Winter Park, Colorado is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. And it’s not just the winter season that keeps people outside. During the summer, there are plenty of great reasons to go camping near Winter Park.
With a wide variety of campgrounds and dispersed camping on the outskirts of this exciting mountain town, there is sure to be something for everyone, no matter your camping style.
This post is going to cover the best camping near Winter Park for dispersed camping as well as camping at campgrounds and RV parks. Did you know you can also rent an RV or camper van for dispersed camping in comfort?
Thinking of getting some new gear for the trip? Then check out our full list of 25 Cool Camping Gadgets.
We’ll start off with dispersed camping because here at Off Path Travels, we love to get away from it all. If you’re really lucky, you can go dispersed camping (or “wild” camping or “boondocking” as it’s sometimes known) for an entire trip without seeing another person.
That’s our version of an ideal camping spot!
Before we list off these great sites, we want to remind everyone to practice safe dispersed camping fundamentals. Always leave no trace; be aware of bears and take proper precautions for food and scented-item storage; and finally, make sure you understand the rules and regulations, including fire bans.
You should also make sure to check the dispersed camping specifics to make sure that dispersed camping is still allowed at the sites listed. Rules can change quickly.
Here are some of the main tools need to be informed about dispersed camping near Winter Park:
- Sulphur Ranger District
- Fire Restrictions for Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests
- Motor Vehicle Use Maps
- Outdoor Safety and Ethics
- Dispersed Camping Rules and Regulations
Our Favorite Dispersed Camping Near Winter Park:
1) Vasquez Road and Creek
This is considered the most popular dispersed camping near Winter Park. And for good reason. It is a very short distance from town but somehow seems like it is hours away from humanity. Our favorite aspect of the Vasquez Creek dispersed camping areas is that it is close to the Vasquez Creek itself, so you can have ready access to a great water source and splash around in the flowing water.
The biggest downfall to Vasquez Creek dispersed camping is that it can get crowded. If you’re set on staying here, arrive before the weekend crowds get here to increase your chance of getting a good spot along the water. Show up too late? Not the end of the world, you’ll likely just have to head a bit west and into the forest to get a spot.
How to Get to Vasquez Creek Dispersed Camping Area
This one is so easy to get to, it’s almost laughable. If you’re coming from Berthoud Pass on Highway 40 (Main Street), you’ll go 2.4 miles past the Winter Park ski resort. Just as you enter the main area of downtown Winter Park, take a left onto Vasquez Road, also known as Forest Road 7.
Continue for about 2 miles southwest and you’ll start to see some of the first spots along the Vasquez Creek. Find a spot that fits your needs and enjoy!
2) Meadow Creek Reservoir
Meadow Creek Reservoir has some of our favorite dispersed camping near Winter Park. But this one take a bit more effort to get to. It is about 15 miles northeast of Winter Park, most of which is done on a dirt road that can be a bit bumpy at parts. It takes about 40 minutes to drive to from Winter Park.
Plenty of RVs and trailers come up this way, so you shouldn’t have any real issues regardless of your vehicle type.
Why is this our favorite? Because if you’re willing to look, you can find some incredible dispersed campsites all around the reservoir and camp very close to the water’s edge. (Please keep in mind the minimum distance for camping near water.)
The most popular spot here is right at the entrance to the reservoir. You will find about 5-7 large campsites near this area, which is usually fairly crowded during peak season.
However, if you keep driving around the reservoir and park along the road on the eastern side of the reservoir, you can have a lovely piece of nature all to yourself. Our favorite campsite in this area requires a bit of a hike down away from the car, but there are sites all around the reservoir which you can camp right next to your car.
Some even have toilets and dumpsters nearby! Just make sure you understand which area you are parking in. Most require a permit to park overnight, which was $10 per night for a 2-axle vehicle during the summer of 2018.
How to Get to Meadow Creek Reservoir Dispersed Camping Area
Head north of Winter Park along Highway 40. Go through the town of Fraser, and just before you reach Tabernash, make a right turn onto Road 83. You will then make a quick left onto County Road 84 / Forest Service Road 129. After about 0.9 miles, make another left to stay on USFS 129 and continue along it for just over 8 miles until you reach the reservoir.
