Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its majestic mountains, stunning landscapes, and abundant wildlife, it’s no wonder that camping is one of the best ways to experience this national park. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-timer, there are several campgrounds within the park that offer breathtaking views and convenient access to the park’s top attractions. In this guide, we’ll explore the best places to camp in Rocky Mountain National Park, along with tips and recommendations to help you plan your camping adventure.
Glacier Basin Campground
Located on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park along Bear Lake Road, Glacier Basin Campground is a popular choice among campers. It offers stunning views of the Front Range peaks and easy access to some of the park’s most popular hiking trails. With 153 campsites, including ADA accessible sites and group sites, Glacier Basin Campground can accommodate various camping needs. Reservation is required, and you can make your reservation up to six months in advance. During the peak season, the campground can fill up quickly, so it’s advisable to book your campsite as early as possible.
Moraine Park Campground
Situated just north of Moraine Park, this campground is the largest in Rocky Mountain National Park, offering 244 campsites. Surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Rocky Mountains and Moraine Park meadow, this campground provides a picturesque setting for your camping experience. It’s conveniently located near Trail Ridge Road, which offers incredible views of the park’s landscape. Moraine Park Campground is open year-round, but amenities such as water and flush toilets are only available during the summer season. Reservations are highly recommended, especially during the peak season.
Located near Fall River Entrance, Aspenglen Campground is an ideal choice for those seeking a quieter and less crowded camping experience. With just 52 campsites, it offers a more intimate setting surrounded by the beauty of Fall River. Although Aspenglen Campground is not served by the park’s shuttle system, it’s close to Horseshoe Park and Old Fall River Road, which provide opportunities for exploration and adventure. Reservations are required for this campground, and it’s recommended to book your campsite in advance.
Timber Creek Campground
Nestled in the scenic Kawuneeche Valley on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, Timber Creek Campground offers a unique camping experience away from the crowds. It’s the only campground on the west side of the Continental Divide, providing easy access to hiking trails and the picturesque Colorado River. The campground has 98 campsites and operates on a first-come, first-served basis. While there is no guarantee of availability, this campground is often less crowded compared to others in the park.
Longs Peak Campground
If you’re looking for a backcountry camping experience, Longs Peak Campground is the perfect choice. Situated at an elevation of 9,500 feet, it offers a unique camping experience in a pine forest. With just 26 tent-only campsites, this campground is ideal for those seeking a more rugged and secluded camping adventure. It’s located near the trailhead for Longs Peak, one of the most challenging and rewarding hikes in the park. Keep in mind that Longs Peak Campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis, and availability can be limited, especially during peak season.
Tips for Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Reservations: For the campgrounds that require reservations, it’s best to book your campsite as early as possible, especially during the peak season. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
- Timed Entry Pass: If you have a campground reservation, it serves as your timed entry pass, allowing you to skip the separate timed entry reservation required for certain areas of the park during peak season.
- Campground Amenities: While campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park offer basic amenities such as potable water and restrooms, there are no showers available. Plan accordingly and consider using external shower facilities in nearby towns.
- Wildlife Safety: Keep in mind that wildlife, including black bears and elk, are common in the park. Follow proper wildlife safety guidelines, such as storing food securely and keeping a safe distance from animals.
- Campfire Regulations: Campfires are generally allowed in the campgrounds, but make sure your campsite has a metal fire grate. Firewood is available for purchase in the campgrounds, and firewood gathering is not allowed within the park.
- Pack Essentials: Remember to pack essentials such as camping gear, food, water, appropriate clothing, and insect repellent. Be prepared for changing weather conditions, as temperatures can drop significantly at higher elevations.
If the campgrounds within Rocky Mountain National Park are fully booked or don’t meet your specific needs, there are several campgrounds located outside the park that are worth considering. Some popular options include:
- Estes Park Campgrounds: Located near the east entrance of the park, Estes Park offers a variety of campgrounds with different amenities and settings.
- Grand Lake Campgrounds: Situated near the west entrance of the park, Grand Lake provides access to beautiful campgrounds with stunning views of the surrounding area.
- Other Nearby Campgrounds: There are several campgrounds in the vicinity of Rocky Mountain National Park, offering different amenities and settings. Some popular options include Mary’s Lake Campground, Olive Ridge Campground, and Meeker Park Campground.
PLAN A CAMPING TRIP IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park is a truly unforgettable experience. With its breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and incredible hiking opportunities, it’s no wonder that camping is a popular choice for visitors. Whether you choose to stay in one of the park’s campgrounds or explore nearby options, you’ll be surrounded by nature’s beauty at every turn. Remember to plan ahead, make reservations if necessary, and come prepared for a memorable camping adventure in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
So, pack your camping gear, immerse yourself in nature, and get ready to create cherished memories in one of the most stunning national parks in the United States.