Best Free Camping in Colorado

Free Camping in Colorado

Dispersed Camping Colorado

By Nathan Swartz

While the Western United States are filled with seemingly endless opportunities to find beautiful, free camping, few states do it quite as well as Colorado.

From desert cliff-dwelling to the Rocky Mountains' abundance of forests, and beyond to the Front Range including Denver and Fort Collins, finding free a free place to camp is not just about saving a buck; it's about living within the most splendid scenery the state has to offer.

Dispersed camping in the Centennial State is downright prolific throughout the dozen or so national forests and grasslands within the state's borders. Are you looking for camping spots near Steamboat Springs? Forest roads and mountain passes galore await. Need beautiful free camping near Denver? Idaho Springs is only about a half-hour from town, yet filled with places to go mountain biking, tent camping, or enjoy your national forest.

See a map of all free camping in Colorado.

Boondocking in Colorado

Boondocking Colorado is nearly always an exercise in driving up a forest road, many of which have designated camping areas as well, and finding a previously established spot (look for a fire ring or stone fire pit) that isn't already occupied. Even with the popularity of getting outdoors on the rise, finding a place to camp in Colorado is still relatively easy, and find a free camping area is no different.

In most of the mountainous portions of the state, expect a shady spot beneath towering pines, quite often with a grand view, located near a water source and typically within an easy drive of yet another cute, small town. Are you looking to go tent camping in Colorado? Car camping? Free camping in Colorado can be found for all makes and models of campers, just choose your national forest and begin exploring its roads.

With nearly endless options, though, where should one begin?

Best Dispersed Camping in Colorado

Depending on the time of year, campsites outside of Durango and Grand Junction offer a little more heat and are best enjoyed in the shoulder seasons of Fall and Spring, when golden aspens light up the mountainsides and brilliant fields of wildflowers rush through the valleys, respectively. All summer long, the stretch of highway connecting Leadville (elevation 10,152') to Salida (some 3000' lower) is home to a new national monument celebrating the Arkansas River. Further north, wilderness less explored can be had outside of Dinosaur National Monument and all through the Medicine Bow National Forest. Or skip right to the cream of the crop and set your GPS to Crested Butte's many, many stunning options for dispersed camping.

Just remember that this type of free camping isn't exactly a right, and it is up to each and every one of us to take care of our public lands to ensure that they remain not only wild and beautiful but open to the public for camping. Practice Leave No Trace, and always pack out everything you bring in, don't try and create new spots, use those that have already been established, and if you can, leave the site better than you found it.

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Recent Colorado Free Campsite Reviews

Feb 15, 2024

"Still a Safe Good-to-Go Overnight Stop"

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You have to be looking for this east-turn off of 285 to find it. One landmark are the sudden grove of cottonwood trees in an otherwise treeless region. Flat gravel parking lot for a trailhead. Has a pit toilet building also. Fairly quiet at night-only a hundred yards from the 285. Low light pollution so good star gazing. Take time to walk the...
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Taking Chance
9 reviews
Feb 15, 2024

"Quiet Little Town With History"

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We called the town office a few days ahead of time and the lady who answered encouraged us to stay the night. There is a donation box for anyone who uses the facility, which pays to keep the restrooms clean and stocked. This park/rest area is where cross country bicycle riders stay the night. Apparently it is the halfway point. This little gem...
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16 reviews
Feb 12, 2024

"Depends On How You Look At It"

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For me, it was perfect. It’s February, no one is here and this is the only one open in this area. It does look a bit dumpy, there is trash and 2 practically abandoned trailers. Probably because they cant get them out due to the road being deeply rutted. More space for me, yay. The sites are well spaced out, but a lot are not super flat....
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2 reviews
Feb 11, 2024

"Lot At The End Of 2mile Long Road"

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It’s A Nice Area In The Middle Of Nowhere, It’s A Hub For ATVs, It’s At The End Of A Long 2mile Dirt Road. I Don’t Recommend Any RVs For This Road. No T-Mobile Service At The Lot. Fun Drive In The Winter.

2 reviews
Red Feather Lakes, CO

Forest Road 970 Dispersed Camping

Jan 05, 2024

"Great Spots Rough Road"

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Lots of spots road is very rough spots are anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour from Red Feathers Lakes or 2 hours from foco Loveland

2 reviews