The Best Free Camping Near Mesa Verde National Park
Located in Colorado’s southwest corner is the 6th national park in the system, Mesa Verde National Park. And, believe it or not, you can find great free camping near Mesa Verde.
We always recommend boondocking (the “official” term for free-camping) when taking a road trip. It’s the best way to connect with nature and save a few bucks.
Let’s dig in!
What to Know About Free Camping
An incredible benefit afforded to campers by state, local, and federal governments is public access lands. Whether managed by the Bureau of Land Management or another organization, these lands are often great spots to camp.
Many times these spots are free of charge but sometimes require campers to check-in or get a permit.
It should be noted that the use of this land is a privilege and not a right. Disobeying rules and regulations often leads to this privilege being revoked.
Campers should practice “leave no trace practices” when enjoying public access lands.
Researching in advance can aid you in following all rules and regulations.
Pro Tip: You’ll probably want to invest in a solar generator if this is your first boondocking road trip.
Things to See in Mesa Verde National Park
For more than 700 years, the Pueblo Indians called the land now known as Mesa Verde National Park home. The park offers self-guided tours, ranger-led tours, and driving tours that offer an incredible look into the Puebloan people’s lives.
You won’t want to miss the chance to see the 600+ cliff dwellings, 4700+ archeological sites, or hike a few miles on one of the eight trails.
The Best Free Campsites Near Mesa Verde National Park
One of the worst things you can do is to rush through this park. You’ll easily want to plan for two or more full days to explore Mesa Verde.
You won’t have to travel far if you pick one of these free campsites near Mesa Verde National Park.
#1 – County Road 34
GPS: 37.3598, -108.4283
This is a fantastic free camping spot located right outside the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. The roads leading to this location are subject to seasonal closures from December 1 – April 15 each year.
These closures may extend longer based on road conditions or wildlife needs.
The road leading to this location is 1.5 miles, and campers should take it slow. Certainly, scout out the road in advance if you’re in a larger RV. Keep an eye on the weather forecast because rain makes these roads very difficult to navigate. Reviewers note that tow vehicles won’t respond until road conditions improve.
This is a true boondocking experience with no trash disposal, toilets, or amenities provided. Guests should come prepared with enough water for the duration of their stay and an idea of where to dispose of trash properly.
The site treats campers with a view of the Colorado foothills and easy access to an incredible national park. This is a fairly high-trafficked area for camping, but you’ll still have plenty of space to yourself.
Reported Cell Service: All of the major carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint) are reported as having three bars. Service may be slower, but you’ll stay connected if needed.
Keep in Mind: An RV Cell Booster can keep you connected when you’re in rural areas.
Mesa Verde National Park Boondocking Vibes: 8.2/10 – It’s a bummer the weather causes closures, and during dry months fires are banned. But the proximity to a beautiful national park makes it worth checking out.
#2 – Madden Peak Road Dispersed Camping
GPS: 37.3476, -108.2016
About the Campsite: This camping spot is located at 8100 feet in elevation and has a great view of the valley below. Many of the sites are large enough to fit multiple RVs, so don’t be afraid to bring a friend or two with you.
You’ll want to plan your stay here while keeping in mind the seasonal closures. This location is subject to close from December 1 – April 15. Individuals caught violating the closure could face fines or additional penalties.
There’s easy access to Durango (30 minutes) and Mesa Verde National Park (15 minutes). Grab any supplies you’ll need while you’re in Durango because this location doesn’t offer toilets or water. So be sure to come prepared!
Reported Cell Service: Verizon and AT&T have fantastic coverage (4 bars each), but T-Mobile and Sprint have poor service (1 bar each).
Mesa Verde National Park Boondocking Vibes: 8.7 – When you consider it being big-rig friendly, with spacious sites and beautiful scenery, it’s hard not to stay here.
#3 – Cliff Camp
GPS: 37.3972, -108.8215
About the Campsite: This camping location is off the beaten path and a great spot at a lower elevation (6800 feet). Don’t think the lower elevation means sacrificing view. From your campsite, you’ll see Mesa Verde National Park and Colorado’s Monument Valley.
Be sure to follow the leave no trace practice as this site offers no amenities in terms of water, trash disposal, or restrooms. You may get lucky and spot a deer or two in the area, which is a reminder of why we take care of these lands.
Each site has a fire pit, but you’ll want to verify the burning regulations. Being caught with a fire during a burn ban will result in a $1000 fine, which would make this free campsite a costly one!
Reported Cell Service: Repots show Verizon has great coverage, but AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint have poor, if any, service.
Mesa Verde National Park Boondocking Vibes: 8.5 – The incredible view and easy access make this site a great choice.
Tips for Free Camping at Mesa Verde National Park
We can’t remind you enough to come prepared when you’re camping at Mesa Verde.
Durango is only a 30-minute drive, but you won’t want to leave this beautiful scenery to go shopping. Cortez is also nearby.
Come prepared with plenty of water for your stay, whether it’s drinking water or showering.
And scout locations ahead of time.
Scenic Free Camping Near Mesa Verde National Park
Free camping near Mesa Verde allows campers to be surrounded by beautiful scenery and close to a unique national park.
You’ll love returning to your RV after a day of exploring, where you can continue to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Do you plan to camp for free when you visit Mesa Verde?
Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).
You should give it a try!
As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
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