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Winter Camping in Colorado | Best Spots For Winter Camping

For some it may not sound too appealing to be camping in winter but, do you know winter is an ideal time to do camping in Colorado? The visitor count drops significantly which means you will have less foot traffic to maneuver during your adventures and not to mention the view during this time. The snow turns these places into something of a winter wonderland which you certainly don’t want to miss. Though there are many spots where you can do winter camping in Colorado, we have outlined some of the best of them below for you. 

Currently, you might be thinking about the cold temperature over there but, when you look back on your winter camping experience it will be the last thing on your mind. You will see how braving the cold weather can warm your soul with a certain comfort and coziness. Here are the top 5 best spots where you can do winter camping:  

Rock Mountain National Park:

As the golden aspen leaves disappear and the snow begins to fall, visitors who are willing to camp in colder temperatures will be rewarded with a very different yet unique park experience in one of America’s most well-known parks. Located in northern Colorado, the park boasts 415 square miles of rugged, postcard-perfect landscapes just waiting to be explored.

Camping Spot: While the park has five campgrounds, campers can set up their camp in designated sections of Moraine park only which is available year-round. No reservations are required as all the available campsites are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Winter Activities: From snowshoeing, Nordic skiing to backcountry exploration and winter photography, there are many winter activities campers can indulge in. Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road are easier options for beginner-friendly backcountry skiing. Interested in Wildlife photography? Do bring your cameras as you can easily spot elk, marmots, moose, pika, and deer on the west side. Those looking for a thrill can indulge in ice climbing and skiing and if you are traveling with a family, nothing is more fun than snow tubing. 

Note: Be sure to check out the avalanche conditions before heading out to do backcountry exploration. It is recommended to have prior backcountry experience and a little bit of familiarity with navigating in avalanche terrain.

Steamboat Lake State Park:

Spread over 2820 acres and surrounded by alpine wilderness, it is one of the finest spots to do winter camping in Colorado. 

Camping Spot: Campgrounds are available for vehicles and tents but prior reservation is recommended. In total, fourteen RV sites with hookups are available during the winter months. 

Winter Activities: In the winter, the frozen lake is ideal for a snowmobile ride. Campers can enjoy cross-country skiing, horseback riding, snowshoeing, backcountry camping, and more. The lake is rated best for ice fishing; bring your fishing gear and buy a license from the visitor’s center. Check with the park rangers about the safety of the ice before heading out there. 

Dinosaur National Monument:

Spanning 329 square miles, this monument is situated on the border between Colorado and Utah. It is the perfect spot for scenic winter camping especially if stargazing is your thing. The remote nature of the campsite gives this place a more secluded feel almost like you are in the backcountry. 

Camping Spots: You can pick from these three campgrounds: Echo park, Deerlodge Park, and Gates of Lodore. All of them are open year-round provided the weather permits dirt road access and are given on first come, first served. Each of these spots has vault toilets, picnic tables, and campfire rings.  

Winter Activities: The site offers an abundance of opportunities for exploring and hiking which are simply breathtaking. If history is your favorite subject, head over to the Quarry Exhibit Hall to see ancient dinosaur fossils from which the monument derives its name. 

Colorado National Monument:

It has one of the greatest landscapes in America. The moment you enter you will see the beautiful snow-capped hills from the distance; the granite rock formations and red sandstone canyons look so different under a fresh dusting of snow.

Camping Spot: Campers can camp in Saddlehorn campground. In winter, these sites require prior reservation and are given on a first-come, first-served basis. Backcountry camping is also available here with a free wilderness permit.

Winter activities: Its elevation ranges from 4,000 to 7,000 feet; this arid and semi-desert environment means that temperature tends to be milder and snowfall is less severe during the fall and winter months. If you are looking for heart-pounding winter recreation, you can find plenty of snow sports in the Grand Junction area. The drier climate also makes the trails a good option to do hiking. Road biking along Rim Rock drive is also a popular activity here along with star gazing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, and snowshoeing at Grand Mesa. 

Buffalo Creek:

Only an hour outside of Denver and situated at 7,000 ft elevation, it can make for a great weekend trip especially for bikers and hikers or people for some solitude time. 

Winter Activities: You can explore Bighorn national forest, Trapper Creek wilderness study area, and several trails around Casper Mountain. It is the perfect place if you are looking to chill under the trees as you get to listen to the sound of the creek burbling past and want a tranquil place for a solitary hike through the woods. Although you have access to over 25 miles of trails perfect for snowshoeing, sledding, skiing if that doesn’t interest you and you’re looking for some relaxed trip, visit the National Historic Trail interpretive center, Fort Caspar Museum, or Casper Planetarium.

As you must have understood by now, Colorado is filled with camping spots for you to try this winter and we have listed above the best Spots For Winter Camping. Whether you are ice fishing at steamboat lake or interested in snowshoeing in Rock mountain national park, the state has so much to offer. However, while you are planning your trip to any one of the places, keep the following points in mind that will help you make the most of a snowy night.

  1. If you are doing winter camping in Colorado for the first time, we suggest you ease yourself into the experience by picking a place that’s not too far from your car.
  2. Winter camping is indeed fun but it can turn dangerous if you don’t plan. If you are going with your friend, keep them in the loop of your travel plan and if you are going solo, read blogs and take advice from people who have been there before and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Study your route carefully, note landmarks along the way, and don’t depend on counting your footsteps because a surprise storm could erase them without a trace.

  3. When you are hiking, skiing, and doing other winter activities over there, you need to keep in mind that layering is the key to ensuring you are well dressed to be able to avoid catching a chill. Wear wool or synthetic base layer top it off with a down sweater and waterproof layer at the very least. Don’t forget to carry extra gloves and socks in case your first pair gets wet.

  4. If your primary objective is to do hiking then overheating might be of your concern since sweat robs your body of warmth. So, whittle down your layers as you are walking so you don’t overheat. Unzip the minute you start feeling hot and put on warm clothes to trap all the body you generated as you reach your campsite. Therefore, it is suggested to wear moisture-wicking clothing with easy-access ventilation. 

  5. When you reach your campsite, you want to make sure you get a good sleep. Even the most novice camper knows to bring a sleeping bag with a lower-limit temperature rating, loose-fitting clothes made of synthetic/wool fabric, and a self-inflating air mattress for that cushiness. However, along with this a foam sleeping pad with a high R-value to go on top of your air mattress, a wool skull, a thermos with hot water, and a warm beverage for an emotional lift is also needed.

  6. Your body will be working overtime during snow camping activities requiring as much as 4,500 daily calories to stay fueled. As much as elevation works as an appetite suppressant, it is important to feed yourself that many calories. Here the question arises, what to pack that can help you fulfill your daily nutritional target. Remember you need 50 % of your calories to come from simple and complex carbs, 25% from proteins, and another 25% from fats. So, pack dehydrated meals and condiments that can make that food even tastier. Before packing food in your bag, cut them into bite-size pieces so that they can thaw easily.