December 06, 2021 4 min read

All You Need To Know About Winter Camping In Colorado

Just because the snow starts, doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! If you love spending the night in nature, winter weather doesn’t have to keep you from those starry nights. With a few tips and tricks, winter camping in Colorado can be a magical experience. Whether you’d prefer winter RV camping or free winter camping, Colorado has just the spot.


Sure, pitching your tent in the snow might sound intimidating. But winter camping in Colorado is more approachable than you might think. With a wide range of climates and 300 days of sunshine, Colorado is one of the best places to take your first winter camping trip. Plus, plenty of access and options means that winter RV camping in Colorado is just as easy to find as free winter camping. Whatever your preferred method of being outside is, there are a few things everyone needs to know for a successful Colorado winter camping experience!

The Basics: How To Prepare for Winter Camping in Colorado

Camping in cold weather takes a little extra work. Think about these things when you’re planning your trip:

Check the weather

Sure, it sounds obvious. But weather changes fast in the Rocky Mountains. And even if you’re prepped for a cold night, some conditions are downright unsafe. Check the weather to ensure that the roads you plan to take are open, the place you want to camp at is accessible, and that the temperature is manageable for the gear you have.

Find a spot that's open for Colorado winter camping

Not all campsites are open year-round. Especially those that are higher elevation or take a long hike to get to. Many high-mountain summer campsites are in winter avalanche terrain (yep- even some that you’d usually drive to). If you’d like to enjoy winter camping in Colorado at a private campground, call their office or check their website to see if they’re open in the winter. If you’re planning to spend the night in a national forest or at a national park, check the forest service or NPS website for up-to-date information.


Bring the right gear

Some people say “there are no bad conditions, just bad gear.” While camping in a downright blizzard might put that saying to the test, there's still a good point being made. A few good pieces of gear can increase your comfort level and make your winter camping experience much more enjoyable. Don’t forget to pack a zero-degree sleeping bag, a warm winter coat, a hat, and plenty of hand-warmers.

Enjoy winter activities

If you’re planning a weekend of winter camping, make sure you’ve got some activities to do! Sitting in the cold is never fun, so get moving. If you’re in safe terrain, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or sledding are great options. And you don’t have to go far to have fun. Think snowball fights, hot chocolate making contests, and snow angel competitions. The bottom line: the more you move, the warmer (and happier) you’ll be!

Plan for the unexpected

Even the best planned trips have their bumps. Plan ahead by storing an emergency kit in your car in the event of an unexpected storm or delay. This should have extra warm blankets, water, food, and a basic first aid kit.


Winter RV and Tent Camping in Colorado National Parks

The crown jewel of winter camping in Colorado is found in the four amazing National Parks that are scattered around the state! And you’re in luck, because these places have great options for winter RV camping as well as fantastic tent camping options. Here’s what you need to know winter camping a Colorado National Park:


Rocky Mountain National Park

Ready for a real winter camping experience? Then head to Rocky Mountain National Park this winter. Camping options in this park range from full-adventure backcountry camping to well-maintained RV camping spots. If you’re looking for easily accessed RV camping in Colorado, head to Timber Creek or Moraine Park campgrounds. These are open year-round with limited facilities. For tent campers, there are smaller tent-camping spots available as well. Fees range from five to thirty dollars per night.


Great Sand Dunes National Park

Located in the southwest corner of Colorado, the Great Sand Dunes might not have snow on them all the time, but the surrounding mountains are sure to offer snow-capped wonder on a winter camping trip. If you’re feeling adventurous, grab a backcountry camping permit and spend a winter night in the heart of the Sand Dunes. Or, winter campers looking for a more relaxed experience can pitch a tent or park an RV at one of the campgrounds near the park entrance. All campgrounds inside Great Sand Dunes are closed during the winter months.


Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

A lesser-trafficked Colorado National Park, the Black Canyon offers solitude and beauty, especially in the winter. If you plan a winter camping trip to this area, you’ll likely find snow on the ground, but a less intense winter experience than Rocky Mountain. Winter RV camping and tent camping can be found at the South Rim campground. And, backcountry camping permits can also be attained for those that want to visit the North Rim area of the park. No matter where you plan to go, bring plenty of water! Many facilities, including water, are not available during the winter months.


Mesa Verde National Park

This unique park allows you to travel back in time and explore some of the indigenous history of Colorado’s first inhabitants. In the winter, Mesa Verde is quite and self-guided. When the snow gathers, you might get the unique chance to cross country ski or snowshoe near ancient cliff dwellings. But when it comes to finding a place to camp for the night, you’ll need to head outside of the National Park. Luckily, there are a ton of options for free winter camping as well as RV camping right outside of the park!


Are you still on the fence about winter camping in Colorado? These four great reasons to get outside this winter might just change your mind!


Stay warm and happy while winter RV camping in Colorado: Shop cozy and colorful winter apparel!

Karen Williams
Karen Williams



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