Camping Spots - 13 min read

10 Best Campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park

Dennis Howard

Dennis Howard, Updated October 23, 2022

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Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited parks in the National Park system. Lying just west of Estes Park, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is in the northern portion of Colorado and covers an area of 415 square miles or 265,807 acres.

Rocky Mountain National Park has become such a popular destination that the National Park Service has started a timed entry reservation system. You can also gain entrance to the park if you have a service reservation such as a camping site reserved or a booked guided tour.

Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park requires some careful pre-planning to make sure your visit goes without problems. If you want to camp in Rocky Mountain National Park, these are your best opportunities.

1. Aspenglen Campground

Credit: porcelaindoll13 / Flickr

If you are entering Rocky Mountain National Park through the Fall River entrance, the Aspenglen campground is the nearest camping area. Because the Timed Entry Permit Reservations system is now in effect, you can only enter the park on the day of your camping reservation.

Your camp reservation will serve as your Timed Entry Permit for the length of your stay. This permit gives you access to the entire park as well as Bear Lake Road. For more information about the Timed Entry Permit Reservation System, visit the park website at this link.

About the Campground

Aspenglen Campground is a seasonal use camping area. The campground is closed during the off-season because of frequent severe winter weather. The campground is usually open in late May and closes in late September. For more information about the current status of the campground, click here.

Amenities and Facilities

  • Food Storage Lockers at each campsite.
  • Seasonal Trash Collection
  • A Camp Host is assigned to this campground.
  • Ice and firewood can generally be purchased in the campground.
  • The campground has flush toilets but no showers.
  • Potable water is available at the campground.
  • The campsites have no RV hookups

Making Reservations

Reservations for Aspenglen Campground are managed by the National Park Service Reservations system. You can access the reservation system by clicking here. Reservations are required for Aspenglen Campground. No walk-in sites are rented.

2. Glacier Basin Campground


Glacier Basin Campground is 8,500 feet above sea level. When you visit this campground, you will find yourself in the midst of lodgepole pines, Douglas fir trees, Ponderosa pines and spruce trees. You can also use the Glacier Basin Campground as your jumping-off point to hike some of the 355 miles of trails in the park.

One memorable experience is the drive along Trail Ridge Road. This road reaches elevations of 12,183 feet above sea level. This scenic drive takes you from heavily forested areas up above the tree line and into the tundra areas of the park.

Related Read: Best Time To Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

About the Campground

Because of the altitude of this campground, it is a seasonal-only camping area. This campground is also subject to the Timed Permit Reservation system so you must pre-plan your trip.

During the season, which runs from late May to mid-September, some facilities are open and available to campers. Click here for more campground information.

Amenities and Facilities

  • There is no camp store at this campground. A camp host is usually assigned to the campground during the open season and may have firewood and ice for sale.
  • Flush toilets but no showers are available at the campground.
  • Potable water is available during the summer months
  • An RV dump station can be found in the campground.
  • RVs and Travel Trailers less than 35 feet in length can be accommodated at this campground.
  • Several of the campsites are ASA accessible

Reservations

You can make reservations for a campsite at Glacier Basin Campground by clicking here. All campsites are reservation only and no walk-in service is available. You will also need a Timed Permit Entry reservation to enter the park.

3. Moraine Park Campground


This campground is located on the eastern slopes of Rocky Mountain National Park and is open year-round. During the winter months, some facilities and amenities may not be available.

Check with the Rocky Mountain National Park website at this link for current information. From Moraine Park Campground, you have easy access to the park features.

You can also easily explore Estes Park just outside the park boundaries. Don’t be surprised if you see deer in the campground or hear elk bugling early in the morning. You will need reservations for this campground.

About The Campground

With over 250 campsites, you might think it would be easy to find a spot. You would be wrong. Make your reservations early for this campground because it is full every day of the camping season. You can camp off-season during the winter months but don’t expect to have toilets or potable water.

Amenities and Facilities

  • Trash collection and Food lockers are available at these campsites year-round.
  • A camp host is usually on duty in this campground.
  • Firewood and ice can be purchased from the camp host during the summer months.
  • Potable water is available in the campground but may be turned off during the winter.
  • An RV dump station is located at the campground.
  • There are both flush toilets and vault toilets at the campground. The flush toilets are only available during the summer camping season.

