Rocky Mountain National Park gets the most attention as the go-to camping location, but there are many incredible dispersed camping sites within driving distance from Denver.  Dispersed camping is the term used to describe camping inside a National Forest but outside the designated camp areas. This means campers aren’t provided electrical hook up, toilets, fire grates, or treated water. It takes preparedness but can be a very rewarding experience, and without a doubt is one of the best ways to experience the wilderness of Colorado.

Camping gear for Black Canyon

1. Jones Pass Road: On the way to Winter Park, CO, has several sites set back off of small parking lots. These sites guarantee an incredible view of St. Mary’s Glacier. With a 4×4 you can find even more isolated camping spots.

2. Bill Moore Lake: A short drive towards Empire and you enter the Empire loop, which is a less used trail that will take you to the Bill Moore lake and absolute serenity. This is the perfect disperse-camping site! Avid outdoor enthusiasts will love the options here, 4×4 through dirt patches, ATV trekking, or mountain biking. There is something for everyone! The off-roading trails are rated for the very experienced so take caution.  Once you arrive at Bill Moore lake there are several foot trails to choose from,  varying in difficulty from easy to difficult.

3. Bear Tracks Lake Trail: This land was hit by 2 separate forest fires in the 1960s and in 1998. The re-grown beauty is insurmountable.  If you have a 4×4 and can brave the unpredictable bumpy road conditions, you’ll be glad you did! This site offers some of the most amazing views and off site camping in Colorado as well as the occasional bear siting. So come prepared.

Grizzly bear sitting on the grass. Coastal Brown Bear, Alaska

4.  Rainbow Lakes Campground: Just west of boulder, is still close to civilization but a little more than a backyard camping experience. It’s close to Indian Peaks Wilderness, which is home to some of the best back country hiking around! Rainbow Lake Trail just under 2 miles long offers some spectacular views of the nine chain lakes.  If you are looking for a more primitive camping experience look for site numbers 15-18 – you won’t find any drive ups or RV campers here.

You don’t have to go far from Denver to find a camping experience that will offer the best of Colorado’s Wilderness Country!

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