Colorado

7 Gorgeous Winter Camping Spots in Colorado

by Kristen Arendt
Updated February 19, 2022

winter camping in colorado
Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo: Shutterstock

When the snow starts flying, most Coloradoans are happy to trade in their camping gear for their skis. But if you aren’t quite ready to turn in your tent for the season, winter camping in Colorado can be quite the adventure — and can earn you some of that coveted untracked powder.

But even if getting into the snow-covered backcountry isn’t your modus operandi, a surprising number of drive-up campgrounds in Colorado are open year-round.

And if you’re keen on winter glamping and don’t really want to worry about setting up a tent or winterizing your RV, you can choose from a variety of yurts and huts around the state, too. These eight spots for winter camping in Colorado each have their own charms and challenges in the winter.

Depending on how the weather turns, you might luck into a blue sky Colorado winter weekend with moderate temps — and you won’t have to deal with peak season crowds. Of course, the weather can just as easily be frigid and dump feet of snow, especially in the mountains.

Keep an eye on the forecast, pack the right gear, and do your homework, especially if you’re heading into the backcountry with potential avalanche danger. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) is one good resource for current conditions and recent reports.

Winter camping in Colorado will definitely take more preparation, but with a flexible mindset (and plenty of warm layers), you can plan an enjoyable overnight stay in some of the most peaceful and picturesque parts of the state.

Related Read: 11 Easiest 14ers in Colorado for Newbies to the High Peaks

1. Moraine Park Campground

Moraine Park Rocky Mountain National Park
Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park. // Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: Drive-up tent camping with great access to winter trails.

  • Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Reservations: First come, first served at Loop B tent sites
  • Campsite type: RV, tent, car camping
  • RV hookups: No

Moraine Park Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park is located at 8,160 feet near the Beaver Meadow entrance. Campground amenities are limited during the winter — you should have access to potable water and vault toilets. Be aware that the area can be quite windy, so be sure to secure your tent properly.

From your tent site at Moraine Park, you have a host of great winter activities in Rocky Mountain National Park to explore. The park’s many trails are all open in the winter (weather and snow permitting). You can opt to snowshoe or cross-country ski on the milder terrain or bring your AT gear to hit up the higher slopes.

And though the park will be significantly less crowded than in the summer, you’ll still get a chance to spot the local wildlife including elk, deer, and moose.

Related Read: 10 Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

2. Four Lakes Backcountry Zone

Lake Isabelle, Indian Peaks Wilderness
Lake Isabelle, Indian Peaks Wilderness. // Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: Setting up a dispersed winter campsite with access to easy ski touring or snowshoeing.

  • Location: Indian Peaks Wilderness accessed via Brainard Lake Recreation Area
  • Reservations: None
  • Campsite type: Backcountry

If you want to try your hand at dispersed winter camping, the Four Lakes BZ in Indian Peaks Wilderness offers a relatively easy spot to give it a try.

Accessed via Brainard Lake Recreation Area just outside of Nederland, Colorado, you can expect a moderate 3-4 miles snowshoe or ski in (depending on which trail you take). The Brainard Lake area sees some decent winter use so you won’t likely have to break trail unless there’s been a recent snowstorm.

Once you get up to the designated backcountry zone, you can enjoy an experience that is reserved only for the wintertime. In the summer, the incredibly popular area around Long Lake and Lake Isabelle is closed to camping, so pitching your tent in the winter truly offers you a unique perspective on a beautiful area.

For more advanced backcountry skiers, the whole of Indian Peaks Wilderness is at your ski tips. For beginners or those more comfortable on flatter terrain, the recreation area has some great trails for snowshoeing or easy skiing.

Related Read: 11 Best Winter Hiking Destinations in Colorado

3. Never Summer Nordic Yurts

never summer yurts
Photo: Never Summer Nordic

Why you should camp here: Glamping with access to incredible backcountry ridges and bowls.

  • Location: Colorado State Forest State Park
  • Reservations: Required for all yurts
  • Campsite type: Backcountry yurt

If you’re looking to escape to a remote backcountry location where you can opt to play in the snow all day and cozy up in a yurt at night, the Never Summer Nordic Yurts are some of the best that Colorado has to offer.

The individual yurts are outfitted with a variety of amenities from pots and pans to firewood for the woodstove but don’t have running water or electricity.

What they all have in common is a stunning backyard to explore. Come ready to schlep your gear in, as winter access to most yurts is somewhere in the range of 0.25 to 3 miles. Black Bear, Aspen, and Sunset Yurts are drive-up year-round.

Notably, if you are looking for more technical ski touring, the Ruby Jewel, Clark Peak, Agnes Creek Hut, Nokhu Hut, Grass Creek, North Fork, and Montgomery Huts are in the prime spot for backcountry skiing and snowboarding.