Take your time here; the road gets a bit windy in parts and two-way traffic can be expected. It’s also common courtesy to slow down as you pass any inhabited campsites so you don’t throw a bunch of dust their way. You will pass by the permit area on your way to the reservoir, so make sure to stop to get one.
3) Fraser Dispersed Camping – Road 72 and Road 73
Another excellent area you can find dispersed camping near Winter Park is just west of Fraser. This area is excellent if you want to stay close to town, but would like to have a few more roads to choose from and want to try a bit to get away from other people. There is little water here, so make sure to bring plenty along.
How to Get to Fraser Dispersed Camping – Road 72 and Road 73
It may not surprise you, but this one is pretty easy too. There are two main options in this area, but both of them start at the same place. Head a bit north of Winter Park until you get to Fraser. Make a left on Road 72. You can continue down this for about 2 miles until you reach the National Forest and dispersed camping area.
Or, you can make a quick right onto Fraser Valley Parkway, then go left at the dead-end onto Road 73. Most people would go 4.5 miles south, then take a left (heading east) to the dispersed area on the small forest service roads there. But you can also continue straight. For this area, we recommend checking out the motor vehicle use map (MVUM) of the area to make sure you are camping in an appropriate area.
Approx GPS Coordinates: 39.909868, -105.840665
4) Dispersed Camping Between Fraser and Hot Sulfur Springs – Road 50
Another large area open to dispersed camping near Winter Park is along Forest Service Road 50. This is where you can go if you really want to get away from people, but stay relatively close to Winter Park (and Denver). Taking Road 50 west from Fraser will lead you into a treasure trove of wilderness with more dispersed campsites than you can count.
Just be careful in this area. You will lose cell service and the roads can loop around in a bit confusing of ways. We highly recommend downloading offline maps (Google Maps app, Motion-X GPS, and Gaia GPS are all great options). You may also run into people using the area as a shooting range, which can happen at a lot of dispersed camping areas.
How to Get to Dispersed Camping on Road 50
Go north of Winter Park until you hit Fraser, then go left onto Eisenhower Drive, eventually winding onto Road 73. Shortly thereafter, make a right onto Road 50 and keep going until you find a spot. You will pass by many developed areas here, so once again, make sure that you keep going until you actually hit the National Forest area.
You can continue along Road 50, turning onto Road 32 deep in this area and you will eventually make your way to Horseshoe Campground. From here, you can keep going west to reach Road 3, then take that southwest to Highway 9. This highway can bring you south to Silverthorne or north past Green Mountain Reservoir and Kremmling.
Approximate GPS Coordinates: 39.936357, -105.974654
5) Jones Pass Dispersed Camping
The final dispersed camping area on this list of camping near Winter Park is Jones Pass. This popular (and sometimes quite crowded area) is located directly west of the town of Empire, just as Berthoud Pass begins to climb and go into the switchback sections.
Jones Pass has some amazing views of the mountains in nearly every direction, which is the biggest reason to come here. It’s also worth noting that the road accessing the majority of the sites can be quite steep in places.
And if you keep going a bit too far, you’ll end up in an area that has very few trees. Some come up here if you’re looking for great views and can brave the additional altitude because it is quite high up there!
How to Get to Jones Pass Dispersed Camping
After traveling through the town of Empire, you’ll travel just about 8 miles then make a left onto Road 202 / 203 toward Jones Pass. This is just before Highway 40 turns sharply, going from a westbound road to eastbound as the first major switchback of Berthoud Pass begins. Pass by the Henerson Mine and the Butler Gulch trailhead until you find the dispersed camping area.
Campgrounds Near Winter Park
So maybe dispersed camping isn’t your thing. Or perhaps you are an avid mountain biker and want to stay right on some of the best trails in the Winter Park area. Maybe you just like to have an established place to park your car or RV, complete with a picnic table, fire pit, and perhaps toilets or drinking water nearby.
These are also great options when Stage One fire restrictions are in place because you can usually still have fires in permanent fire pits found in campgrounds. If that’s the case, there are still plenty of options for camping near Winter Park.
These options are all located in the Sulfur Ranger District. Check here for rules and regulations you need to follow.
