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Best Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds 2022

Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds - Elk

Staying in the Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds is a fun way to enjoy the area. With five campgrounds offering everything from secluded tent sites to roomy spots for RVs, plus Rocky Mountain backcountry camping and backpacking trails, there is something for everyone. Known for its peaks, alpine lakes, and tundra landscapes, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is one of America’s favorite national parks. It’s home to over 350 miles of hiking trails and a huge array of peaks and rock formations that entice rock climbers from around the globe. The Trail Ridge Road is one of the park’s top highlights and offers wildlife viewing and mountain scenes from numerous viewpoints along the road.

What You Need to Know About Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds

⛺ Seasonal dates may change from year to year. While you are arranging your vacation, be sure to check the website for details on the opening and closing dates of the various Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds.

⛺ Make reservations early in the year if you plan to go somewhere in the summer. Reservation-friendly Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds frequently sell out months in advance.

⛺ In the summer, each of the Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds have a 7-day stay restriction, and Senior/Access Pass holders can camp for half price (this does NOT include the Annual America the Beautiful Pass)

⛺ During the summer, many of the first-come, first-served locations should be claimed right away! Make travel arrangements so you can arrive at the Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds early before it fills up.

⛺ The maximum number of campers per regular campground is eight. You will need to reserve two campsites or find a campground that offers double or group campsites if you are traveling with a larger group.

⛺ Bear country is the Rocky Mountain National Park! Find a bear box nearby to keep your food and other aromatic stuff in, or put everything that has a food smell in a closed car. Before you begin your adventure, make sure you are knowledgeable on the best ways to store food.

⛺ If you’re traveling to Rocky Mountain National Park, where more than 800 miles of fun-filled trails await you, where do you start? Here is a personalized guide to the Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds to assist you in choosing where to stay the night. Including areas from RV bliss to remote Rocky Mountain backcountry camping and car camping havens.

⛺ All Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds may be reserved in advance through Recreation.gov. This Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds guide has been created based on the type of camper you have: a car camper, an RV camper, or Rocky Mountain backcountry camping. It is to assist you in choosing where to best set up camp. The Park Campsite Guide does not include Longs Peak Campground because it is a first-come first-served campground.

⛺ By 2022, all visitors to the park must have a timed admission pass, which must be purchased in advance for $2 on Recreation.gov. You can use your camping reservations or Rocky Mountain backcountry camping permit as your timed-entry pass, though. On the first day of your camping reservation, you can enter the park. Your park admission charge must still be paid at the entrance booth.

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Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds

Where Are The Best Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds?

In my opinion, the best Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds are:

1. Glacier Basin

Glacier Basin Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park

You and all of your hiking companions will have plenty of space at the Glacier Basin Group Site. Aren’t your friends also hikers? We certainly hope so, as the climb to Glacier Basin is the first of several beautiful routes that are close by. There are also close-by hikes to Sprague Lake, Bear Lake, and Emerald Lake. If you are not a hiker or climber, you are also welcome to just stay in the Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds and simply enjoy your stay. To accommodate the entire group, there are plenty picnic tables and fire pits, so cook up some burgers and dogs and have a party!

Campsite Area:
❖ Tent or RV sites: 13 sites
❖ Up to 15 guests per site
❖ Up to 6 vehicles
❖ No wheelchair access

Amenities:
❖ Campfires allowed
❖ Toilet available

2. Aspenglen

Best Campsites at Aspenglen Campground Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

Elk frequently congregate at the Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds of Aspenglen, especially in the fall. They may be found nearby grazing in the broad meadows, or sometimes within a few steps from your tent. There is other wildlife in this area besides these lovely critters. Drive up the storied Fall River Road to meet other park inhabitants and take in the breathtaking scenery.

Campsite Area:
❖ Tent or RV sites: 50 sites
❖ Up to 8 guests per site
❖ Up to 6 vehicles
❖ No wheelchair access

Amenities:
❖ Campfires allowed
❖ Toilet available
❖ Pets allowed

3. Timber Creek Campground

Timber Creek Campground Sunset in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

This is where you want to be if you want to stay in Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds on the west side. In reality, there is nowhere else you can be. There is enough space for everyone to stay at Timber Creek, the only campground in the vicinity. The Colorado River is directly next to it, and fly fishers can often be seen teasing the water with their lines in an effort to catch a Rainbow Trout for dinner. You won’t run out of awesome things to do either because you’ll be in the middle of one of the best national parks in America.

