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16 Browns Canyon Monument Boondocking (Updated 2022)

We visited the Browns Canyon National Monument this summer, and I am writing this post because of how much we loved it. We would revisit the place, and that is why we are highly recommending it. Browns Canyon is a national monument for several reasons. One reason is that it’s a beautiful place.

On the surface, Browns Canyon National Monument appears to be just another typical Colorado mountain range. But look closely, and you’ll see something special. It seems as though every rock has been turned into a living piece of art by nature, and the way the light dances through the Canyon leaves hikers and visitors spellbound.

We got to learn a lot about the history of the Browns Canyon National Monument. It begins in the early 1800s when fur trappers would visit the area. The first known account of these trappers dates back to 1824 with Robert Stuart’s journal entry.


Want more ideas to round-out your trip to Colorado?
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Before becoming a national monument, Browns Canyon was under threat of civil war. What happened? Ultimately, two miners were shot and killed in the Canyon, leading to a heated debate about opening the area up to mining.

In 1991, Representative Patricia Schroeder introduced a bill to protect Browns Canyon from mining and other development. The bill didn’t make it through Congress, but supporters of the bill didn’t give up. In 1995, they succeeded in creating the Browns Canyon National Monument.

Today, Browns Canyon is becoming a recreational area for all adventurers and visitors who want to see history in the making. The Monument is improving the roads and visitor’s center before opening up the area to more visitors.

Browns Canyon National Monument (11)

16 Free Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Locations



1. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Locations – Less Than 10 Miles: – Hecla Junction BLM

Address
CR 194 Nathrop, CO
Salida, Colorado
GPS:38.651617, -106.073298
Elevation: 7817′

Management: National Forest Service

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument free camping area is Gravel and 1.2 miles from a paved road. Hecla Junction BLM is open Year round. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay 14 out of 30 at Hecla Junction BLM.

Best Review:

DON’T continue up the hill towards the river. It is a Colorado state camping area that charges $9 per vehicle and is VERY crowded. Some of those spots are pretty tricky trying to back into. Stay in the BLM open area that is just after leaving the highway.

2. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites – Less Than 10 Miles: – Mt. Antero Meadows

Address
county road 272, Nathrop, CO
Nathrop, Colorado
GPS: 38.69391, -106.133349
Elevation: 8337′

Management: National Forest Service

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument free camping area is Dirt. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at Mt. Antero Meadows.

Best Review:

What a great place! We stayed in the meadow and had a great view of the mountains!! Only issue was when we came into the meadow we seen multiple campsites w Fires which we are still in a fireban so that was upsetting. Overall great campsite it did get a little cold on our visit (September 11-13th)

3. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Spots – Less Than 10 Miles: – East Castle Rock

Address
Hartsel, Colorado
GPS: 38.800286, -105.958096
Elevation: 9186′

Management: National Forest Service

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument free camping area is Dirt and 3 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 days at East Castle Rock.

Best Review:

Quiet little campsites along a small stream. One of the campsites over looks a cow pond. Great views of Aspens and rock formations all around. There were a good bit of mosquitoes. Quick access to Buena Vista or anywhere along the Arkansas valley.

4. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Locations – Less Than 10 Miles: – Brown’s Creek

Address
CR 194 Nathrop, CO
Salida, Colorado
GPS: 38.651617, -106.073298
Elevation: 7817′

Management: Unknown

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument boondocking area is Gravel and from 1,200 ft to 4 miles. miles from a paved road. Brown’s Creek is open Year Round. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 days out of 30 at Brown’s Creek.

Amenities:

Fire Ring
Near Water
Restrooms

Best Review:

Stayed a couple nights here. Great area, spaces are far apart and quite large. Near some good hiking and biking trails and not far from Mt Princeton hot springs. Road is well-maintained, no issues getting my van in and out.

5. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites – Less Than 10 Miles: – Dorman’s Delight

Address
Buena Vista, Colorado
GPS: 38.835409, -106.085004
Elevation: 8573′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument free camping area is Dirt. Dorman’s Delight is open Year Round. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 days at Dorman’s Delight.

Best Review:

Takes a while uphill to get to the GPS location, and my husband kept thinking we were going the wrong way, but once you arrive there is a sign. Road is hard packed, very bumpy, to rock. Expect a lot of shaking on the way up. Would be hard in the case of a recent snow storm, but was doable, just slow, during our stay in December with just a little snow.

6. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Spots – Less Than 10 Miles: – Shields Gulch Camping Area

Address
Buena Vista, Colorado
GPS: 38.852338, -106.050706
Elevation: 9291′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument boondocking area is dirt. Free camping -> No reservations.

