Telluride is one of the premier camping destinations in the country. The panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and clear alpine lakes are unlike anywhere else. Whether you want to camp in a tent, RV, or cozy cabin, there are plenty of campground options near Telluride.
Today, we’re diving into some of the fantastic places for you to camp while experiencing Telluride. Which one is best for you? Let’s look and see!
Where Is Telluride?
Telluride is a small town in the southwest corner of Colorado. It’s approximately 330 miles southwest of Denver and 65 miles southwest of Grand Junction. In addition to sitting 8,750 feet above sea level, the majestic San Juan Mountains surround the city. This creates a very rugged feeling for this remote town.
The easiest way to access the town is by car. This allows you to take one of the several scenic routes leading into the city. One of our favorites, the San Juan Skyway, is an experience you’ll remember for years.
Visitors can also fly commercially into Telluride Regional Airport. Unfortunately, Denver Air Connection and United Airlines are the only commercial airlines that service this airport. However, with some planning and patience, it’s certainly possible.
What’s the Big Deal About Telluride?
Visitors flock to Telluride for its natural beauty and adventure opportunities. It’s home to the world’s best skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain biking. The slopes, trails, and courses are perfect, and the views are equally impressive.
In addition to its natural beauty, the town hosts many cultural events. The Telluride Film Festival, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and Telluride Jazz Festival are just a few. Travelers also enjoy looking at the town’s unique architecture and exploring its boutique shops and high-end restaurants.
Whether you come to explore the rugged landscape or appreciate the culture, Telluride is a must-see location. It’s one spot we look forward to returning and experiencing again.
Pro Tip: Are you brave enough to visit these 7 Best Ghost Towns in Colorado You Must See?
8 Best Campgrounds for an Amazing Telluride Camping Experience
There are a handful of fantastic opportunities for camping in Telluride. However, during peak camping season, it can get hectic. You may need to expand your search parameters to include a few neighboring towns. Don’t worry though; we have you covered. Here are some of the best campgrounds to help you experience Telluride.
1. Telluride Town Park Campground
The Telluride Town Park Campground in Telluride, CO, 81435, has dry camping available from mid-May to mid-October yearly. This is one of the only spots to park an RV within the town limits. Unfortunately, there’s limited availability and a maximum length of 30 feet. So it’s no surprise that sites sell out within minutes. If you want to stay here, you must act fast. During the three main festivals, guests must attend and obtain camping through the festival.
The campground has a new restroom and shower facility, which requires tokens. Remember, this is dry camping, so you must provide your own power. Visitors have rated it 4.5 stars on Google, and the cost is roughly $21 to $46 nightly. While it can be expensive for dry camping, you can’t beat the location. If you want to be in the heart of the excitement, there’s no better place to stay.
2. Sunshine Campground
Sunshine Campground is another tiny seasonal campground. You can find it at 7676 CO-145, Telluride, CO 81435. You’ve hit the jackpot if you’re under the 35 feet maximum length and snag one of the 15 campsites. Visitors rated the campground 4.4 out of 5 stars on Google. The campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s wise to have a backup plan. The nightly rate is approximately $20.
There are reports that the campground will offer running water and toilets. However, until that project is complete, the only restrooms are port-a-potties. If you want the best site, try to snag site 12 if it’s available. It’s a pull-through site offering incredible views of all 13,000 feet of Sunshine Peak.
3. Priest Lake Campground
Priest Lake Campground is a trendy spot, sitting on Priest Lake Rd in Telluride. The nine designated campsites are first-come, first-served and are suitable for tent camping. Unfortunately, trailers are not welcome due to a lack of parking space. If you want to set up camp with a lake view, it doesn’t get much better than this. Visitors agree, rating it 4.5 out of 5 stars on Google. There’s convenient access to hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and fishing.
This camping area is only 20 minutes outside of Telluride. Despite its budget-friendly pricing with free camping, it provides priceless views. However, it’s important to remember that the spot sits at 10,000 feet elevation. You’ll want to come prepared with plenty of warm clothes.
Looking for thrills? Black Bear Pass sits just outside of the popular town of Telluride. This road has a stretch of narrow and exposed switchbacks that is downhill-only and one-way, making it one of the scariest roads in Colorado!
4. Alta Lakes Campground (Dispersed)
Alta Lakes Campground sits at an elevation of 11,273 feet on Alta Lakes Rd in Telluride. It’s an epic spot in Telluride that’s best for tent camping. The dirt road into the campground is narrow and steep. A skilled driver with a small trailer could reach Alta Lakes Campground. However, it isn’t easy, and you’ll need plenty of ground clearance. If not, you could do some severe damage.
The road closes during the winter, which makes this the perfect seasonal campsite. Campendium user JPRodibaugh said, “Gorgeous views, amazing hikes are all around.” Visitors rate it at 4.5 stars on Google, and there are no nightly fees. If you want to experience the rugged wilderness of Colorado, this is the place to stay. However, respect the land and obey the seven-day max stay limit.
5. Elk Ridge Campground
Elk Ridge Campground sits within Ridgway State Park on Elk Ridge Campground Rd, Ridgway, CO 81432. It’s one of the few campgrounds in the area that offers electricity and has water faucets throughout the campground. The state did an excellent job spacing out sites to allow campers to spread out. If you’re lucky, you may find an incredible mountain view out your front door.
