8 Totally Free Camping Spots in Colorado and How to Find More

Camping is a lot of fun, but it’s even better when it’s free, especially in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.

This state is home to The Rocky Mountains, Gunnison, and Great Sand Dunes National Parks, as well as countless outdoor activities. It makes Colorado one of the best places to go RV camping.

Paid RV campsites can be troublesome for people trying to camp on a budget, or if you dislike making reservations.

Fortunately, there are ‘first come, first serve’, free camping options across Colorado. This is because 43% of the state’s land mass consists of public lands.

Free camping in Colorado can be found easily—as long as you know what you’re looking for. Some people simply glance at their GPS or a map, while others drive down promising forest roads until they reach a scenic spot with room for their RV.

Free camping requires a little more work on your part, and lacks the amenities of paid sites; however, if you love solitude, and a private piece of Colorado’s beautiful landscapes, it’s the camping method for you.

Unfortunately, the local government has recently added a reservation requirement for its state parks.

These campsites fill up quickly, and decrease the chances of you making a last-minute reservations.

Furthermore, some carry reservation fees making your trip more expensive. But don’t worry, in order to help you camp on a budget, we’re going to use this article to share the top 8 free camping spots in Colorado based on the popularity of nearby things to see and do, previous camper reviews, and personal experience.

Where and How Do You Find Free RV Camping in Colorado?

You can find federally designated public lands all over the state of Colorado.

It’s totally legal to camp on any of this land (unless otherwise specified). These are the specific public lands that you can use to free camp:

  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • National Forest Land
  • Wildlife Management Areas (WMA)
  • National Grasslands
  • County Parks & City Parks – Not all, so check signs or contact the city department
  • Trailheads – Not all, so check signs or contact a ranger
  • Rest Stops (Check for blue signs that ban overnight parking)
  • Some Commercial Parking lots (Walmart, Bass Pro Shops, etc.). Call, and ask the business for permission first.

Best Apps and Tools for Finding Free RV Campsites in Colorado

Okay great, but public lands are still difficult to locate. Afterall, they often do not have signs demarcating them as a public space.

So, we found the following apps and tools to help you search for specific, free RV campsites in Colorado:

The Dyrt (iOS, Android, Web Browser) (FREE)

This app will allow you to find outdoor accommodations across Colorado, whether you’re in a tent, trailer, RV, or cabin.

It provides millions of listings, reviews, prices, and tips from other campers who have already visited.

Free Campsites (Web Browser) (FREE)

Gotta love simplicity. And that’s exactly what Free Campsites provides. The site allows you to plan a travel route through Colorado with their ‘trip planner’ option.

Not only will it provide text directions, but it’ll also show you any and all RV campsites along your way through The Centennial State (free, or otherwise).

Unfortunately, there’s no app for this tool yet, but it’s easily accessible through most web browsers.

Campendium (iOS, Android, Web Browser) (FREE)

Campendium is the prettier, more user-friendly version of Free Campsites. It also provides you with more options than just finding RV campsites.

You can use filters to locate any, and every, type of outdoor accommodation.

It provides a plethora of useful information for RV-ers as well, including: last paid price, longest RV reported at site, and clearance access information.

And while it doesn’t have an app yet, you can add the Campendium’s icon to your phone’s home screen by following these helpful instructions (iOS / Android).

If All Else Fails, Use Your Map and Drive Down a Random Dirt Road

You spent a weekend binge-watching all the Indiana Jones movies, and now you feel like having an adventure of your own.

Good idea! Ditch the apps and pick up a good ol’ paper map of Colorado.

New maps will show you where you can find National Forest land as well as BLM and other public lands.

Drive to the areas marked on your map and then drive down a random dirt road.

Well, not totally random. You can drive down any road as long as there isn’t a sign telling you not to.

If there’s no signs than you can pull off 200ft from the road and camp for 14 days on average.

Important Tips for RV Camping in Colorado

Colorado covers a space of 104,185 square miles. Within that enormous land area there’s everything from desert sand dunes, frozen glaciers, pine forests, and seemingly endless grasslands.

