Camping in Colorado...What to know and how to plan ahead!

  • Megan Douglas
  • 05/25/21

There may be no more beautiful place to camp than Colorado.  Our highly sought after outdoor lifestyle in Colorado is one of the major reasons newcomers to the state cite for moving here.  But because of that camping takes more planning than it did in the past.  National parks, national forests, and state parks all have different policies for campgrounds and wilderness camping.

I wanted to highlight 7 of my favorite campgrounds and also give you some highlights for planning ahead to enjoy a summer full of adventures, campfire stories, and waking up to the beautiful views all over the state. 

Rocky Mountain National Park

Reservations for developed campgrounds are available through recreation.gov. Prices are $30 per night for standard sites, $40 to $60 for group sites. For wilderness backcountry reservations, information can be found on the park website, including a list of currently available sites. If you can find a site that works for you, go to the pay.gov portal (not recreation.gov) for purchase. The cost of a wilderness permit is $30.

National Forests

As with Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds, national forest camping reservations are made through recreation.gov. For developed campgrounds, the forest service maintains an interactive Colorado map that allows you to click on any forest in the state (and the surrounding region) for a list of campgrounds and rules for camping there. Prices for those sites vary.

There are two other categories for national forest camping. “Dispersed” camping refers to places where you are permitted to camp, but there are little or no facilities. They can be in designated or undesignated areas, depending on the forest district. Like developed campgrounds, there is an interactive map for dispersed camping where you can click on a forest to find rules and availability, and prices vary.

The third category is backpacking. In that case, information is found on another interactive map, but this one lists trails rather than campsites. Permits may or may not be required for backpack camping, so check with the local forest district for more information.

Colorado State Parks

Camping reservations are made through Colorado Parks and Wildlife online at cpwshop.com or by calling 800-244-5613. Reservations may be booked six months in advance, up until the moment people arrive at the park, if they can find an available site. There used to be a closed window that prevented campers from reserving a site in the three days preceding a planned stay, but that was dropped last year. The ability to reserve a site on the same day eliminates the need for campers to gamble on a first-come, first-served spot, only to arrive at the park and find that there aren’t any spots available. But be advised: If you get to a campground and find an available spot, you may not have the cell service necessary to reserve it. Prices vary for campsites, and you still have to pay the park entrance fee.

Living Closer To The Outdoors

Has working remotely made you more interested in living close to your favorite National Park?  Or maybe it's allowed you to create more time and space for your outdoor hobbies.  Take a look at homes that are near trails for hiking, biking, camping, open space, and Colorado's endless day and weekend trip. If these homes don't strike your fancy reach out to me as I often know of several off market properties that might be exactly what you're looking for. 

Park Info Source: The Know Outdoors

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