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 night camping under the stars, 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 when we're in the state of Colorado.
One of the most famous settings in the entire state of Colorado is the Maroon Bells, a pair of 14,000-foot mountains that are amongst the most photographed peaks in all of North America. 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. You simply can't go wrong whether you pick Silver Bar, Silver Bell, or Silver Queen campsite as your location of choice.
And if you need to head to town for supplies, the campsites are close enough to Aspen to make a food run an easy prospect.
Piñon Flats Campground
For a very different camping experience travel to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This is a destination that resembles the Sahara more than the Rocky Mountains, with towering dunes taking the place of snowcapped peaks. Piñon Flats is the best place to camp inside this amazing setting and provides access to nearby hiking trails that cross through the 700-foot waves of sand. It's even possible to go sandboarding here, creating a unique experience that can't be replicated in too many other places.
Oh Be Joyful Campground
Located not far from Crested Butte, the Oh Be Joyful campsite doesn't just have a great name, but a fantastic location too. It serves as a gateway into the Raggeds Wilderness, which is a 65,000-acre national forest that ranges in altitude from 7,000 to 13,000 feet. In addition to offering wonderful views of the towering mountains, campers can hike, fish, or mountain bike in the area, and also drop by Crested Butte itself to partake of its excellent restaurants, pubs, and all-around mountain town charm.
Located inside the Pike National Forest, Guanella Pass can be found just an hour's drive outside of Denver. 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. After dark, the pass offers spectacular views of the night sky overhead, which is a perfect way to wind down the day after fishing on nearby Lake Georgetown or hiking up Mount Bierstadt, Mount Evans, or other 14ers found in the area. Or you can simply relax at your campsite, enjoy the company of friends, and soak up the amazing surroundings.
Angel of Shavano Campgrounds
For those who truly want to get away from it all, add the Angel of Shavano campgrounds to your list of camping destinations. Located inside the San Isabel National Forest this campground has 20 individual campsites and is rarely ever crowded. This is mostly due to its remote nature ––its about three hours from Denver––, which usually makes it very easy to reserve a spot. The campsite sits along the 486-mile Colorado Trail and 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.
Bear Lake Campground
Bear Lake is another scenic campsite that provides great access for anglers looking to catch some Colorado trout. The nearby Cucharas River is an excellent fishing hole for 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.
Moraine Park Campground
Rocky Mountain National Park has five excellent campsites, but our favorite by far is Moraine Park. Not only does the site offer excellent views of the breathtaking landscapes of the nearby peaks, but campers are often able to spot passing wildlife, too. With black bears, moose, mountain lions, 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 for those who want a winter camping excursion that is even more quiet and secluded.