Camping in Colorado stacks up against any other state. The Mountain West is filled with outdoor playgrounds, but the Rocky Mountain State makes a strong case for being the premier destination in the region.
What’s the Best Time of Year to Go Camping in Colorado?
You’ll find that camping in Colorado follows a pretty traditional peak season. The best times to visit usually run from late spring to early fall. Due to the elevation of the state, you can see snow well into the summer if you hike far enough up.
Colorado can have fairly unpredictable weather patterns, so you’ll want to be prepared for just about anything when you visit. It’s beautiful here in the winter, but only a certain type of adventurer tends to be game for winter camping in Colorado. If that’s you, you’ll have ample space to yourself!
What Are the Top Outdoor Activities in Colorado?
If you can think of it, you can do it in this state that’s synonymous with outdoor adventure. Hiking and camping in Colorado are always popular pursuits, but you can mountain bike, climb, or hit the water whenever and wherever the weather is good. In a state with 300 days of sunshine, you’ve got a solid chance of favorable weather.
What Are the National Parks in Colorado?
This is easily the most well-known and popular park for camping in Colorado. It’s also routinely one of the most-visited national parks in the country. As such, you’ll have your share of crowds to contend with in peak season. It’s also beautiful in the spring and fall if you want to avoid the majority of traffic. The elevation here is no joke, though, so give yourself time to acclimate before hitting the trails.
Peaks aren’t the only interesting thing in the Rocky Mountain State. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park holds some of the oldest exposed rock in the world and reaches a depth of up to 2,722 feet at Warner Point! For reference, the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, is 2,717 feet tall.
Mesa Verde National Park holds some of the history of the earliest peoples of Colorado. Visitors can tour Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings during the season and see how well-preserved some pieces of history still are in this park. This is a good option for less-trafficked hiking and camping in Colorado, though the peak season still brings decent visitation.
It’s easy to forget that a large portion of Colorado is actually a desert. Grand Sand Dunes National Park is a bit out of the way but thoroughly worth the drive. These massive dunes, including the most popular, Star Dune, feel like they should be reserved for a different state entirely.
Backcountry adventurers will be able to appreciate the diversity of the national park more fully by passing through forests and visiting the park’s alpine lakes. When it comes to camping in Colorado, Great Sand Dunes offers easily one of the most unique experiences in the state.
What Are Some of the Most Popular State Parks in Colorado?
Eleven Mile State Park is perfect for those who want to visit Colorado but skip the crowds. This less-trafficked state park features several miles of scenic hiking trails but is best loved by anglers and water sports enthusiasts.
Located in Boulder County, this Colorado state park definitely sees some traffic and tends to reach capacity most weekends. If you’re visiting during the summer, consider arriving early in the morning or on a weekday if possible. You’ll be rewarded for your early alarm with great climbing, hiking, and nature-viewing opportunities.
Lory State Park offers backcountry camping off the beaten path. While that might sound like an oxymoron, even the backcountry trails see decent traffic in Colorado when the weather is good.
If you’re looking to go camping in Colorado but want to be close to the Wyoming Border, you’ll be just west of Fort Collins here. Travelers heading towards Yellowstone and Grand Teton should consider a day trip to Lory State Park at least.
Admittedly, this Colorado state park has a name worth a chuckle. The park itself is no joke, though! Reserved for the serious adventurer, State Forest State Park is short on amenities but perfect for those looking for rugged, primitive camping in Colorado. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there are several cabins to choose from at the North Michigan Reservoir area.
What Are the Top Attractions in Colorado?
Breckenridge is one of the most famous ski resorts in the country for good reason. Breathtaking winter views are combined with luxurious accommodations for the ultimate ski getaway. While entry is pricey, it’s an experience well worth the price of admission.
Road trip fans will love this short addition to any Colorado travel itinerary. Just under 50 miles long, this scenic road trip runs through stunning national forest land and takes you up to more than 14,000 feet in elevation. Summer is the best time to drive this byway, but visitors any time of year should add this short trip to their plans.
This is by far one of the most unique venues in the country. This open-air amphitheater hosts a wide variety of acts in music and entertainment, with something going on seemingly every day. While not exclusively indie, a good majority of the acts here tend towards indie rock, folk, and Americana sounds.
This is one of the largest art museums in the country, with over 70,000 works spanning multiple centuries and continents. Like any major art museum, exhibits are here on a rotating basis, so check the calendar ahead of time. If you time it correctly, you can visit the museum on one of their free days!
Where’s Some of the Best Food in Colorado?
This long-standing steakhouse serves a wide variety of meats, both domestic and exotic. Just a short trip from downtown, Buckhorn Exchange is the oldest steakhouse in Denver and both a delicious and historic experience.
Boulder, Colorado, is home to many unique and varied cultural experiences, and Frasca holds up to its competition. This fine dining establishment offers a taste of Northern Italy, using locally sourced ingredients paired with a strategically structured wine list.
This local hole-in-the-wall joint is something of a requirement for all visitors to Boulder. Village Coffee Shop bills itself as “890 feet of reality, surrounded by Boulder.” This simple diner is well-loved, and at only 890 square feet, it fills up quickly.
Edelweiss – Colorado Springs
This rustic German spot is worth a stop if you’re traveling through Colorado Springs on your way to Denver or Rocky Mountain National park. It’s a simple spot serving uncomplicated Bavarian fare in a traditionally-inspired beer garden setting. For wintertime visitors, Edelweiss looks more like a fairy tale than a restaurant.
Camping in Colorado is an experience all adventurers should check off their bucket list. With such a variety of environments to pick from—from dunes to alpine lakes—there’s something for everyone in the Centennial State.