Winter Camping in Colorado: A Complete Guide

For many campers, the unofficial camping season is from spring until fall. But for devout campers, winter camping is not only on the table but a welcome reprieve from the indoor gloominess that the colder months can bring on.

Campers who are considering winter camping in Colorado should prepare to take extra precautions to ensure maximum comfort and safety during the coldest time of the year, choose campsites that allow passable entry and exits, and learn the best places for camping in the Centennial State. 

Let’s dive in and discover all you’ll need for winter camping in Colorado. The best camping locations, fun winter activities, and snow-capped mountains are waiting for you to discover throughout the rugged range of the Rockies. 

Winter Camping in Colorado: Getting There

One of the major concerns for any winter traveler to Colorado is the ability to get where you want to go. Colorado is home to some of the tallest mountains in the nation, and with an average of 250 inches of snowfall during the winter, getting up those mountains could be a challenge.

If you’re going camping in the winter, you’ll want to research where you are going and make sure that the roads will be passable. Check, and double-check, the weather reports to find out if any inclement weather is expected. 

If you can, try to avoid dates on which snow has fallen the heaviest, especially if you’re not a local. Be sure to bring a four-wheel-drive vehicle with you because small cars will have a tough time making it up and down the mountains if that’s where you’re camping.

Where To Go Camping in the Colorado Winter

If you are planning on winter camping in Colorado, the first thing that you’ll need to know is where you are going! There are many different campgrounds in state and national parks in Colorado, in fact, there are 39 different parks with reserved campgrounds to choose from. This makes finding a campsite that works for your needs especially easy.

Colorado National Parks

Colorado is home to four national parks, and according to the National Park Service, there are more than 200 campgrounds in Colorado’s national parks that are either reservable or on a first-come-first-served basis. 

Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest Camping

One of the best national parks for winter camping is the Bellaire Lake campground in the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests. Located about 45 minutes south of Ft. Collins, the Bellaire Lake campground sits only 5200 ft above sea level making it a great choice for winter camping.

The campground comes with amenities like picnic tables, fire rings, and spaces for RVs, tents, and camper vans. Even though the elevation may seem high, it sits lower than most campgrounds in Colorado, ensuring you’ll have passable roads. Reservations are required for this location and all other national park campsites.

campfire beside a snow-capped mountain range in Colorado

Colorado State Parks

The Rocky Mountain state boasts developed campgrounds throughout their state park, many of which are open for campers during the colder winter months. Like the national parks, the state parks require reservations to stay. Campsites are between $15 and $30 per night and if you’re bringing a dog you’ll have another nominal fee for your pooch.

Tips for Winter Camping

Winter camping, unlike camping in warmer months, requires additional considerations for simple survival. Factor in the sheer elevation in Colorado and if you’re not careful, you could make costly mistakes.

RV camping by a lake during cold winter camping in Colorado

In most parks and campgrounds during the winter months, you will find that the water has been shut off. This is to prevent the water pipes from freezing. You’ll need to bring your potable water and a place for gray water. 

Visit BookOutdoors to find the best winter campsites in Colorado!

Extra clothing for layering and sleeping bags rated for cold weather are a must-have for anyone that is cold weather camping. This goes for both tent and RV campers. You can’t predict the future. Mechanical failures with your RV or an unforeseen snowstorm could prevent you from leaving. You want to make sure you plan accordingly and pack extras.

Another top tip for winter camping in Colorado is to have a reliable firestarter. If the weather does turn bad, which it can in the mountains quickly, you will want to make sure you have a way to start a fire in an emergency. Flint and steel are good options if you know how to use them, but many people don’t. Weatherproof matches and several lighters are a better choice for quickly making a fire.

Find More Recommendations for Winter Camping in Colorado with

Winter camping in Colorado can bring some of the most peaceful camping adventures if you are fully prepared for the extremely cold weather. There are fewer people, and fewer predators, during the colder months in the Mile High state, which can make for a relaxing retreat. Find recommendations and make reservations for your next Colorado adventure in the winter at BookOutdoors, just remember to leave no trace.

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