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7 Best Campsites for Boondocking in Colorado

7 Best Campsites for Boondocking in Colorado

Colorado is a camping paradise. You won’t get bored between the beautiful views and ample recreation activities. If there is a downside to Colorado camping, it can cost a lot more to camp in many campgrounds. 

You may even have trouble snagging a spot due to its popularity. If standard Colorado campgrounds cost too much or you find them too crowded, boondocking in Colorado might sound more enjoyable. 

What Is Boondocking?

Boondocking is camping without access to any facilities. You won’t have power when boondocking, so you’ll need to generate it through solar, a generator, and batteries. 

Additionally, you’ll need to bring along all the water you need or access a natural source. Boondocking typically happens on public lands, like a part of the Bureau of Land Management or a national forest

Colorado Adventures! Great Sand Dunes, Pikes Peak, Dangerous Hailstorms and More! - Mondays S4E2

Why You Should Boondock in Colorado

Even if you prefer camping in standard paid campgrounds, you may not always get a spot. Colorado campgrounds fill quickly and often months in advance. 

You can’t always count on last-minute camping in a paid campground with facilities. Because Colorado campgrounds come at a high cost, your vacation budget can quickly add up. 

Many simply prefer to boondock without even considering the logistics of trying to get a campsite and paying for it. Boondocking in Colorado gives you some fantastic views and the opportunity to get a piece of Colorado all to yourself. 

You may find boondocking more quiet, peaceful, and worth it. You get the chance to break away from the crowds and truly immerse yourself in this beautiful state. 

What Is the Best Season for Boondocking in Colorado?

For the best weather, go camping in Colorado in summer and fall. Depending on your elevation May through September will give you average daily highs over 70 degrees, resulting in perfect camping weather. 

Summer brings great temperatures with great opportunities for hiking and enjoying outdoor recreation as the snow has melted. Fall sees cooling temperatures but gorgeous autumn colors and fewer crowds. 

Know Before You Go: Before you start boondocking make sure you know these 9 Boondocking Rules You Should Never Break.

Hiking, biking, boondocking oh my! There’s a lot to see and do in Colorado!

The 7 Best Campsites for Boondocking in Colorado

Whether you have never boondocked before or just not in Colorado, you might not know where to stay. Today we share a few of our top picks for boondocking in Colorado. 

1. Madden Peak Road

About Madden Peak Road: Madden Peak Road is near Hesperus, Colorado, about half an hour west of Durango in the southwest part of the state. It has plenty of spots, so you shouldn’t have to worry about finding one. 

The higher elevation allows for both incredible views and cooler summer temperatures. Campers report that the road is in good condition though it can be rough in some areas. RVs of all sizes can usually find a place here. 

Where You Should Camp: If you want to drive a few miles into the area, you will find even better sites with quite a bit more privacy. 

What Makes It Great: This large area has plenty of spaces for people to camp. This makes it great for those camping with friends and family, as you can likely find an excellent spot for a group to set up. 

Airstream boondocking in Colorado
Always remember to leave no trace when boondocking in Colorado!

2. McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

About McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area: This conservation area sits in the high desert of western Colorado. The Bureau of Land Management manages the approximately 123,739 acres near Grand Junction, Colorado. The area is home to the second-largest population of natural arches in North America. 

You can find ancient pictographs and petroglyph sites as well. Those brave enough can also ride or hike on the Old Spanish Trail. According to the Bureau of Land Management, the trail has the title of the “longest, crookedest, most arduous mule route in the history of America.”

Mountain bike enthusiasts will also enjoy riding on an elite 142-mile mountain bike trail. It goes along Mack Ridge and extends to Moab, Utah. If you love mountain biking and a challenge, you’ll love this area.

Where You Should Camp: No matter your style of boondocking in Colorado, you can find several spots in McInnis Canyons. Rabbit Valley has plenty of dispersed camping and works great for large and small rigs. If you enjoy off-roading, you’ll want to bring those toys with you. 

You’ll also have plenty of great options for camping in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness about two miles south of Fruita, Colorado. You can find numerous spots along the roads here, but 35 designated campsites require a permit. 

What Makes It Great: This gorgeous area provides plenty of hiking, biking, and leisurely driving opportunities. If Arches National Park in Utah isn’t in your travel plans, this area has plenty of arches to enjoy.

3. San Luis Lakes Campground

About San Luis Lakes: San Luis Lakes is an exciting mix of traditional campgrounds and dispersed camping. It is tough to label this as true boondocking, but you can get a feel for it with a few amenities.  

