Looking for the best camping near Mesa Verde National Park? Then you’ve come to the right place! We’ve compiled a list of the best campsites near Mesa Verde National Park, based on our first-hand experience and tons of research. And since everyone has different ideas of the ideal campsite, we’ve made sure to include everything from established campgrounds in the park to remote campsites nearby.
Here’s a quick run-down of what is on this post:
- Top Recommended Camping Spots
- Mesa Verde National Park Restaurants and Far View Lodge
- Additional Dispersed Camping Options
- Additional Campgrounds and RV Parks
Top Recommendations for Camping Near Mesa Verde National Park
There are a TON of options near MVNP. We like to make sure we distinguish the best from the rest, so let’s kick off this list with our favorite 3 options:
1) Morefield Campground – Mesa Verde National Park
Location: Inside of Mesa Verde National Park
Information: (800-449-2288) or NPS Website
Reservations: Aramark Services
If you’re really looking to explore Mesa Verde National Park, then it’s hard to beat the convenience of the only campground located inside of the park gates: Morefield Campground in Mesa Verde National Park, CO. This campground has 267 sites for tent campers and RVs, with 15 sites offering full RV hookups, and it rarely fills up. Always best to make a reservation though. Each campsite has a table, bench, and grill.
The Morefield Campground at Mesa Verde National Park is situated 4 miles past the entrance to the park, saving you an extra 10 minutes of driving. This can be very nice since the park requires a lot of driving to see most sites.
The campsites rest in an area full of Gambel oaks, which aren’t the biggest trees, but they do offer a bit of shade early and late in the day, and most of all, they provide a bit of privacy between neighbors. There are a handful of toilets and dumpsters located throughout the camp area of Morefield Campground.
Near the entrance to Morefield Campground at Mesa Verde National Park is a full-service village with a gas station, RV dumping station, coin-operated laundry, complimentary showers, and a gift shop & grocery store. There is also a Village Kennel so you can leave the dogs while you explore the park during the day.
Pets are allowed in the campground, but they ask that they are not left unattended at campsites or in vehicles. There are hiking trails which start right at the campground, so no need to hop in your car every day of your visit!
Make sure to take care of your food well since you are in bear country. The BearVault is considered the best protection when in the wilderness. You can also gain a lot of comfort with having the right sleeping pad. Therm-a-Rest is our favorite brand.
2) Dispersed Camping on Madden Peak Road – Forest Service Road 316
Location: 15 miles (20 minutes) east of MVNP
Approximate GPS Coordinates: 37.348770, -108.200992
Other Information: San Juan National Forest Dolores Ranger District: (970) 882-7296
If you’re looking for free camping near Mesa Verde National Park, then look no further than Forest Service Road 316. Located about 14 miles east of the park’s entrance, it offers some excellent backcountry, free camping close to Mesa Verde National Park. This is NOT the closest free camping site near MVNP.
So why do we list it as our favorite? Because it offers the best balance of proximity to the park, seclusion of campsites, and beautiful surroundings.
It’s also close to La Plata Canyon where Durango Jeep tours go.
As you turn north from 160, you’ll pass through a small area of private property, then you will enter the San Juan National Forest. There are quite a few sites at this lower section which is easily accessible for most vehicles and even has some pull-through style spots.
Most of these spots are located a good distance from one another and you shouldn’t have much an issue with noise from neighbors. Although there might be some traffic on the road going past you.
As you continue forward, you’ll enter our favorite area. The road begins to climb and smaller, more secluded sites are found with plenty of large trees around them. If you have a 4WD vehicle and want to go a bit deep into the woods to find a completely secluded spot, you can do so here.
Just make sure you don’t get in our your head and also practice safe food storage practices. You are in an area packed with wildlife.
As always, make sure to leave no trace.
We loved camping here and spent a lot of time relaxing in our BearButt hammock. If you haven’t brought a hammock with you camping before, you HAVE to get one. It will change your life. Just don’t forget to buy some nice straps.
Having a nice cup of espresso can be a dream come true while camping. Check out the incredible Wacaco Nanopresso for a compact, lightweight solution that you can always bring camping.
It’s also wise to be prepared for the worst if you choose to go dispersed camping. My Medic makes some of the best First Aid kits on the market. Get one and a book to help you know how to use it properly.
A dedicated GPS and satellite communications device, like the trusted Garmin inReach can be a life-saver as well.
3) Mancos State Park
Location: 13 miles (20 minutes) northeast of MVNP; North of Mancos, CO
Reservations: Colorado Parks and Wildlife Shop
Mancos State Park offers a lovely landscape that’s worth going outside of the park even if you want to stick to a campground. It is complete with a large reservoir, old-growth trees, and peaceful hiking and mountain biking trails nearby.
