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Michigan Creek Road Dispersed Camping Guide (County Road 54)

If you’re seeking a serene escape into nature, our new Guide to Dispersed Camping Along Michigan Creek Road (County Road 54) in Colorado is your ultimate resource. Just 20 minutes north of Jefferson, this guide uncovers the best spots and essential tips for a memorable camping experience. Discover the untouched beauty and tranquility of the Rockies as you venture off the beaten path. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a beginner, our comprehensive guide will help you navigate the wonders of dispersed camping in this stunning region.

At a Glance:

Camping Along Michigan Creek Road - Guide

Camping Area Description

Michigan Creek Road (County Road 54) offers an idyllic setting for dispersed camping, set amidst the breathtaking landscape of the Colorado Rockies. This scenic route begins just 20 minutes north of Jefferson, Colorado, winding through lush forests and open meadows, offering campers a variety of spots to set up their tents or park their RVs.

The road itself is a well-maintained dirt track, accessible to most vehicles, although high-clearance or four-wheel drive is recommended during wet conditions or in early spring when snowmelt can make the road muddy. The initial stretches of Michigan Creek Road present a mix of dense pine forests and expansive meadows, providing ample opportunities for secluded campsites.

Camping spots along Michigan Creek Road are dispersed, meaning there are no designated campsites with facilities. Instead, campers can find spots tucked away in the forest or along the edges of meadows, each offering a unique vantage point of the surrounding natural beauty. These areas are perfect for those looking to experience a more primitive camping experience, surrounded by the tranquility of the wilderness.

While amenities are minimal, the beauty and solitude more than compensate. Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles to maintain the pristine environment and ensure it remains enjoyable for future visitors. Always camp at least 200 feet away from water sources to protect the local ecosystem, and be mindful of local fire regulations to prevent wildfires.





Area Maps

This map shows the location of Michigan Creek Road, along with the developed Michigan Creek Campground, managed by the US Forest Service.





Elevation Profile

This profile shows the elevation of Michigan Creek Road from the turn-off near the campground all the way up to Georgia Pass. It also shows the slope, aspect, tree and land cover along the road.

Photos

Here are photos of Michigan Creek Road, including some of the campsites I came across while visiting and exploring the area in June, 2024.





Weather Forecast

Below is the weather forecast for the area from the National Weather Service. Scroll through the full page to get all relevant information and plan accordingly.





Getting There

Directions: Take Highway 285 until you reach Jefferson, Colorado. Turn onto County Road 35 (Michigan Creek Rd), and take a slight right onto County Road 54. Drive for approximately 2 miles, then take a right to continue on Michigan Creek Road. You should see dispersed campsites once past the Michigan Creek Campground.

Accessibility: 4WD is required to reach most of the upper campsites, though you may be able reach the first 2-3 sites without it if you go slow and take your time. The road is not maintained in winter. It usually opens during the first week of June and closes whenever the first major snowfall occurs in the fall.





Activities

Located in the Pike-San Isabel National Forests, there are lots of activities and things to do near Michigan Creek Road (County Road 54). Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

  • Climb a 13er: Mount Guyot can be climbed from Georgia Pass and is a relatively easy class 2 ascent, only 4 miles round-trip.
  • Go Fly Fishing: Michigan Creek runs along the road and is a perfect spot for fly fishing. Remember to get a fishing permit first!
  • Visit Fairplay: Fairplay is home to South Park City, a collection of historic buildings collected from ghost towns all over the state.
  • Lost Creek Wilderness: Explore one of Colorado’s best hidden gems, with fun hiking trails and a creek that flows underground through caves.
  • Drive up Kenosha Pass: This scenic drive offers stunning views of South Park and great opportunities to watch wildlife like moose and elk.
  • Hiking and Snowshoeing: With numerous trails in the area, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter.
  • Stargazing: Located far from Denver and Colorado Springs, the night sky here is perfect for stargazing along Michigan Creek Road.





Amenities

As a dispersed camping area, amenities are minimal along Michigan Creek Road.

There are no restrooms, water sources, or trash disposal services. Campers must be self-sufficient and prepared to pack out all trash and human waste.

Most campsites have a rock campfire ring and dirt tent pads, the only amenity you should expect.

Water can be gathered from nearby Michigan Creek but it must be treated or boiled first to kill or filter out parasites and harmful bacteria.

Nearest Towns: 

  • Jefferson, Colorado (15 minute drive)
  • Fairplay, Colorado (30 minute drive)
  • Bailey, Colorado (40 minute drive)
  • Breckenridge, Colorado (65 minute drive)

Nearest Hospitals/Emergency Rooms:

  • CommonSpirit Emergency & Urgent Care Breckenridge (60 minute drive)
  • CommonSpirit St. Anthony Summit Hospital, Frisco (75 minute drive)




Leave No Trace

Preserving the pristine nature of Michigan Creek is a responsibility shared by all visitors. Adhering to Leave No Trace principles is crucial:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare: Research current conditions and regulations before your trip.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Camp at least 200 feet from the creek and on existing sites to minimize impact.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack out all trash, including food scraps and toilet paper.
  • Leave What You Find: Avoid disturbing wildlife and plant life. Do not carve, chop, or damage trees.
  • Minimize Campfire Impact: Use a portable stove for cooking. If you must build a fire, use existing fire rings and keep fires small.
  • Respect Wildlife: Observe animals from a distance and secure food items.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Keep noise to a minimum and control pets at all times.


