Scouting Report – (CO-10) Deep Creek

Excellent free Colorado camping

There are a lot of excellent free Colorado camping locations to explore, and this is among the very best of them. Right off a stunningly beautiful creek surrounded by high cliff walls and dense foliage this site is one you will remember for a very long time. Because it is so close to I-70 it is very easy to get to for both extended trips, or when you are just passing through.

Deep Creek

Deep Creek Information

Phone Number: (970) 876-9000

Elevation: 6,400

Lat/Long:39.67207, -107.08494

Nearby Town: Gypsum, CO. @ 10 miles

Details

  • No fee
  • No potable water
  • No trash
  • Vault toilets are available further up the road. No cat holes are allowed in the area due to the close proximity to the creek.

Date of Report:

08/2018

Road Conditions:

Excellent

Colorado River Rd. (301) is paved up to the turn off for Deep Creek Rd. which is about 1 3/4 miles off of I-70. Deep Creek Rd. is a dirt road that is in excellent shape with a fair amount of washboard so watch your speed as you always should on winding dirt roads.

Road leading to the Deep Creek camping area.
Road leading to the Deep Creek camping area.

General Site Information:

There are 5 tent sites off Deep Creek Rd.  some of the sites allow you to pull down right next to the river, while others will require a very short hike to the extremely alluring campsites at the rivers edge.

When visiting this site bear in mind the following pieces of information. This area is extremely popular and the likely hood of getting a site even during the week at peak camping season can be hit or miss. You may find yourself driving up and down the road or asking others whether they are coming or going. If you are in a fully contained rig that does not take up much space ie. van it may be easier to grab a place to park near the main congregation of sites rather that use a tent at one of the 5 sites near the creek. Another thing to keep in mind is that the vault toilet down the road around the bend as the road begins to climb. You are not allowed to dig cat holes in the area due to the close proximity of the water at all of the campsites. If finding a campsite here does become problematic for you check out the Lyons Creek Site just 3 miles down Colorado River Dr.

Check out the Lyons Gulch link below for more detailed information.

Scouting Report – (CO-09) Lyons Creek

Nearby Activities or Attractions:

  • Towns below are within 50 miles
    • Eagle
    • Avon
    • Vail
    • Glenwood Springs
  • Colorado River

This article features one of the many sites listed in the Colorado Free Camping guidebook sold on Amazon. Please consider purchasing a copy!

Free Colorado Camping | Scouting Report – (CO-9) Lyons Gulch

Free Camping on the Colorado River

The Colorado river beckons to rafters seeking adventure and a spirited trip down the river. Even if you are not the type of person that is looking for the excitement of a white water river rafting adventure, you will love free camping on the Colorado river.

Lyons Gulch Campground

Lyons Gulch Campground Information

Phone Number: (970) 876-9000

Elevation: 6,200

Lat/ Long:39.69905, -107.07292

Nearby Town: Gypsum, CO. @ 11 miles

Details

  • No Fee
  • No Potable water
  • No trash
  • Vault toilets

Date of Report:

08/2018

Road Conditions:

Excellent

Road leading to Lyons Gulch free camping area off of the Colorado River.
Road leading to Lyons Gulch camping area off of the Colorado River.

Colorado River road (301) is paved all the way to the Lyons Gulch site a little over 4 miles from I-70. The road leading to the campsites is in excellent condition and offers up some very beautiful views of the Colorado River.

Side view mirror looking at Colorado river road near Lyons gulch free camping
Side view mirror looking back on Colorado river road

General Site Information:

The site is situated around a bend in the Colorado River with a very large pull off on the side of the road. While there is a sign letting you know that you are at the campground it is easy to pass it from the road, especially in the summer time when the foliage on the trees and bushes is in full swing.

If you do miss the turn fear not as there is a very large shoulder directly after the pull in that is quite hard to miss. The interior of the site consists of a large circular drive with areas to park. Around the circle there is a nice restroom (Cat holes are not allowed at this site and the restroom is only open from May 15 to Nov. 15th) and several trails that lead off into the trees and bushes that line the Colorado river to the many tent sites. While all of the sites are relatively close together, there is ample space to spread out and enjoy the sound of the river as life passes by. In all there is about 5 campsites right off the river, along with a nice boat ramp if you are planning a trip down the river.

