Colorful Colorado overflows with ecological beauty, including mountains, rolling prairies, alpine forests, and serene reservoirs and lakes. There’s something different for everyone to enjoy, and camping out is the best way to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the Centennial State.
Enjoy a camping trip that mixes adventure and relaxation. Read to discover the seven best camping spots near Denver, Colorado.
1. Bill Moore Lake
Bill Moore Lake is a beautiful alpine lake 11,368 feet above sea level. Located in the Arapaho National Forest, this body of water is surrounded by towering aspen and pine trees. The Bill Moore Lake area offers some of the best-dispersed camping in Colorado.
Explore trails on foot or take your 4X4, ATV, or mountain bike. The well-preserved Conqueror mine is a fun historical site to visit.
The Bill Moore Lake OHV route is generally considered a moderately challenging route and is 10.4 miles out and back. The road to the summit is unpaved, very rocky, and steep, so you should only drive it in a 4WD, high-clearance vehicle. The road to the lake is closed during winter and generally not free of snow until June or July.
2. Rainbow Lakes Campground
Drive about an hour and a half west of Denver to Rainbow Lakes Campground. The campground is open from June to September.
Mountain bikers, hikers, and anglers will love this outdoor oasis. Explore the numerous hiking trails and fishing ponds. The Rainbow Lakes Trail is a 1.9-mile hike.
Rainbow Lakes holds 18 first-come, first-serve campsites that can accommodate tents and smaller trailers. You and seven other companions can share one campsite for up to 14 days. Picnic tables, fire grates, vault toilets, and trash services make each campsite welcoming. Campsites 15 through 18 are more secluded.
If you want to visit a nearby eclectic mountain village, check out Nederland. Enjoy the local restaurants and craft beer.
3. Cherry Creek State Park
Cherry Creek State Park is only a 35-minute drive from downtown Colorado. The 4,000-acre park is open year-round to visitors. Come to Cherry Creek to observe birds and other wildlife like horned owls and eagles. Enjoy biking or hiking on the trails that stretch out over the gentle hills.
The Cherry Creek Reservoir covers 880 surface acres and gives park visitors plenty of fun. During the boating season, guests can ride on paddleboards, kayaks, boats, and jet skis. Fishing is allowed with a license.
As of January 1, 2020, all Colorado state parks require camping reservations. You can make reservations by phone or online at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website up to six months in advance and as late as the day you plan to arrive.
4. Chatfield State Park
Another one of the best camping spots near Denver, Colorado, is just 45 minutes south of the city. The Chatfield State Park is a 5,800-acre nature preserve and recreation area around the Chatfield Reservoir.
Campers at Chatfield State Park have access to nearly 200 tent and RV campsites in four loops. All campsites have picnic tables, cooking grills, and tent pads. Campers can access drinking water, flush toilets, hot showers, and laundry facilities. Most sites are open and grassy, with minimal shade. All are within short walking distance of the reservoir.
Explore over 20 miles of paved and unpaved trails on foot, bike, or horseback. You can see deer, elk, foxes, songbirds, owls, salamanders, and eagles. Campers can enjoy the reservoir by swimming, paddling, and waterskiing. You can fish for walleye, rainbow trout, bass, perch, and sunfish.
The campground is open year-round, with limited access and services during winter. Trails are available for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing in winter.
5. Belle of Colorado
The Belle of Colorado is a first-come, first-serve campground. It’s located on the shore of the popular Turquoise Lake in a shaded pine forest. The campground sees heavy usage on the weekends, but it slows to a moderate level during the weekdays.
At Turquoise Lake, you can bike along the 12-mile roundtrip singletrack path along the lakeshore. Or you can ride on the paved road that encircles the lake and climbs to vantage points overlooking surrounding mountains. In winter, you can fat-tire bike on the well-maintained path.
Boat, canoe, kayak, or SUP on almost 1,800 acres of sparkling blue water. Or fish for mackinaw trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout. In winter, enjoy ice fishing.
6. Indian Paintbrush Campground
Indian Paintbrush Campground is in the county-run Bear Creek Lake recreation area. It’s only 20 minutes away from Denver. In the summertime, Indian Paintbrush Campground receives visitors attending events at the nearby Red Rocks Amphitheatre. This interesting mix of campers gives the site a unique energy.
The expansive campground includes 457 campsites, three cabins, and two yurts. Several group sites have a 25-person capacity. Forty-seven sites have electrical hookups.
Campers can access drinking water, toilets, showers, electric hookups, and on-site firewood. Each site has a fire ring, grill, and picnic table.
Campers can enjoy views of the rolling foothills of the Rockies and blood-orange sandstone formations. The campground is within walking distance of horse stables that offer rides around the park and accommodate various groups.
7. Pearl Lake State Park
Pearl Lake State Park is a serene lakeside setting in the mountains north of Steamboat Springs. Visitors can camp along the shoreline and see amazing views. The 166-acre lake is a gorgeous location for canoeing.
The hiking trail accesses National Forest. Walk onto the wildlife viewing deck that overlooks the lake for unforgettable views. Nearly all 36 campsites and two yurts are sunny and have views of both the lake and surrounding mountains.
This location is excellent for fly and lure fishing for native cutthroat trout. The wakeless lake keeps the setting serene.
In the winter, the campgrounds are closed, but you can stay in yurts. Call the visitor center ahead of time for more information on winter camping. Enjoy snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing in this secluded getaway.
Reserve your off-road Jeep rental in Denver and head out to your campground of choice. Diff. makes it easy to book a reliable vehicle that’s tough enough for the great outdoors. Reserve your rental today.