To say Colorado is a popular RV and camping destination is quite an understatement. There are 4 National Parks and 41 State Parks in Colorado. Last year, 86 million people visited this beautiful state with 3 million of them packed in Rocky Mountain National Park!
Right after New Years each year, my hubby and I pull out the Colorado Map and determine which part of Colorado we want to visit so we can start making our reservations. Unfortunately, the days of pulling up on a Friday night in your truck and trailer and setting up camp are long gone so advanced planning is needed. Even as I write this I’m gritting my teeth knowing I’m shooting myself in the foot by sharing these parks but really, is anything a secret anymore? HA! I think not.
TIPS FOR BOOKING RESERVATIONS
- Chose “flexible” so you can plan around available dates. Getting your site in the park you want is how you chose your vacation days off these days. Kinda backwards but sitting by the lake is a priority and that’s what camping life is about.
- The booking window opens EXACTLY 6 months from the date. So, if you want to camp on July 4th, you need to be finger trigger ready at 11:59pm on Feb 3th. After midnight, it’s a refresh screen lottery at this point so have your site numbers (and backup sites) ready. If you have multiple families camping together, get everyone on board and hit those sites. It’s that crazy. No lie.
If you missed your window for your site, keep trying throughout the months. Cancellations do happen. Shit happens and people’s plan change. I like calling the parks directly to check on openings. Sometimes you get lucky.
Muller State Park – http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/Mueller
Open year-round with limited sites. Located in Divide CO. From Denver, go south on I25 to US 24 to Hwy 67. It’s 5 miles to the park entrance. They have cabins you can also book.
This is a beautiful park perfect for Rving and camping. It really meets all the needs. It’s a 10 in my book. Fall is stunning!
There are over forty miles of hiking trails through aspen and conifer forests. However, dogs are not allowed on the trails. Lots of wildlife including black bear, elk, deer, fox, coyotes, bobcats, hawks and many other bird species. There are 132 campsites in seven loops of which 110 are electrical sites but no sewer. There are also 22 walk-in tent only sites. It also has a dump station, showers and laundry.
Turquoise Lake - https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/psicc/recarea/?recid=81960
There are 8 campgrounds here so you have more choices if your favorite site is booked.
Open starting in June, closing in September
From Denver, take I-70 W to CO-91 S towards Leadville.
All campgrounds are in high demand but our favorite is Baby Doe. It’s right on the lake and STUNNING! I love this park as well. We fight the reservation system every year and it’s worth it. It’s at high attitude (10000 ft) so the booking window is very short. Snow is common in late May, early June and starts again in late September so keep that in mind. These are basic sites and little to no cell service. Truly a “get away, unplug” camping area. My kind of camping and so magical! All total, there are 300 campsites, but they vary in size so it’s very important to look at the maps for rig size.
Beautiful trails for hiking, biking 4 wheeling, fishing, canoeing and paddle boarding. It’s a nature paradise. I just want to jump into the car now I love this park that much.
Open starting in March through mid December. From Denver, take I25 to Hwy 34 towards Estes Park. Yes, this is a GREAT alternative to camping at Rocky Mountain National Park. I cry knowing I’m giving up this secret.
This used to be a private land with cabins and rustic camping, belonging to the company, Hewlett Packard. It was land saved and used for the Colorado employees and their families to use and enjoy. They also held their annual picnic celebrations here.
We both worked for HP so this was our private HEAVEN. It was never crowded, and we spent many many summer and fall weekends up here. It was hard to see it changed hands to Larimer County however they have done an amazing job keeping this land beautiful and true to the vision of Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett. They’ve improved the park as well so it was a win win for all.
There are 105 mixed use sites but no electric or sewer sites however there is a dump station. There are also 13 primitive cabins you can book.
There are wonderful trails which overlook Estes park and the park is filled wildlife and a thick forest of Evergreens and Aspens.
Dillon Reservoir - https://www.townofdillon.com/visit/camping-info
Opening Memorial weekend through early September – Located in Dillion CO, just outside of two major ski resorts, Keystone and Breckenridge. From Denver, head up I70 W towards Keystone.
There are 5 campgrounds around Dillion. Several years ago, actually more like 10, Colorado experienced a terrible pine beetle infestation in our Lodgepole evergreen trees which unfortunately changed the landscape of these campgrounds dramatically. Trees dried up and to avoid public danger, these campgrounds were cut down to the bone. I mean, parking lot clean. It was heart breaking. We had camped for YEARS in thick Aspen and Lodgepole forests.
The bright side is time does heal and the campgrounds have recovered beautifully. Having more space and light gave way to Aspen groves growing and thousands of wildflowers branching out. Thousand more stars can be counted on now as well. Yes, it’s not the same but what in life doesn’t go through change and as well all know, change is always better. There’s my positive spin.
Between the 5 campgrounds, there are 324 sites, from tents to Class A with electric hookups. These sites go first of course so again, learn the tips of making reservations. There isn’t a dump station at any of these campgrounds, weirdly enough, however the town of Dillion does have a waste station. Ask around, it’s kinda out of the way but for 10 bucks, you can dump and get on the road.
Of the 5, Heaton Bay is our favorite. It has everything a mountain campground should have and more. There are lots of sites that walk down to the lake and the paved bike trails around the damn are just damn fun! Lots of rolling ups and downs and the scenery can’t be beat. Dillion is big enough to rent party boats, sail boats and paddleboards for a day of water fun. This campground is a family activity mecca. I can’t say enough about it. Fall is also spectacular!
Pearl Lake State Park - https://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/PearlLake
From Denver, grab 125 N to Steamboat Springs. Go west 2 miles on Hwy 40 to County Rd 129. Turn north and go 23 miles to Pearl Lake Rd. Go east 2 miles to park entrance.
So you wanta get out of town, leave the crowds and get off the grid? This is the campground for you. Another heavy sigh as I give this one up. Located in Northern Colorado, it’s past the ski town of Steamboat. It’s flat out GORGEOUS! While this campground has also been affected by the beetle kill, most of it has slowly regrown. Again, not like it once was but more open and inviting.
It’s a smaller campground with only 36 sites, no electrical hookups. It’s not as pretty as some of the other campgrounds I’ve mentioned and limited in RV size (less than 30 feet) but Pearl Lake does offer more. It’s an off the beaten path place to totally unwind and truly smell the bacon and coffee. An afternoon nap is mandatory.
The lake is wakeless and flat as can be so paddle boarding and canoeing are the top activities along with fishing. There are two Yurts you can reserve as well.
I have many more secret camping spots in Colorado and I’ll be sprinkling them in throughout my blog posts so make sure and subscribe to get the IN on Colorado’s camping.
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