Campsite Area:
❖ Tent or RV sites: 100 sites
❖ Up to 8 guests per site
❖ Up to 6 vehicles
❖ No wheelchair access

Amenities:
❖ Campfires allowed
❖ Toilet available
❖ Pets allowed

4. Moraine Park Campground on the East Side

Moraine Park Campground Tour - Rocky Mountain National Park

Remember what Moraine Park taught you; this is how it’s done. Don’t be concerned about being forced to camp near the outhouse because there isn’t a poor place here. The Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds here are sparsely (if at all) dispersed over a forest with gently sloping slopes and encircled by the Rocky Mountains. It’s the ideal place to unwind after a strenuous day of park exploration. Starting those adventures with the Alluvial Fan route, where you can scale stones next to a breathtaking waterfall, is something we’d advise.

Campsite Area:
❖ Tent or RV sites: 239 sites
❖ Up to 8 guests per site
❖ Up to 6 vehicles
❖ No wheelchair access

Amenities:
❖ Campfires allowed
❖ Toilet available
❖ Pets allowed

The park’s highest point, Longs Peak, can be seen clearly from the Moraine Park Campground, where you can spend the night. Reservations are strongly advised for the summer. Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations can be made up to six months in advance over the phone or online at www.recreation.gov. No reservations are permitted in the winter; seating is given on a first-come, first-served basis.

The lovely Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds, which is two and a half miles south of Beaver Meadows Entrance Station and has 77 sites in the winter and 244 in the summer, is tucked away in a ponderosa pine forest.

Depending on the amount of water available, you’ll find a combination of flush and vault toilets. RVs up to 40 feet in length are acceptable here, and generators are permitted between the hours of 7:30 am and 10 am and 4 pm and 8:30 pm, with the exception of Loop D, where they are not permitted.

A free shuttle service connecting the Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds to Bear Lake and Estes Park is one of the amenities, which is excellent for RVers who choose to leave their vehicles at home. The Moraine Park Discovery Center and access to the nearby trails are also within walking distance. After a day of outdoor fun, you may rinse off next to a breathtaking waterfall by connecting your solar shower bag to the campground’s shower bag stall.

5. Longs Peak Campground on the East Side

Longs Peak Campground Rocky Mountain National Park 360 Video Virtual Tour

The only first-come, first-served Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds in the park, Longs Peak Campground, has 26 sites and charges $26 per night. It is located at 9,500 feet in a pine forest. Because of the high altitude of the campground, pack warm clothing for the mornings and evenings.

Keep in mind that this is on the eastern side of the park’s perimeter, south of the main entrance. Take Highway 7 nine miles south of the town of Estes Park to get there. This is a campground that accepts just tents and can be used as a basecamp by climbers preparing to tackle Longs Peak, the park’s tallest peak at 14,259 feet.

Are you prepared to camp at a high altitude? Due to the fact that Longs Peak Campground is 9,405 feet above sea level! Most people who come here to camp also do so in order to climb the magnificent Longs Peak, which is about as impressive as it gets. Because the temperature can quickly fluctuate and it is never too warm at this level, bring thick clothing. Enjoy yourself and luck!

Campsite Area:
❖ Tent sites: 25 sites
❖ Up to 8 guests per site
❖ Up to 6 vehicles
❖ No wheelchair access

Amenities:
❖ Campfires allowed
❖ Toilet available
❖ Pets allowed

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Rocky Mountain National Park backcountry camping

Free Rocky Mountain Backcountry Camping With Permit

You do need a permit for Rocky Mountain backcountry camping. You can only get one at Recreation.gov. At Rocky Mountain National Park, you will not be able to walk-in, fax or call in permit requests.

1. Fern Lake on the North Side

Fern Lake Trail | Rocky Mountain National Park | Spruce, Loomis, Fern Lake Hike

Try Rocky Mountain backcountry camping at Fern Lake for one or two nights for a short-distance backpacking excursion ideal for families with robust children. From the trailhead at Fern Lake, it is 3.8 kilometers in. You’ll pass The Pool, Fern Falls, and Marguerite Falls on the route.

When Rocky Mountain backcountry camping with kids, the pit toilets close to the individual campsites at Fern Lake can be a real comfort. In order to avoid any potential risks from standing dead trees, park officials urge that you set up your tent near to the designated spot. Spend the following day relaxing at your campground and settling in for night two beneath the stars, or exploring nearby Spruce or Odessa lakes. Just make sure you have your Colorado fishing license with you.

From your Fern Lake backcountry camping spot, follow Highway 36 west to Bear Lake Road for a little more than a mile to reach the trailhead from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Bear Lake Road should be taken, and you should continue on it for another mile. Then take Moraine Park Campground Road to the right. Take a left when you see the trailhead and riding stable sign. You reach the edge of Moraine Park using this road. At the end of the road lies the trailhead.

The Rocky Mountain backcountry camping office is close to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, which is located close to the Fern Lake trailhead, on the east side. Although it is open seven days a week, the Rocky Mountain backcountry camping office’s hours vary according to the season.