Note:If rainy conditions exist this is not an optimal place to be as rising river levels and mud slides could make this a very dangerous location to camp. If you are in need of another place to camp there are also great locations closer to I-70 at the Deep Creek Campsite off Deep Creek Rd. these sites are very popular and also next to a river so depending on the time of year and the amount of rain that is or has been falling neither site may be suitable.

Check out the Deep Creek link below for more detailed information.

Scouting Report – (CO-10) Deep Creek

Nearby Activities or Attractions:

  • Towns below are within 50 miles
    • Eagle
    • Avon
    • Vail
    • Glenwood Springs
  • Colorado River

Scouting Report – (CO-8) Red Dirt Reservoir

Looking across Red Dirt Reservoir near free Colorado Camping
Red Dirt Reservoir

Amazing Free Colorado Camping

Tucked back in the woods far away from prying eyes, there are treasures to be found by those adventurous souls willing to seek them. The area around Kremmling is remote and rugged, a picture of Rocky Mountain beauty waiting for you to find it. Like all dispersed camping area please practice leave no trace camping ethics to keep the area pristine and beautiful for generations to come.

Red Dirt Reservoir:

Red Dirt Reservoir Information

Phone Number: (970) 638-4516

Elevation: 9,100

Lat/Long: 40.1789, -106.57576

Nearby Town: Kremmling, CO. @ 18 miles

Details:

    • No fee
    • No potable water
    • No trash
    • Vault toilets
  • There is no boat ramp and the lake is very small kayak or canoe would be best if you wish to explore the lake by water.

Date of Report:

08/2018

View of Red Dirt Reservoir and a couple of the free campsites near Kremmling Colorado
View of Red Dirt Reservoir

Road Conditions:

Very good

As you leave the paved road way off of Colorado 134 and get onto the dirt road Co. 19 you will cross a cattle grate in the road and follow the dirt county road up a forest service sign. From there follow the forest service road 100 signs that lead you up to a right onto forest service road 101 that leads up to the lake. Its not a bad idea to have a GPS going to lead to in and out of this area as there are several forest service roads that branch off to other areas of the forest. The county roads are very well maintained as are the forest service roads. This campsite is easily accessible by passenger car providing that there are no adverse weather conditions that would hamper travel.

General Site Information:

This reservoir is like a little slice of heaven, tucked away in the woods far from the modern world.  When you enter the dispersed camping area you have options to either camp at the tree line, or select a site closer to the water. Following the road to its terminus leads to a dead end in the road with a turn around area on the side of the mountain, that does have a bit of a slope.

There are ample places to camp around the lake as well as the tree line, and all of the sites  have a spectacular view of the water. At the beginning of the area there is a vault toilet surrounded by several nicely wooded campsites, if you are looking for a little more privacy I would recommend following the road to the dead end turn around. Camping near the lake is another great option, just make sure you are following forest service rules and camping at least 100 feet away. There are 2 options to get near the water.  The first being less step, but could be problematic if the ground gets wet before you want to leave and you only have 2 wheel drive. The second area to get down to the lake will require 4 wheel drive and some decent ground clearance.

Henry David Thoureau on Kindle overlooking Red Dirt Reservoir near Kremmling, Colorado
Henry David Thoreau on Kindle overlooking Red Dirt Reservoir

Red Dirt Reservoir is easily one of my favorite places to get away. Its distance from major towns makes it a bit of a hidden gem primarily visited by locals that are use to the solitude of the back country. While the area will likely be far from empty, there should be ample campsite available for you to enjoy.

Nearby Activities or Attractions:

  • Kremmling
  • Fantastic hiking around the lake
  • Excellent fishing in Red Dirt Reservoir
  • CO 134 is a spectacular drive leading to Toponas I highly recommend this route if you need to get back to I-70 and are not in a hurry.

If you liked the content featured in this article please consider the purchasing Colorado Free Camping or one of the other guides listed on this site. Thank you!

Scouting Report – (CO-5) Miners Creek Rd. 1000

Miner’s Creek Road:

(High Clearance 4X4 Required)

Miner’s Creek Road Information

Miner’s Creek Dispersed Camping Information

Phone Number: (970) 468-5400

Elevation: 9,134 – 9,988

Lat/Long: 39.559522, -106.084556

Nearby Town: Frisco, Co @ 2 miles

 

Details:

  • No fee
  • No potable water
  • No trash
  • No restrooms
  • Open from November 23 thru May 20
  • Dispersed Camping allowed after the first 1 3/4  mile

 

Date of Report: 07/2018

 

 

Road Conditions:

High Clearance 4×4 Required

  • The road leading to the area where dispersed camping is allowed is narrow, very steep in places , is rock strewn, and has creek crossings. This road is also only open for summer use.