It may be a 30 to 40-minute drive into Telluride, but this campground allows you to soak in the views. Ridgway is nearby, and Ouray is only 20 minutes away. The area has many hiking and biking trails, a beach, and excellent fishing.
Campers rated it 4.5 stars on Google. There are no nightly fees. Apanda24 on Campendium said, “By far the best campground we saw in the area! Many local options were cramped, but we had lots of space and gorgeous views. The location was ideal. Just a perfect stay all around!”
6. Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground
Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground near Telluride is another place to camp within Ridgway State Park. It sits at US-550, Montrose, CO 81403, and offers 95 spacious campsites with full hookups. If you’re looking for a tent camp, there are an additional 15 spots that you can walk to. These sites are in a small forest of Ponderosa pines but require campers to walk approximately half a mile.
The paved parking pads at each site are perfect for tents, trailers, and RVs. There’s fresh water, toilets, hot showers, and a playground for campers to enjoy. Fees are roughly $40 nightly. For those that want to stay comfortable while experiencing the rugged Colorado landscape, this is the place to stay.
Google rates the campground at 4.5 stars. MThompson left five stars on Campendium and said, “Our site was level and paved. The roads are nice and well-maintained. We had a great view of the mountains!” What more could you ask for on a campsite?
7. Thistletown Campground
Thistletown Campground offers nine campsites at Camp Bird Rd, Ouray, CO 81427, near Telluride. It opens in late May and closes in late fall. It’s a trendy spot for hikers preparing to hike Mount Sneffels or any area trails. Access to the campground can be challenging, so tent camping is typically the best option. However, some users were able to navigate the roads in larger rigs.
Bears frequent the area, and campers must use the bear boxes to store food. In addition, plan ahead and come with bear spray if you’ll be hiking or navigating the OHV trails. You never know when it will come in handy.
Staying in the campground provides incredible mountain views at approximately $10 nightly. There’s a rushing river close to some of the sites. Each site offers a picnic table, a fire pit, and a leveled area to pitch a tent. Visitors rated it 4.5 out of 5 stars on Google.
8. Ouray KOA
The Ouray KOA at 225 Co Rd 23, Ridgway, CO 81432, is ideal for anyone who enjoys more comfort during their adventures. Like most KOA locations, you’ll find sites with full hookup connections throughout the several acres of property. There are plenty of things to do in this Telluride campground. There’s a playground, hiking trails, gem mining, and off-road opportunities in and around the park.
They offer campsites, from premium tent sites to RV sites with massive patios. Whether you want to live in luxury or a bit more primitive, you can do it here.
Google rates the campground at 4.4 stars, and rates range from about $50 to $80 nightly. Campendium user Camp Cresto said, “Clean sites, easy to get into, level, plenty of room between sites. Great friendly staff.” If you’re looking for a place to stay near Telluride and don’t mind the drive, this option is worth considering.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Telluride?
Telluride is a playground for adventurers. There’s never a wrong time to visit this area because it offers much to see and do. However, the best time to visit will depend on the activities you plan to enjoy.
Telluride transforms into a wonderland during the winter. It’s one of the best places to ski and snowboard. The slopes can get crowded, especially on the weekends. However, it’s the perfect time to visit if you enjoy winter sports.
The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are excellent times for camping in Telluride, too. Spring provides milder temperatures and longer days, while fall foliage paints the landscape in various colors. You can find plenty of places to hike, bike, and explore the outdoors. With the shoulder seasons, crowds are thinner, and it’s a more peaceful and tranquil environment.
The area surrounding Telluride explodes to life during the summer. Numerous festivals and events take place. The warm weather makes it convenient to enjoy outdoor recreation like hiking, mountain biking, and fishing. Start planning early if you want to visit during the Telluride Bluegrass Festival or Telluride Film Festival.
Best Things to Do in Telluride
Outdoor recreation is one of the most trendy activities in the area. You cannot come to Telluride without hiking at least one trail. In our “Elevate Your Hiking Game: The Top 8 Trails You Can’t Miss in Telluride,” we highlight some epic hikes.
Plenty of trails are available whether you’re hitting the trails on foot or a bike. You can find one to fit your skills or physical condition. Thankfully, the million-dollar views don’t require pushing your physical limits. They’re readily available no matter which adventure you choose.
Telluride is much more than just outdoor adventures. Main Street has historic buildings, boutique shops, and various dining options. You can hop on the gondola that connects Telluride with Mountain Village to enjoy breathtaking views. If you’d prefer to enjoy the views from the comfort of your car, it’s possible too. The San Juan Skyway is a looping road with mountain passes, historic towns, and stunning landscapes.
Pro Tip: Before you head out to the Telluride trails, make sure you have these 10 Hiking Essentials You Should Never Hit the Trail Without.
Discover the Incredible Beauty of Telluride While Camping
Camping in Telluride is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of this area. Between the pristine alpine lakes and the groves of aspens, it’s the ideal place to create lifelong memories. There’s so much to dive into that it will require multiple trips. So what are you waiting for? Get out and start exploring Telluride and the surrounding area.
Where will you stay while visiting Telluride? Tell us which campground caught your eye in the comments!
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