Matt Johnson

7 of the Best Destinations for Winter Camping in Colorado

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Oct 26, 2022Updated: Dec 12, 2023

It’s a winter wonderland out there! If you’re looking to explore all that Colorado offers in the winter, camping is the thing for you.

We’ve looked at countless state destinations and came up with a list of our favorite winter camping spots in Colorado. These range from remote and adventurous to full luxury spa treatments — so there’s something for everyone. We’ve even included maps for each camping spot as well.

Whether you’re looking for a prime spot with tent sites and captivating views or something more comfortable like a resort, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Cross County Skiing at Rocky Mountain National Park
Cross country skiing at Rocky Mountain National Park is a favorite pastime for many campers.

One of the most majestic winter camping destinations in Colorado is Rocky Mountain National Park. Located deep in the Rockies of northern Colorado, it boasts towering peaks and pristine valleys, and the park is an ideal place to explore on foot or by cross-country skiing. Several cold weather camping sites are located within the park boundaries, each offering unique opportunities for winter recreation.

For those looking for an authentic Colorado winter camping experience, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Aspenglen Campground or Timber Creek Campground, as both are especially beautiful when blanketed in snow. Their tent pads are decent sized and both are fairly secluded to give you that austere experience.

Several notable ski resorts are close to the National Park to include in your cold weather camping trip. Estes Park, the gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park, is home to a charming downtown area with plenty of shops and restaurants. It’s also where you’ll find the Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King’s The Shining.

San Isabel National Forest 

San Isabel National Forest in the Winter
San Isabel National Forest is truly majestic in the winter.

For those who want to include some glamping with their winter camping experience, there are several gorgeous spots in the San Isabel National Forest.

There are canvas tents and retro RVs you can rent to enjoy your time in this National Forest. They include everything from winter camping gear to cozy bedding, so all you need to bring is your food and clothes. This winter camping destination is perfect if you’re looking for some winter recreation without having to rough it too much.

If you’re looking for a Colorado winter camping destination that’s a little more off the beaten path, consider the Goose Creek Campground. This secluded campground is located in a forested valley and is perfect for those that want to experience cold weather camping in Colorado away from the crowds. It’s true backcountry camping that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

Never Summer Nordic Yurts

Never Summer Nordic Yurts Aerial View of a Yurt
Never Summer Nordic Yurts offers yurts and cabins. Photo courtesy of Never Summer Nordic Yurts.

Ever stayed in a yurt? How about in the winter? Well, if you camp at Never Summer Nordic, you can do just that!

This winter camping destination offers several yurts and cabins that are perfect for winter camping. They’re complete with winter camping gear and beds, so all you need to bring is your food.

Before considering whether you need a 4×4, all of their yurts are accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles. So, as long as you have a car that can handle some snow, you’ll be just fine.

Colorado is an outdoor lover’s paradise, and winter camping is one of the best ways to experience all the state has to offer—these yurts are no exception!

Arapaho National Forest 

Arapaho National Forest Mountains with Snow
Arapaho National Forest is one of the finest winter camping destinations in Colorado. It’s absolutely mesmerizing!

Arapaho National Forest is another great winter camping destination in Colorado, and it’s especially popular with cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Several winter camping sites are located within the forest boundaries, each offering its own set of winter recreation opportunities.

Sugarloaf Campground is one of the most popular winter camping destinations in Arapaho National Forest. Surrounded by pines and a creek, this area is perfect for winter camping, as it offers many trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and stunning views of the nearby mountains. Even those that want to take in some ice fishing can try out the East Branch Reservoir which is not far from these Colorado Winter Camping spots.

If you’re looking for a winter camping destination that’s a little more off the beaten path, consider Horseshoe Campground. This secluded campground is located in a forested valley and is perfect for those that want to experience winter camping in Colorado away from the crowds.

White River National Forest 

Snowshoeing in White River National Forest 
Snowboarding and snowshoeing are common in White River National Forest.

White River National Forest is one of the state’s most popular winter camping destinations in northwest Colorado. The forest offers several winter camping sites and rustic cabins, each offering its own winter recreation opportunities.

The best part of this winter camping destination is that it’s just a short drive from the world-renowned Vail ski resort.

So, if you’re looking for a winter camping destination that offers both winter recreation and access to a world-class ski resort, White River National Forest is the perfect spot for you.

Joyful Journey Hot Springs

Yurts at Joyful Journey Hot Springs
The Yurts at Yurts at Joyful Journey Hot Springs offer a glamorous camping experience. Photo courtesy of Joyful Journey Hot Springs.

For those that enjoy a bit more comfortable with their winter camping experience, consider Joyful Journey Hot Springs. This winter camping destination offers several hot springs perfect for soaking in after a long day of winter recreation.

This one is tough to call camping, so we’ll file it under glamping. You’ll get a whole spa experience while staying at this resort.

Joyful Journey offers several sites, including tipis, yurts, cabins, and RV sites. So no matter what your lodging preferences are, they have you covered.

Uncompahgre National Forest 

Cross Country Skiers at Uncompahgre National Forest 
You’ll find all sorts of awesome winter camping activities in Uncompahgre National Forest, such as cross-country skiing and ice fishing.

Located in southwest Colorado and nestled between some of the best skiing in the state, Uncompahgre National Forest is one of the best winter camping destinations in Colorado. The forest offers several Colorado winter camping sites.

