When it comes to natural beauty and great outdoor destinations, few states can compare to Colorado. From the stunning vistas of Rocky Mountain National Park to the rocky spires of Garden of the Gods and the breathtaking views along the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway, there is much to see and do there. One of the best ways to experience these settings is to spend a few night camping out under the stars. If that sounds like your kind of travel, and if you need help choosing a spot to pitch your tent, we're here to help. These are our favorite places to go camping while we're visiting the state of Colorado.
The Maroon Bells are without a doubt one of the most famous locations in all of Colorado. Consisting of a pair of 14,000-foot mountains that are amongst the most photographed peaks in all of North America, this is a location that offers breathtaking views all year long. Backpackers and car campers will find three campsites in the shadow of the mountain, each of which provides access to this spectacular wilderness setting, which includes the gorgeous Maroon Lake. Whether you decide to stay at the Silver Bar, Silver Bell, or Silver Queen campsites, you simply can't go wrong here. They are all equally amazing and must-visit locations for those who love camping.
One of the best aspects of these sites is that they are nicely situated close to the town of Aspen. This is extremely convenient if you need to make a supply run to collect more food or beverages, or just want to stroll around town for a bit.
Piñon Flats Campground
For a very different camping experience travel to the Great Sand Dunes National Park in the souther part of the state. This is a destination that resembles the Sahara more than the Rocky Mountains, with towering dunes standing in for snowcapped peaks. Piñon Flats is the best place to camp inside this remarkable setting and provides access to nearby hiking trails that meander over and around dunes that can reach as high as 700-feet in height. And if you're looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush while you're there, you can even go sandboarding while staying inside the park. Skiing and snowboarding may be the unofficial winter sports of Colorado, but it is just as fun to carve your way down a massive dune.
Oh Be Joyful Campground
Located not far from Crested Butte, the Oh Be Joyful campsite doesn't just have a great name, but is a fantastic location too. The camping area serves as a gateway into a massive region known as the Raggeds Wilderness. Spanning more than 65,000 acres, this national forest ranges in altitude from 7,000 to 13,000 feet. In addition to soaking up the wonderful views of the towering mountains that prominently line the horizon, campers can hike, fish, or mountain bike within the Raggeds too.
For a small slice of civilization amidst this remote location, be sure to drop by Crested Butte while you're in the area. There, you'll find plenty of excellent restaurants, pubs, and shops to explore, each oozing with mountain-town charm.
Just an hour's drive outside of Denver, Guanella Pass can be found inside the Pike National Forest, Perched at 11,670 feet, the campsite is accessible both on foot or by car, making it a popular option for those looking for a hike or a more relaxed escape. Known for its spectacular views of the night sky, the campsite allows visitors to take stargazing to the next level. That also happens to be a great way to wind down after a busy day day of fishing on nearby Lake Georgetown or hiking up Mount Bierstadt, Mount Evans, or any of the other Colorado 14ers found in the area. Alternatively, you can simply relax at your campsite, enjoy the company of friends, and relax in one of the best outdoor playgrounds that the state has to offer.
Angel of Shavano Campgrounds
Those looking to truly get away from it all will want to add the Angel of Shavano campgrounds to their list of outdoor destinations. Located inside the San Isabel National Forest this campground has 20 individual campsites and is rarely ever crowded. This is due in part to its remote nature, which requires a three-hour drive from Denver just to get to the location. The upside is that this usually makes it extremely easy to reserve a spot, even during the busier summer months.
Situated along the 486-mile Colorado Trail, Angel of Shavnao offers excellent hiking and mountain biking, as well as fishing in the North Fork Reservoir. The thickly-wooded national forest is also a beautiful retreat, offering plenty of solitude and tranquility for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Bear Lake Campground
Bear Lake is another scenic campsite located inside Rocky Mountain National Park that is sure to please outdoor enthusiasts. This locale is perfect for anglers looking to reel in some Colorado trout. The nearby Cucharas River provides excellent opportunities to do just that, luring in both casual and serious fly fishers looking to spend some time on the water. This campground also provides easy access to the 14-mile long Indian Creek Trail too, which is open not only to hikers and mountain bikers, but also ATVs and horses as well.
Not matter what you choose do while staying at this campground, you'll find plenty of Colorado's trademark mountain scenery to keep you enthralled while you're there.
Moraine Park Campground
Rocky Mountain National Park has five outstanding campsites to stay in, but our favorite by far is Moraine Park. Not only does the site offer excellent views of the breathtaking landscapes for which the park is famous, but campers are often given the opportunity to spot passing wildlife, too. With black bear, moose, mountain lion, sheep, and elk all living within the park, sharp-eyed travelers can often see these creatures wandering through their natural habitat. Best of all, the site is open year-round, allowing those who are hardy enough fo enjoy an winter adventure to spend some time there too.