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Campgrounds Near Denver Colorado

My 11 Favorite Campgrounds Near Denver, Colorado: Ultimate Guide

Denver, Colorado, is a gateway to some of the most stunning outdoor adventures in the country. For camping enthusiasts, the surrounding areas offer a plethora of campgrounds that cater to every kind of camper, from the rugged backcountry adventurer to the family seeking a relaxing weekend in nature.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to my 11 favorite campgrounds near Denver, each with its unique charm and appeal.

Table of Contents

1. Cherry Creek State Park Campground

Located just a short drive from downtown Denver, Cherry Creek State Park Campground offers a perfect escape for urban dwellers. This campground features over 130 sites, with amenities like full hookups, showers, and laundry facilities. The park itself is a haven for water sports, with a large reservoir ideal for boating, fishing, and swimming. The extensive trail system is perfect for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

2. Reverend’s Ridge Campground (Golden Gate Canyon State Park)

Reverend’s Ridge Campground in Golden Gate Canyon State Park offers a peaceful and scenic camping experience. With over 97 sites, including electric hookups and tent sites, it’s a great choice for those seeking a blend of comfort and rustic charm. The nearby Visitor Center offers educational programs, and the park’s numerous trails provide endless exploration opportunities.

3. Chatfield State Park Campground

Chatfield State Park Campground, located southwest of Denver, is a favorite among families and water enthusiasts. The campground features over 200 sites with amenities like electrical hookups, showers, and a marina. The large reservoir is perfect for boating, fishing, and paddleboarding, and the park’s extensive trail system is ideal for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

4. Bear Creek Lake Park Campground

Just a stone’s throw from Denver, Bear Creek Lake Park Campground in Lakewood offers a convenient yet natural retreat. The park’s campground features 47 sites with amenities such as electrical hookups, showers, and fire rings. The park’s lakes are great for swimming, fishing, and boating, and the trails accommodate hikers, bikers, and equestrians alike.

5. Moraine Park Campground (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, Moraine Park Campground is a bit of a drive from Denver but well worth the trip. This picturesque campground offers 244 sites with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and meadows. Wildlife sightings are common, and the numerous hiking trails provide access to some of the park’s most beautiful areas.

NOTE: Moraine Park Campground is closed for major updates until summer 2024.

6. St. Vrain State Park Campground

North of Denver, St. Vrain State Park Campground is a haven for bird watchers and anglers. The park’s 87 campsites offer electrical hookups and easy access to several ponds and wetlands. The tranquil setting is perfect for a relaxing getaway, with ample opportunities for fishing, wildlife viewing, and easy nature walks.

7. Heaton Bay Campground (Dillon Reservoir)

Heaton Bay Campground, located on Dillon Reservoir, offers stunning mountain views and a variety of recreational activities. The campground provides a range of camping experiences, from tent sites to RV hookups. The reservoir is ideal for boating, fishing, and kayaking, and the nearby towns of Dillon and Frisco offer dining and shopping options.

8. Gross Reservoir (Dispersed Camping)

For those seeking a more primitive camping experience, Gross Reservoir offers free dispersed camping with no amenities, providing a true backcountry feel. The reservoir is great for paddling and fishing, and the surrounding forest offers peaceful solitude and stunning views. You must stay at one of the pre-designated campsites.

9. Kenosha Pass Campground

Kenosha Pass Campground, located along the Colorado Trail, is a favorite among fall foliage enthusiasts. The campground’s 25 sites are perfect for tents and small trailers, offering a quiet retreat with stunning views of the changing aspens. The nearby trail provides access to some of the best hiking in Colorado, with breathtaking vistas and abundant wildlife.

10. Echo Lake Campground

Situated near the base of Mount Evans, Echo Lake Campground offers a cool, alpine escape. The 17 campsites are first-come, first-served, and provide a peaceful setting surrounded by dense forest and towering peaks. The nearby Echo Lake is perfect for fishing and picnicking, and the Mount Evans Scenic Byway offers incredible views and wildlife sightings.

11. White Ranch Park Rustic Campground

White Ranch Park Campground offers a rustic camping experience in their semi-primitive campsites with basic amenities, beautiful vistas, and extensive hiking and biking trails. Located in Jefferson County, this campground is less crowded than more popular state or national parks, providing a peaceful escape close to Denver. No campfires are allowed, but there’s still lots to love here.

Leave No Trace While Camping Near Denver

When exploring these beautiful campgrounds near Denver, it’s crucial to adhere to the Leave No Trace (LNT) principles. This set of guidelines helps ensure the preservation of our natural environments for future generations to enjoy. 

Here are some specific LNT tips for camping in Colorado:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare: Research the area you’re visiting, understand the regulations, prepare for extreme weather and emergencies, and make sure you have the right equipment.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Stick to established trails and campsites. In more remote areas, camp at least 200 feet from lakes and streams to protect riparian areas.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack out all trash and leftover food. In certain areas, you might be required to carry out human waste as well.
  • Leave What You Find: Do not disturb wildlife or plants, and avoid moving rocks, twigs, or other natural objects. Leave natural and cultural features as you found them for others to enjoy.
  • Minimize Campfire Impact: Use a camp stove for cooking instead of making a fire. If you must have a fire, use established fire rings, keep fires small, and burn only small sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Always put out fires completely.
  • Respect Wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and never feed animals. Store food and trash securely to avoid attracting wildlife to your campsite.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Keep noise levels down and let nature’s sounds prevail.

