12 Camping Sites To Explore Rocky Mountain National Park


Rocky Mountain National Park is a gorgeous location for van camping. The diversity of the park is truly amazing. Within the boundaries of the park you will find not only diversity of habitat but also of wildlife. Top that off with abundant outdoor recreational activities and you have a van camping destination that can’t be beat.

Before I delve into the details about the campgrounds I would like to share with you a little about Rocky Mountain National Park.

The park is in north-central Colorado and encompasses over 265,000 acres. The park is between the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake. Connecting the two towns is Trail Ridge Road.

Traveling Trail Ridge Road (US 34) is one activity that you must do while visiting the park. This scenic byway reaches 12,183 feet elevation at its highest point. The trip is 48 miles long and there are pull-outs along the way where you can stop to enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty. During the trip you will drive 11 miles enjoying views from above the tree line.

The Continental Divide runs through the park and there are 77 named peaks that are above 12,000 feet there. Longs Peak claims the highest elevation in the park at 14,259 feet. The range of elevation in the park goes from 7,600 feet to 14,259 feet.

Rocky Mountain National Park is one busy park. In 2018 they received over 4.5 million visitors. To cut down on congestion the park offers a shuttle bus to make your park visit easier to enjoy. 80% of the visitors to the park enter through the east entrance. For your visit to be less stressful check out the west side of the park.

While in the park you can enjoy over 355 miles of hiking trails or bike the miles of roads open to cyclists. Bring along your fishing pole so you can spend some time fishing for trout in the streams and lakes of the park. Species you might catch include rainbow, brook, brown and cutthroat. That reminds me there are 147 lakes in the park.

The park offers free programs in the evenings on a variety of topics. They hold the programs at different locations throughout the park. You can take in the night sky and attend astronomy programs throughout the summer. Another option you have is to attend the 3 day Rocky Mountain National Park Night Sky Festival.

Rocky Mountain National Park is also a magnet for wildlife watchers. There is a large population of elk and you can glimpse mule deer, moose, big horn sheep and other forest animals. Are you a birdwatcher? Then you will be delighted with the antics of over 250 bird species that have been spotted in the park.

To see a map of Rocky Mountain National Park go here

Van Camping Life Tip: Rocky Mountain National Park is an extremely popular park. If you are planning to stay at Glacier Basin, Aspenglen or Moraine campgrounds make sure to reserve a site early.

Where are the 12 Van Camping Sites to Explore Rocky Mountain National Park at?

Moraine Park Campground

The campground is on Moraine Park Road near Estes Park, Colorado. It is right inside the east entrance to the park. The GPS coordinates are 40° 21′ 45.0000″ N and 105° 36′ 6.9998″ W.

The campground has over 200 sites and is open all year round. But some of the services are not available all year round. The campground can accommodate a RV up to 40 feet long. Amenities include a seasonal dump station, food lockers, drinking water, vault toilets and flush toilets.

Pines and Douglas fir partially shade the sites. All sites have a tent pad, picnic table and fire ring. The parking spurs are gravel.

You can buy ice and firewood at the campground. The campground also has two solar shower stalls, but you will have to bring your own solar shower bag.

A free shuttle bus will run you to the trailheads on the Bear Lake Trail Corridor. The shuttle runs from 7am to 7:30pm during the summer season on a 10 to 15 minute schedule.

The Moraine Park Museum and Amphitheater is close by. It has exhibits and interpretive programs for the whole family to enjoy.

If you need further information about the campground you can call 970-586-1206. If you would like a campground map go here.

Other Posts of Interest

Aspenglen Campground

This is another campground that is right inside the park as you enter at the Fall River entrance. The address is Cascade Cottages Road, Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado. The GPS coordinates are 40° 25′ 19.9999″ N and 105° 37′ 13.0001″ W.

This beautiful campground has 50+ sites and is near the Fall River. Lodgepole and Ponderosa pine along with Douglas fir help to provide some shade to the sites. This is a great location for viewing wildlife.

All sites have a tent pad, picnic table and fire ring. You can buy firewood and ice at the campground. There are food lockers, flush toilets and drinking water available.

The campground can handle RVs up to 30 feet. Another nice thing is that the parking spurs are paved. You can use generators only in Loop C from 7:30am to 10am and 4pm to 8:30pm.