 

  • To get to the sites you will need to drive up a shared path way that is primarily used for hiking and biking for about ¼ mile to a junction with Temple Trail, another paved hiking and  biking trail. There is another small parking area here with several signs letting you know that camping is not allowed in the area. The road from here up to the sites is dirt. The road begins and is not too bad with little variation and large enough for a single vehicle to navigate with no issues. After about ½ a mile the road begins to get rougher and you will encounter the first of the 2 creek crossings before entering the area where camping is allowed. The road conditions quickly deteriorate from here with lots of large dips and pools where water collects. At the 1 ¾ mile mark is where the second creek crossing starts. The tree cover over the crossing is low, and after navigating the small creek the trail becomes very steep, rock strewn and difficult to traverse.

 

General Site Information:

The sites here are primitive and offer no amenities aside from stone fire rings. The clearings where campsites have been made are fairly close to the miners creek, which you follow up nearly the entire road leading to the camping sites. Over all the area is very beautiful and peaceful with a majority of the traffic primarily using the trail systems lower down in the valley. While I did not venture to the end of miners creek road 1000 I can tell you this is a great place to camp if you have the ability to get to the spots. The forest cover is thick and the undergrowth is very green. Be mindful of current weather conditions in the area as weather can change fast and be severe here.

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Frisco Current Local Weather

 

Nearby Activities or Attractions:

  • Frisco
  • Keystone
  • Breckenridge
  • Silverthorn
  • Lake Dillon
  • Scores of great hiking trails.

Scouting Report – (CO-6) Spring Creek

Free Camping Near Green Mountain Reservoir

Free camping and fishing go hand in hand. Lake Heeney is home to some huge fish. Lake trout in the range of 35 + inches and in excess of 15 lbs have been harvested from this location. There is a large variety of spices in the lake and there are some generous bag limits in place at the writing of this article to help balance fish populations. You can get more information on that Here. While there are scores of rivers and streams that offer both fishing and free camping, finding free camping near large lakes can be more difficult, because they are prime camping locations. Consequently all of the sites that surround the lake are pay sites managed by the forest service. Unfortunately the Spring Creek campsite is not on the lake however it is reasonable close.

Spring Creek Area:

Spring Creek Information

Phone Number: (970) 945-2521

Elevation: 9,400

Lat/Long: 39.897711, -106.408402

Nearby Town: Kremmling, Co. @ 17 miles

Details:

  • No fees
  • No potable water
  • No trash
  • No restroom
  • Dispersed camping is allowed in this area refer to the appropriate map

Date of Report:

07/2018

Road Conditions:

Fair

The spring creek area is located at the end of a well maintained county dirt road. When you come to the sign for the BLM land, the road becomes a little rougher with a fair amount of washboard and some good size pot holes. For this reason, from the county road on it is in your best interest to take it easy and go slow paying attention to the road conditions.

The road leading to the first main set of sites is passable by passenger car, although low clearance vehicles should exercise caution on with dips and ruts. If you plan to explore the area more I would advise a higher clearance vehicle as the terrain becomes a little more rugged.  

General Site Information:

The first set of sites just after the Spring Creek sign are in two main clearings and are surrounded by large pines. The fairly level sites have stone fire rings, but are lacking in picnic tables or restrooms. Further down the road there are more campsites, however, the road gets a little rougher and a higher clearance vehicle will have less problems navigating the narrow dirt road. The sites farther off are set in the thick pine forest with a great deal of privacy. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the forest in relative solitude at this location, even though there is a fair amount of traffic in and out of the area. 

If you are looking to get onto the water during your mountain retreat, you will likely want to visit Heeney Lake about 12 miles away. Green Mountain reservoir is an amazingly beautiful place to drop your boat in the water and enjoy the surrounding beauty of the mountains. There are a few day use area operated by the forest service off of the lake to launch non-motorized non trailed boats, but if you are looking to launch a motorized boat you will need to go to the Heeney marina site in town.

