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.