20 Best Places to Camp Within Two Hours of Denver, CO

Denver, CO.

Even people that don’t know the first thing about the Mile-High City will know that there’s plenty of great hiking spots camping spots to be found in the mountains nearby. The elevated campgrounds really put your daily life in perspective. Problems tend to find themselves rolling out of your mind through your eyeballs while your field of view is unobstructed on top of the Colorado mountains. 

Take some time to yourself this weekend. If you’re here looking for campsites, then you’ve already made the first step towards some well-deserved self-care. Leave the stress of downtown Denver behind, and plan your next trip here!

 

A prairie outside Denver.

Just outside Denver, lies some beautiful prairies and mountains.

 

1. Chatfield State Park

Float, fly, hike, or ride, Chatfield State Park is great for groups and single campers alike. There are almost two hundred campsites to choose from, with electric or full hookup. This versatile campground is an excellent weekend getaway or a quick morning respite.

The camp facilities include flushing toilets, hot showers, on-site potable water, and even hot showers. This ground is easy and relaxing, and you don’t have to look much further than here for your camping needs.

 

Pros:

  • Great for jogs, horse rides, and ambling exploration
  • Open all year long
  • Military benefits as thanks for those that served

 

Cons:

  • Fire restrictions can be a little tricky to navigate because the park sprawls across two counties
  • Dog park occasionally closes to deal with cheatgrass

 

2. Boyd Lake State Park

Boyd Lake is home to 1,700 surface-acres of water, and it’s open to almost any water vessel you can think of. Guests are welcome to bring their ski boats, fishing boats, jet skis, and canoes. Nearly anything you can think of bringing to float along on the lake will find a welcome home here.

You don’t need to be a watercraft to hit the lake, though. There are sandy beaches for swimmers, and a pavilion for large groups, or just avoiding a sunburn. The campgrounds will accommodate vehicles up to 40 feet in length.

 

Pros:

  • Full of aquatic activities
  • Sandy beaches will fill that beach longing
  • Pets are welcome

 

Cons:

  • Registering your OHV can be a hassle if you’re looking to just get out there for a quick thrill
  • Weekend and holiday rates for the group picnic area can be a bit steep
  • Pets have to stay on a leash

 

3. Columbine Campground

If the water’s not your scene, maybe you’re looking for some good mudding. Columbine Campground has jeep roads galore if you’re looking to break away from the tyranny of paved roads.

The drive up to the campground is beautiful, and you can commemorate the drive up with dinner as soon as you arrive with their easily accessible grills and fire rings. Pitching your tent is simple with tent pads on the RV sites, and you’re not going to be at a loss for firewood thanks to the park’s amenities.

 

Pros:

  • Lots of hiking
  • Great for off-roading
  • Allows for tent camping or huddling up RVs

Cons:

  • RVs aren’t allowed to fill their water tanks from the on-site spigots
  • No electricity on any of the sites
  • Shade may be sparse
  • Reception may be spotty

 

4. Cherry Creek State Park

This Aurora park, sometimes known as “ Denver’s playground,” is ready for action. If you can imagine an outdoor activity, it’s probably here. This park and reservoir hides beautiful rolling hills, outdoor fully complete recreation facilities, and great opportunities for camping. 

Getting yourself set up and ready to check out Cherry Creek State Park is as easy as a few clicks. Their website tracks the temperature of the water, the weather at the park, and allows you to get a hold of a park pass online.

 

Pros:

  • Hard to find park activities abound here
  • Family-friendly shooting range

 

Cons:

  • Occasionally one of the two boat ramps will be closed for the season
  • Family shooting range may be disruptive

 

5. Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Ready to get some hunting in? Golden Gate Canyon State Park might be one of your best bets. Sign in is simple, and the season is bread enough to fit in all of the hunters that take the trek.  There’s a limited number of hunters allowed each day, but if you arrive early enough, you’re bound to get a spot.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is on its way to become a Gold Standard Site, having recently partnered with Leave no Trace.

 

Pros:

  • Excellent hunting spot
  • Sign in is a breeze
  • Beautiful and well maintained

 

Cons:

  • Limited number of hunters a day means you may not be able to get your chance if you get out there late 
  • Exact change required for the daily vehicle pass

 

Golden Canyon State Park.

Golden Canyon State Park offers some of the best hiking trails and views in the state of Colorado.

 

6. Denver West / Central City KOA Campground

This is a campground with some southern hospitality. Their maximum camper length is 80 feet, that’s longer than the average semi-truck If you’re worried about fitting the camper in other campgrounds, then this KOA should ease your mind. 

Like any good KOA campground, this one is stuffed to the gills with amenities. You can buy firewood, turn the dogs loose at the dog park, browse (or work) with their free wi-fi, and fire up the propane grill.

 

Pros:

  • Tons of things to do
  • It’s hard to be underprepared here with the ample distribution of campground amenities
  • Great for kids
  • A hot tub, need we say more?