Note: that there is no fee to launch your boat here, but there will be a parking fee. The other forest service sites on the lake either do not have boat ramps, or in a few cases do not allow you to launch a craft from their site. Finally if you are looking to launch a canoe or Kayak there are several other access points around the lake where you can launch with relative ease. Please make sure that you are following all applicable regulations for

mandatory boat inspection.

McDonald Flats Campground

Willows Campground

Nearby Activities or Attractions:

  • 30 minutes from Heeney lake (Green Mountain Reservoir).
  • Heeney lake has pay campsites on the reservoir and places to launch a boat. Power boats need to launch at the marina in Heeney.

This site is one of the many listed in Colorado Free Camping. Please consider purchasing a copy as all proceeds help fund future content creation.

Scouting Report – (CO-7) Williams Fork Reservoir

Date of Report: 07/2018

 

Road Conditions: Excellent

Paved all the way to the campsites

Roads within the campsites are well maintained dirt roads easily passable by car.

General Site Information:

Williams Fork Reservoir is a boondockers dream with ample flat spots in a great location with cellular service. All of the sites are right on the lake with easy access to restrooms and the boat ramp. Each site has a solid metal fire ring along with a nice steel picnic table. There is little in the way of tree cover at this site so if you are after a fire you will want to bring your own firewood to this site. There is plenty of tall lush green grass and unspoiled views of the lake in the camping areas which is on the east side of the lake..  

Check the local weather for Kremmling, CO.

Nearby Activities or Attractions:

  • Boating on Williams Fork Reservoir.
  • Town of Kremmling
  • Hot Sulphur Springs

Scouting Report – (CO-4) Lake Irwin

Lake Irwin Dispersed Camping Area:

Lake Irwin Campground

Phone Number: (970) 874-6600

Elevation: 10,400

Lat/Long: 38.88078, -107.11011

Nearby Town: Crested Butte, Co. @ 9 miles

Details:

  • No fee
  • No potable water
  • No trash
  • Only small non motorized boats allowed on the lake no boat ramp
  • Vault toilets in the Lake Irwin Campground and a porta-potty by the lake

Note:

The link above is for the paid campsite, but there are a lot of free dispersed camping sites along FSR-826.D1

Date of Report: 06/2018

Road Conditions: Very good

The road up Kebler pass is paved most of the way and the rest of the road is a well taken care of dirt road. This site is easily accessible by passenger car up to the lake Irwin campground. Forest service road 826.1D is a little more rugged, but is still passable by passenger car providing you are going slow and paying attention to where you are driving on the road. Vehicles with higher clearance (Subaru) should have no issues getting to all of the sites in this area.

General Site Information:

There is a pay campsite and there is ample dispersed camping on FSR 826.1D, this is a very popular area due to its extreme beauty and if you are coming up on a weekend or over a holiday there is a chance that all of the sites here may be taken. If that is the case I would suggest you check the MVUM for the area as there is a huge amount of dispersed camping around Crested Butte. The views from the free sites along the forest service road are some of the finest in the rocky mountains. The best time to visit the area is late June and July when the wild flowers take over every nook and cranny of the forest floor beneath the towering trees. Everywhere you turn in this area there is a breathtaking site to be seen. The lake is quite large and cold even in the throws of summer, due to the elevation of over 10,500 feet you should never expect temperatures to go much over 80 degrees. Sup boarding and canoeing are very popular on the lake as well as fishing which I hear is good if you are after trout.

At the end of your stay here I would highly recommend you plan your route home or to your next location with a stop at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The area is a bit remote and extremely beautiful.  There are many excellent places to stop off on 92 to take a picture of some truly spectacular scenery. As you follow the canyon north I would urge you to take the 11 mile trek to the north rim of the park and explore this remote location  in closer detail. The admission to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park  is well worth it for the incredible views of sheer canyon  walls raising thousands of feet from the raging Gunnison river below.

Current local weather for Crested Butte

Nearby Activities or Attractions:

  • Crested Butte
  • Hand launch craft on Lake Irwin
  • Ample hiking near and in the close vicinity of the area.
  • Must hike trails:
  • Trail around Lake Irwin
  • Beaver Ponds Trail #516
  • Judd Falls Trail

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Blue Mesa Reservoir in Curecanti National Recreation area. – This location also has several free Boat-in campsites.

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