You couldn’t choose a more diverse landscape for your camping trip. While this can be exciting it can also be difficult due to the perils that varying climates provide.

Furthermore, the government, along with it’s citizenry, make every effort to preserve the Colorado wilderness.

There’s certain laws in place to achieve this mission. We’ve included them to help you enjoy a safe and legal camping trip. Here’s our important tips when camping in Colorado:

14-16 Day Limit, 60 Consecutive Day Reset Period

When it comes to something free there’s always a catch. Fortunately, this catch isn’t terrible. On average, free campsites in Colorado have a 14-16 day limit.

Usually, the ‘maximum camping stay’ is posted in the area, but if it’s not, you should probably kick dirt after two weeks.

If you still want to camp after this initial period just move 25 miles away, and camp for another 14 days.

After that, however, you need to wait 60 consecutive days before you’re allowed to camp in the area again.

Leave No Trace

Colorado is beautiful, pristine, and massive. It’s difficult for government workers to keep wildlife preserves clean, especially the free campsites contained within them.

Give them a hand, and keep nature pristine, by leaving no trace. This means taking all trash, human excrement, and other refuse with you.

Doing otherwise can result in fines, and worse, a degradation of nature.

Snow Chains or 4×4 or bust!

Colorado is known for it’s snow. Many people visit here for winter activities like snowboarding and cross-country skiing.

If you visit, and you have a trailer, please avoid driving on snowy or icy roads. It’s just a bad idea, trust us.

However, if you’re driving a motorhome or van you can drive on snowy or icy roads carefully. If the weather is particularly bad switch to 4×4, or buy some snow chains. It could save your life.

Fire Restrictions

Smoky the Bear is cool until you start a forest fire. Then he turns you into the authorities, and sentences you to prison. Don’t do that. Keep Smoky the Bear cool.

In all seriousness, take caution using fire. Avoid creating a man-made fire by following the fire restrictions specific to your campsite in Colorado.

There’s usually a state-wide fire ban since Colorado is like one giant tinder box. Always call a ranger station to make sure having a fire is okay.

Pack Winter Clothes

Even in the summer Colorado can get freezing, especially at night. Bring a good jacket, a thick sleeping bag, or an extra can of propane to run your heater overnight.

You’ll want to get a good nights sleep so you can enjoy the serene beauty during the day.

8 Best Places to Camp for Free in Colorado

Let us make your search for a free RV campsite in Colorado easier! We scoured the internet for the RV campsites with the most amenities, the best things to do and see nearby, as well as the most incredible surrounding nature and wildlife.

Here’s our top 8 FREE, first come, first serve campsites in Colorado:

  • Magnolia Road Dispersed Camping – Nederland
  • Portal Campground – Aspen
  • Sacred White Shell Mountain BLM – Mosca
  • Anvil Dispersed Camping – Silverton
  • Saul’s Creek Dispersed Camping – Bayfield
  • Gordon Gulch Dispersed Camping – Nederland
  • Rio Blanco Lake State Wildlife Area – Meeker
  • Jackson Road Dispersed Camping – Pagosa Springs

1. Magnolia Road Dispersed Camping – Nederland

Magnolia Road Dispersed Camping – Colorado Nederland

This secret spot is a short drive off the highway near Nederland, Colorado. It’s a campsite for RV campers seeking a nature getaway that still lies within arms reach of civilized life.

Magnolia Road is a popular place for outdoor activities, including: hiking, biking, and off-roading. It contains 22 designated campsites.

Camping is not allowed more than 50 feet away from the camping signs.

Why do we love it?

Do you like nature with a sprinkle of civilized society? This is the RV campsite for you! A huge number of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails zig-zag through the area.

At night, it’s distance from any major cities provides RV campers with a star-studded sky.

It’s also a great place for large group camping as the sites are spaced out by roughly half a mile.

