Colorado has some of the most diverse landscapes in the world, and its natural playground boasts incredible scenery, rich wildlife, and lakes and rivers aplenty. For campers seeking an adventure, Colorado is practically heaven sent.
If camping in Colorado is at the top of your bucket list, we’re here to make sure no corner goes unexplored. As natives and avid campers ourselves, take our word for it, you won’t want to miss these 5 top camping spots, hand-picked by the Intrepid team.
1. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Often overlooked, this national park is one that will stun you the minute you roll up to the campgrounds. A sea of sand dunes paired with a magnificent backdrop of snow-capped mountains is reason enough to visit this unique geographical destination. But once you climb up the dunes, the fun truly begins. All you’ll need are a few sleds and a great camera because not only are the Colorado Sand Dunes picture-perfect, but they also act as a sandy playground of epic proportions.
Outside of the dunes, there are plenty of off-roading and hiking trails to explore during your stay. Medano Pass Primitive Road is a moderate offroad trail with plenty of pull off spots to camp. If you'd rather opt for some exercise, Montville Nature Trail or Mosca Pass Trail are great hikes for when you’re craving some time away from the sun—at its peak, Montville nature trail has views of Mt. Herard, the dunes, and the San Luis Valley.
2. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon is an awe-inspiring camp spot where you can experience the sheer vertical drop of some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rocks, and most jagged spires in North America. The park offers plenty of options to set up camp, from developed campgrounds, to more isolated dispersed camp spots.
The Gunnison river flows through Black Canyon and offers an epic camp-side attraction for your stay. For over 2 million years the Gunnison River has been slowly eroding away at the Black Canyon, creating a semi-subterranean playground for Colorado campers and explorers. Make sure to take a dip or grab your fly fishing rod while you’re there!
An overnight stay in Telluride is a must for those looking to make the most of their Colorado road trip. Telluride has both, mystifying views and the chance for outdoor recreation—not to mention a warm shower or meal served, hot-out-the oven, if you’re making a pit stop in Telluride's historic mining town.
But don’t be fooled, this town offers much more than the prospect of a warm shower. Telluride is one of Colorado’s most significant historical districts and features an old, rugged mining town set against a backdrop of pine trees and rocky mountains. Check out one of our favorite campsites, Sunshine Campground, for an established site with epic views, or set up camp along Alta Lakes Road for a more dispersed locale.
Telluride also has some great opportunities for off-roading. If you're an experienced overlander and up for a challenge, try out Imogene Pass—the second-highest drivable pass in Colorado. Trust us when we say, the drive up to Imogene is one of the most thrilling experiences you can have while camping out in Colorado. For a less intense ride, check out Alta Ghost Town or Last Dollar Roads for breathtaking mountain views and a taste of local history.
3. Rocky Mountain National Park
Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park is an outdoor enthusiast's dream. With stunning views, hiking trails, and the best camping spots in the area, a visit to this park is sure to leave you breathless.
Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park will offer a variety of experiences for visitors, from hidden lakes to roomy spots for camping vehicles, plus tons of trails to explore! Experience a high alpine environment via Trail Ridge Road or take an icy plunge into Emerald Lake while you're there; it's sure to be on any avid camper's bucket list.
5. Mesa Verde National Park
Last but not least, we never miss a chance to suggest Mesa Verde National Park to new and old Colorado campers alike.This national park is one that comes with an abundance of cool hiking spots and a different look at the state's terrain. But the best part of camping out here is experiencing the Mesa Verde ruins—some of the best kept Ancestral Puebloan sites in the United States.
Set up camp at one of the few campgrounds inside the park at Morefield Campground or camp alongside Madden Peak Road for a more isolated experience. Panoramic cliff views, abundant wildlife, and historic petroglyphs will all add a little something to an epic stay in this unique corner of Colorado.