2. Ouzel Lake on the South Side

Ouzel Lake - Rocky Mountain National Park

Ouzel Lake is situated in Wild Basin, a more untamed region of Rocky Mountain National Park for backcountry camping, and may be reached after a 4.9-mile journey. It is 10,020 feet high.

Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls are popular stops along the way to the lake, however most visitors stop at the falls, thus the trail is less congested once you past the falls. There is a lot of wildlife in this Rocky Mountain backcountry camping area, so keep a watch out for moose in particular. Several peaks will also be visible, including Mount Meeker at 13,911.

There won’t be many people around once you’ve set up your Rocky Mountain backcountry camping at Ouzel Lake because of how far it is to get there. In order to avoid any potential risks from standing dead trees, park officials urge that you set up your tent near to the designated spot. For solitary sites, a maximum of 7 people is permitted, and at group sites, a maximum of 12. The Rocky Mountain backcountry camping area at Ouzel Lake has a privy.

A wonderful, challenging day trek to Bluebird Lake, two kilometers and roughly 1,000 feet above you, is possible if you stay here for two nights.

The Rocky Mountain backcountry camping office is close to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on the east side. The Rocky Mountain backcountry camping office is located in the Kawuneeche Visitor Center on the west side. The hours vary depending on the season, but the offices are open seven days a week. For information, dial 970-586-1242.

From the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, take Highway 36 east for about a mile, then turn right onto Mary’s Lake Road to reach the trailhead. In about 2.4 miles, turn left onto Highway 7. Turn right onto Highway 7 and continue for 9.1 miles to reach Wild Basin Road.

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Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds - Big Horn Sheep

Dispersed Camping Areas Near Rocky Mountain National Park

Given the popularity and scarcity of options, it is always possible (and even likely) that you won’t be able to find a campground within Rocky Mountain National Park. However, don’t give up as there are plentiful Rocky Mountain dispersed camping options just outside the National Park boundary!

Check out your best options for Rocky Mountain RV camping, car camping, and free Rocky Mountain dispersed camping near the park below:

Paid RV Campgrounds near Rocky Mountain National Park on the East Side

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Rocky Mountain National Park. The best option for you will depend on which side of the park you’re planning to explore, and we’ve provided RV campgrounds near by on both the east and west side of RMNP below:

The east side of Rocky Mountain National Park sees far more visitors than the quieter west side. As such, there are plenty of good options for your Rocky Mountain RV camping trip here. Read on to learn more.

1. Elk Meadow Lodge & RV Park

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $75/night for RVs $40-$46/night for tents
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: Recommended.
Pets: Allowed

The Elk Meadow Lodge and RV Park is located just a short drive from the Beaver Meadows entrance to RMNP. This location will work great for most visitors, as you will be well positioned to access most of the top sights in the park. Elk Meadow is a large park and features full hookup Rocky Mountain RV sites, tent camping, teepee rentals, and cabin rentals.

The site features an outdoor swimming pool, laundry facilities, and entertainment at the site lodge.

2. Manor RV Park

Number of sites: 110 sites
Fee: Varies
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: Recommended.
Pets: Allowed

Manor RV Park is located just off Highway 36 past the town of Estes Park. You’ll be perfectly situated between Estes Park and RMNP and have access to tons of great amenities. These include free WiFi, a playground, laundry facilities, and free breakfast on Saturdays.

3. Estes Park KOA

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: Varies
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: Recommended.
Pets: Allowed

The Estes Park KOA is located east of the town of Estes Park, just above Lake Estes. You won’t be as close to the park here as other options, but you will get the predictability of a KOA campsite. Amenities include cable tv, WiFi, and a dog park.

4. Spruce Lake RV Park

Number of sites: 123 sites
Fee: $73 – $79/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: Recommended.
Pets: Allowed

The Spruce Lake RV Park is located on the banks of the Big Thompson River and makes for a tranquil place to spend the night before exploring Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ll be well located for venturing into the park as well as for exploring downtown Estes Park and the plethora of amenities make this is a great option.

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Paid RV Campgrounds on the West side of RMNP

The west side of Rocky Mountain National Park sees fewer visitors than the east side, and there are plenty of great options for Rocky Mountain RV camping.

1. Elk Creek Campground & RV Resort

Number of sites: 48 RV site + 10 tent sites
Fee: $42 – $62/night depending on the site
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: Recommended.
Pets: Allowed

The Elk Creek Campground & RV Resort is located just across Highway 34 from the town of Grand Lake. This is a great location for exploring the East Inlet as well as the many shops and restaurants in Grand Lake. You’ll find both tent and RV sites at this well run campground.

Amenities include WiFi, a general store, playground, and the chance to encounter some of the local wildlife!

2. Winding River Resort

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $50 – $75/night depending on hookups
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: Recommended. Call 970-627-3215 to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

The Winding River Resort is set in a beautiful and secluded location north of the town of Grand Lake. Situated adjacent to the Colorado River this campground can accommodate RVs, tents, and also features cabins for rent. Those travelling with horses or hoping to do some riding in the park will find this an especially attractive option.