Of our list of campgrounds, Uncompahgre is by far the most remote. This is your destination if you want to get away from it all and experience winter camping in Colorado at its finest.

You’ll need to pack accordingly because civilization is a few miles away. But if you’re prepared for a winter camping adventure, Uncompahgre National Forest is the perfect spot.

Indian Peaks Wilderness

Indian Peaks Wilderness is Great for Winter Camping

Winter camping in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is an experience like no other. With elevations ranging from 8,400 to 13,500 feet, and trails covering 133 miles of breathtaking scenery, it’s easy to see why this area was designated as a protected wilderness in 1978.

In addition to its natural beauty, winter camping here also offers a unique opportunity to explore the region’s history through exploring the peaks named after Native American tribes by botanist Ellsworth Bethel in the 1900s. The incredible scenery and cultural legacy of these peaks make for an unforgettable adventure for any winter camper.

The Indian Peaks Wilderness borders Rocky Mountain National Park to the north, offering convenient access for exploring and backcountry skiing through more than 50 lakes, 28 trails, and six passes across the Continental Divide. Whether you’re planning on tackling one of these passes or simply want to admire their grandeur, this area has something for everyone.

Whether your journey takes you over one of these treacherous mountain passes or along some of their more leisurely trails, don’t forget to take some time out from your itinerary to enjoy all that nature has to offer during your stay at Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Campers hoping for something truly special should time their visit with sunset or sunrise; when sunlight illuminates North and South Arapaho Peaks, Apache Peak, Shoshoni Peak, Pauite Peak, Arikaree Peak, Kiowa Peak, and Navajo Peak—it’s an unforgettable sight that speaks volumes about what makes this area so special.

No matter what kind of winter camping adventure you are looking for at Indian Peaks Wilderness it promises something unique—from its cultural legacy and incredibly scenic views—to unparalleled backcountry exploration opportunities near RMNP—Indian Peaks is sure to deliver!

Tips for winter campers.

Winter camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. But it requires extra steps to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, especially when it comes to preparing for cold temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns.

Here are seven tips to make sure your winter camping trip goes smoothly and without any unexpected surprises.

Invest in quality winter camping gear.

Investing in quality gear for winter camping is essential for staying warm and dry. Look for insulated jackets, snow pants, waterproof boots, and a sleeping bag rated to hold up in sub-zero temperatures. Ensure you also have other essentials like backpacks, flashlights, first aid kits, and emergency supplies. Having the right gear will provide for the extra warmth you’ll need for your next adventure.

Create an emergency plan.

Make sure there’s a plan of action that everyone knows in case of an emergency while out on the trails. Discuss what to do if someone gets injured or lost, how to make a shelter if the weather takes a turn for the worse, and where the nearest hospital is located in relation to where you’ll be camping.

Pack extra blankets to keep warm.

Bring extra blankets or an extra sleeping bag or two with you when winter camping, as one blanket may not be enough to keep you warm during cold nights outdoors. You can also invest in down-filled sleeping bags or quilts specifically designed for winter camping, which are more insulated than regular sleeping bags. You might also want to bring some sleeping pads to insulate you from the ground.

Dress appropriately, especially in the colder months.

Dressing appropriately when going outside while winter camping is important as this will help trap body heat and provide insulation from the cold air outdoors. Wear multiple layers including baselayers such as polyester or merino wool which will help regulate your body temperature better than cotton or denim materials would. Make sure to also wear hats and gloves that are waterproof or windproof to lock in warmth even further as well as hiking boots. Ensuring you have warm clothing is an essential part of your outdoor gear.

Prepare for high altitudes of Colorado.

At higher altitudes, the air is thinner, making it difficult to breathe and generating colder temperatures than at sea level. Be prepared by packing plenty of food and water along with sunscreen, hats, long sleeve shirts, and light jackets, even if it doesn’t feel that cold yet. Also, take time to research the terrain ahead of time so you know what kind of elevation changes you may encounter along your route.

Research local wildlife.

Research local wildlife before heading out on your trip so you know what type of animals live nearby. Knowing this information can help inform decisions about where to camp, set up campfires, and store food overnight and can give insight into what types of hazards they present based on their behavior patterns. Keep in mind, during the winter months not only do the animals want to stay warm, they’re looking for food as well. You don’t want to attract a black bear on accident.

Pack potable water.

When winter camping, it’s important to have plenty of water as the cold temperatures can easily dehydrate you and many campsites don’t have running water in the winter months. Make sure to bring enough potable water to last the entire length of your trip and more in case of an emergency. Consider bringing a water filter so that any local streams or other water sources can be purified before drinking it, if necessary.

Where do you want to stay this winter?

Colorado is an outdoor lover’s paradise, and winter camping is one of the best ways to experience all the state offers.

From Arapaho National Forest to White River National Forest, many winter camping destinations in Colorado offer a variety of winter recreation opportunities. Sure, many of these sites are open year-round, but camping in Colorado during the winter is magical.

There are plenty of other places we didn’t dive into, such as Cheyenne Mountain State Park and Moraine Park Campground, both of which are great destinations.

If you’re looking for a winter camping destination with easy access to world-class ski resorts and plenty of winter activities (even if you don’t cross-country ski), winter camping in Colorado will not disappoint.


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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