Best Free Camping in Colorado

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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

Apr 18, 2021

"Awesome view and dark sky"

Very quiet. Maybe a dozen campers. Bought a 5 day non resident license so works out to @$8.75 a night. Perfectly fine with me for electric hookup. Snowed a couple days so I’m sure I used more than $8.75 running the electric heater. Nice host, sticks to himself after checking my license the first (second?) day. Walked along the lake, drove into...
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Cat Milks
6 reviews
Trinidad, CO

Ludlow Memorial

Apr 17, 2021

"Overnighting Not Allowed "

We stopped here because of the nice reviews and thought it would be better than the Walmart in Trinidad. Very nice place with a lot of history. After visiting the displays and memorial, we settled in for the night. At 11 pm, we were awakened by flashing lights and a loud “SHERIFF” over the bullhorn. Then a knock on the door. We were informed...
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Michael Noble
6 reviews
Grand Junction, CO

Grand Valley OHV Area

Apr 15, 2021

"Would revisit "

Found a nice quiet spot with pretty views. Go further in for better spot. Rough road but take it slow and you’ll be fine. Definitely worth the stop!

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Carlene Peter
1 review
Silverton, CO

Sultan Camping Area

Apr 14, 2021

"Dope AF!! "

This was a super nice campground, right next to a river! Sites were kind of close, but with enough privacy. Super easy to access. Would definitely stay here again!

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Kylee Brooks
12 reviews
Sugar City, CO

Lake Meredith Reservoir

Apr 14, 2021

"Rise with the cows"

We stayed here just one night on April 1, 2021. Its a spacious site, plenty of room for a dozen campers. AT&T service was at least 3/5 for me with decent download speeds. Its not the kind of place to stay a week but its great for a night's rest. You will likely smell or see cows so you've been warned. We woke up to one 5 feet from our door....
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