Learn more by reading our Leave No Trace Tips here.

Leave No Trace

Safety Tips

Camping along Michigan Creek Road in Colorado offers a peaceful escape, but safety should be a priority. Here are essential tips to ensure a safe adventure:

Prepare for Variable Weather

  • Layering: Pack layers and a warm sleeping bag to handle temperature drops, even in summer.
  • Weather Updates: Check forecasts regularly and be prepared for sudden changes, including afternoon thunderstorms.

Wildlife Safety

  • Food Storage: Use bear-proof containers or lock food in your vehicle to avoid attracting wildlife.
  • Keep Distance: Stay at least 100 feet from wildlife. If animals change behavior, you’re too close.

Fire Safety

  • Fire Regulations: Check for fire bans and use established fire rings for small fires.
  • Extinguishing Fires: Fully extinguish campfires with water until cold to the touch.

Navigation and Communication

  • Maps and GPS: Carry and know how to use a map and compass. GPS devices may not always have signal.
  • Inform Others: Let someone know your location and return time in case of emergencies.

Health and First Aid

  • First Aid Kit: Bring a well-stocked first aid kit and know basic procedures for common injuries.
  • Hydration and Nutrition: Carry enough water and food to sustain your energy levels.




Learn more by reviewing our complete mountain safety guide.

Permits, Regulations & Guidelines

There are no permits, passes, or reservations required to camp along Michigan Creek Road. However, that can change if people do not voluntarily limit their impact on the land.

Please follow Leave No Trace practices and recreate responsibly to preserve free and open access to this spectacular camping area.





National Forest Regulations

Follow these US Forest Service rules and regulations while camping in the area:

  • Be aware & follow posted regulations on national forest lands.
  • Keep noise levels down to avoid stressing wildlife and livestock, as well as other visitors.
  • Respect private property.
  • Do not carve, chop, cut or damage any live trees.
  • Camping is limited to 14 days within any continuous 30-day period.
  • Developed campgrounds may not be used when posted closed.
  • No camping is allowed within 100 feet of all lakes, streams and developed trails except for designated campsites
  • Be sure your fire is completely extinguished before leaving. You are responsible for keeping fires under control.
  • Keep dogs and pets under voice control at all times.
  • Using or possessing fireworks on national forest land is prohibited.
  • Travel only on designated off-highway vehicle routes. Travel slowly through water or mud. Do not make new tracks outside of the roadbed. Obey road closures and locked gates.
  • Vehicles must obey posted parking regulations. Unless otherwise posted, one may pull off a road to park.
  • Wilderness areas have specific rules and regulations that must be followed in order to protect these areas from our collective impacts


Check the US Forest Service safety page for other general guidelines.

Additional Resources

Here are additional resources and websites with information about Michigan Creek Road (County Road 54) and dispersed camping in the area.





Frequently Asked Questions

If your question isn’t addressed below, leave a comment and we will get back to you with more information as soon as possible.

A: Michigan Creek Campground is situated at an elevation of approximately 10,100 feet. This high altitude provides cool temperatures and stunning views, but also requires proper preparation for potential altitude sickness and cold weather conditions.

A: Dispersed camping refers to camping outside of designated campgrounds, often in a more primitive and natural setting. It typically involves camping in national forests or on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands where there are no amenities like bathrooms, fire pits, or picnic tables.

A: Michigan Creek Road, also known as County Road 54, is located about 20 minutes north of Jefferson, Colorado. It winds through the Pike National Forest, offering scenic views and multiple dispersed camping spots.

 

A: While the road is generally well-maintained, it is a dirt track that can become muddy and rough in wet conditions. A high-clearance or four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended, especially during spring when snowmelt can make the road challenging to navigate.

A: There are no facilities such as bathrooms, water, or trash services along Michigan Creek Road. Campers need to be self-sufficient, bringing their own water, food, and waste disposal means.

Campfires are generally allowed but must be within established fire rings if available. Always check for current fire bans or restrictions before your trip. Use only dead and downed wood for fires and ensure fires are completely extinguished with water before leaving.

 

A: All trash and waste must be packed out. Use catholes for human waste if necessary, digging at least 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water sources. Pack out all toilet paper and hygiene products.

NOTE: Dumping your trash at a dumpster or trash bin without permission is illegal and you may be fined. Plan to pack out your garbage and bring it home with you to dispose of.

A: Yes, the area around Michigan Creek Road offers several hiking trails, including the Colorado Trail and nearby Lost creek Wilderness. These trails provide access to beautiful forested areas and open meadows. Always stay on marked trails to protect the environment and avoid getting lost.

A: Cell phone service can be spotty or non-existent in the area. Some campsites had a signal for AT&T, however it was not consistent or stable. Do not rely on your phone for navigation or emergency communication. Plan accordingly and inform others of your plans.









Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.





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