Boondocking in Colorado

Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 10:03 am. Originally published on March 4th, 2021

One of the reasons that you will love boondocking in Colorado is its incredible diversity. You can find many great places to go boondocking, from the dramatic canyons of Western Colorado to the plains surrounding the Pawnee National Grasslands. Great free camping opportunities also exist near Rocky Mountain National Park and Pikes Peak. There are great opportunities near the state’s biggest cities, like Denver or Colorado Springs, but if you are looking for solitude, you can easily find those locations too.

RV traveling on a three-lane highway with mountains, rolling hills, and blue sky with puffy, white clouds in the background

Boondocking Sites in Colorado

McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

The Rabbit Valley Motorized Area of McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area is a great place to go boondocking in Colorado. This area near Grand Junction, Colorado, contains three campgrounds with designated free camping spots in each. This rugged area is a great spot to go off-roading and mountain biking. There are many miles of gorgeous trails to hike in this area bordering the Colorado River. Follow the Trail Through Time to see 140-million-year-old dinosaur fossils in the Mygatt-Moore Quarry. 

Hartman Rocks Recreation Area

Enjoy free camping in Colorado at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area near Gunnison, Colorado. This area that the Bureau of Land Management jointly manages offers over 14,000 acres of land for off-roading, mountain biking and hiking. The granite rocks at this location are perfect for rock climbing, and you can use bolts. Once the snow starts falling, officials groom the trails at this location for cross-country skiing. 

Penrose Common Recreation Area

You will love hiking under the pinon and juniper trees with the snowcapped Sangre de Cristo mountain range in the background at Penrose Common Recreation Site near Canon City. There are also fabulous trails to follow if you bring your horse with you. This location has a strong reputation for being one of the best places for extreme 4X4 rock climbing. 

North Sand Hills OHV Area

While there are some paid sites, North Sand Hills OHV Area also offers some free camping in Colorado. Over 300 acres of deep sand are available for off-road fun. This location is the only option for going off-roading on sand dunes in the state. You can also ride through the forest and scrublands at Medicine Bow-Route National Forest when you camp at this location near Walden, Colorado. 

Sultan Camping Area

Sultan Camping Area is inside San Juan National Forest near Silverton. The jagged mountains in this national forest are the perfect place to go hiking. The forest also contains many four-wheel-drive roads leading to old mine sites that you will want to explore. Consider taking a ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which runs through the Weminuche Wilderness, the state’s largest wilderness. 

Big Blue Campground

When you start wondering where to go boondocking in Colorado, do not overlook Big Blue Campground in the Uncompahgre Wilderness. You will love this campground’s picturesque valley setting, near Soldier Creek and Blue Creek. Many nearby trails running under old-growth aspen and spruce trees allow you to explore this remote area near Lake City, Colorado. 

Avalanche Campground

While a donation is always appreciated, you can camp for free in Avalanche Campground in the White River National Forest. You can go fishing in Avalanche Creek or hike 3 miles to go fishing in Crystal River. This campground near Carbondale is close to one of the significant trailheads to Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. This campground opens in May and closes in the fall. 

Portal Campground

If you want to go boondocking near Aspen, consider Portal Campground in the White River National Forest. Mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking are all available nearby. You must follow a rugged road to get to this campground, so consider a high-clearance RV. 

Where to Boondock in Colorado

Many boondocking sites in Colorado sit on the Bureau of Land Management land, like Browns Canyon, Canyon of the Ancients National Monuments, Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, and the Alpine Loop National Backcountry Byway. Other free camping sites are in the national forests, including Arapaho, Grand Mesa, Gunnison, Pike, Rio Grande, Roosevelt and White River. If you are looking to visit Denver, consider areas near Guanella Pass or on the Platte River near Deckers, Colorado. 

Free Camping in Colorado

When preparing for your boondocking trip to Colorado, consider your destination. Some areas like Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver have many attractions nearby to visit while others are in more remote locations. Always prepare for unexpected weather as the weather can change rapidly in many parts of the state. Consider the topography where you are going because water runoff from the mountains can flood some areas easily in the spring, and you may not be able to reach other areas in the winter. 

Cellphone service can be troublesome in some remote areas of the state. Consider if you need a satellite phone to stay connected. If you need recommendations for free camping in Colorado, check with the visitor centers at various locations around the state. District ranger offices can also be excellent sources of information. Many communities operate their own, and there are wonderful visitor centers in the Rocky Mountains National Park and at most national forests. 

Before you head out on your trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about boondocking

With so many great opportunities for boondocking in Colorado, you will want to visit in your RV very soon. If you live far away, you may want to consider flying in and renting an RV on RVshare. Renting an RV can also be an excellent option for people who do not currently own an RV.

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