Best Review:

Multiple great spots with amazing views of the Collegiate Peaks sitting high above Beuna Vista. It is a somewhat high traffic area, but if you dont mind hearing UTV’s and dirt bikes and occasional people driving up looking for a spot, this is a neat little place. It can get a little windy and dusty, but there are chipmunks and wildflowers everywhere.

7. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Locations – Less Than 10 Miles: – Camping and Boondocking near Salida

Address
Salida, Colorado
GPS: 38.534719, -105.998902

Management: Unknown

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument free camping area is Dirt. Free camping -> No reservations.

Best Review:

Salida, Colorado is a recreation destination. Mountain biking, hiking, river rafting, and zip lining are just some of the things to do there. Salida boasts 175 of the best hiking routes and more than fifteen 14,000 foot peaks. And fishing. Oh the fishing!

8. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites – Less Than 10 Miles: – Shavano Wildlife Area – NW Poncha Springs BLM

Address
Salida, Colorado
GPS: 38.554325, -106.116013
Elevation: 8202′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument boondocking area is Dirt and 3 miles from a paved road. Shavano Wildlife Area – NW Poncha Springs BLM is open Summer. There are 16-29 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is any. You may stay 14 nights at Shavano Wildlife Area – NW Poncha Springs BLM.

Best Review:

None

9. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Spots – Less Than 10 Miles: – Fourmile TMA

Address
County Road 376.2
Buena Vista, Colorado
GPS: 38.869323, -106.044402
Elevation: 9429′

Management: National Forest Service

Fourmile TMA is open Apr-Nov. Free Dispersed camping in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests’s Salida Ranger District. No reservations. First come, first served. This is a high elevation location. The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument free camping area is Dirt.

Best Review:

Our spot was at the end of a dead end road and we had it to ourselves. It was during the Safer At Home phase of COVID-19 and Chaffee County was closed to non-county residents so it was pretty quiet. Great view. Easy to get to. There were a few fire rings but a fire ban was in effect so we didn’t use it. There was a creek way down in the valley and I just wish we could have easily accessed it.

10. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Locations – Less Than 10 Miles: – Mt Shavano

Address
Forest Road 252
Salida, Colorado
GPS: 38.596864, -106.196794
Elevation: 9760′

Management: National Forest Service

Free Dispersed camping in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests’ Salida Ranger District. Reservations are not accepted at this campsite. This is a high elevation location. The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument boondocking area is Dirt.

Best Review:

Lovely views but no shade. Piñon trees only. I found a nice spot close to road with some shade in the afternoon. Vast area with plenty of spaces that are flat. Roads are rocky and should be for high clearance vehicles. Mostly truck and van campers. I have 4Runner and teardrop RV.

11. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites – Less Than 10 Miles: – Forest Road 340A Near North Cottonwood

Address
Buena Vista, Colorado
GPS: 38.836939, -106.214646
Elevation: 8776′

Management: National Forest Service

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument free camping area is Dirt and 4 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet. You may stay 14 at Forest Road 340A Near North Cottonwood.

Best Review:

Road had a closed sign so I don’t think you’re supposed to go up it. We went anyway and there’s a really steep switchback that’s washed out. It’s definitely not safe to drive on it which is probably why the road is closed. If you fall off the switchback because of the washed out section you would fall a long distance, the washout is easy to miss until you’re right on it. This is not a good camping spot.

12. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Spots – Less Than 10 Miles: – Turtle Rock Campground

Address
Four Mile Rd
Buena Vista, Colorado
GPS: 38.881945, -106.145212
Elevation: 8286′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument boondocking area is Dirt and 1.2 miles from a paved road. There are 16-29 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay 14 at Turtle Rock Campground.

Amenities:

Fire Ring
Restrooms

Best Review:

Fantastic spot. So many different sites to camp at and such a cool place to hike and rock scramble. Can’t wait to come back! Immaculate views

13. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Locations – Less Than 10 Miles: – Fourmile Travel Management Area

Address
County Road 376
Buena Vista, Colorado
GPS: 38.883801, -106.141063
Elevation: 8340′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument free camping area is Dirt. Fourmile Travel Management Area is open spring through fall. You may stay 14 days at Fourmile Travel Management Area.

Best Review:

We stayed one night in May. Our spot was at the end of a dead end road and we had it to ourselves. It was during the Safer At Home phase of COVID-19 and Chaffee County was closed to non-county residents so it was pretty quiet. Great view. Easy to get to. There were a few fire rings but a fire ban was in effect so we didn’t use it. There was a creek way down in the valley and I just wish we could have easily accessed it.

14. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites – Less Than 10 Miles: – Elephant Rock

dress
Buena Vista, Colorado
GPS: 38.884724, -106.151789
Elevation: 8110′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument boondocking area is Dirt and 2 miles from a paved road. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 Days at Elephant Rock.

Best Review:

Great spot for tents by the berm, blocked most of the wind/rain when we were there. There were plenty of spots available, and we were far enough from our nearest neighbor. There’s cool stuff around like the river or tunnels to explore.

15. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Spots – Less Than 10 Miles: – North Branch Cottonwood Creek San Isabel NF

Address
Buena Vista, Colorado
GPS: 38.857948, -106.2217
Elevation: 9150′

Management: National Forest Service

National Forest Camping. You can camp for Free 14 Days out of 30 Days. There are several areas to camp along CR 365. No camping in Colorado Trail, trail head parking areas. The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument free camping area is Dirt.

Best Review:

This is a good, relatively quiet spot, even in tourist season. The road is a little rough, but not horrible. Cell signal disappears once you get in the canyon some.

16. Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking Locations – Less Than 10 Miles: – Cottonwood Lake

Address
Forest Route 344, Buena Vista, CO
Nathrop, Colorado
GPS: 38.775312, -106.305967
Elevation: 9651′

Management: National Forest Service

The road into this Browns Canyon National Monument boondocking area is Dirt and 3 miles from a paved road. Cottonwood Lake is open road maintained until November. There are 30 or more campsites at this location.

Best Review:

This is a really pretty site, but unfortunately it is PACKED! We arrived on a Thursday afternoon and got the second to last campsite. The sites are very close together and right next to the road, so you can see and hear your neighbors, and there are cars driving by a lot. We were planning on going to Cottonwood Lake on Friday, but by 11 there was almost nowhere to safely set up while social distancing. While it is a beautiful area, I wouldn’t go back again because I prefer to have a little extra space for the kids and the dogs.

Places and Things to Do and See with Descriptions in Browns Canyon National Monument

There are many things we got to see and do when visiting Browns Canyon National Monument. First, there’s the Browns Canyon itself. Beautiful mountains and gorgeous canyons surround the Monument. If you continue past the canyon entrance, you’ll find a world of recreational opportunities on both banks of the Arkansas River.

Another spectacular attraction we loved in Browns Canyon National Monument is Seven mile Hole. It’s a popular fishing spot with access to the river from both banks. The Hole got its name from the seven miles of river between the Hole and Buena Vista.

If you’re looking for a place to take a break from hiking, there are plenty of spots along the river with incredible views. One spot, in particular, is known as Denny’s Beach. From here, you can watch rafters, and kayakers navigate the rapids below.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also hike to the top of Browns Canyon. It’s a challenging hike, but the view from the top is worth it. There are also several old mines in Browns Canyon National Monument that are worth exploring.

In short, Browns Canyon National Monument is a place for everyone. There’s something for everyone to do and see, and it’s easily accessible from major highways. So, what are you waiting for? Here are some everyday activities that visitors might enjoy during the day.

Camping & Overnight Parking

From the moment you arrived, it was clear that this landscape is full of natural wonderment. The first stop on your journey should be the visitor center, which is currently under construction. Once completed, the center will serve as a hub for information about the Monument and its many attractions. If you’re looking for a place to camp, the Monument has several designated camping areas. These areas provide plenty of space for tents or RVs, and some even offer restroom facilities.

Hiking Trails

You can explore the area by following one of the many hiking trails that lead into the Canyon. There are trails for all levels of hikers, so don’t be afraid to explore!

Rafting & Kayaking

Browns Canyon is a well-known spot for white water rafting and kayaking. The rapids here are thrilling and provide an excellent adventure for those looking for an active day outside.

Horseback Riding

If you’re looking to explore the area on horseback, there are plenty of trails that lead through Browns Canyon. Horses are allowed on nearly all of the trails, so set out and have a blast!

Fishing

Whether you’re fishing from the banks or a boat, Browns Canyon offers fantastic opportunities to catch various trout species. The Colorado River is stocked with over 50,000 pounds of trout during certain times of the year, so come prepared for a good time.

Biking

The Monument has over 25 miles of biking trails that wind through the area. These trails are great for all levels of bikers, from beginner to expert. Also, the trails are open to hikers so that you can explore the area on two wheels.

Bird Watching

Browns Canyon is a haven for bird watchers. With over 300 species of birds, you’re sure to see something new each time you visit. Another thing, Browns Canyon is also a great place to watch the stars. With minimal light pollution, the night sky is clear and full of stars.