Cons:

  • May not feel like an authentic camping experience to hardcore campers

 

7. Prospector Campground

You’ll find the Prospector Campground on Dillon Reservoir in the beating in the heart of Summit County nestled right between Keystone and Frisco, just off of Swan Mountain Road. The Gore and Tenmile mountain ranges form a breathtaking perimeter around this picturesque campground, making for an idyllic and relaxing time away from home.

 

Pros:

  • Great for boating
  • A little more than a hundred sites to choose from
  • On-site potable water

Cons:

  • Your boat is welcome in the water, but your body isn’t
  • Restrooms don’t have flushing toilets

 

8. Indian Paintbrush Campground

The Indian Paintbrush Campground is a smaller campground found in Bear Creek Lake Park. Its size is made up for with the addition of a few cabins and a highly sought after yurt.

The yurt is a chance to take a first-hand look at what a lifestyle less tethered to the breakneck, almost oppressive, speed of our daily lives is like. It’ll always be good for you to take a step back and consider other styles of living, so if you’ve got the chance, consider reserving a night or two in this eco-friendly cabin.

 

Pros:

  • A rare opportunity to see what yurts are all about
  • Great for stargazing

Cons:

  • Campgrounds close for part of the year
  • Relatively small compared to other campgrounds on this list

 

9. Difficult Campground

Difficult Campground is anything but that. It may be small, only able to accommodate vehicles up to 35 feet, but as long as you’re not hauling anything too large, you’ll have a great time in this humble campsite. Visitors have access to water, vault toilets, and garbage disposal sites as well as ample hiking trails and lively fishing spots.

 

Pros:

  • Drinking water provided on-site
  • Great for hikers looking to stretch their legs

 

Cons:

  • Five-day stay limit
  • Longer campers are going to have to find a different park
  • Fire restrictions are subject to change based on weather
  • Closed October through May

 

10. Camp Ground of the Rockies

The Campground of the Rockies (CORA) is a membership RV park for members (and guests) only. This 600 acre RV park is way up in the mountains, about 9,000 feet above sea level.

If you nab a membership to this RV Ranch you’ll gain access to several amenities including a heated pool, a baseball diamond, horse corral, and great hiking paths.

 

Pros:

  • Heated swimming, among other amenities
  • Antero Reservoir is right across the highway if you’re looking to do some fishing
  • An easy place to find 50 amp hookups
  • A rare spot to get in some horseback riding

 

Cons:

  • Members only
  • If you’re planning an extended stay, you’re limited to six months of occupation

 

11. Deer Creek Campground

Deer Creek Campground is a nicely wooded campground located near Highland Park. 

Large, mature trees line the campground lending you plenty of privacy and quiet. The sound of the creeks sliding down the sides of the campground leaps lightly towards your years. 

You’re welcome to bring your RV but know ahead of time that you’re not going to have a dump station or hookups on-site. Universally accessible picnic make for inclusive camping, and the rules outline the foundation of a quiet and relaxing stay here in Deer Creek Campground. 

 

Pros:

  • Easy to plan a trip with their website, it even tracks fire danger levels
  • Highland Park is an easy three miles away

 

Cons:

  • Campgrounds are first-come, first-served
  • Not as majestic during the winter

 

12. Big Thompson Campground

The north end of Carter Lake houses the Big Thompson Campground. Here on the north end of the lake you’ve got a resplendent view of the mountains off in the distance. You can reserve the campgrounds online, many of which have electrical hookups. 

By camping in Big Thompson you’re tacitly participating in the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. The Colorado-Big Thompson works to divert water towards the westen slope to provide drinking water and hydropower. 

 

Pros:

  • Open all year
  • Plenty of activities no matter what time of year it is

 

Cons:

  • Park entrance permits and camping fees are required
  • This campground is in the foothills, so the views aren’t as breathtaking as something at a higher elevation might be

 

A lake in Colorado.

The picturesque lakes of Colorado are unparalleled.

 

13. Red Rock Glamping

Sometimes you want nature without the hassle and grime. Red Rocks Glamping can help you out there.

Red Rock Glamping is just a few minutes away from the famously gorgeous views of the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Sometime in the future, you’ll be able to ratchet up your glamping game with Red Rock Glamping adds cabins.

 

Pros:

  • Low impact camping
  • Excellent service and spacious tents
  • Choose from pre-set tens or a spacious site if their default tent size is too much for your tastes

Cons:

  • Closed during the colder months
  • It’s glamping, so you might not be getting your fill of nature
  • Likely to be packed during festival season

 

14. Bear Creek Lake

Come to Bear Creek Lake if you’re looking for some time in the sand, a dip in the lake, and mountain biking. If your preferred mode of physical activity is skill-based, maybe you’ll be interested in the archery range. Whatever it is you’re looking to do, you’ll find the space and accommodations for it at Bear Creek Lake.

