As summer fades into autumn, billions of aspen will turn from green to gold. If you’re brave enough to face the chill of the mountain air, get out there and pitch a tent this fall. Here are some of our favorite camping destinations to explore this fall in Colorado.
Editor’s Note: Fall colors typically peak in mid-September and run through early October, depending on weather and altitude. Please check weather conditions, current road conditions, and closures before planning your travels to any of these destinations listed below. High-elevation sites are often inaccessible due to snow, even in the early fall months.
1. Maroon Bells
Marvel at the transforming colors as you backpack your way through the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Pitch a tent and sleep among the golden aspen groves found around Crater Lake. If trail conditions allow, push on for scenic beauty that delights – all 29.1 miles of it. Be warned, the hike is steep and strenuous!
Please note that permits are required for anyone planning to backpack through Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Additional fees including parking and shuttle rides may also apply. Aside from the “Bells,” you’ll find a buffet of camping options nestled in White River National Forest.
2. Twin Lakes
Experience beautiful fall foliage along the hiking trails surrounding Twin Lakes. If weather and summit conditions allow, add bagging a Colorado 14er to your fall bucket list. Mount Elbert sits at 14,433 feet, just waiting to be explored. Mount Princeton and Huron Peak also lie right around the corner for those who are feeling extra eager and adventurous. Camp out and enjoy the colors while they last!
3. Guanella Pass
Fall colors will dazzle your soul along Guanella Pass. Nestled just outside of Georgetown, campers will have convenient access to several in-town attractions including gas stations, convenient stores, restaurants, and bars, making this the perfect spot for your next fall camping adventure. Mornings in the mountains are frigid, but the beauty of the changing colors is worth it.
Please note: Dispersed camping along the road just north of the pass (Georgetown side) is no longer allowed unless you are in a designated campground. Just south of the pass lies abundant camping opportunities in Pike National Forest at Geneva Creek Road #119 and Forest Road 118E. This is a great option for when designated campgrounds close down for the season.
4. Last Dollar Road
Complete your fall travels with a camping trip along Last Dollar Road. Located near the colorful mountain town of Telluride, this is an iconic spot for catching a rainbow of fall colors. From brilliant yellow to fiery shades of red and dazzling purple, expect to be awed. The mountain scenery is truly unbelievable. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note high clearance 4WD vehicles are recommended.
5. Kebler Pass
A color-drenched adventure awaits along Kebler Pass in Crested Butte. From picturesque scenery to rare wildlife sightings to countless hiking trails offering spectacular fall scenery, you’ll love camping along Kebler Pass. Zip open your tent door and take in all the morning fall glory!
Kebler Pass is one of the most popular spots for seeing fall colors in Colorado. While reservable campgrounds are a great option for families or larger groups, you’ll find plenty of first-come, first-served campsites along the pass.
6. Rocky Mountain National Park
No matter which side of the park you choose to explore, the crisp mountain air, roaming elk, and colorful scenery will be sure to deliver a memorable experience at Rocky Mountain National Park. Pack layers and bundle up, it gets cold in the mountains. Reservable and “first-come, first-served” campgrounds are both available inside the park. Please note that fees apply. Get all the details here.
7. Kenosha Pass
Brighten up your fall bucket list with a camping trip to Kenosha Pass. Get ready for an outdoor adventure infused with shades of buttery yellow, sangria red, burnt orange, and royal purple. This aspen-filled gem paints the mountains in every fall color that mother nature can possibly stir up.
Parking fills up quickly in the fall months. Plan to arrive early, if possible. Disperse camping is only allowed in designated sites. For more details, click here.
8. Lizard Head Pass
See fall colors in every shade at Lizard Head Pass located in the San Juan Mountains near Telluride. Get exploring and soak in the beauty of the autumn season surrounded by snow-capped peaks and sparkling fall colors. If you are brave enough to bear the cold, this camping spot will be sure to fill your outdoor memories with breathtaking beauty.
Dispersed camping is allowed on public lands at Priest Lake and at the east side of Lizard Head Pass. For more details, click here.
Editor’s Note: Always practice Leave No Trace in Colorado. Store all trash and food properly, and be sure to pack out all trash. By doing so, you can help preserve the beautiful places you like to camp at and explore. Review minimal impact practices from Leave No Trace here.