5 Colorado Campgrounds to Visit This Summer

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Colorado is home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural landscapes — making it one of the best states for outdoor activities. And while many might associate the state with winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, summer is when its natural landscapes truly shine.

Nothing says summer quite like sleeping under the stars, so it's no surprise the Colorado's campgrounds fill up from May through September. From stunning mountain vistas to outdoor adventures, here’s a look at five Colorado campgrounds you should visit before summer ends.

Maroon Bells

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Meet Colorado's most iconic photo ops. The Maroon Bells outside of Aspen features a backdrop of two towering mountains reflecting in a sparkling lake. In fact, it’s said the Bells are some of the most photographed mountain peaks in all of North America. There are three developed campgrounds near Maroon Bells Scenic Area and each is suitable for either car campers or backpackers.

Angel of Shavano

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If you’re looking for a remote campground, consider Angel of Shavano. Located inside the San Isabel National Forest, this spot features 20 individual campsites that are often less crowded than other options in Colorado. This is due in part to its isolated location, about three hours from Denver. The Colorado Trail, which runs 486 miles across the state, also passes directly through the campsite, making it perfect for long-distance backpackers.

There are plenty of hiking and biking trails in the area and fishermen will enjoy the nearby North Fork Reservoir. Despite the lengthy drive, this campground may be easier to access at the last minute since advance reservations aren't accepted and the sites are on a first-come, first-serve policy.

Flat Tops Wilderness

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Although it's relatively remote, the Flat Tops campground is still easily accessible for a weekend. The entire Flat Tops Wilderness Area encompasses over 235,000 acres — making it the second-largest wilderness area in the state. There are over 100 lakes and ponds, as well as roughly 100 miles of streams. One of the highlights in Flat Tops is Trappers Lake, the third-largest natural lake in the state. There are several campgrounds here as well as the Trappers Lake Lodge.

If you are looking for free dispersed camping, you can find sites in other parts of Flat Tops. One favorite is Shepherds Rim, which includes 15 well-spaced sites, and Trapline with 13 sites. Bear Lake Campground, located near Yampa, is a larger campground option with 43 sites and access to the reservoir, a fishing pier and a recreation area.

Pinyon Flats

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If you're ready for something different, head to Great Sand Dunes National Park, another iconic destination that features a unique, majestic natural landscape. Aside from its towering sand dunes, this national park is also one of the nation's best hiking spots. Depending on where you're camping, several sites have nearby trail access to the dunes. There are 88 sites for RVs and tents along with three group sites available for tent campers only.

During certain times of the year, Medano Creek near the dunes is flowing above ground and you might get to splash in the water. Unsurprisingly, the campsites in the park are more likely to fill up when the creek is above ground.

Turquoise Lake

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As its name suggests, Turquoise Lake is the big draw for this campground. Located in the San Isabel National Forest near Leadville, the lake has eight campgrounds along its shores in addition to two boat launch ramps.

At 10,000 feet up, you’ll appreciate easier trails like the 12-mile paved Mineral Belt Trail loop. Because of its elevation, the lake is considered an alpine camping spot, which means you may need to take a little time to adjust to the altitude. The high altitude is also a clue that you’ll want to pack for wild temperature changes. It can get cold at night — even during summer. Book here as early as possible or head to first-come, first-served campsites like Tabor and Belle of Colorado.

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