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

Grand Junction, CO

Grand Valley OHV Area

Jan 20, 2023

"Lots of room, pretty view "

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We had a quick one-night stopover here and woke up to beautiful views. There were a handful of vehicles here already, but there was plenty of space for each rig. The ground was great when we were there, but I could see it getting muddy after a rainfall. Keep driving up the road after the GPS hits the OHV area and you’ll soon find a big open...
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1 review
Jan 11, 2023

"Awesome Spot Near Denver "

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Dirt road with a little bit of washboard to it. Any car can make it here going slowly. Open year round. Free

1 review
Cortez, CO


Dec 21, 2022

"Easy In and Out"

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Arrived later in the day and parked in the upper lot. We were the second to arrive but there was plenty of room. We tow a 34 foot 5th wheel. I like the ease of running into Walmart and picking up a few fresh items and whatever else we may need. A security person drove around at night and the lot is well lit but in was quiet and we slept well....
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1 review
Dec 09, 2022

"Thank you Winter Park Resort for an awesome experience."

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Winter Park allows you to park in Lot G for up to 3 nights and if you're a skier/snowboarder, I highly recommend it. You have to be capable of boondocking, but you'll be right across the street from the resort and there is a shuttle to the base of the gondola. We were there mid-week in early December and were able to park in a very isolated...
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6 reviews
Dec 09, 2022

"Quiet and free "

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I arrived after dark. Largish gravel lot. Park along the edges. Quiet despite being next to highway. Pit toilets usable although poorly maintained and no TP. No indication of fees being charged.

8 reviews