Location: West Magnolia Campground

RV Campsite Information

  • Maximum RV length reported: 32ft
  • Number of sites: 22
  • Amenities: Stone/Metal fire rings
  • Max Stay: 14 Days at a campsite, and 28 days in a given ranger district

Top Things to do Nearby

  • Nederland – This outdoor lover’s paradise exudes small town charm. You’ll find quaint coffee shops, weathered bookstores, and even a merry-go-round. They also have a grocery store in case you run out of supplies
  • Arapaho Pass Trail – A trail that takes you through unspoiled forests, past gushing waterfalls, to snow-capped peaks. Bring lunch and enjoy this beautiful 3.3 mile hike to the fullest.
  • Take a walk – Walk from your campground and you’ll eventually hit one of the many trails in this area. You’ll find yourself beneath whispering aspens, among multi-colored flowers, and along gentle creeks. Breath. Enjoy.

For more information on RV camping in West Magnolia Campground visit HERE.

2. Portal Campground – Aspen

Portal Campground – Aspen

Is there anything more beautiful than an alpine lake? Yeah, we agree, probably not. So, why not RV camp near one while you stay in Colorado.

Grizzly Reservoir is a beautiful lake, flanked by gorgeous mountain peaks, and fed by the Lincoln and Grizzly Rivers.

The sun here warms the trees and gives a fragrant pine smell associated with summer camping. Don’t miss your chance to relax, RV Camp at Portal.

Why do we love it?

This campsite has something for everyone. You can catch some warm sun rays on the shores of Grizzly Reservoir, or fish from one of the nearby creeks.

Want something an outdoor activity that’s a little more exciting? Well, this campsite also provides RVers with day hikes, mountain biking, ATV riding, horseback riding, among other recreation activities.

Location: Portal Campground

RV Campsite Information

  • Maximum RV length reported: 20ft
  • Number of sites: 7
  • Amenities: Stone/Metal fire rings, (2) Vault Toilets, and Bear Boxes
  • Max Stay: 5 Days

Top Things to do Nearby

  • Aspen – A great city for shopping, dining, and outdoor activities. It’s one of the prettiest cities in Colorado. You’ll need to drive roughly an hour from the campground to get here, but you’ll be glad that you did.
  • Grab a License and Fish the Creeks – Lincoln and Grizzly Creek as well as Grizzly Reservoir overflow with rainbow trout so bring your pole and buy a license!
  • Grizzly Reservoir – This picturesque alpine lake reflects the nearby peaks in a way that’ll remind you of a postcard. You can hike, bike, horseback ride, or tan along it’s shore.

For more information on RV camping in Portal Campground visit HERE.

3. Sacred White Shell Mountain BLM – Mosca

Sacred White Shell Mountain BLM – Mosca

This RV campsite can be found near the trailhead that leads to Blanca Peak.

The rough road requires some careful driving, but you’ll find plenty of large camp sites on the way up the mountain.

It offers Beautiful views of the San Luis Valley, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Mt. Blanca.

Why do we love it?

This RV campsite stands apart from it’s counterparts on this list due to the fact that it’s open year-round.

You can expect sunny weather in this desert landscape no matter when you visit.

It’s quiet, private, and puts you smack dab in the middle of the regions best outdoor destinations. Run your generators, pull down your awnings, and bask in the sun.

Location: BLM Sacred White Shell Mountain

RV Campsite Information

  • Maximum RV length reported: 40ft
  • Number of sites: NA
  • Amenities: None
  • Max Stay: 14 days, every 45 days

Top Things to do Nearby

  • Great Sand Dunes National Park – Imagine the Sahara Desert, and then picture it flanked by towering, snow-capped peaks. That’s Great Sand Dunes National Park. It’s an otherworldly place, perfect for a picture.
  • Hike Mt. Blanca – This strenuous, 19.2 mile hike will require you to camp in the backcountry, but it’s the 4th tallest peak in Colorado so you’re guaranteed to see some breathtaking views. The mountain is considered sacred to Native Americans tribes so please treat it with respect.
  • Outdoor Activities at Rio Grande River – The famous river that forms a border between Mexico and the U.S. starts in Colorado. It offers fishing, rafting, and swimming options!

