Missed your window of summer camping in the Colorado outdoors? Don’t worry, Autumn can be a fantastic time of year to explore the wonderful Colorado outdoors. There’s a reason our decor inside Grizzly Rose is the way it is – it reminds me of the great outdoors and fall season. With temperatures cooling and less crowded parks, fall makes for excellent camping. Not to mention, the unique flora in these regions means you can witness, first hand, the towering Aspens, and their changing leaves displaying brilliant shades of orange, red, and brown.
Here are some prime locations for the best fall camping in Colorado. Make sure to prep your gear for fall conditions, including bringing warmer sleeping gear, camping drink of choice, and bear-proof containers, and get ready to enjoy these ideal camping spots.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is four hours south of Denver, approximately 226 miles away. This is easily one of the best places for fall camping in Colorado. This southeast Colorado National Park is a stone’s throw from the New Mexico border and is framed by the largest sand dunes in North America, including the towering Star Dune. Pinyon Flats Campground in the park has 88 campsites, all with convenient picnic tables and fire pits.
This camping experience is ideal for the fall, as the dunes cool down dramatically from summer.
Usually, the dunes will average temperature in the mid-60’s in October. This more arid terrain is a change from other campgrounds in the forested mountains of Colorado. If you go earlier in the year, chances are you’ll catch the seasonal Medano Creek and the beach that are both created at the base of the dunes due to snowmelt. By fall, the creek will have dried up again.
The Aspenglen Campground is located in the Rocky Mountain National Park two hours northwest of Denver, approximately 75 miles away. As the name suggests, the campground has a plethora of aspen trees that change colors brilliantly during the fall. In addition, towering pine trees and firs also fill the nearby forests. Several trails extend from the campground with breathtaking fall foliage views, such as the Lawn Lake trail.
Aspenglen offers both tent and RV sites, as well as walk-in tent sites that are slightly more secluded. The campground isn’t far from the Fall River either and offers easy access to the beauty of the Rocky Mountain.
Chatfield State Park
The Chatfield State Park Campground is just a short distance from Denver at 22 miles south of the city. It sits right along Chatfield Lake which makes it ideal for fishing and kayaking as well as taking in the fall foliage. The 197 available campgrounds are noticeably less full during the fall season, which means you’ll have your pick of spots for either tents or RV hookups.
This lower elevation campground is close enough to the metro to make it a refreshing weekend getaway.
It’s cupped by foothills and the lake. Wildlife is still plentiful for being so close to the city.
Rainbow Lakes Campgrounds
This Nederlands camping area is approximately 56 miles from Denver in the northeast. It was previously a bear-hunting camp but has opened up as a campground with plenty of access to some of the best features of Colorado wilderness.
The campground sits before a valley that flushes with rich fall colors in October and beyond. It also connects to the Indian Peaks Wilderness, the Rainbow Lakes, and even the Arapaho Glacier Trails.
There are 17 sites for both tents and small trailers. Keep in mind there is no drinking water and no hookups, so it’s a little rougher than some of the other campgrounds featured on this list. However, the scenery is definitely worth it. As for the lakes, there is trail access to four of the nine Rainbow Lakes. Trout fishing is plentiful here and even encouraged as the brook trout are invasive and threatening to the native fish present.
The trail that runs by Lower Crystal Lake near Breckenridge, CO sees a lot of camping enthusiasts in the fall. Although the chill is something to consider, camping under the brilliant star-studded sky on the shores of the lake is an unbeatable experience.
Plentiful wildlife such as moose, elk and bighorn sheep dot the surrounding rocky outcrops, and the area is interspersed with alpine meadows that look beautiful in the autumn season.
There is no charge to camp by Crystal Lake, however you will need to bring all your supplies. The hike up to the Upper Crystal Lake makes for a great day trip from camp, and the trails are dog friendly. When you choose to hike in Fall, you are far less likely to run into day hikers.
This is a national forest camping area, located about five hours southwest of Denver, nearest to popular tourist town of Crested Butte, CO. This area of Colorado is tucked in the mountainous and forested western parts, which means you should expect to feel fully immersed in nature.
The scenery up to the campground is some of the most breathtaking with wildflowers in basin areas and endless changing Aspens lining hiking trails and roads. We highly recommend traveling over to Kebler Pass for ideal foliage views.
The campground is open until the beginning of November with first come first serve reservations. It allows for mountain biking, hiking, and four-wheel driving. It is a perfect geo location in beautiful Gunnison National Forest, between Maroon Bells-Snowmass and the Raggeds Wilderness areas. This campground seldom gets crowded, even in the more popular summer months. Be sure to pack warm!
Located north of Denver near Fort Collins, Colorado. The reservoir is 6.5 miles of water. It’s surrounded by hill areas of Ft. Collins with a stunning backdrop of the Rocky Mountain in the distance. This campground is quite popular as it offers convenience and accessibility to city features while also providing a getaway from typical city life.
The reservoir offers no shortage of options. Explore fishing, boating, campaign, picnicking, rock climbing, and even scuba diving.
Camping fees are required in addition to entrance permits. Camper cabin options allow for up to five people per unit. It’s usually recommended to book in advance. This campsite tends to stay busier than other Colorado locations.
Rifle Gap State Park
If you find yourself heading west, Rifle Gap State Park is a unique option to camp in Colorado during Fall seasons. Located about 20 minutes from the town of Rifle, CO and about four hours west of Denver, this area displays more of Colorado’s red rocks, tabletop mountains, and flat grassy lands. The park itself has a 360-acre reservoir and totals just over 1,300-acres, including camping spots for pull-up connections, picnic tables, and grills.
Uniquely located, this site is only 40 miles from Glenwood Springs popular hot springs and majestic sites like Hanging Lake. Get the most for your time spent camping in Colorado!
This area features options for boating, excellent fishing, and rock climbing. Rifle Camp has 89 sites for campers year-round.
Mueller State Park
Muller State Park is a really wonderful campground to immerse yourself in all things Colorado. It is located about two hours southwest of Denver, approximately 95 miles away. This area is home to an abundance of Colorado wildlife including elk, black bear, and mule deer. Every season here is a photographers delight! There are plenty of hiking trails and beautiful flora sprinkling the mountainous scenery.
There are plenty of recreational opportunities for campers including hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching. There are several ponds you can take advantage of, as well!
This campground welcomes leashed pets, but restricts them to campsite areas, as they are banned from hiking trails and backcountry settings for safety reasons. There are picnic areas and paved roads that many campers come to appreciate.
Priest Gulch Campground
Last, but certainly not least, is Priest Gulch Campground. This campground is nestled near the beautiful Dolores River in Southwestern Colorado between Telluride and Mesa Verde National Park. This unique area showcases high mountain peaks, wildlife, and beautiful scenery, including Colorado Fall foliage that visitors have come to love. Expect to be pleasantly surprised by the options of accommodations.
Explore Ghost Towns and Old Mines — popular tourist attractions for guests. Additionally, this campground boasts a plethora of activities including fishing, hiking, hunting, and more.
The campground has a selection from an RV park area — 88 hookups in total — to cabins and general lodging onsite. Additionally, it has become quite a popular place for fishing enthusiasts. Areas for fishers to explore include Dolores River, Priest Gulch Creek, McPhee Reservoir, and Trout Lake.
Be sure to take pictures and share them with us on our social media, as we’re big fans of fall camping in Colorado! It has some of the best views, best weather, and, best of all, light camping traffic.