Reservations

Click this link to make your reservations for Moraine Park Campground. You can make reservations up to six months in advance of your arrival date and early booking is encouraged. Travel trailers and RVs up to 40 feet in length are acceptable in this campground. Some sites require you to walk some distance to the campsite.

4. Timber Creek Campground

Credit: matt redhage / Flickr

Timber Creek Campground is probably the highest in elevation of any campground in any national park in the United States. The campground sits at 8,900 feet above sea level along the Colorado River. Access to this campground is from the Grand Lake Park entrance on the west side of the park.

Unfortunately, an infestation of pine beetles forced the removal of almost all the trees leaving this campground without shade. Despite the normally cool temperatures, the elevation makes the direct sun brutal. Take plenty of sunblock and protect yourself.

About the Campground

Because of the elevation, Timber Creek Campground only operates seasonally. Most years, the campground is open from late in May until the latter part of September.

Timber Creek Campground is a beautiful place to launch an exploration of Rocky Mountain National Park. There are many trailheads in the campground or close by that allow you to enjoy everything from day hikes to multi-day back country exploration.

Related Read: Best Time to Visit Aspen, CO

Amenities and Facilities

  • There is periodic trash collection at this campground, however, please be aware that there is an abundance of wildlife that may want to investigate your trash if it isn’t properly stored.
  • There are no food storage lockers at this campground.
  • A camp host is usually situated in the campground.
  • There is an amphitheater in this camping area where rangers often give presentations about the park.
  • An RV dump station is located in the campground.
  • Potable water is available during the season.
  • Flush toilets are available during the summer months.

Reservations

Camping at Timber Creek Campground is by reservation only. There are no walk-in campsites sold during the summer season. You can book your campsite reservation through the National Park Service online reservation system by clicking here.

5. Longs Peak Campground

Credit: Dave Dugdale / Flickr

Longs Peak Campground is the only campground in the Rocky Mountain National Park that doesn’t take reservations. All campsites are available on a first-come-first-served basis. There are only 25 tent-only campsites on this campground. Also, your Timed Entry Permit is not included with camping at this campground.

This campground is located well above 9,000 feet above sea level. This is a popular place to use as a base camp for ascending Longs Peak. If you attempt this 14,000+ foot mountain, leave early and expect a long day. This is a 15-mile trek through some rugged terrain that gains almost 5,000 feet in elevation.

About the Campground

Longs Peak Campground is a tent-only camping area. There is very little in the way of amenities at the campsite. For the most part, this campground is used by hikers who are venturing deeper into the backcountry of Rocky Mountain State Park. If topping Longs Peak isn’t on your agenda, try an easier hike to Chasm Lake or Peacock Pool.

Amenities and Facilities

  • Vault toilets are located in the camping area.
  • There is no potable water at this campsite.
  • Food storage lockers are situated at each campsite and trash is collected regularly.
  • No other facilities or services are available at this campground.
  • RV’s and travel trailers are not permitted in Longs Peak Campground

Reservations

Campsites at Longs Peak Campground are not available for pre-registration. Campsites are only available on a first-come-first-served basis. You will need to acquire your Timed Entry Permit as well. If you are planning on a backcountry hike, be sure to get a backcountry permit.

Backcountry Campgrounds to Visit

Rocky Mountain National Park has a substantial number of backcountry campsites that offer a true wilderness experience for the adventurous. These campsites are just a sample of those that we believe to be worth the effort to visit.

6. Peregrine Campsite – Mummy Range Area

Credit: Ken Lund / Flickr

This campsite can be accessed from several different trails. The camping area is just off the trail leading to McGregor Mountain Campsite and about 150 yards southwest of the Bridal Veil Falls Trail.

There is usually a wooden sign indicating the path to the sight, but the sign often is hard to find. Red arrows on the trees mark the trail. This is a relatively easy hike. If you start at the Cow Creek Trailhead, Peregrine Camp is only two miles.

The gain in altitude is only 540 feet on this trail and it can usually be traversed in 1 to 2 hours. There is a privy toilet at this campsite but no other amenities. There is a creek from which you can get water if you are prepared to follow good sanitation procedures before drinking.