Plus, it’s only about 18 minutes driving away from the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park.
This campground has 32 sites with two main areas on opposite sides of the reservoir (east and west). All sites have fire pits and access to toilets, but electrical hookups are not available.
The West Campground caters toward tent campers (closed in the winter), but there is no drinking water. The Main Campground on the east side of the reservoir has drinking water.
And if you’re looking for a memorable experience, Mancos State Park offers yurt rentals! How cool! You can escape for a night under the stars without the hassle of putting up your own tent and stay in a yurt!
These round tents with wooden frames can fit up to six people and have circular skylights and windows. They even have electrical outlets and a ceiling light. You won’t forget this experience. Since there are only two yurts, we recommend getting reservations.
If you’re headed to Mancos State Park, don’t forget to bring your kayak with! We have this inflatable kayak that doesn’t require a ton of space nor a special roof rack. Check it out and be ready to hop on the water in minutes.
The BigRiver dry bag from Sea-to-Summit is the perfect companion to keep your valuables dry when you’re out on the water.
Mesa Verde National Park Lodge
Far View Lodge – Mesa Verde National Park
If camping might not cut it for your trip to Mesa Verde National Park, then check out the Far View Lodge. Located in the hear of the park, this hotel has plenty of nice rooms with patios and excellent views of Mesa Verde National Park.
Don’t feel like roughing it? Stay at the lodge and explore the park with ease.
You can always check Booking.com for great hotel deals in the nearby town of Cortez, Colorado too.
Restaurants in Mesa Verde National Park
Metate Room Restaurant is located on top of the Far View Lodge, and offers dishes with local influence of wild game, fish, and locally grown products.
Spruce Tree Terrace Café is open all year long.
Knife Edge Café (open from late April through September/August), is located within Morefield Campground.
Far View Terrace Restaurant (open between April and October) is a hot spot for casual dining a short distance from Far View Lodge.
Other Options for Mesa Verde National Park Camping
Want to find out what else is around for camping near Mesa Verde National Park? No problem. We’ve done the research and compiled this comprehensive list of camping and RV parks near Mesa Verde National Park. Since we here at Off Path Travels love finding the best, we do plenty of research so you can be sure to be make the best decision possible!
Don’t forget to stop by Durango to go ziplining once you’re done at Mesa Verde.
Additional Dispersed Camping Options Near MVNP
BLM Camping – Highway 160 & Road 34
Location: 1 mile west of Mesa Verde National Park on Highway 160
Approximate GPS Coordinates: 37.359908, -108.428192
Did you know there is free camping near Mesa Verde National Park? As in, nearly directly across the road from the park’s entrance? Well now you do.
This isn’t the prettiest camping location and there aren’t any hookups, but if you want a quick place to crash while staying as close as possible to Mesa Verde National Park, this is the spot for you.
It is just over one mile west of the main entrance to MVNP. The small road, constructed as an emergency outlet for the nearby community, is about 2 miles long with around 12 fairly-well established campsites located on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The road gets bumpier as you drive in, but the first few sites are quite accessible. The area gets busy in the high season due to its proximity to MVNP.
Road 566 San Juan National Forest
Location: 17 miles (30 minutes) northeast of MVNP Entrance; Dolores Ranger District, San Juan National Forest
Approximate GPS Coordinates: 37.414129, -108.195273
This is a San Juan National Forest Service Road, similar to Road 316 offered above. This road extends up into the mountains northeast of Mancos, CO. Some of the sites are friendly for larger RV and rigs but be warned that the road can get a bit sloppy when it rains. Plenty of great views and seclusion to be found here though. Appears to have a bit less vegetation than Road 316.
Road 567 San Juan National Forest
Location: 15 miles (27 minutes) northeast of MVNP entrance; Dolores Ranger District, San Juan National Forest
Approximate GPS Coordinates: 37.388358, -108.187477
This road is another option in the area near Road 316 and 566. This area is a wide-open field with aspen forests nearby. Once again, the road might be a bit difficult to traverse in wet conditions.
Additional Campgrounds and RV Parks Near Mesa Verde National Park
You’ve got your RV and don’t like heading too far off the beaten track? That’s okay. We all have our own preference. And you’re still in luck. There are plenty of great RV and tent-friendly options for camping close to Mesa Verde National Park.
Just outside of the entrance to MVNP:
Ancient Cedars Mesa Verde Camping RV Resort
This RV resort is the closest full-service camping you can find near MVNP. It is just across the road from the visitor center and offers a large heated pool, 2 playgrounds, 2 hot tubs, AND an 18-hole mini golf course. Sites have picnic tables, grills, and nice flat parking areas.
