July 09, 2021 4 min read

5 Tranquil Spots For Colorado Camping Near Lakes

Summertime is heating up around the state, so we’ve compiled our 5 favoriteColorado camping spots near lakes to help you cool off. There are plenty of options forColorado camping near water, but these tranquil destinations take the cake for a Rocky Mountain lakeside getaway.


Rising temperatures making you want to jump in a lake? Luckily, there’s no shortage of great spots for Colorado camping near lakes. Each of these spots offers pristine access to nature. Please help us all keep it that way by camping at least 100 feet away from any lake, stream, or river. Check the seven Leave No Trace principles to learn more about recreating responsibly this summer.

The Best Spots for Colorado Camping Near Lakes To Explore This Summer

Telluride: Alta Lakes

Nestled a mere 30 minutes away from Telluride sits the alta lakes area. This is one of the  high-elevationColorado camping spotsthat offers some of the best lakeside camping in the state. The scenic drive up will take you past the abandoned mining town of Alta. The drive wanders up towards the mountains before you’re welcomed by a smattering of small alpine lakes. Enjoy crystal clear water surrounded by those gorgeous rocky mountains. Camping is easily accessed from your car, making this a good spot for those that prefer the comfort of car camping.


Good to know: Due to high elevations, the water is pretty chilly. A swim in the Alta Lakes isn’t for the faint of heart. Instead, explore the waters from the comfort of a paddle board! To access Alta Lakes, a high-clearance vehicle is recommended.


Amenities: There are 20 designated dispersed camping sites at Lower Alta Lakes. There, you’ll find a few small vault toilets (we’d suggest packing your own toilet paper in case they’re out). A short hike away, you can find eight more camp spots, which are only accessible by foot. These are the only amenities available at this camp spot. You’ll need to pack out all of your trash.

Indian Peaks Wilderness: Crater Lake

Are you up for an adventure? If so, Crater Lake just might be the spot forColorado camping near water that you’ve been dreaming of. We’ll start by saying that this spot is suitable for advanced backpackers only. You’ll reach Crater Lake after a strenuous nine mine hike through the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Along the way, enjoy fields of wildflowers and the sounds of Cascade Creek. At the end of your hike, you’ll reach the true reward- a stunning view of Lone Eagle Peak towering above you!


Good to know:Camping spots around Crater Lake are designed backcountry sites. You’ll need to get a reservation in order to stay overnight at Crater Lake between June 1-September 15th. You also need to be prepared with bear spray and a bear-safe food storage container.


Amenities: This is a backcountry Colorado camping spot and there are no amenities at these sites. Practice Leave No Trace Ethics at all times, and camp at least 200 yards from Crater Lake.

Bayfield: Lake Vallecito

Looking for a family friendly spot for Colorado camping near water? Lake Vallecito, located about a 30 minute drive from the Durango area, is an ideal lake getaway for the whole crew. There are a smattering of campgrounds located on the shores of Lake Vallecito. All feature easy access to the water and great views of the surrounding nature. If you prefer a respite from the tent, rent a lakefront cabin for a night or two.


Good to know: Lake Vallecito is a great spot for paddleboarding, so don’t forget your board. After a day on the water, you can walk to one of the local restaurants to get a bite to eat.


Amenities: The amenities you find will vary slightly from campground to campground, but all have bathrooms and trash disposal services. You’ll likely find fire rings and picnic tables at most camp spots as well.

Steamboat Springs: Pearl Lake State Park

Pearl Lake is another great option for a family camping weekend near the water. Located down the road from Steamboat Lake, Pearl Lake offers a more secluded environment with the same stunning views. And if you enjoy fishing, this is the place for you! Enjoy the scenery of surrounding ridgelines, cool mountain air, and plenty of fish jumping nearby. Other popular activities include paddle boarding, picnicking and hiking.


Good to know: The lower loop of campsites (numbers 24-38) are the most popular lakeside options. The upper loop is a few minutes away from the water but offers a slightly better view of the mountains. If you’re up for a treat, you can reserve one or both lakeside Yurts that the park rents out every night. Campsites are $20 a night and Yurts are $80.


Amenities: bathrooms are available near the camping spots. Each site is equipped with a fire ring and table. Site 35 is wheelchair accessible, and many paths to and around the lake are paved.

Leadville: Twin Lakes

A short drive south of Leadville, the highest-elevation town in Colorado, you’ll find the Twin Lakes area. With hundreds of options for recreation nearby, this area has many options for those who want to enjoy some Colorado camping near lakes. For those who want full amenities and need access to RV hookups, check out the Sugar Loafin’ Campground. You’ll find everything from showers to laundry. If you’re looking to get closer to the water and further from crowds, head to the Matchless or Silver Dollar campgrounds. Wherever you pitch your tent, enjoy long days exploring the nearby Collegiate Peaks range, paddleboarding and kayaking, or discovering the history of Leadville itself.


Good to know: These spots can fill up quickly in the summer. Reserve your spot early via theRecreation.gov website.


Amenities: These depend on the camping spot you choose. Any of theseColorado camping spots reserved onRecreation.gov will at least have access to bathrooms, trash disposal fire rings, and a table. Many others will have a water station as well.



Which of these spots for Colorado camping near lakes will you be heading to this summer?


Wherever your adventures take you, explore in style withcolorful YoColorado gear.

Karen Williams
Karen Williams


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