Camping, Colorado

The Best Free Campsites in Colorado

Whether you’re a budget traveler or trying to escape from society, free campsites are the perfect way to do both. I camped at tons of free campsites on my Colorado road trip and prefer them over an overpriced campground any day!

free campsites

In Colorado, most of the free campsites are one of two things:

There are no amenities at these sites, so make sure you’re prepared with ample water, food, toilet paper, and portable power sources. And most importantly, always follow Leave No Trace principles when camping at these spots. Leave your site better than when you found it!

free campsites

Without further ado, let’s jump into five of my favorite free campsites in Colorado!

Best Free Campsites in Colorado

Sacred White Shell Mountain (Great Sand Dunes)

GPS: 37.527, -105.5935

Out of all the free campsites I stayed in Colorado, this one was probably my favorite.

It’s located at the base of Sacred White Shell Mountain, about 20 minutes from the entrance of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and 30 minutes from the small town of Alamosa.

free campsites

As you drive up the mountain, there are plenty of flat spaces right off the side of the road that are perfect for car campers, RVs, and trailers. The drive isn’t too rough at the beginning, but the higher you go, the rougher it gets. 4WD is helpful if you want to go closer to the mountain.

The view was absolutely incredible. The flat land in front of you allows for a spectacular sunset view, and the moon rises over the mountain behind you at night.

The only potential downside for some people is that it’s a popular destination for off-roading, so expect caravans of Jeeps going up and down throughout the day. It didn’t bother me, but it’s not as secluded as other places I’ve stayed.

Lastly is that this free campsite has amazing cell service – good enough to stream videos and watch Netflix!

[ RELATED: My Ultimate List of Camping Essentials ]

Hartman Rocks (Gunnison)

GPS: 38.505445, -106.949702

free campsites

This was an awesome find right outside the town of Gunnison. It’s a quick 10-minute drive into town depending on how far up you go, but keep in mind that the route is quite rocky and steep – I used 4WD almost the whole time.

Each site has its own fire ring and picnic table which is pretty luxurious for a free campsite. The sunset over the red rocks was gorgeous and the stars at night were out of this world.

I drove past a few families on my way up the trail, and the only company I had were two passing mountain bikers. I felt very safe staying here as a solo female.

The cell service was amazing – I was able to call people and stream videos without an issue. Overall, I absolutely loved this spot!

Gordon Gulch Dispersed Camping Area (Nederland)

GPS: 40.0099 -105.502

free campsites

Just 10 minutes outside the cute mountain town of Nederland is a great dispersed campsite in the Boulder Ranger District of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.

There are tons of spots to choose from, but some are much better than others (in Aspen meadows/ with mountain views). If you want a prettier spot, try and get there early or on a weekday.

I stayed here for two nights and loved all the wildlife and nature trails surrounding each site. You can walk down the dirt road and veer off to explore the forest – the trails go on for quite a while!

Each site is pretty big, but you can still see and hear other campers nearby. I never found it annoying or loud, but there was quite a bit of trash in the forest which is not cute.

As for the cell service, it was pretty spotty but worked okay. We used a Verizon MiFi which helped boost the signal a bit.

Pole Hill Road (Rocky Mountain National Park)

GPS: 40.36632, -105.41992

free campsites

If you’re near Estes Park and want to stay somewhere adventurous, this is the place for you. Pole Hill Road was by far the most treacherous yet beautiful spot out of all the free campsites I stayed at and is only a 10-minute drive from Estes Park.

My spot was right off the road, so there were quite a few people that passed by during the day (Jeeps, ATVs, motorcyclists, hikers, and a wildlife tour vehicle). Everyone was very kind and my sister and I enjoyed waving to people throughout the day.

 

I cannot stress this enough: this was literally THE most insane drive I’ve ever done. We drove in 4WD in a 4×4 Jeep Wrangler and were still unsure if we could make it up the boulders. 4WD and high clearance are 100% necessary, so don’t even try to come here unless your car has that!

Once you get to a spot, the views of the mountains are absolutely spectacular. I stayed here for three nights and could have easily stayed longer. There’s a lot to do if you just want to have a chill day at camp, and the hills and boulders make for some fun hikes!

The cell service was spotty, but I could still FaceTime people and occasionally get on social media. However, if you need to do work on a laptop, you’ll probably need to go into town.

Blue Lake (Breckenridge)

GPS: 39.38573, -106.09327

free campsites

This was a beautiful spot right on Blue Lake with a clear view of Quandary Peak. It’s a quick 10-minute drive from the trailhead, so it’s perfect for anyone who wants to make the trek the next day.

There are spots to camp both on the lake and on the other side of the dirt road. We got there a little late, so we had to park on the other side of the road. The ground was very uneven so sleeping was a bit uncomfortable, and there was a creepy abandoned house right next to us. Not ideal.

Definitely get there early if you want a good spot because they seem to fill up quite quickly.

There’s absolutely no cell service at this spot, but the views and nearby lake will keep you entertained all night!

BONUS: To find more free campsites, check out freecampsites.net. I found all mine here. Simply type in the area where you want to camp, and any nearby sites will pop up with a description and reviews. This site was SO helpful on my road trip!

 

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