3. Hermit Park Open Space Campgrounds

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30/night
Capacity: 6 people per site
RVs: Not recommended
Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: Recommended.
Pets: Allowed

The Hermit Park Open Space is owned by Larimer County and there are several great car camping options close to Rocky Mountain National Park. The campgrounds are located south of Estes Park along Highway 36. There are three excellent Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds to choose from here: Hermit’s Hollow, Bobcat, and Kruger Campgrounds. All of the campgrounds can be reserved in advance and offer basic amenities.

4. Olive Ridge Campground

Number of sites: 56 sites
Fee: $23/night
Capacity: 8 people per site
RVs: Allowed, but no hookups.
Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: Recommended.
Pets: Allowed

The Olive Ridge Campground is a US Forest Service run campground located on Highway 7 just north of the town of Allenspark. The campground is near both the Wild Basin and Longs Peak trailheads in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Sites at Olive Ridge typically fill on summer weekends, so advance reservations are a must. Keep in mind that there is no water source at the campground so you’ll need to bring all that you need.

5. Meeker Park Overflow Campground

Number of sites: 29 sites
Fee: $23/night
Capacity: Not stated
RVs: Not recommended due to difficult roads
Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: All site first-come, first-served
Pets: Allowed

The Meeker Park Overflow Campground has 29 first-come, first-served campsites that serve as overflow camping for the Olive Ridge Campground. Campsites feature picnic tables and fire rings and many have a food storage locker. The campground is located just north of Olive Ridge on Highway 7.

Similar to the Olive Ridge Campground, there is no water at the Meeker Park Overflow Campground.

6. Peaceful Valley Campground

Number of sites: 17 sites
Fee: $23/night
Capacity: 8 people per site
RVs: Allowed, but no hookups.
Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: 9 campsite can be reserved, 8 are first-come, first-served.
Pets: Allowed

The Peaceful Valley Campground is located south of Rocky Mountain National Park along the famous Peak to Peak Highway. A very popular campground in the summer, be sure and try to reserve your campsite ahead of time. If you can’t, there are always 8 sites that are held on a first-come, first-served basis.

7. Camp Dick Campground

Number of sites: 41 sites
Fee: $23/night
Capacity: 8 people per site
RVs: Allowed, but no hookups.
Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations: Recommended, but some sites available first-come, first-served.
Pets: Allowed

Located just up the road from the Peaceful Valley Campground, Camp Dick has 41 campsites situated along Middle Saint Vrain Road. Campsites are available for reservation and first-come, first-served here making this a good option if other Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds are full.

You’ll be a bit further from RMNP here, but still situated in a beautiful area.

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Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds - Bear

Free Dispersed Camping Near Rocky Mountain National Park

If you have any questions about the RMNP dispersed camping options outlined below be sure to reach out to the USFS/BLM offices that oversee the specific areas, shown below:

1. Coyote Hill Road RMNP Dispersed Camping – USDA Forest Service

Just west of Estes Park, along Coyote Hill Road, you have your first choice of free RMNP dispersed camping close to the park. It is advised to travel with a high clearance 44 to reach the campsites. Forest Service Road 119.

2. Parachute Hill/Johnny Park Road RMNP Dispersed Camping – USDA Forest Service

On the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park, Parachute Hill Road and Johnny Park Road are both acceptable choices for free RMNP dispersed camping. Take Highway 7, which connects Estes Park and Allenspark, to Boulder County Road 82 to reach the camping spot. From this point, proceed east in the direction of the Johnny Park Trail before leaving on FS Road 329.

3. Pole Hill Road RMNP Dispersed Camping – USDA Forest Service

Just south of Estes Park, on Highway 36, is a RMNP dispersed camping area called Pole Hill Road. Just before Highway 36 starts its descent into Estes Park, keep an eye out for the crossroads with Pole Hill Road. As there have been several complaints from neighboring landowners, 4WD is a necessity here, and you should also be sure to follow Leave No Trace guidelines while backcountry camping.

4. Stillwater Pass RMNP Dispersed Camping – USDA Forest Service

Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland

On the majority of national forest lands, free RMNP dispersed camping is permitted, with the exception of some of our busiest locations and heavily built areas like trailheads, campgrounds, and picnic spots.

5. Allenspark RMNP Dispersed Camping – USDA Forest Service

Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland

RMNP Dispersed camping is permitted on National Forest System areas, with a few restrictions. Restrictions save resources, reduce harm to roads, and ease tensions between landowners and visitors. Camping is only permitted for a total of 14 days in one place. The campsite must be moved after 14 days.

I hope this gives you everything you need to find the perfect camping spot for your dream vacation to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

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