For more information on RV camping in Sacred White Shell Mountain visit HERE.

4. Anvil Dispersed Camping – Silverton

Anvil Dispersed Camping – Silverton

Drive five minutes from Silverton and you’ll find this beautiful RV campground down a forest road. It sits along Mineral Creek in the shadow of several tall mountain peaks.

In the surrounding area several large national forests grow from the fertile Colorado soil, including: San Juan, Gunnison, and Rio Grande National Forest.

Why do we love it?

Wake up, make some coffee, and look out your window. You’ll find Mineral Creek meandering directly outside your RV.

That’s right, this fantastic camping ground puts you among some of the most beautiful sights that nature has to offer.

You’ll relax in quiet peacefulness while gazing at breathtaking peaks and listening to the bubbling creek nearby.

Plus, you can expect to find an endless list of outdoor activities in case you get bored.

Location: Anvil Campground

RV Campsite Information

  • Maximum RV length reported: 30ft
  • Number of sites: NA
  • Amenities: Water access and pit toilets
  • Max Stay: 14 days, every 21 days

Top Things to do Nearby

  • Silverton – Great place for shopping and dining. It’s a 5-minute drive from the campsite and allows you to resupply in the event that you need more food, water, etc.
  • Fishing in Mineral Creek – You can grab a pole, walk from your RV, and spend the day fishing in Mineral Creek.
  • Explore San Juan National Forest – Covers 1.8 million acres of pine forest. You’ll find endless outdoor activities and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife in this unspoiled nature.

For more information on RV camping in Anvil Campground visit HERE.

​5. ​Saul’s Creek Dispersed Camping – Bayfield

Saul Creek Camping

Drive five minutes from Silverton and you’ll find this beautiful RV campground down a forest road.

It sits along Mineral Creek in the shadow of several tall mountain peaks.

In the surrounding area several large national forests grow from the fertile Colorado soil, including: San Juan, Gunnison, and Rio Grande National Forest.

Why do we love it?

Great place for those looking to go full primitive. There’s no amenities here, and thus, less campers.

It’s a good spot for group camping, and enjoying nature activities as well as viewing wildlife.

Nearby Bayfield gives you some options for shopping and dining so you don’t feel completely helpless.

Location: Saul’s Creek Campground

RV Campsite Information

  • Maximum RV length reported: 32ft
  • Number of sites: 8 well-used sites
  • Amenities: None
  • Max Stay: 14 days, every 21 days

Top Things to do Nearby

  • Durango – A town that bleeds the Colorado spirit. There’s tons of shopping, dining, and outdoor activity options. It’s only 25 miles away from this campsite.
  • Check-Out San Juan National Forest – Covers 1.8 million acres of pine forest. You’ll find endless outdoor activities and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife in this unspoiled nature.
  • Hike Sheep Creek Trail – This beautiful hike takes you through the Colorado highlands. You’ll pass rivers, marvel at alpine trees, and bathe in natural hot springs. It’s a 2.8 round-trip hike.

For more information on RV camping in West Magnolia Campground visit HERE.

​6. ​Gordon Gulch Dispersed Camping – Nederland

Gordon Gulch Dispersed Camping

Drive five minutes from Silverton and you’ll find this beautiful RV campground down a forest road.

It sits along Mineral Creek in the shadow of several tall mountain peaks.

In the surrounding area several large national forests grow from the fertile Colorado soil, including: San Juan, Gunnison, and Rio Grande National Forest.

Why do we love it?

Great place for those looking to go full primitive. There’s no amenities here, and thus, less campers.

It’s a good spot for group camping, and enjoying nature activities as well as viewing wildlife.

Nearby Bayfield gives you some options for shopping and dining so you don’t feel completely helpless.

