Best Car Camping Spots in Colorado

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Plan Ahead for the Colorado Car Camping this Summer!

Summer will be here soon and many Colorado Campgrounds start taking reservations now for camping in May and through the season.  Campgrounds can fill up quickly, especially on the weekends, so check your calendar and set your dates. Many campgrounds have online reservations, so you can plan ahead. Others are first come, first serve and you will need to arrive early on a Friday to be able to find a campsite on the weekends.

Don’t forget to make sure your car is ready for summer travel – have the oil changed and your vehicle inspected to be sure your vehicle is road ready!  A battery/charging system check and air conditioning system test will you stay cool and keep you on the road.  No one likes to be stranded when you and your family are excited to get to your destination!

Below are our recommendations for great, close to Colorado Springs, car camping:

Mueller State Park has over 5000 acres of land (only 40 miles away, 4 miles south of Divide), with 55 miles of trails for hiking, biking, hunting, hiking, and horseback riding.  Mueller has 132 campsites in the trees (17 open for winter camping too!).  This is an easy weekend get-away, and reservations are available online, so plan ahead!

The Crags is just 3 miles south of Mueller State Park, access by turning left on Hwy. 62 (rough road).  The Crags is smaller, with just 17 tent and small trailer campsites.  Campsites are first-come/first-serve, so get there early for weekend camping.  Experienced hikers can hike to the top of Pikes Peak on the west slope (13.1 miles), or access other hiking trail loops that are shorter distances.

Eleven Mile State Park (50 miles from Colorado Springs) is the place to go for lake and stream fishing, along with camping!  Eleven Mile Reservoir is over 5 miles long, and is known for having cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout, and northern pike.  Kokanee salmon can be found in the river flow, Dream Stream, on the north side of the reservoir.  More than 300 campsites are available for trailers and tent camping.  Numerous hiking and biking trails are also accessible.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a little further, but worth the drive!  About 170 miles south/southwest of Colorado Springs, it is a fun destination.  Hike to the top of the tallest dunes in North America…then go sand-sledding down the dunes! There is camping available (88 sites) at Pinion Flats (National Park Service campground, just north of the Visitor Center).  Reservations (online) are recommended well in advance for the peak season (May-September), although there may be first-come, first serve sights available if not filled. There are also several private campgrounds available within 20-40 miles of the dunes.

La Vista Campground is just under 90 miles south near Rye, CO and is a relaxing place in the Wet Mountains to camp, fish and hike.  The campground sits next to 40-acre Lake Isabel reservoir, which is regularly stocked by CO Parks and Wildlife.  Nearby St. Charles Creek is available for stream fishing also.  The campground is open May 18-Sept. 22 and reservations are available online.  While you are in the area, be sure to check out Bishop Castle just 7 miles to the north.  Jim Bishop has been building this castle for nearly 60 years, and he has put a lot of work and rebar into this amazing structure (possibly quantity over quality!!

Although there are several campgrounds along the eastern edge of Turquoise Lake (about 2 ½ hours away, just outside Leadville), be sure and check out the May Queen campground on the western side of Turquoise Lake.  It is a little further to get to, but worth the drive.   There is easy access to boating, fishing and hiking.  The views of Holy Cross and Mount Massive Wilderness areas from the campground are wonderful, and you can enjoy hiking over 30,000 acres of the Mount Massive Wilderness area.  More ambitious and in-shape hikers may want to tackle the 14,421 ft. Mount Massive peak!  There is also the Timberline Lake trailhead (2-mile hike to the lake), which can be accessed ½ mile up the road.  Campground is open May 24th-Sept. 3rd

Cottonwood Lake Campground, west of Buena Vista off Cottonwood Pass Rd., is another gem waiting to be found (according to our Shop Foreman, Roy, who enjoys camping with his family!).  Just 100 miles west on 24 (and down a few access roads), this campground has 25 sites and is open May-October.  Tents and trailers are welcome, though no hook ups are available for water or electricity. Hand powered boats are allowed on the lake, and fishing is available in the lake or in the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek.   The Colorado Trail is nearby for hiking.

What are your favorite camping spots in Colorado?  We listed campgrounds that are less than 2 ½ hours from Colorado Springs, but we know there are many others in Colorado that should not be missed.  Share your suggestions!

Safe traveling and camping this summer from your friends at Honest Accurate Auto Service!

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