy — over the border into Nebraska. Fishing, boating, white sand beaches, camp right next to the water. Three hours and twenty minutes.  

Golden Gate Canyon State Park — near Golden, CO. Cabins, yurts available, as well as regular tent sites. Wildlife, scenery, horseback, climbing, fishing, snowshoeing. Just over an hour from Denver!

Rifle Falls State Park — out 70 past Vail toward Grand Junction. Waterfalls. Fishing, trails, educational programs, winter activities. Three and a half hours from Denver.

Ruby Mountain – near Buena Vista and the Arkansas River headwaters. Trails, scenery, fishing. Down Rte 285, two and a half hours from Denver.    

Pearl Lake — north of Steamboat. Water activities, wildlife, Trails. Almost four hours from Denver. 

Sylvan Lake – closed this summer for dam repair but it looks great. Peaceful, wooded, wildlife, scenery hiking, fishing, water activities. Cabins and yurts. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Less than three hours from Denver. 

Published by Jessica Wilkie, Broker Associate

Hard worker data geek with experience and humor to share. Enjoy serving people throughout their real estate journeys and helping them make good and informed real estate moves.

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