Picnicking

Whether you’re throwing a birthday party or simply taking a lunch break, spending some time outdoors is a great way to experience Browns Canyon. A few picnic tables and grills are available at the Monument, but please pack out what you bring in.

Winter Activities

Browns Canyon is a great place to spend time during the winter months. Cross-country skiers are welcome to use about 15 miles of Skiing trails that wind through the area. If snowmobiling is more your thing, then you’re in luck! There are over 200 miles of groomed trails to explore.

Sightseeing

If you’re looking for someplace beautiful and peaceful, look no further than Browns Canyon National Monument. The Monument lies in the heart of central Colorado, and it’s an area that must be seen.

Hunting

Hunting is allowed in Browns Canyon National Monument with the proper permits. Hunters should be aware of special regulations that are in place during certain times of the year.

Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking is a beautiful place with a rich history. There are plenty of things to see and do in the area, so visitors are sure to have a great time. Be sure to check out the visitor center when it’s completed for more information on the Monument and its attractions. And don’t forget to explore the many hiking trails that lead into the Canyon! There’s something for everyone in Browns Canyon National Monument. Get out there and enjoy!

Top Trails to Hike at Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking



If you’re looking for a great place to hike, look no further than Browns Canyon National Monument. With plenty of trails to choose from, there’s something for everyone. There are four main trails on Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking, and we had the advantage of visiting all of them. Check them out below:

Browns Canyon National Monument Hiking Trail #1. Turret Trail

1. - Turret Trail

Turret Trail is an easy trail that leads to incredible views of the Canyon. Along the way, we got to enjoy some history about how Browns Canyon was formed. Also, if you’re looking for a place to picnic or throw down your tent, there are several designated camping areas along this trail.

Length: 6.8 mi
Elevation gain: 1,089 ft
Route type: Out & back

Fishing, Hiking, Running, Dog friendly, Forest, River

Browns Canyon National Monument Hiking Trail #2. Arkansas River Trail from Hecla Junction

2 Arkansas River Trail

This trail is perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy a peaceful hike. The trailhead can be found at Hecla Junction, and it’s a great place to start if you’re looking to fish, bike, or bird watch. The Monument’s flat trails are great for all levels of hikers, so don’t be shy if this is your first time! Along the way, you’ll find plenty of fishing opportunities and recreation areas, so pack out what you bring in and make a day of it. My family and I got to enjoy this trail a lot.

Length:
2.1 mi
Elevation gain: 108 ft
Route type: Out & back

Camping, Hiking, Nature trips, River, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

Browns Canyon National Monument Hiking Trail #3. Bald Mountain via County Road 300

3. Bald Mountain

If you’re looking for an easy hike that’s great for the whole family, then this is it! The Bald Mountain Trail leads hikers to beautiful views of the valley below, so be sure to bring your camera along. This trail is also great for bird watchers, as the area is home to many different species. This trail is also a great place to view wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled.

Length: 10.0 mi
Elevation gain: 1,932 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Mountain biking, OHV/Off-road driving, Walking, Bird watching, Running, Dog friendly, Views

Browns Canyon National Monument Hiking Trail #4. Turret Trail and Catkin Gulch Loop Trail

4. Turret Trail and Catkin Gulch

This is an excellent trail for those looking for a challenge. The Turret Trail and Catkin Gulch Loop are both strenuous trails that will test your endurance. However, the views along the way are well worth the effort. You can make this hike a loop for an added adventure by connecting the Catkin Gulch Trail to the Turret Trail. So lace up your shoes and get ready to explore!

Length: 11.5 mi
Elevation gain: 1,824 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Running, Forest, River, Views

Browns Canyon National Monument Hiking Trail #5. Browns Canyon Trail

#5. Browns Canyon Trail

Excellent, if somewhat strenuous, hiking trail. Hiking boots are recommended due to the rocky terrain. Part of the trail was also surprisingly sandy, which was a pleasant surprise. For the most part, you’ll be on a trail, with the final quarter mile being on a road. Overall, it was a great workout!

Length: 5.3 mi
Elevation gain: 708 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Mountain biking, Nature trips, Walking, Running, Dog friendly, Views, Wildflowers, Fee

Conclusion

We had great fun at Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking, and that is why we are highly recommending it. The next time we are free again, we will go back. You will have a lot of activities to do there, and it is perfect for winter. Aside from that, if you are looking for a place to enjoy nature or do some hiking, this is also the right place for you!

If you’re looking for a great place to spend time in Browns Canyon National Monument Boondocking, be sure to check out the Marble Mountain Wilderness. It’s only a short distance away, and it offers plenty of great places to camp.


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