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Best Fall Camping in Colorado

Missed your window of summer camping in the Colorado outdoors? Don’t worry, Autumn can be a fantastic time of year to go camping. With temperatures cooling, leaves turning brilliant shades of orange, red and brown and less crowded parks, fall makes for excellent camping.

Here are some prime locations in the Colorado country for fall camping. Make sure to prep your gear for fall conditions, including bringing warmer sleeping gear and bear-proof containers and get ready to enjoy these ideal camping spots.Where to Camp in Fall Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is south of Denver by just under 4 hours, approximately 226 miles away. This southeast Colorado National Park is a stones throw from the New Mexico border and is framed by the largest sand dunes in North America, including the towering Star Dune. Pinyon Flats Campground in the park has 88 campsites, all with picnic tables and fire pits.

This camping experience is ideal for the fall, as the dunes cool down dramatically from summer.

Usually, the dunes will average a temperature in the mid-60’s in October. This more arid terrain is a change from other campgrounds in the forested mountains of Colorado. If you go earlier in the year, chances are you’ll catch the seasonal Medano Creek and the beach that are both created at the base of the dunes due to snowmelt. By fall, the creek will have dried up again.

Aspenglen Campground

The Aspenglen Campground is located in the Rocky Mountain National Park approximately 75 miles northwest (2 hours) northwest of Denver. As the name suggests, the campground has a plethora of aspen trees that change colors brilliantly during the fall. In addition, towering pine trees and firs also fill the nearby forests. Several trails extend from the campground with breathtaking fall foliage views, such as the Lawn Lake trail.

Aspenglen offers both tent and RV sites, as well as walk-in tent sites that are slightly more secluded. The campground isn’t far from the Fall River either and offers easy access to the beauty of the Rocky Mountain.

Autumn Camping in Colorado

Chatfield State Park

The Chatfield State Park Campground is just a short distance from Denver at 22 miles south of the city. It sits right along Chatfield Lake which makes it ideal for fishing and kayaking as well as taking in the fall foliage. The 197 available campgrounds are noticeably less full during the fall season, which means you’ll have your pick of spots for either tents or RV hookups.

This lower elevation campground is close enough to the metro to make it a refreshing weekend getaway.

It’s cupped by foothills and the lake, as well as abundant wildlife for being so close to the city.

Rainbow Lakes Campgrounds

This Nederlands camping area is approximately 56 miles from Denver in the northeast. It was previously a bear-hunting camp, but has opened up as a campground with plenty of access to some of the best features of Colorado wilderness.

The campground sits before a valley that flushes with rich fall colors in October and beyond. It also connects to the Indian Peaks Wilderness, the Rainbow Lakes, and even the Arapaho Glacier Trails. 

There are 17 sites for both tents and small trailers. Keep in mind there is no drinking water and no hookups, so it’s a little rougher than some of the other campgrounds featured on this list. However, the scenery is definitely worth it. As for the lakes, there is trail access to four of the nine Rainbow Lakes. Trout fishing is plentiful here and even encouraged as the brook trout are invasive and threatening to the native fish present.

CO Fall Camping

Crystal Lake

The trail that runs by Lower Crystal Lake near Breckenridge, CO sees a lot of camping enthusiasts in the fall. Although the chill is something to consider, camping under the brilliant star-studded sky on the shores of the lake is an unbeatable experience.

Plentiful wildlife such as moose, elk and bighorn sheep dot the surrounding rocky outcrops, and the area is interspersed with alpine meadows that look beautiful in the autumn season. 

There is no charge to camp by Crystal Lake, however you will need to bring all your supplies. The hike up to the Upper Crystal Lake makes for a great day trip from camp, and the trails are dog friendly. When you choose to hike in Fall, you are far less likely to run into day hikers.