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Old 01-12-2019, 10:02 AM   #1
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Camping near Denver Colorado

Followed a recent chat about camping near Grand Junction. In the Spring, we plan to head to eastern Colorado in our Forester 3011DS with a Jeep Wrangler toad. We plan to start our exploration near Rocky Mountain NP north of Denver. Some advice would be appreciated.

Is mid- to late-May too early? We hope to miss the crowds that seem to swell in early June as kids get out of school. Don't mind some cold weather as long as roads are passable. Went to Yellowstone a few years ago about the same time frame and did OK.

Looking for state parks or national parks (Corps preferred) near there. Don't need full HU's, just 30 amp and (hopefully, but not necessary) water with a dump station. Good (reasonable) private parks OK. Plan to hike some and generally just sight-see and do some photography.

We'll head to Colorado from Florida on I-10 and then north on I-25. Once we get to RMNP, we plan to work our way south in Colorado then toward western Arkansas/Ozarks to meet family early June. What are the conditions of I-70 and I-40 out there? Last time we did I-40 from Memphis to Arkansas we swore we'd never do it again. In fact we came back on back to Florida (our home base) on back roads until we crossed the Mississippi.

Any suggestions/advice would be appreciated.

Captn Randy
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:36 AM   #2
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Mid-May is early for RMNP; The main road through the park (Trail Ridge Road) usually doesn't open until Memorial Day. Check Estes Park Campground at St Mary's lake for camping. They don't open until May 20, so you might want to push your dates back if possible. Personally we don't camp at RMNP until mid-June at the earliest!

When you go, it is beautiful!!
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:48 AM   #3
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Agree with the above. Mid-May is a little early for Rocky Mountain Natl Park. It is likely that Trail Ridge Road through the Park will not be open. However, there are other Colorado mountain options that are typically beautiful that time of year with hiking, fishing, mountain biking (rentals) if you're willing to change your route through the southern part of the state.

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Old 01-12-2019, 03:34 PM   #4
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RMNP is about 70 miles from Denver. So, I'm not sure what "near here" means. Is "here" the RMNP that is in your post or Denver that is in your thread title?

In Colorado, we get a ton of snow in March and April ... most places are much more likely to have a white St. Patrick's Day than a white Christmas. That makes May a complete gamble. In the mountains, there will still be quite a bit of that spring snow hanging around and roads will be closed, as mentioned above. Many campgrounds don't even open until Memorial Day weekend. Others don't open until June, due to snow.

Even as late as Memorial Day, I have camped with snow more often than not. It goes from 35 and snowy one day to 75 and sunny the next. Attached are two photos from Memorial Day 2017, consecutive days. One day we had snow, the next was shorts and t-shirt.

For the past 7 years, I have tried to camp in May before Memorial Day. I have never been successful. Sometimes because of work, but usually due to weather. May sucks. It's cold and just way too unpredictable for my family's enjoyment.

So just know that going in. You'll get every mix of weather we have to offer.

With that said, I'll give you a couple of public cg options. I don't do private cgs, so I cannot comment on them:

1) Estes Park Campground at Mary's Lake and at East Portal. I have not camped at either before. It's pretty expensive and I've heard that the sites are a bit cramped. For me, it approximates most private cgs I've seen. However, both of these cgs are convenient to RMNP and the Estes Park area.

There is power, water, and dump station.

2) St. Vrain State Park, Longmont, CO. This has power, water, and a dump station and is open year round. It's basically a commuter campground for full-timers. Sure, there are some fishing lakes/ponds there, but it's right on top of I-25. It's about half way between RMNP and Denver. I camped here one night during the trial run of my new trailer, since it's about 5 miles from my house.

3) Boyd Lake State Park, Loveland, CO. Also a state park with power, water, dump station. About an hour east of RMNP and an hour north of Denver. Has a nice swim beach, but I believe that is closed until Memorial Day. Met some friends there once for a day, but I haven't camped there. Not my style, but could be a good base-camp location.

4) Golden Gate Canyon State Park. It's about 50 miles south of Estes Park on your way to Golden, CO. It's on a road called the Peak to Peak Highway. Beautiful country and GGCSP is one of my favorites. Power and Dump Station. No full hookups available.

5) Chatfield and Cherry Creek are two state parks in the Denver metro area. These will be Denver camping and 1.5 hours or so from RMNP.

Those will be your best bets for public cgs with power and access to dump stations/water. You will have to check the availability dates. For example, I think GGCSP is only partially open until Mem Day and I don't know if the Dump Station would be open or if water will have been turned on before then.

The RMNP Campgrounds don't open until May 23. Otherwise, you could stay in there. No power or dump station, though.

Good luck.
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Old 01-13-2019, 01:16 PM   #5
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Estes Park

I read this review.... and I want to go


Manor RV Park In Estes Park, Colorado - Winter RVing, Rocky Mountains
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Old 01-13-2019, 01:33 PM   #6
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Camping is Estes Park

A couple of years ago we stayed 4 days in the Estes Park KOA in June. The road over the mountains were clear and the scenery is awesome. We did not like the KOA. It was very crowded, the RV sites are too close together, and hardy any room to park my tow without worry of getting side-swiped. Stay somewhere else.
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Old 01-13-2019, 02:09 PM   #7
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We have stayed at St Vrain and cherry creek, bother we’re great. Cherry creek is our favorite. We also stayed in Golden, at Dakota ridge. Was also nice. Jerry
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Old 01-13-2019, 02:13 PM   #8
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I stayed there (Manor) four years ago...

Very nice park, although the sites are close together.

I got lucky and had a riverside spot!

I would book that site ASAP.

Estes Park is solidly booked all summer, no matter which park it is!

Took the elk shot from my site as he was walking just across the river.
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Old 01-13-2019, 02:39 PM   #9
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We have stayed at St Vrain and cherry creek, bother we’re great. Cherry creek is our favorite. We also stayed in Golden, at Dakota ridge. Was also nice. Jerry
I've stayed at all three.

St. Vrain, despite not having any shade in the full hookup section, was my go to as it was close to my house and easy to get to and get a site without a whole lot of advance planning.

St. Vrain will be the closest to RMNP.

Cherry Creek is awesome with shade and very roomy sites...but if you are not already booked there...forget about it.

That place books up 10 minutes after the online reservations open after the first of the year (which is probably right about now).

Dakota Ridge is a nice privately owned RV park, but sites are very small and tight and since it is Golden...overpriced!

They do have a pool and hot tub, however.

I wanted to spend four nights there, but would have had to stay in three different sites to make up the four nights, so only stayed for the first two nights in the same spot then moved on.

The metro Denver area has a big shortage of campsites, which is why I suggest booking now!

One place to stay away from...South Park RV Park!

It is a very nice +55 park mostly made up for mobile homes, but they do have a few RV sites.

They are tiny and cramped and the staff there is so rude that I'd rather stay in a Walmart parking lot then ever go back to that place again.

On the plus site for them...a very nice pool and a good laundry room...but they close both at 8 pm...long before the sun goes down that time of year.

Read my review about that place at RV Park Reviews (third one down, but don't stop there...read on):

South Park Mobile Home Park (55+ park) - Englewood, CO - RV Park Reviews
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Old 01-13-2019, 03:32 PM   #10
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Getting back to your original query, Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora is adjacent to South Denver and is open year round. It has everything you're looking for except proximity to Rocky.
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