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Colorado Camping with a View

By Lisa Blake

Waking up to dewy forest encircled by mountains and crisp high country air, coffee in-hand, last night’s campfire clinging to your clothes and a fresh day of adventure in front of you—that’s quintessential Colorado camping. Throw in a rushing river or pristine alpine lake and you’ve got pure bliss.

Whatever your scene—car camping, tent camping, drive-up with your pop-up camper and your dogs or kids—these Colorado campsites deliver the goods.

Moraine Park Campground

Estes Park

Early booking is a must to score one of this coveted Rocky Mountain National Park campground’s 247 sites. Moraine Park Campground sits at 8,160 feet just inside the east entrance to the popular national park. Iconic peaks line the landscape and lush, often elk-filled, Moraine Park sprawls out before you. Enjoy free shuttles to Bear Lake hiking trailheads and downtown Estes Park’s restaurants and shops. Each site holds up to eight people and two tents, or one vehicle and one RV or smaller camper. Expert advice: Expect the campground to fill by early afternoon every day in July and August, and weekends in June and September.

Lakeview Campground

Leadville

Just south of historic tucked-away Leadville, Twin Lakes Reservoir is a sweet summer cool-down spot with idyllic mountain views that include soaring snow-capped Mount Elbert—Colorado’s tallest peak. Wake up surrounded by fragrant lodgepole and ponderosa pines adjacent to 2,805-acre crystal blue Twin Lakes. Lakeview Campground features generous spaces perfect for tent, RV and group camping with easy access to Mount Massive Wilderness hiking and backpacking trails, along with a segment of the famed Continental Divide Trail. Spend the day fishing and cruising around the reservoir before retiring to your gorgeous campground on a bluff above the lake. Tip: You’re camping at 9,500 feet. Be sure to pack layers, down jackets, hats and gloves.

Lakeview Campground

Oh Be Joyful Campground

Crested Butte

Follow a timeworn dirt road north of town to secluded Gunnison National Forest camping in a valley along the Slate River. The namesake joy ensues from the 15-site campground’s surrounding summer waterfalls and vibrant wildflowers and the views of the aspen-loaded valley. The Elk Mountains are your playground, with hiking and backpacking trails and some of the state’s top mountain biking, paddling and fly-fishing out your front door. Fire rings and picnic tables dot these clean low-fee, first-come BLM sites and most of them enjoy direct river access. If you forget something, town is just a 15-minute drive away. Be sure to bring a high-clearance vehicle—the jostling, unpaved road here is pretty rough and some sites require you to drive across a wheel-well-high river.

Royal View At Royal Gorge RV Park

Cañon City

For those who like to park it, plug it in and relax, fully powered with full amenities and all the Colorado views and adventures steps away, this is your RV park. Luxuriate in the top-rated park’s level pull-through sites with full hookups and the area's largest heated swimming pool. Situated eight miles west of Canon City and one mile from the Royal Gorge Park entrance, it’s easy to pop in and out of Arkansas River rafting, hiking and rock climbing and the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park attractions.

Not into RVs? Surrounding state and national forests serve up tent camping and privately run cabins and ranches dot the rugged and stunning Royal Gorge Region countryside.