If you want to step it up, cabin rentals are offered, sleeping 4-5 people. Each has a queen bed, bunk beds, pillow-top mattresses, TV, refrigerator, microwave, air conditioner, and heater.
Mesa Verde RV Resort – Mesa Verde Camping
This is one of the highest rated locations for RV resorts and campgrounds near Mesa Verde National Park. Does that mean it’s the best? Not always.
But it has bathrooms that are kept very clean, laundry facilities, two hot tubs, a heated pool, on-site security, a convenience store, and free coffee in the office. If you want to be a bit pampered while camping near Mesa Verde National Park, this may be the spot for you.
Near Mancos (East of MVNP):
Target Tree Campground – Mesa Verde Camping
This campground is in the San Juan National Forest and is located close to the above-mentioned Mancos State Park. It is on a hillside overlooking Thompson Park and has plenty of large ponderosa pines and gamble oaks for shade and privacy.
The campsites have picnic tables and fire pits. There are also large group sites that can accommodate up to 50 people and 10 vehicles.
Near Cortez (West of MVNP):
Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA – Mesa Verde Camping
This campground is part of the KOA chain, and it includes primitive sites, RV sites, cabins, heated pool, nearby 3-acre dog park, basketball court, horseshoe pits, walking trails around Denny Lake, and plenty of nearby grocery and convenience stores.
La Mesa RV Park – Mesa Verde Camping
The best thing about this campground and RV park near Mesa Verde National Park is the large, mature trees providing shade in the summer heat. Reviews say the water pressure and WiFi are excellent. Cable TV, showers, restrooms, and laundry facilities are onsite.
Sundance RV Park
This sizable RV park near Mesa Verde National Park has 68 sites with plenty of space for large RVs including pull-thru options. All sites have full hookups, but it appears that it is mostly a gravel park that can feel a bit crowded at times.
And you can find free WiFi, laundry facilities, restrooms, and showers. A restaurant, hospital, service station, and convenience store are nearby.
Carrouth Haven RV Park
This is a bare-bones site that comes with a bit cheaper of a price tag than other nearby RV parks. It has very friendly owners and access to Phil’s World if you enjoy mountain biking. No restrooms or laundry.
Sleeping Ute RV Park & Campground (at Ute Mountain Casino south of Cortez)
If you want to possibly enjoy a bit of gambling at Ute Mountain Casino on top of your adventures at Mesa Verde National Park, then this may be the spot for you.
Table and trash can at each site. Indoor pool, hot tub, laundry facilities, showers, restrooms, WiFi, and covered picnic area. Walking distance to the travel center near the casino, which has a gas station, convenience store, groceries, and food court
Near Dolores (North of MVNP):
House Creek Campground
This is a bit farther away from Mesa Verde National Park, but this campground is located on the shores of McPhee Reservoir, the second-largest reservoir in Colorado. Group and single-family sites, some of which have electric hookups. Several sites have shelters for shade. Picnic tables, campfire rings, and grills are provided, as are vault toilets and drinking water.
McPhee Recreation Complex
Another campground located on the shore of McPhee Reservoir. RV and tent sites, some of which have electric hookups. Several sites have shelters for shade.
Picnic tables and campfire rings are provided, as are flush toilets. The half-mile Can Do Trail climbs to a scenic overlook with panoramic views of the reservoir.
Dolores River Campground & Cabins – Mesa Verde Camping
The campground is located along the Dolores River with plenty of shade. Picnic tables, fire pits, and cooking grates at each site. Some have full RV hookups and even large grassy areas.
Can also rent a yurt or sleep in a riverfront wagon. Showers, bathrooms, laundry facilities, and gift shop are all onsite.
Summary of 17 Great Options for Camping Near Mesa Verde National Park
No matter what you’re looking for, there is something for you for camping near Mesa Verde National Park. For the most convenience, stay at Morefield Campground located inside of the park itself. If you like dispersed camping, go. a bit east to Forest Road 316 for great, secluded sites.
And if you want to hang out on the shores of a nice lake, go to Mancos State Park.
So grab your favorite tent (or get an awesome one from MSR) and head out to your new favorite campsite!
What campsite looks the best to you? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts!
Plan Your Trip to Mesa Verde National Park
Don’t want to camp? That’s alright too. Find a nice hotel near MVNP on Agoda, which usually has the BEST deals around.
Pack Your Bags Wondering what to pack? Check out our Essential Camping Gear post to get a downloadable list! Or head over to 25 Cool Camping Gadgets for 2019 to get the low-down on the latest and greatest gear.