The Ultimate Guide To Camping & RV Camping in North Colorado

Camping in Northern Colorado
There are countless reasons you could be planning a trip to North Colorado in the near future. Maybe you’re interested in sampling one of Denver’s famous microbreweries or hitting the slopes in Aspen? Or perhaps you’re a fan of Northern Colorado college sports? (Go Bears!) If you’re heading to North Colorado, there’s a good chance that you’re planning a camping trip. Like the rest of the state, northern Colorado has a ton to offer nature-lovers and vanlifers — with scenic routes, epic wildlife, and federally protected national parks that look like your desktop wallpaper IRL. The question is — what do I need to know about RV camping in Colorado? Well, have no fear because BookOutdoors is here to tell you everything you need to know!

Is Camping in North Colorado Any Good?

The short answer? Heck yes! Northern Colorado is located in arguably the most beautiful state in the United States. Home to the Rocky Mountain Natural Park, offering some of the best camping Colorado has to offer, northern Colorado has jaw-dropping scenery, spectacular hiking trails, and thousands of private and public camping grounds for travelers suffering from an acute case of wanderlust. Do you like a bit of adrenaline in your camping trips? Well, there are plenty of outdoor activities in northern Colorado. You can go mountain biking, white-water rafting, climbing, horseback riding, auto-touring – in other words, Bear Grylls’ daydream. On the other hand, if you’re simply looking to get one with nature, the campsites in northern Colorado are often situated near walking trails, pristine lakes, and peaceful getaways for you to get lost in. There are also plenty of glamping sites for our more – shall we say, refined guests?

Where Can I Go Camping in North Colorado?

Drawing over 86.9 million tourists in 2019, it’s no secret that tourism accounts for a big chunk of Colorado’s annual revenue. It’s no surprise, either, that this level of popularity means northern Colorado can be an expensive place to visit. Fortunately, this region has thousands of camping options for travelers that wish to experience this jaw-dropping location without breaking the bank. From privately-owned campgrounds to national parks, you can pitch your tent within spitting distance of nature trails — at a lower price than some of the most affordable hotels or motels. Why put up with a view of a parking lot when you can wake up to a raging waterfall? (Unless that’s your thing.) Let’s take a look at some of the options for the best camping Colorado has to offer.

Private Campsites

Privately owned camping sites in northern Colorado are a great option for those who are traveling on a budget but would still prefer the conveniences of a hotel or resort. Camping grounds in northern Colorado usually provide flushable toilets, hot water showers, WiFi, electrical outlets, and other amenities to make you feel more at home. Some sites have general supply stores for guests to stock up on essentials. And for those traveling with children, there may even be playgrounds and access to kid-friendly activities like mini-golf and luging. Round of twelve, anyone?

National Parks

We’ve already established that northern Colorado is home to the Rocky Mountains National Park, but did you know that you’re also free to camp on the grounds? The national park site provides essentials on a seasonal basis, including restrooms, trash collections, potable water, ice and firewood for sale, and food storage lockers, with staff available during the summer months as well. To camp in the park, you’ll need to make a reservation, which can be made online or by phone.

State Parks

There are over 40,000 campsites in Colorado’s state parks, which makes them an obvious choice for campers. In addition to offering some of the most spectacular scenery, these parks provide restrooms, full-electrical hook-ups, and shower facilities.

Private Lands

For more experienced campers and travelers, there is also the option of free camping on northern Colorado’s public land. National forests contain most of the free camping in the state, followed up by BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. The plus side of free camping is that it’s cheap (go figure) and more remote. However, it’s also low on amenities, so it may be the ideal choice for those who are looking for RV camping in Colorado. Public campsites operate on a first-come-first-serve basis, so no reservations are needed.

What Are the Best Sites for Camping in North Colorado?

Rocky Mountain National Park

It goes without saying that Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-see if you’re planning on camping in northern Colorado. In addition to offering more than 300 miles of hiking and incredible wildlife viewing, there are numerous spots for you to make the most of your camping trip in northern Colorado. The Rocky Mountain National Park is divided in half by a continental divide. On the east side, you’ll find Estes Park, and on the west side, you’ll find Grand Lake. Since it’s closer to Denver, there are usually more camping visitors on the east side — however, there are many camping options on either side. There are five main developed camping grounds in the park. Aspenglen, Glacier Basin, and Moraine Park can all be reserved in advance, while Timber Creek and Longs Peak are first-come-first-serve. These are open seasonally (either summer only or all-year-round), and generally cost about $30 per night. To make a reservation at Aspenglen, Glacier Basin, and Moraine Park, visit the National Park Service official site to make bookings. Unsurprisingly, camping in RMNP is incredibly popular in the summer season, so we suggest you get on it ASAP! If you’re looking to snag one of the spots for the first-come-first-serve campgrounds, try to arrive as early as you can.

Arapaho National Forest

The Arapaho National Forest has both free camping spots and private campgrounds for different budgets. And if you’re a fan of water sports, why not pay a visit to the Grand Lake? The largest natural lake in Colorado, it’s situated near a picturesque town and accommodates hundreds of campers every year.

State Forest State Park

Spread out over 71,000 parks, the State Forest State Park is nestled between the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Roosevelt and Routt national forests, which means it offers a little bit of everything for outside campers and those who love RV camping in Colorado. It also has the unique distinction of being the moose capital of Colorado!

Red Feather Lakes

Surrounded by the 612,000-acre Roosevelt National Forest, the Red Feather Lakes is an outdoor retreat that offers stunning views, wildlife, and cozy mountain retreats. It’s also roughly 100 miles away from Fort Collins, one of the largest cities in northern Colorado and another popular destination when RV camping in Colorado.

Glamping Sites

Let’s be honest with ourselves. The rugged wilderness of the Great Outdoors is magical, but sometimes we want a side of luxury with our camping in Colorado. If you’re feeling like a bad and boujee camping trip, here are some simply exquisite glamping options for camping in northern Colorado:
  • Rocky Mountain Treehouse, Carbondale
  • Vintage Camper, Boulder
  • Collective Vail of Collective Retreats, Wolcott
  • Arapaho Valley Ranch, Granby
  • Tennessee Pass Sleep Yurts, Leadville

How Do I Find Campsites in North Colorado?

This is the easiest part of our guide. If you’re looking to make any camping reservations in northern Colorado, be sure to visit BookOutdoors.

When Should I Go To North Colorado?

Colorado isn’t called the sunshine state for no reason. With an average of 300 days of sun every year, it’s safe to say that you’ll be blessed with the weather on your camping trip in northern Colorado. But the weather is also notoriously fickle in this part of the country, and due to its high altitude, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for colder spells. In general, the most moderate weather is in the summer months. So the best time of year to go would be between May and September. If you’re looking for Memorial Day camping in Colorado, this might also be a good place to check out. To find out more about the ideal times of year for RV camping in Colorado and other states, check out some of our other clear and helpful guides!

What Should I Pack For My Trip?

No matter where you are in the world, the first rule of camping is to be prepared and pack for every likelihood. With that in mind, here is a quick and easy checklist of essentials to bring when camping in Colorado:
  • Water
  • Sun protection
  • Moisturiser and lip balm
  • Layers
And just like that, you’re ready to plan your camping trip in northern Colorado and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. From staggering mountain views of some of the country’s most Instagram-worthy nature to wholesome activities for campers of all persuasions, northern Colorado has everything you could want (and more) in a camping trip.
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