If you chose to come from Lumpy Ridge via the Black Canyon Trail, the trip is approximately 5.5 miles and gains a little over 1000 feet in altitude.

This is a more strenuous hike but the trail through Black Canyon is one of the most spectacular in the park. Expect the hike to take seven hours if you make the Black Canyon trek.

7. Lost Lake Campsites – North Fork Area

Credit: Washington Trails Association

The trail to the Lost Lake Campsites is rather rigorous. The campsites are rather dispersed around one end of Lost Lake, so you won’t be lacking in privacy. The trailhead can be a little hard to find.

Your best route is from Estes Park take Devils Gulch Rd to the Glen Haven Post Office. Approximately 1.7 miles further down the road turn left onto Dunraven Glade Road. The trailhead is about 2.2 miles. Take care not to go to far because you will enter private property.

This hike takes you out of the Rocky Mountain National Park and onto the US Forest Service Commanche Peak Wilderness Area. There are rules and regulations for entering this area at the trailhead.

The trail to Lost Lake Campground is 9.7 miles long and gains 2,750 feet in elevation. Expect to spend 8 to 10 hours on the trail. The trip is worth it as the lake is unspoiled and pristine.

There is a privy toilet near the campsites but no water. You can get water at the inlet or outlet stream from the lake, but all sanitation precautions should be taken.

Related Read: 20 Best Romantic Getaways In Colorado

8. Little Rock Lake – Gorge Lakes Area

Credit: Keith Spring / AllTrails

Getting to the Little Rock Lake camping area is an adventure by itself. There are no marked or improved trails to this campsite. Even in the middle of summer, you may encounter slopes that contain ice and snow. We suggest you pack crampons and an ice ax if you attempt this trek.

You may also encounter marshy or wet ground and much of the route is above the tree line. Storms with dangerous lightning are often a factor. Since there are no marked trails, you should be familiar with navigating using a topographical map and a compass.

This is a 6-mile hike to a totally primitive campsite with no amenities or facilities. The easiest access to start your hike is about 16.3 miles from the Kawuneeche Visitors Center in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Once at the Lake, you can enjoy the unspoiled wilderness as far as the eye can see. There are no privies or other facilities at this campsite.

Remember that whatever you take in should also come out with you. Bears and other wildlife are common in this area so take the proper precautions with food and trash.

9. Arch Rocks Campground – Bear Lake Area

Credit: Outdoor Project

For a truly impressive trip, take the Fern Lake trail from the Moraine Park Campground Road. The trailhead is near the Riding Stable on this road.

At some point in history, a huge piece of the rock wall thousands of feet above the area sheared off and tumbled down. This rock is the size of a large house and angles out over the trail.

Arch Rock is a bit off the Fern Lake Trail, but the turn is clearly marked. The Arch Rocks Campsite is nestled in a lodgepole pine forest on the north side of the trail.

There may be red arrows on some of the trees to indicate the trail direction. The campsite is marked with a silver metal arrowhead. There are no other facilities at this lone campsite and no reservations are available.

Camping at Arch Rocks campground is first-come-first-served. Water can be taken from the Big Thompson River nearby. Be sure to follow all the appropriate safety precautions if replenishing your water supply from the river.

Related Read: 25 Best Colorado Springs Hiking Trails

10. Goblins Forest Camp Sites


Many people consider this an easy hike to this campsite. What they forget is that the trail is above 10,000 feet in elevation. At this height, oxygen is in short supply and some people may even experience altitude sickness.

This is a camping area worth a visit since it takes you to the edge of the tree line. The 6 campsites are spread throughout a lodgepole pin and spruce forest across Alpine Brook from the trail.

A sign indicates the turn-off to the camping area and red markers show the way. This camping area does have a privy toilet, but water must be taken from Alpine Brook and safely treated before cooking or drinking.

The trailhead is located next to the Longs Peak Ranger Station. The hike to the camping area is about 12 miles and gains 720 feet in altitude along the way.

Be aware of standing dead trees and deadfall branches when you pitch your tent. Winds can topple these without warning.

Rocky Mountain National Forest Camping – A Unique Adventure

Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park offers a wide range of opportunities from improved campsites for your RV or travel trailer, to some of the toughest mountain backcountry campsites in the National Park System. There is something at Rocky Mountain National Park for everyone.

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