5 Fantastic Fall Camping Trips Near Denver
Fall Camping Trips
Writing about camping in Colorado is like writing about surfing on the North Shore of Oahu. I’m not sure any place can lay claim to being the first to “invent” camping, but Colorado certainly helped to make it fun and accessible, and dare I say, even cool. All you have to do is scroll through the National Forest, State Park, and National Park campsite reservations sites to see how popular and abundant the activity of camping is in Colorado. The residents of Colorado are so passionate about the outdoors that the State Lottery helps fund outdoor recreation. Since 1983 the Colorado Lottery has dedicated over 2.8 Billion dollars to trails, parks, rivers, campsites, etc. That’s a big chunk of change and it shows. That should make any outdoor enthusiast feel a little better about gambling, or excuse me, “playing” lottery games.
So with all these great outdoor recreation areas in Colorado, where are the best places to go in the Fall? I have done my best to narrow down a few places with Denver as the starting point, since that is where Adventure Tow is based. Some are popular, others are more remote and isolated. Some are easy to get to, others you have to earn. But all these places are beautiful in the Fall, and will serve as a great base camp to your next adventure.
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
You might think to yourself, I’ve seen dunes before, it’s just a big pile of sand. Boring! I want majestic peaks and crystal clear alpine lakes. Well, be prepared to have your mind blown, because Great Sand Dunes didn’t earn the National Park status for nothing. This park has a diversity of ecosystems, and a backdrop that is screensaver worthy. You can make your camping reservations in advance at the Pinon Flats Campground Pinon Flats Campground or there is plenty of other nearby camping Other Camping including one of our favorites, the Zapata Falls Campground on BLM land. This is a primitive site at 9,000 feet with spectacular views of the park and a cool hike to the falls located in the Sangre De Cristo mountains.
- Guanella Pass
Just the drive alone over Guanella Pass is worth the whole trip. The Colorado Scenic Byway connects the historic towns of Georgetown and Grant, gaining serious elevation and vistas of some of Colorado’s most popular “14’ers” along the way (Mt Bierstadt and Evans). I’d highly recommend driving the entire road from Georgetown to Grant, starting from Georgetown if you camp in Guanella Pass Campground and start from Grant if you camp at Geneva Park. In the Fall, this area will give you the iconic splattering of aspens turning colors in thousands of acres of Rocky Mountain backcountry. For camping, there are 18 reservable sites Guanella Pass Camping on national forest. There are also 26 sites at Geneva Park, which currently are first come first serve. Geneva Park Campground Reserve your spots well in advance as this is a popular area for every type of activity, from climbing, to fishing, to hiking and bird-watching.
- Devils Head
Devils Head is approximately 1.5 hrs south from Denver in the Rampart Range. There is a popular 1.4 mile hike out to the fire lookout tower, which has stunning views. Along this path are some of the biggest and oldest growth Aspen trees I have ever seen and in the Fall they are amazing. This hike and trailhead is extremely popular on the weekends, but if you can sneak out mid-week and pick up a first come first serve campsite (21 spots) Devils Head Campground you will be rewarded with less crowds and camping amongst the dense Aspen and Conifers. In addition to some hiking there is also a whole bunch of rock climbing established on all the scattered rock formations, as well as some good mountain biking and 100’s of miles of ATV/OHV trails along the way.
- Lost Creek Wilderness
Lost Creek Wilderness is 120,000 acres of pure awesomeness. There are 130 miles of trails to get “lost” on, excuse the pun. And you certainly will lose yourself in the wide variety of recreational opportunities and campsites, from the more remote “dispersed” free camping, to paid self serve sites. Here’s a link to a list of different camping spots, with our favorite being the Lost Park Campground, which has 12 sites. Lost Creek Camping The name of the game in Lost Creek wilderness is exploration. Don’t come here with an agenda, just find the first open campsite you can, grab a map and go explore a new trail.
- Mueller State Park
The gateway to Pikes Peak wilderness. With 132 campsites and 5,000 acres of the great outdoors to play in, Mueller is becoming a major destination for the outdoor buff. It is open year round, but Fall is my favorite time for this part of Colorado. You’ll have the hard to miss Pikes Peak looming in the distance at every turn, and 55 miles of trails to choose your own adventure, including 19 miles of trails for mountain bikers. Make sure to obey bear rules with food storage, as this is prime black bear country. The Fall colors will be in full force, and Fall temperatures are perfect here (50’s to 60’s in day, 30’s-40’s at night). So pack up your warm and cozy Fall flannel and get ready to soak in this idyllic Colorado camping experience. Mueller State Park Details