 

Pros:

  • A sandy beach lakeside
  • Basically as large as a state park
  • Bikers will find themselves at home

Cons:

  • Events and trail construction may derail your plans of seeing the entire site
  • No dogs on the sandy beach
  • Reservations are seasonal

 

15. St. Vrain State Park

This family-friendly park is a great place for locals or travelers. The drive up to St. Vrain is straightforward, a shining example of easy access, and more than worth the minimal effort it takes to find.

Unless something out of the ordinary happens, St. Vrain state park and its 87 campsites are open all year for a little overnight camping, just be sure to bring some heat for the winter times.

All of the sites have electrical hookups, while the sites in the latter half of the campsite roster will come with water, sewage, and electrical hookups. Water hydrants are also available for everyone should you feel the need to fill any of your containers for whatever reason. 

 

Pros:

  • Recent add-ons to the park have added more ponds for fishing
  • The hiking has expanded as well

Cons:

  • There’s always the chance that this campsite will bar reservations unexpectedly
  • The small size of the campground means not much in the way of water activity

 

16. La Junta KOA Journey

We’ve got a second KOA park campground. This one here in La Junta has mini golf, a swimming pool, and a fully decked out recreation hall. Maybe you want to get out of the sun and watch a quick movie. If that’s the case, their TV sitting area has a video library. Gone are the days of watching Happy Feet in the van all week.

 

Pros:

  • Close to a Walmart and a liquor store, so don’t worry about stocking up or forgetting something at home before heading here
  • Often runs promos to save you a little bit of cash

 

Cons:

  • Proximity to a big box store detracts from the majesty of camping

 

17. Jellystone Park at Larkspur

The only bear you’ll be seeing at Jellystone is Yogi. This RV resort pulls out aloof the stops. It’s more like a carnival than a campsite. Yogi Bear and his family are trotting around serving smiles to the young ones, and amenities are bursting from the seams.

How many camping areas have a treadmill, fully stocked community fire pits, and hayrides?  A stay at Jellystone will transport the little ones into a cartoon dreamscape, and take the burden of your RV trip off of your shoulders. Take a load off knowing that everything is taken care of, and all you need to do is arrive.

 

Pros:

  • Planned recreation for the family
  • Requires little to no thought, just show up and enjoy

 

Cons:

  • More like a theme park than a campground
  • May be crowded

 

18. Happy Meadows Campground

Come to the South Platte River if you want fulfilling fishing, humbling hiking, and tubular tubing.

Happy Meadows Campground is near Eleven Mile Canyon and its abundant natural resources. The “Granite Canyon” and its imposing grey walls are a sight to behold. You can see that and much more at the Happy Meadows Campground.

There are a few reservable RV campsites with a fire ring, vault toilet, and refreshing water from a pump. 

 

Pros:

  • Close to an American wonder, that’s definitely worth a look
  • A bait and tackle shop nearby will keep you fishing the entire stay
  • Beautiful high-flying peaks

 

Cons:

  • A limited number of rotating sites makes for slim pickings
  • Limited cell phone service

 

19. Osprey Campground

At 6,200 feet, the Osprey Campground has you high in the sky with its namesake.

This is a simple site. There are 13 campsites each with a fire ring and picnic tables, and not much else. This is the kind of campsite you take yourself to for a good hard reset. Pack some water and plenty of food, and allow yourself to hit the brakes. 

There’s not much in the way of hiking or activities, but if you’re looking to appreciate some solitude, then you’ve found it here at the Osprey Campground.

 

Pros:

  • Year round high elevation camping
  • Fire pits at each site

Cons: 

  • Only thirteen first-come, first-serve ten sites
  • Lots of private property nearby, limiting your exploration
  • No water on-site

 

20. Goldfield Campground

This RV park is cheap and wonderfully located. Come park your motor homes any time of the year and take in Colorado Springs.

Their rental rates are some of the best around, and they offer amenities like high-speed Wi-Fi and private showers.

 

Pros:

  • Pet friendly
  • Affordable without scrimping on features
  • A DVD library on-site for family movie night

 

Cons:

  • You’ll have to bring your own fun or seek it off-site
  • No much in the way of tent sites

 

Mountains at night in Colorado.

Take in the gorgeous view of the night sky when you camp in Colorado.

 

Final Verdict:

We didn’t bury the lede here. There’s so much wonderful camping here. We didn’t even get to mention areas like Estes Park, but, that fact aside, Chatfield State Park offers a wide range of activities for all kinds of campers. The showers are warm, the hookups are accessible, and if you’re looking to please everyone coming along, this is your best bet.

Bring the kids or the dog, and you’re bound to find some fun. Heck, even the horse will have a blissful weekend away from home at Chatfield State Park. 

It’s a short drive if you’re leaving from Boulder or Denver. You don’t have to get lost in the backcountry to have a good time. There really isn’t much reason to not end up camping at Chatfield State Park.

And since there’s a lot of streams around, it’s probably best that you know how to purify water in a pinch as well!

 

Bonus tip: While you’re at it, check out this couple camping in Colorado!

 

 

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    Riley Draper

    Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.