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5 Best Free Campsites in the Colorado Rockies

Before your next trip to the Colorado Rockies, you’ll probably want to know about these great free campsites.

The Rocky Mountains can be a beautiful but expensive place to visit. However, with so much accessible land for camping, you don’t have to spend too much of your vacation cash on RV parks or campgrounds.

We’ve scouted out some ways for you to save money on lodging by staying at one of these excellent locations.

Let’s get camping!

About Free Campsites in the Colorado Rockies

If you want to ditch the crowds and spread out during your next camping trip, consider dispersed camping. You may have to forego typical amenities like a picnic table and flushable toilets, but it usually costs nothing. 

You can camp in a National Forest, Grassland, or plot of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land for up to two weeks at a time. Most often, boondocking sites operate on a first-come, first-served basis. So during peak season, finding spots can be tricky.

But locating free campsites in Colorado can be as easy as heading down a forest road. You’re bound to find a beautiful spot to park your rig for a few days.

More adventurous travelers may opt to hike into the backcountry with nothing but the supplies on their backs. Each spot will have its own rules, so be sure to check the managing service’s website before you go.

Whether you want to stay near a mountain lake or deep in the forest, you’ll have plenty of options for free campsites in Colorado. We’ve selected some of the best for your consideration.

View of the Colorado Rockies
Outdoor enthusiasts will love camping in the Colorado Rockies.

#1 Lizard Head Pass

You’ll find Lizard Head Pass about half an hour south of Telluride. Mountain bikers will especially enjoy the proximity to the town famous for summer downhilling.

Its location might also be perfect for you if you enjoy hiking because of the easy access to paths like the Lake Hope Trail. Less adventurous explorers may opt to paddle on Trout Lake or stroll around the area. 

The campground sits at over 10,000 feet above sea level, and the free sites fill up quickly because of their stunning views. The lightly-maintained road may have potholes leading to the camping area, so you’ll want to take it slow. Campendium reviewers mentioned bringing 40-foot RVs out with no problems, so you can definitely bring most rigs to this location.

Pro Tip: While camping at Lizard Head Pass, head to Telluride and enjoy these 9 Best Things To Do in Telluride, Colorado.

#2 Madden Peak Road

You’ll find this dispersed camping area in the San Juan National Forest along Forest Service Road 316. You can get to the small mountain town of Durango from this campsite in about an hour.

Campers can find a spot to set up just half a mile down this dirt road or drive a little further for more options. One visitor brought a 42-foot fifth wheel to Madden Peak Road, suggesting you can make it out in just about any vehicle.

Be warned that you may encounter some cattle, so this may not be the place for you if you have a reactive dog. Otherwise, this area features plenty of privacy and quiet if you want to escape from it all. 

#3 Kendall Camping Area

Free camping in Colorado doesn’t get much better than the Kendall Camping Area. Located just off the Million Dollar Highway, ten minutes east of Silverton, this spot features a large river and mountainside views. Some rough dips in the dirt road could prevent your big rig from accessing this area, so use caution and scout ahead.

If you’ve been hesitant to camp somewhere without bathrooms, you’ll love this campground because it has pit toilets. Visitors like to hike and fish from this scenic spot.

Best of all, you won’t need your white noise machine because the nearby babbling river will help you sleep well.

Pro Tip: Lace up your hiking boots and hit up these 11 Best Trails for Hiking in Colorado.

#4 Last Dollar Road 

Searching for a site with stunning panoramic views? Look no further than Last Dollar Road, just ten minutes away from Telluride, depending on how far down the road you drive. Big rigs and cars with less clearance can easily make it to the spots. Previous visitors recommend accessing the road from the south side off of Highway 145 instead of Route 62.

This free campsite in the Colorado Rockies gets extremely popular because of its surrounding natural beauty. If you want peace and quiet, visit during the shoulder seasons or on weeknights.

Hikers might want to check out the nearby Alder Creek Trailhead or explore the overlooks along Last Dollar Road.

#5 Old Lime Creek Road

Old Lime Creek Road once served as the main thoroughfare between Durango and Silverton. It has since been replaced by Highway 550, but the old road still parallels the route for ten miles.

You’ll probably need a high-clearance vehicle if you want to check out the entire stretch. It can be easily accessed from the southern side if you have a big rig or low-clearance car.

This free campground can only be accessed in the summer. While camping, you won’t have any amenities like water or restrooms, so be sure to come prepared. Once you’ve settled in, consider exploring the area on foot. You can also hunt or fish in this region if you obtain the proper permits.

Colorado is Full of Beautiful Free Campsites

With summer approaching, now’s the time to start planning your adventure in the Rocky Mountains. No matter where you want to visit in Colorado, you’ll be able to find spots to camp for free, giving you a larger budget for other excursions.

Luckily, you don’t have to choose between a quality campground or a free one; you can have both.

Save some cash this summer and stay at some of the best free campgrounds in Colorado!

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.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

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