Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park: Tips, Campgrounds, & More!
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Are you looking to go camping in Rocky Mountain National Park? You’re in the right place!
If you want to save money, get more in touch with the great outdoors, or see Rocky Mountain National Park in the most quintessentially Coloradan way possible, camping is a great choice.
Here’s everything you need to know about camping in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Why go Rocky Mountain National Park Camping?
Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park is the most authentic way to see the park. You’ll get to experience the great outdoors not just from your car window or a hiking trail, but right under your sleeping bag.
Cook dinner with your family, watch the stars come out, and sit around the campfire making s’mores all night (unless there’s a fire ban—more on that later). If you’re lucky, you might even get to see some wildlife up close and personal.
Camping is also a budget-friendly option, since campsites are much cheaper than hotel rooms and you can easily cook your own food.
There’s a variety of camping near Rocky Mountain National Park, with something for everyone—from rugged backcountry camping to family-friendly sites with amenities like showers and laundry.
Here, we’ll cover several options for your Rocky Mountain National Park camping trip.
Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park
This Rocky Mountain National Park campground is on the eastern side of the park, near the Fall River entrance. It offers drive-to sites for tents and RVs, as well as some more secluded tent sites that you must park and walk to.
Aspenglen is only open in the summer months, at a rate of $35 per night. It has bathrooms, potable water, food storage lockers (for bear protection), trash and recycling, and ice and firewood for sale.
Like all campgrounds inside the park, Aspenglen can be reserved at recreation.gov. Rocky Mountain National Park now requires timed-entry permits during the summer, but these are not required if you’re camping. If you have a campground reservation or a wilderness camping permit, you’ll use your reservation/permit instead of a timed-entry permit.
Moraine Park Campground
The only Rocky Mountain National Park campground to stay open year-round, Moraine Park costs $35 per night in summer and $30 in winter. It’s reservable in the summer months at recreation.gov, but it’s first-come-first-served in the winter.
Moraine Park offers flush toilets, an RV dump station, potable water, trash, recycling, and ice and firewood for sale. Some of these amenities are not available in winter, though there are still vault toilets and a water spigot to make your stay more comfortable.
Note that this campground is slated to be closed for construction from late May 2023 until summer 2024.
Glacier Basin Campground
Located off Bear Lake Road, about a 15-minute drive from Rocky Mountain National Park’s Beaver Meadows entrance, this is one of the best campsites in Rocky Mountain National Park.
It offers tent sites, large group sites, and RV sites without hookups. It’s a beautiful spot, surrounded by evergreen trees, and wildlife sightings are plentiful here.
Like most Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds, Glacier Basin is only open during the summer and can be reserved online. Standard tent sites cost $35 per night, and group sites cost $50-70.
Glacier Basin offers the same amenities as the other campsites in Rocky Mountain National Park, including flush toilets. The park’s free shuttle bus also stops here, so you can catch a ride to your desired hiking trail or photo spot.
Timber Creek Campground
This is your best bet for exploring the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. You can enter through the Grand Lake station or drive in from the east and take Trail Ridge Road all the way to the campground.
Timber Creek is a little more spread out than the other options inside the park, with the campsites spaced out between young green trees and clumps of wildflowers. It’s no less crowded, though—reserve your site in advance or arrive early, as spots fill up fast.
Timber Creek is only open in the summer, with sites costing $35 per night. Amenities include potable water, vault toilets, trash, recycling, an RV dump station, and firewood for sale.
Camping Near Rocky Mountain National Park
Spruce Lake RV Park
Spruce Lake RV Park has RV sites and cabins for rent right outside Rocky Mountain National Park’s Beaver Meadows entrance.
It offers a heated pool, coin-operated laundry, and views of the Rocky Mountains reflected in crystal-clear Mary’s Lake. Pets are welcome here, and elk are spotted from time to time. Spruce Lake is open year-round.
Hermit’s Hollow Campground
Nestled in the hills of Hermit Park Open Space, Hermit’s Hollow Campground has cabins, RV and tent sites, and a large group campground and pavilion. It’s not technically inside the park, but it feels just as rugged and secluded as camping in Rocky Mountain National Park.
You’ll be sleeping under the stars outside of the bustle of Estes Park, but still close enough if you want to go out to dinner or explore the town. You’ll get views of mountains, meadows, and Ponderosa pine forests, with ample opportunities for wildlife spotting. Plus, you can hop on a hiking trail right from your campsite.
Hermit’s Hollow, and the rest of Hermit Park, is open seasonally from March to mid-December. It includes a “comfort station” (aka the bathroom) and potable water.
Paradise on the River
This aptly named campground is nestled on the Big Thompson River right outside the Beaver Meadows entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Paradise on the River has been there since 1925! You can hike along the river, picnic in the shade, or go fishing in your backyard.
Paradise offers cabins and RV sites, as well as RV rentals. It’s open seasonally from late April to mid-October, depending on the weather.
Rocky Mountain Camping Tips
You’ll get colder than you think
Colorado gets chilly after the sun goes down—especially when you’re sleeping outside with only a thin layer of tent fabric between you and the elements. Always pack warm layers, a hat and gloves, and an extra blanket to keep inside your tent.
Happy feet = happy campers
Depending on the season, the ground at your campsite might be rough, rocky, dusty, muddy, or even snowy. Cold, wet, or blistered feet can make an otherwise fantastic camping trip miserable. Always bring a broken-in pair of waterproof boots to keep those toes comfy.
Don’t forget your rain fly
If you set up your tent on a summer day, when the temperature’s soaring and there’s nary a cloud in sight, you might think you don’t need to bother with the rain fly.
But rain showers can pop up anytime, and it’s much easier to put your rain fly on before it starts raining (it’s also much easier to sleep when your sleeping bag isn’t soaked). Take the extra two minutes to do it, and you’ll thank yourself later.
Beware the bears
Even if you’re camping in a more populated area, the smell of any food in your tent can potentially draw bears. A hungry bear can wreck a campsite in minutes—and unfortunately, many bears that do end up losing their natural fear of humans and being euthanized.
Protect yourself and the beautiful bears of Rocky Mountain National Park by keeping all food and garbage safely locked in your car or a bear-proof container.
Similarly, elk passing through campgrounds can get their antlers tangled in things like hammocks. Before leaving your campsite unattended, check it for these hazards and take them down.
Fire safety is no joke
Colorado’s naturally dry climate and high winds make it prone to wildfires. They don’t just happen in summer, or in the middle of the forest—the Marshall Fire, the most destructive in Colorado’s history, tore through 1000+ homes and buildings in a metropolitan area last December.
Always check the fire conditions and rules at your campsite, and if there’s a fire ban, take it seriously. If campfires are allowed, make sure you fully extinguish them before you turn in for the night. Let’s all do what we can to keep Rocky Mountain National Park safe.
Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park is a great way to get in touch with nature and see all the park has to offer. The campgrounds in the park are pretty comfortable, with at least vault toilets that are usually clean and well-kept.
For slightly less rugged accommodations, there’s plenty of camping near Rocky Mountain National Park that’s a little closer to other attractions like Estes Park or Hermit Park Open Space.
Besides being a home base for exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, camping is an activity in itself. Kids will enjoy learning how to set up a tent and use a camp stove, and adults will appreciate a chance to slow down, unplug, and take in the beautiful scenery of the Rocky Mountains.
Whether it’s your first time or your 50th, you’re sure to have a wonderful experience on your Rocky Mountain National Park camping trip!
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