Your Guide to Camping Around Northern Colorado
This summer, unplug yourself from the digital world and get recharged in a more natural way – like setting out on a camping adventure, somewhere in the serene and scenic wilderness of Northern Colorado.
Camping is a fantastic way to experience a quick little escape from reality, and doesn't require that much planning ahead either. Whether you’re looking for public or private campgrounds, closer to town or deep in the mountains, there are tons of picturesque places around Northern Colorado that are perfect for pitching a tent and sleeping under the stars. Camping season for most places generally starts in early June, but it's always a good idea to check online and make sure that there are no current closures before heading off the beaten path. Another thing to keep in mind, is that some sites are first come, first served while others are by reservation only, just as some are free while others require paying a small fee.
Below are just some suggestions if you're searching for a genuine camping experience, but have fun exploring and discovering your own getaway spots too.
This KOA campground is open year-round and surrounds a beautiful ten-acre lake where visitors can go fishing, swimming and paddle boating. There's also a fitness trail, mini-golf course, video arcade, bumper boats, a jumping pillow and a huge blow-up water slide. For those who simply can't unplug, there's even WiFi and cable available. KOA offers big-rig friendly sites with full hookups, or cabins and lodges too. With all of the extra amenities, this location definitely has more of a glamping feel to it, as opposed to primitive forest sites. Click here for directions to Fort Collins KOA Lakeside.
The whole Red Feather Lakes region is filled with designated campsites, as well as undeveloped areas where visitors can sporadically pull off the road and pop up their tent. Anywhere that you decide to go up here, you'll be surrounded by natural beauty and breathtaking views of the mountains and pines. Dowdy and Bellaire campgrounds both have huge lakes that are popular for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Red feather is packed full of hiking and biking trails, perfect for catching glimpses of active wildlife. Firewood can conveniently be gathered straight from the forest and brought back to your campsite, and if need be, some of the areas do offer electrical hookups. When planning a stay, it's important to check fire warnings, along with weather conditions, to make sure there's not any current closures. The campgrounds can be found by travelling about 50 miles northwest of Fort Collins. Once you settle on a spot, the actual village of Red Feather won't be too far away, in which you can find charming general stores and dining options. For a complete list of campgrounds in this area, as well maps and how to get there, click here.
You can explore pretty deep into the Cherokee State Wildlife Area and set up camp in secluded spots that provide the true feeling of sweet solitude. Up in this scenic destination, you'll find winding streams, unique rock formations, lots of wildlife, grassy meadows and strenuous hiking trails, plus great fishing opportunities. The Cherokee SWA is about 60 miles outside of Fort Collins. Click here for driving directions and a closer look at the location.
Surrounded by mountains and stunning views, there are numerous campgrounds that are located just west of Boulder. These tranquil areas include Rainbow Lakes, Camp Dick, Lost Lake and Peaceful Valley, but there are definitely other pull-offs nearby that are worth checking out. All of the sites can be accessed from Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. While picnic tables, fire grates, drinking water, and vault toilets are available at the grounds listed above, showers and electricity are not.
The Pawnee Grasslands offer a non-typical type of camping experience. With little to no shade, and a terrain that's very different from what you'd find in the woods, this spot might be one to visit before temperatures start to get extremely hot. The campsites are spacious and near the day-use area is a volleyball court, horseshoe pit, and several built-in grills. You can't fish here, but there are running creeks, wildflowers, and ideal places for bird watching and stargazing. To learn more about camping at the Pawnee National Grasslands, click here.
Situated alongside the Poudre River, inside Pingree Park, is where you'll find Tom Bennett Campground. Available on a first come, first served basis, the sites here are secluded and are for tent-camping only – providing the authentic, wilderness experience that adventurers crave. Tom Bennett is just one of the many places to camp in the park. The farther you go up the road in Pingree, the less crowds you'll run into and the more privacy you'll find. Streams and trails are all over the place, as well as plenty of wild animals too. To get here, drive 10 miles north of Fort Collins on U.S. Highway 287. Turn left onto Highway 14 and proceed 26 miles. Then, turn left on Pingree Park Road (County Road 63E) and travel approximately 17 miles until you reach the campground.
Camping in RMNP is the real deal. Here, guests have access to unlimited trails to be used for all sorts of outdoor activities, along with the chance to see wandering wildlife while exploring. Glacier Basin, Moraine Park, Timber Creek, Aspenglen, Longs Peak are some of the designated campgrounds, each equipped with 50+ sites, with the exception on Longs Peak. There are fire rings, tent pads, and picnic tables provided, and firewood is for sale near the park, for cooking and keeping warm. While you definitely get views for days and the full camping experience in RMNP, it does come with a fee of around $20. These spaces tend to fill up fast during the summer, so you may need to be a bit flexible when planning.
You don't always have to travel far to find awesome camping venues, and if you're into boating, this is where you absolutely need to go. With so much to do right nearby, the public land next to the 6.5-mile reservoir fills up very quickly with summertime campers, so you'll want to reserve your spot early at Horsetooth. There's always lots going on around here, creating a fun-filled atmosphere for visitors to be a part of. These campgrounds found at Inlet Bay and South Bay are all very clean and well-maintained, and there are even boat-in sites too.