Top 5 Car Camping Spots In Colorado's Front Range

By: Eric Schuette

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Now that summer is beginning to show itself in the high country, it's time to think more about getting out and enjoying the beautiful car camping destinations throughout the Front Range. Although not an exhaustive list, this list should give you an idea of where to start and some of the beautiful choices you will have. Fortunately for those who take advantage of the summer camping season, it is a beautifully hard choice we have to make….Whether it's a destination on this list or your favorite getaway spot, make sure to enjoy the beauty of the mountains this summer. There aren't many better ways to spend an evening than sitting by a campfire with friends looking up at the stars and mountains surrounding you.

1. Guanella Pass

Photo: Eric Schuette

Guanella Pass is a gravel road that runs from Hwy 70 in the north (from the beautiful small town of Georgetown) south to Highway 285. Guanella Pass is famous for being the starting place to two of the front ranges most famous mountains, the 14ers Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans. Camping in the area often helps to beat the large crowds that frequent the mountains during the summer. In addition to the famous 14ers, there are numerous other mountains, lakes, and mining ruins in the area that can keep one busy for days! There are several campgrounds on both sides of the pass as well as several areas one can camp near the road. Learn more.

2. Lost Park Campground

Photo: Ryan McKinney

The Lost Creek wilderness is one of the gems of the Front Range. Located from Highway 285 to the north (and where most people access the area) to highway 24 in the south. The Lost Creek wilderness in not nearly as visited as many other areas in the front range that boast higher mountains but do not let that fool you, the Lost Creek wilderness has a unique charm and beauty that can become addicting. Few summit baggers in Colorado would leave the summits of Bison Peak or McCurdy off their highlight list. There are several designated camping areas in the area but be aware, this is a wilderness area and additional regulations apply. Learn more.

3. Brainard Lake

Photo: Eric Schuette

Brainard Lake has been one of the most popular hiking destinations in the front range for but more recently has become more popular as a camping destination. Anyone who has spent time there would be able to quickly explain why, it has access to some of the most beautiful areas in all of the front range, some very popular/beautiful summits, has among the most vibrant summer wildflower displays in Colorado, and is home to a growing moose population. Reservations are not always easy to come by but can be well worth the wait. A fee does apply unless you have one of several National Lands passes, enquire as to the current status of the passes as well as road conditions. Learn more.

4. Timber Creek in Rocky Mountain National Park

Photo: Ryan McKinney

No list involving camping in the Front Range would be complete without mentioning Rocky Mountain National Park. With over 250,000 acres to access camping trips lasting months would still leave many areas unexplored. Numerous camp grounds provide opportunities to experience camping in the mountains with some degree of comfort. By camping you can also take advantage of sunrise/sunset times when there are many fewer visitors on the trails. Check in with the visitors centers of Fall River, Beaver Meadows, and Kawuneeche for current information and conditions. Learn more.

5. Off the beaten-path in the Front Range

Photo: Eric Schuette

It's nice to know exactly where you're going on your camping trip, but it's also fun to hit the road with a general destination in mind and figure it out when you get there. Along the front range there are large areas of national forest land (primarily in the Roosevelt, Pike, or Arapaho National Forests) that offer 100's of miles of dispersed road camping that is ideal for this kind of trip. There are some regulations that apply and wildfire seasons in recent years have seen additional restrictions but these areas offer simple, free, and beautiful places to camp. Some favorites include Rollins Pass (from the west side), Boreas Pass (pictured above), Hoosier Pass (the east side is considered front range), Peru Creek Road, Webster Pass, Long Draw Road, Red Feather Lakes, Cabin Creek Road outside Lyons, and Buffalo Creek (outside Pine Junction). These roads and areas are all accessible with a stock 4-wheel drive vehicle and many with any 2-wheel drive vehicle. All of these areas offer a variety of scenery and activity options that can keep one busy for a very long time! Be sure to call ahead for conditions and restrictions.

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As always, be sure to adhere to Leave No Trace ethics while camping and check in with the local ranger districts for up to date information on any conditions, regulations, or restrictions. Happy camping!

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.