If snowmobiling is more your style, book a stay at either the Upper or Lower Montgomery Pass Yurt to bring your snowmachine along. If you aren’t into lots of vert and catching epic backcountry pow, there’s plenty of easy terrain to explore via snowshoe too.

Related Read: 10 Unique Places to Stay in Colorado

4. South Rim Campground

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park. // Photo: Shutterstock

Best for: Scenic snowshoeing and Nordic skiing in a dramatic setting.

  • Location: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  • Reservations: First come, first served at Loop A
  • Campsite type: RV, tent, car camping
  • RV hookups: No

The South Rim Campground in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has one loop of sites open year-round, though with reduced amenities. And though much of the park including the North Rim Road is closed or inaccessible during the winter, you won’t mind being “stuck” on the South Rim of the canyon.

In the winter, the South Rim Drive is closed to vehicles beyond Gunnison Point. When the park gets enough snow, this part of the road is groomed for skate and classic cross country skiing.

Snowshoers are also welcome to venture out along the route. The 6-mile section will take you out on a winter wonderland with access to the park’s incredible overlooks. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is extra spectacular with a fresh dusting of snow.

Related Read: The 10 Best Scenic Drives In Colorado

5. Joyful Journey Hot Springs

Joyful Journey Hot Springs
Photo: Joyful Journey Hot Springs

Why you should camp here: RV camping where you can soak in solitude — and hot springs.

  • Location: San Luis Valley
  • Reservations: Required
  • Campsite type: RV, tent, car camping, yurt, tipi
  • RV hookups: Yes

If you don’t love the idea of being cold the entire time you are winter camping, Joyful Journey offers a fun workaround to the whole winter camping experience.

Here, in the heart of the expansive and largely empty San Luis Valley, you can pull up your RV and then soak in those stunning mountain views from the warmth of the mineral water hot springs.

The RV spaces are basic as they don’t offer water or sewer hook-ups though you can opt for an electrical hookup (30 and 50 amp plug-ins are available). The site offers three mineral pools and two Jacuzzis to choose from as well as private soaking pools and spa services should you desire a bit more pampering on your winter camping excursion. The property also has designated tent camping sites, plus yurts and tipis for the glamping crowd.

And if you get a mild winter day, you are less than an hour’s drive from Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Related Read: 8 Small Towns in Colorado You Don’t Want to Miss

6. Saddlehorn Campground

Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: Mostly mild winter weather should you want to ditch the skis in favor of hiking boots.

  • Location: Colorado National Monument
  • Reservations: First come, first served bases in A Loop
  • Campsite type: RV, tent, car camping
  • RV hookups: No

If you’re looking to escape the snow, a trip to Colorado’s western slope and a stay at Saddlehorn Campground could fit the bill. Though the area does still get cold weather and the occasional snowstorm, for the most part, the winter in the area is much more mild compared to Colorado’s high country. Though the campground is basic, you get a picnic table, charcoal grill, and small parking area at each site.

Depending on the conditions, you can enjoy hiking the trails that wind among the red rocks and sheer canyons of Colorado National Monument (bring a pair of microspikes if there’s been recent snow).

Several short trails leave right from the campground, or you can venture further abroad for additional hikes highlighted by cool rock formations. And if the road conditions are good, a drive on the historic Rim Rock drive promises to deliver some spectacular scenery.

Related Read: 11 Perfect Romantic Getaways in Colorado

7. Tennessee Pass Yurts

Tennessee Pass Nordic Center yurt camping
Photo: Tennessee Pass Nordic Center

Why you should camp here: Serious winter glamping where you don’t have to lift a finger.

  • Location: Tennessee Pass Nordic Center
  • Reservations: Required
  • Campsite type: Yurt

The minute you step into one of the Tennessee Pass Yurts you’re in for a treat. Just take a look around and you’ll get the idea — from the hand-crafted log beds to the soapstone wood-burning stoves, this stay won’t have you roughing it in the woods.

These luxury yurts come complete with all the goodies including complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, and cider. They even offer free delivery of one bag per guest and one cooler per yurt so you don’t have to worry about breaking a sweat. Plus with the option to pre-order beer and wine or catered meals, this is one glamping experience that will leave you loving winter camping.

And if you love to cross-country ski, the beautiful Nordic Center is also a pretty big draw. With over 27 km (16.7 miles) of set track and wide skate lanes on a groomed trail system, you have your pick of terrain whether you are an old pro or a newbie.

The center also offers lessons if you’re interested in learning a few tricks of the XC trade. You can also rent snowshoes or fat bikes to hit the trails.

Related Read: 10 Best Things to Do in Leadville, Colorado

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