Colorado has a vast number of pristine and secluded camping spots. Camping is undoubtedly therapeutic and unleashes the wild child buried within all of us. I’ve spent 26 years wandering the beautiful Rocky Mountains and found places that are utterly tranquil. The spots on this list typically require long drives on dirt roads. These roads can be unfriendly to low clearance, two wheel drive vehicles. This camping also requires a level of respect and understanding for the forest around you. It is completely free but what you pack in, you must pack out. Leave no trace and don’t expect a building with a bathroom, so don’t forget TP!
#5 Pingree Hill
Located in Roosevelt National Forest, the whole area is loaded with easy and fun camping. The Red Feather Lakes area is close by with great fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and beach picnics. There are a ton of hiking trails and the roads there tend to not be as difficult. Head north of Fort Collins, take Highway 14 heading west along the Poudre River, then exit either south on CR 63E or north on CR 69.
Located west of Gunnison in the Gunnison National Forest area, this is home to some of Colorado’s hidden gems. The surrounding forest has large trees, lots of wildlife, and stunning views. The Black Canyon is absolutely breathtaking and can make for a great day trip. Plus Colorado’s largest body of water, Blue Mesa Reservoir, is perfect for a day on the boat or a day on the beach. To find a campsite head west out of Gunnison on Highway 50, once in the Curecanti Recreation Area go north on CR 20 to CR 859, north on CR 724, north on CR 723, or north on CR 721. All these roads are fairly smooth to start but can get rough the further you go.
Located in Pike National Forest, there are countless roads to take that lead to free and easy camping. These spots are great because of their size. You can bring large groups of people and still feel isolated. Tarryall Reservoir is close by with picnic spots and great fishing. Plus at the top of Kenosha Pass there are many hiking trails to choose from. The wildlife is abundant and diverse there, the roads are also very manageable. Head south on Highway 285 from Bailey, cross Kenosha Pass towards Jefferson, then turn southeast on CR 77. Once you enter the National forest you can take one of the many different roads to find the perfect campsite.
This Highway runs from Colorado to New Mexico, however the area for exceptional camping is the stretch from Ouray to Silverton, in the San Juan National Forest. These mountains are like something out of a painting. There are numerous lakes and rivers for fishing, beautiful hiking trails, and dense forests. If climbing 14ers excites you, a couple are in the area as well. There is so much to see and do in this forest you can pick any road to find a truly pristine campsite. Take Highway 550 south from Montrose, after passing through Ouray head southwest on CR 361, southeast on CR 18, south on CR 20A, south on CR 31, west on CR 823, west on CR 822, south on CR 825, west on CR 821, west on CR 679, or west on CR 585. Any of these roads will lead to a memorable experience but do require a car made for rocky roads. Highway 550 is paved through this area but tends to be narrow and winding.
Located in White River National Forest, this forest is truly special. It tends to be lush and dense, with a large variety of plants and animals. There are rivers and lakes everywhere, great for fishing. Homestake Reservoir is ideal for boating, kayaking, fishing, and has an amazing view of the forest below. For people looking to climb 14ers there are many nearby. For those looking for more casual hiking, this area does not disappoint. The forest also attracts those hunting for edible mushrooms. Plus there is a large but deserted mining town to check out located closer to Red Cliff. Head south on Highway 24 from Avon, then head southwest on CR 707, CR 703, or CR 705. These roads tend to start easy but get worse the higher you go.