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Old 12-28-2017, 09:31 AM   #1
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Denver, CO camping options

I am looking for a good campground near Denver for our trip in mid June. We want to go to Winter Park, Rocky mountain np, and see the sights of Denver while we are there. Looking for something centrally located to those 3. We are coming in from arches and heading out to Santa Fe.

We are in a 20ft a-frame. We are open to any type of Park.

Also, if anyone has any suggestions of things to do in Denver with a 2 year old, let me know.
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Old 12-28-2017, 09:41 AM   #2
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Here is a link for you.

25 Best Campgrounds Within Two Hours of Denver CO - 50 Campfires

We have stayed at Cherry Creek nice camp. Lots of hiking and biking.

Going to Winter Park from Denver can be interesting. Google Berthoud Pass.
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Old 12-31-2017, 04:22 PM   #3
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We stayed at Wagon Wheel RV park in Golden and it is pretty nice and the hosts are great. But you may want something farther north so you are a bit closer to Rocky Mountain NP.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:32 AM   #4
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I don't have any specifics on where to stay, just to let you know traffic in Denver area is crazy. The I25 corridor between Colorado Springs and Fort Collins is a speedway. Pueblo to Santa Fe is nice as traffic drastically reduces. Some back roads for a while may be your best bet.

Safe and happy travels.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:39 AM   #5
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Stayed at Chatfield State Park while we were there last summer. VERY NICE.
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Old 01-02-2018, 10:26 AM   #6
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Denver, CO camping options

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Originally Posted by timfromma View Post
Stayed at Chatfield State Park while we were there last summer. VERY NICE.


X2 but be mindful of closing time. I don't recall what it was when we were there but it seemed kind of early.

They patrol the road and make you go way around behind the barn to get back to camp if they catch you trying to get in after hours.
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Old 01-02-2018, 10:29 AM   #7
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RMNP is huge, but the most common entry point is on the eastern edge, right off the town of Estes Park. Estes Park is a great mountain town and I've probably seen just as many elk in the town as I have in RMNP.

Winter Park is pretty far west on I70 and then north on Hwy 40.

There isn't going to be anything that is central to all three, as they're pretty far from one another.

Camping in Denver gives you the convenience of being on I25 ... easier when you arrive and easier when you leave, as you're already on your route. If you go that path, I'd recommend one of the Colorado State Parks: Chatfield or Cherry Creek. Then you drive 1.5 hours or so each way to RMNP and Winter Park.

If you want a more scenic, Rocky Mountain experience, I'd recommend driving a bit west of I25 to get into the woods/mountains.

One option is a road called the Peak-to-Peak Highway. This connects Estes Park down to just outside Golden, Colorado and I-70. It's still on the eastern slope and is around 45 minutes from downtown Denver ... so, fairly convenient.

Along that stretch of highway are a bunch of campgrounds ranging from primitive USFS spots to full service state parks (similar to Chatfield and Cherry Creek in Denver).

There are some absolute gems like Camp Dick, which is nearly impossible to book. Golden Gate Canyon State Park has power, amenities, and a dump station. It's difficult to book. Remember, these spots are only 45 minutes from Denver, so they're insanely popular for the largest city in the state. But, Kelly Dahl, Olive Ridge, and Cold Springs are all nice and easy to book. Those are USFS sites that generally have vault toilets, no showers, and may have hand-pump for water.

Another option would be to go west on I-70 a bit and camp out there. Puts you closer to Winter Park, but maybe a bit farther from RMNP and Denver. There are some USFS campgrounds near Idaho Springs and Georgetown, both pretty nice mountain towns. Echo Lake, Geneva Park, West Chicago Creek are a few CGs in the area, but aren't exactly right on the freeway.

Going farther west on I-70, you run into Silverthorne, which is farther west of the Hwy 40 junction (west of Winter Park). There's a huge reservoir right off the freeway here called Dillon Reservoir (largest source of drinking water to Denver, I think). Silverthorne is on the north side of I70 and the reservoir is on the south side. There are a handful of CGs around the reservoir, the best of which is Heaton Bay. Loop C has power, but the loops closest to the reservoir are the prettiest.

You can also go 30 min south to Breckenridge, which I like much better than Winter Park, in terms of a ski town/mountain town.

So, there you go. If it were me, I'd be looking at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. If that's full, I'd go with Camp Dick, Olive Ridge, and Kelly Dahl, in that order.

2-year old in Denver: zoo. If you stay at Cherry Creek, you'll be about 5 minutes from the zoo. Not terribly expensive and you can bring in your own food. I've never been to the aquarium, but I've heard mixed reviews about it.

Good Luck.
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Old 01-02-2018, 02:35 PM   #8
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If I wanted to see both RMNP and the Winter Park area, I would stay at the
Forest Service's Stillwater cg on Granby Reservoir with electric hookups, water faucets, and a dump. You will be convenient to the West Entrance to RMNP, Grand Lake Lodge, and the town of Grand Lake. You can drive over Trail Ridge Road in your tow vehicle without even driving through the traffic-jammed tourist trap that is the town of Estes Park. When you leave Stillwater, you will drive US 40 right through Winter Park, so you can stop then and see what may interest you there. Winter Park is only 90 minutes from Denver when towing over 11,000-foot Berthoud Pass, so you could spend most of a day in Winter Park and still get to the Denver area before dinnertime.

We like to stay at Chatfield Lake State Park even though it's only 8 miles from our house. It has paved sites with FHU and electricity and water sites with a dump, boat rental, lake, pond, and South Platte River fishing, a separate kayak and paddleboard pond, a swim beach, a riding stable, and miles of bike paths. It is close to the mountains, but also very convenient using C-470 and Santa Fe to all of the metro Denver area.

Another option actually in the mountains, but still within relatively short commuting distance to Denver, is Golden Gate Canyon State Park. We have also stayed there in electic-only sites (water and dump are available at the cg). It gives you easy access to the Peak to Peak Highway, as well as to gambling in Blackhawk and Central City, if you are into that sort of recreation.

Just some thoughts after spending the last 54 years in Jefferson County (the location of both Chatfield and Golden Gate Canyon state parks). I also spent a summer as a surveyor for the Forest Service in the Grand Lake-Winter Park area. For more ideas on camping and sights to see along US 40, see my blog HERE.
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Old 01-08-2018, 01:42 PM   #9
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What about campgrounds around Denver that offer Gold panning? We are taking a trip to Yellowstone this summer and was hoping to stay 2-3 nights in Denver area. Always wanted to strike it RICH!!! LOL - More like pan for 2-3 hours for the relaxation and a good stopping point to rest for a couple of days.
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:46 PM   #10
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What about campgrounds around Denver that offer Gold panning? We are taking a trip to Yellowstone this summer and was hoping to stay 2-3 nights in Denver area. Always wanted to strike it RICH!!! LOL - More like pan for 2-3 hours for the relaxation and a good stopping point to rest for a couple of days.
Stay at Golden Gate Canyon State Park and drive down to Blackhawk on the Peak-to-Peak Highway (CO 119/72). A mile or so south of Blackhawk, there is a privately-owned gold panning operation where you can pan gravel to your heart's content. You won't get any richer in a couple of hours there than at one of Blackhawk's casinos, but you could end up losing a lot less!
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