By following these guidelines, we can all contribute to preserving Colorado’s stunning natural beauty and biodiversity. Learn more by reading our Leave No Trace tips guide.

Leave No Trace

Additional Camping Tips and Recommendations

Camping in the mountains is not the same experience as camping at lower elevations near sea level. Here are some tips to keep in mind while visiting these campgrounds near Denver to help deal with the elevation, weather, and wildlife.

Seasonal Information

When is the Best Time to Visit: Spring, summer, and fall are ideal for camping in these areas. Winter camping can be adventurous but requires preparation for snow and cold temperatures.

What Should I Expect During….

Summer: Warm days, cool nights, and occasional afternoon thunderstorms. This is the busiest time for most campgrounds, so book ahead.

Autumn: Cooler temperatures, fewer crowds, and beautiful fall foliage. Nights can be chilly, so pack warm clothing.

Winter: Snowy and cold conditions. Some campgrounds may be closed, and those that are open require special preparation for snow camping.

Spring: Variable weather, from warm and sunny to cold and snowy. Wildflowers start to bloom, and wildlife becomes more active.

Prepare for High Altitude

Many of the best campgrounds near Denver located at a high elevation, which can affect people coming from lower elevations. It’s recommended to stay well-hydrated and avoid strenuous activities for the first few days to allow your body to acclimate to the altitude.

Be aware of symptoms of altitude sickness such as headache, shortness of breath, and dizziness. When in doubt, turn back and descend before your condition worsens and the situation becomes a medical emergency.

Pack the Right Gear

Here’s a good packing list for your camping gear necessities.

  • Essentials: Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, camping stove, cookware, water filter, headlamp, first aid kit, sunscreen, mosquito spray.
  • Clothing: Layered clothing, waterproof jacket, sturdy hiking boots, hat, gloves.
  • Food and Drink: Non-perishable food, snacks, reusable water bottles, hydration system.
  • Extras: Camera, camp chair, camp table, binoculars, portable charger, maps, guidebooks, entertainment (books, games).
  • Campfire: Firestarters, matches/lighter, extra water, firewood (buy nearby), tarp for storage.

Check out my complete camping gear checklist to make sure you pack everything you need for a safe and successful camping trip.

Wildlife Safety

While wildlife in Colorado rarely injure or kill people at campgrounds near Denver and the Front Range area it is still a possibility in a worst-case scenario. Here are good practices to prevent an incident and ensure you remain safe while visiting the mountains.

  • Wildlife Encounters: Be aware that you might encounter wildlife such as bears, moose, and mountain lions. Always keep a safe distance, at least 100 feet, and never feed wildlife.
  • Food Storage: Store all food and scented items in bear-proof containers or hang them from a tree to prevent attracting animals to your campsite.
  • Tick and Mosquito Protection: Use an insect repellent with DEET to protect against ticks and mosquitoes, check for ticks daily, and stay on trails to avoid tick-infested areas.

Best Campgrounds Near Denver: Now You Know

Colorado’s campgrounds near Denver offer a diverse range of experiences, from the convenience of Cherry Creek State Park Campground to the rustic charm of White Ranch Park. Whether you’re an experienced camper or a family looking for a weekend getaway, these campgrounds provide an opportunity to connect with nature, explore the great outdoors, and make lasting memories.

Don’t forget to adhere to Leave No Trace principles and respect the natural beauty that Colorado has to offer. Happy camping!

Frequently Asked Questions

You can also post a comment with a question about these campgrounds near Denver, Colorado and we will get back to you as soon as possible with an answer and more information.

Q: What is the best time to camp in Colorado?

A: The best time to camp is from late spring to early fall (May to October). Winter camping is possible but requires preparation for snow and cold weather.

A: Yes, especially during peak season. Many campgrounds offer online reservations through or state park websites.

A: Most campgrounds allow pets but typically require them to be leashed. Check individual park regulations for specific rules.

A: Essentials include a tent, sleeping bag, camping stove, cookware, food, water, layered clothing, and safety gear like a first aid kit and map.

A: Campfire regulations vary. Check current fire restrictions for each park before you go. In general, use designated fire rings and follow Leave No Trace principles.

A: Some campgrounds offer first-come, first-served sites, but availability can be limited during peak times. Reservations are recommended.

A: Store food in bear-proof containers, keep a clean campsite, and never approach or feed wildlife. Follow park guidelines for wildlife safety.

A: Chatfield State Park and Cherry Creek State Park are very family-friendly, offering plenty of activities and amenities.

A: Cherry Creek State Park, Chatfield State Park, and Dillon Reservoir are excellent for boating, fishing, and other water sports.

A: Check the specific park’s website or contact the park directly for information on accessible campsites and facilities.

Additional Resources

Check out these resources for more information on campgrounds near Denver, Colorado.

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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