Unlike standard boondocking in Colorado, you will have electricity here. However, it has no water available. You can stay up to 14 days at this campground for free as long as you have a valid Colorado fishing or hunting license. 

Where You Should Camp: All the sites here are great, so drive around to decide which suits you best before setting up camp. Some areas have better cell phone reception than others, so check the service strength as you drive around if that matters to you. 

What Makes It Great: This campground has electricity which is a huge advantage over true boondocking. Having a relaxed environment but still having available shore power makes an easy trip. It also has designated spots, so you don’t have to guess where to go.  

While boondocking save some time for hiking the many unique Colorado trails.

4. Flat Tops Trail

About Flat Tops Trail: The Flat Tops Trail Byway is a remote, 82-mile stretch in the northwest area of Colorado. This trail connects the towns of Yampa and Meeker. While much of the area is considered secluded, it is precisely what some people want in a campsite. You can find plenty to explore, including active ranches and old mines. 

Where You Should Camp: Flat Tops Trail has two designated dispersed camping areas, the Crosho Lake Recreation Area and the Trout Creek Recreation Area. The Crosho Lake Recreation Area offers lake views and great water recreation, including fishing and boating. 

The more remote Trout Creek Recreation Area provides four designated camping spots. Many enjoy creek fishing here. 

What Makes It Great: This huge area has many exploring opportunities. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of life, take a trip here. You’ll have great views, activities, and solitude when you go boondocking in Colorado at this site. 

5. Cottonwood Pass

About Cottonwood Pass: Cottonwood Pass is an organized campground with a nightly fee of $20. This first-come, first-served site has two toilets. In the past, it had potable water, but it was not available as of the 2021 season. This campground, found in west-central Colorado, opens seasonally. 

Where You Should Camp: Campers should camp in the designated sites. 

What Makes It Great: While it has no hookups, the campsites themselves are great. These established campsites have a fire ring, picnic table, and lantern post. This is an excellent site if you want to dry camp in a beautiful location but still have a designated spot.  

Woman camping in Colorado
Enjoy some solitude in the stunning outdoor setting Colorado has to offer.

6. Guanella Pass

About Guanella Pass: Guanella Pass is located an hour west of Denver at over 10,000 ft elevation. It is around 7 seven miles south of Georgetown on the South Fork of Clear Creek on the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway. 

People recommend that large RVs not use this campground. Every site has a tent pad, picnic table, fire ring, and grill. It even has hand-pumped potable water, vault toilets, and dumpsters.

Where You Should Camp: Guanella Pass has 18 designated campsites. Eleven campgrounds work for smaller RVs, and the rest are tent only. You can make your reservations on recreation.gov for a fee of $21 a night. 

What Makes It Great: Guanella Pass is a great place to spend some time hiking and fishing. This expansive area has a wide variety of hikes to try regardless of your abilities. 

Whether you want an easy or advanced trail, you’ll find one for you. You can also escape the summer heat in the higher elevation. 

Pro Tip: There’s a lot to see and do in Colorado! These are 7 Amazing Reasons to Visit Colorado National Monument on your next Colorado adventure!

Starry sky campsite in colorado.
Sleep under peaceful, starry skies while boondocking in Colorado.

7. Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway

About Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway: The Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway is in north-central Colorado. Fort Collins lies about an hour to the east. The byway is a 101-mile drive within Colorado’s northern Rockies. This scenic road connects the towns of Fort Collins and Walden.

Where You Should Camp: You cannot camp within a quarter-mile of the Cache La Poudre River and 200 ft from all other water sources. 

What Makes It Great: The steep and rugged terrain allows you to connect with nature and accomplish some advanced hiking. You’ll find abundant wildlife viewing, making for some great pictures and memories while boondocking in this part of Colorado. 

Is Boondocking Dangerous? 9 Frightening and Odd Boondocking Experiences In 5 Years Full-time RV Life

Get Away in Colorado

Colorado is an outdoor paradise. Boondocking in Colorado gives you great opportunities for fishing, hiking, rafting, and simply enjoying some fresh mountain air. While most boondocking doesn’t have amenities or designated campgrounds, you can find a few options that do. 

Some may require a fee, but the chance to use a toilet, electricity, or potable water can make the cost worth it. These campsites give you an excellent opportunity to connect with nature and get away from it all. 

Have you had a chance to do some boondocking in Colorado? What have been some of your favorite places to call home while visiting? Tell us in the comments below!

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Steve H

Thursday 20th of October 2022

Boondockers in Colorado may want to check out my blog at https://2fanrgs.blogger.com. I have described many free or low-cost dry camping and boondocking sites along all the US highways in the Colorado Rockies.

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