Location: Gordon Gulch Dispersed Campground

RV Campsite Information

  • Maximum RV length reported: 32ft
  • Number of sites: 8 well-used sites
  • Amenities: None
  • Max Stay: 14 days, every 21 days

Top Things to do Nearby

  • Nederland – This outdoor lover’s paradise exudes small town charm. You’ll find quaint coffee shops, weathered bookstores, and even a merry-go-round. It’s 10 minutes from the campsite.
  • Explore Boulder – A quirky, hippie town filled with outdoors lovers, charming shops, and unique events. It’s an hour from this campsite.
  • Arapaho Pass Trail – Trail taking you through unspoiled natures, past gushing waterfalls, to snow-capped peaks. Bring lunch and enjoy this beautiful 3.3 mile hike to the fullest.

For more information on RV camping in Gordon Gulch Dispersed Campground visit HERE.

​​7. ​Rio Blanco Lake State Wildlife Area – Meeker

Rio Blanco Lake State Wildlife Area

You’ll find this little slice of paradise in the middle of nowhere. It’s main feature is Rio Blanco Lake which provides a haven for tons of bird species as well as excellent opportunities for fishing.

If you like hunting you can get a license and hunt game here as well.

Why do we love it?

The secluded location will help you escape the crowds found at more popular Colorado destinations.

Enjoy a quiet campfire, or a star-studded night far from civilization.

Once the sun rises you can find tons of outdoor activities within walking distance of your campsite. You can’t have a bad time here!

Location: Rio Blanco Lake State Wildlife Area

RV Campsite Information

  • Maximum RV length reported: 41ft
  • Number of sites: N/A
  • Amenities: Bathrooms, boat lunch, shaded picnic tables
  • Max Stay: 14 days, every 21 days

Top Things to do Nearby

  • Dinosaur National Monument, UT – A little far from this RV campsite, but it’s worth the 1-hour drive. You’ll get to see dinosaur bones preserved in the rock bed. A more natural way to witness prehistoric times than a museum.
  • Explore Rio Blanco Lake State Wildlife Area – It’s a bird lovers paradise! There’s no better place in the region to view a plethora of avian species. If birds aren’t your thing you can hike, boat, or fish.
  • Arapaho Pass Trail – The 48-acre park features three 70-foot waterfalls side-by-side. It’s a great place for outdoor activities, and to spot wildlife unique to the area.

For more information on RV camping in Rio Blanco Lake State Wildlife Area Campground visit HERE.

​8. ​Jackson Road Dispersed Camping – Pagosa Springs

Jackson Road Dispersed Camping – Pagosa Springs

Situated eight miles from downtown Pagosa Springs in the beautiful San Juan National Forest.

Wild turkeys and various other wildlife roam the forests here, and offer plenty of gorgeous hiking trails.

Why do we love it?

These sites are surprisingly level compared to other campgrounds on this list. They’re also made from gravel so it should be an easy place for RV campers to shack up.

You’ll find a nice mix of nature and small-town charm here, with Pagosa Springs being about 5-10 minutes away.

Enjoy the solitude of nature with the convenience of modern society!

Location: Jackson Road Dispersed Camping

RV Campsite Information

  • Maximum RV length reported: 33ft
  • Number of sites: Only a few RV sites (No, exact number reported)
  • Amenities: None
  • Max Stay: 14 days, every 21 days

Top Things to do Nearby

  • Walk Through Pagosa Springs – Pagaso Springs is a quaint town with hot springs in which to relax, an opportunity to float in the San Juan River, and tons of events like a hot air ballooning festival.
  • Picnic at Yamaguchi Park – Throw down a blanket and eat lunch in this beautiful park inside Pagosa Springs. It offers some recreational activities, and a playground for the kids.
  • Immerse Yourself in San Juan National Forest – Covers 1.8 million acres of pine forest. You’ll find endless outdoor activities and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife in this unspoiled nature.

For more information on RV camping in Jackson Road Dispersed Campground visit HERE.

​Colorado is one of the wildest states left in the lower 48. It’s epic nature offers plenty of opportunities for free RV camping.

If you’ve ever camped in Colorado, we want to hear about it. Tell us your story in the comments below!

Last Updated on by Aaron Richardson

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