1) Idlewild Campground
Idlewild Campground is one of the most popular and highest reviewed campsites in the Winter Park area. It is very close to town, has toilets, and even has animal-resistant boxes to store your food and scented items in. You are in bear country after all!
This camping area close to Winter Park has access to great trails right next to the site. In fact, over 2 miles of trails along the creek are just outside of the campground. And for the most part, there are quite a few trees in the campground area so you should have shade. Some sites in the area have had to be cleared of large trees due to pine beetle infestations.
This campground is located just north of Winter Park ski resort and south of the downtown area of Winter Park. Turn right (east) off of Highway 40 (Main Street) directly into the campsite. Yes, it is right off of the road and you may hear some noise from the highway and from the nearby train tracks.
$20 per night. First-come, first-served. 26 sites. 30’ maximum.
2) Robbers Roost Campground
This campground is located at the base of Berthoud Pass. As you come down the pass, turn right (east) into the campground. It is somewhat similar to Idlewild as it is right off of Highway 40, but still gives you a bit more space from town. There are picnic tables and toilets here to serve the 11 campsites found here. As far as camping near Winter Park goes, this will do the trick. This is a bit higher elevation site at 9,826 feet, so be prepared for potentially chilly temperatures at night!
$20 per night. First-come, first-served. 11 sites. 25’ maximum.
3) St. Louis Creek Campground
This campground is located a bit farther away from the cities, and you can reach it by heading west from Fraser on Road 73 for about two miles. The biggest benefit to this site over the others is that it has drinking water onsite!
Sometimes the pipeline can be closed off (especially early/late season or during drought times), but it’s a great amenity to have in the wilderness nonetheless. It also has toilets and picnic benches serving the 17 sites here, making it a good place to choose when camping near Winter Park.
The biggest downfall to this campground is that they did have to come and clear away most of the trees located within the campground area. It is still surrounded by beautiful forests, but there isn’t much shade at the campsites. It also makes it much easier to see and hear your neighbors.
$20 per night. First-come, first-served. 17 sites. 32’ maximum.
4) Midland Campground
I’m going to include this one just to avoid confusion with it since it’s basically the only other established campground in the Winter Park area. This site is a reservation-only campground meant to host large groups.
It is located directly east of Winter Park Ski Resort. It has a capacity of 36 people and 10 cars. Reservations must be made by phone by calling 970)726-1132 or (970)726-0889. It has picnic tables and can have portable toilets.
$10 per night. Reservations Only. 1 site.
Other Camping Near Winter Park: Granby, Lake Granby, and Grand Lake
If those options aren’t enough to satisfy your needs, I recommend checking out camping near Granby, Lake Granby, or Grand Lake – all to the north of Winter Park. Hot Sulphur Springs is another very popular spot nearby. Established campgrounds include Pioneer Park, Willow Creek, and Gilbert Campgrounds.
Or if you want to head west (just north of Silverthorne), you can always go to the area around Green Mountain Reservoir which has many campgrounds and dispersed camping options, such as Cow Creek South, Big Green, Sugarloaf, and Horseshoes Campgrounds.
Summary of Camping Near Winter Park
With so many options around Winter Park, you can find whatever it is you’re looking for. Head to Vasquez Creek for dispersed camping close to town or go for an adventure down Road 50 for more seclusion. Idlewild Campground and Robbers Roost Campground are two good options if you’re looking for an established campsite with toilets nearby.
Now that you have all of this wonderful information, make sure to use it wisely and respect your neighbors and nature. Let’s keep this land incredible for generations to come, make sure to leave no trace.
And don’t forget to stock up on the best new gear and camping gadgets. Check out our full list of 25 Cool Camping Gadgets.
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What is your favorite campsite in the area? Leave a comment below to share your knowledge!
Plan Your Trip Camping Near Winter Park
Pack Your Bags
Wondering what to pack? Check out our Essential Camping Checklist
Grab a Book to Learn More
Get one of these incredible books to improve your camping skills:
- The Bushcraft Boxed Set: Bushcraft 101
- Moon Colorado Camping
- Easy Campfire Cooking: 200+ Family Fun Recipes
- The Camping Logbook (Camping Journal)