It is also close to the Fall River Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has exhibits, a gift shop and restrooms. The helpful staff can provide information and tips on how to best enjoy your time at the park.

If you need further information about the campground you can call 970-586-1206. If you would like a campground map go here.

Van Camping Life Tip: To get a 50% discount on your camping fees in the Rocky Mountain National Park campgrounds use your Access or America the Beautiful Senior Pass.

Glacier Basin Campground

The campground is on Bear Lake Road, Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado. It is approximately 5 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance. The GPS coordinates are 40° 19′ 45.0001″ N and 105° 35′ 35.9999″ W.

There are amazing views from this campground, but due to a pine beetle epidemic a lot of the trees have been cut. There are 150+ sites and the elevation is about 8,500 feet. The parking spurs are paved and so are the roads. The campground can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet.

There is a dump station available for your convenience. You can run generators between 7:30am – 10 am and 4pm – 8:30pm but there are some loops where you can’t use them.

All sites have a tent pad, picnic table and fire ring. You can buy firewood and ice at the campground. There are food lockers, flush toilets and drinking water available. There is one solar shower stall but you must have your own solar bag.

If you need further information about the campground you can call 970-586-1206. If you would like a campground map go here.

To stay at any of the 3 campgrounds above you can make a reservation here.

Timber Creek Campground

This campground is usually the last to fill. It is off of US Highway 34 about 10 miles north of Grand Lake, Colorado. The latitude is 40.3556924 and longitude is -105.6972879.

Timber Creek Campground is the only campground on the west side of the park. Sites are on a first-come basis – you cannot make reservations.

There are 90+ sites but the sites don’t have shade – they cut the trees due to a beetle infestation. The campground is near the Colorado River and the elevation is 8,900 feet. This is a good place to see wildlife.

RVs up to 30 feet will fit in the sites. You can use your generator from 7:30am to 10am and again from 4pm to 8:30 pm.

There are flush toilets, drinking water and a dump station. There are no food lockers. You can buy firewood at the campground.

If you need further information about the campground you can call 970-586-1206. If you would like a campground map go here.

The four campgrounds listed above are in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The next two on the list are in the Roosevelt National Forest.

Olive Ridge Campground

Olive Ridge is a medium sized campground with 55+ sites. The campground is near the southeast corner of Rocky Mountain National park near the Wild Basin area. The campground is about 15 miles south of the eastern entrance to the park. The GPS coordinates are 40° 12′ 31.7999″ N and 105° 31′ 20.6198″ W.

The elevation of the campground is 8,350 feet. There are vault toilets and drinking water available. Sites have a picnic table and fire grates or rings. You can make reservations for a camping site here.

For more information about the campground call 303-541-2500. To get a map of Olive Ridge Campground click here.

Meeker Park Overflow Campground

This rustic campground has 29 first-come camping sites available. There are steep hills, short spaces and the roads are not paved. RVs, campers, trailers and tents are welcome.

The campground is approximately 13 miles south of Estes Park off of Highway 7. The coordinates are 40.242602 latitude and -105.533903 longitude.

There are portable toilets, fire rings and picnic tables. There is no dump station, drinking water, showers or hook-ups. Due to the closeness of the campground to Rocky Mountain National Park it fills up fast so get there early.

To get further information about Meeker Park Overflow Campground call 303-541-2500. To get a map of Meeker Park Overflow Campground click here.

The next two campgrounds on my list are part of the Estes Valley Recreation & Park District. These two campgrounds fill fast due to their closeness to Rocky Mountain National Park. So to make sure you get a site you can make a reservation here.

Estes Park Campground at East Portal

This beautiful campground has 66 shaded sites and is on a sloping hillside. It is at 3420 Tunnel Road southwest of Estes Park, Colorado. The campground can accommodate RVs or trailers up to 22 feet in length.

The sites are among lodgepole pines, ponderosa pines and aspens. The campground is close to the Rocky Mountain National Forest. You can enjoy spectacular views of the mountains right from your campsite. Wildlife also ventures into the campground on a regular basis, including bear. Make sure to store your food properly. If you would like to learn about the cooler we use check out our post here.

There is a dump station, hot showers, drinking water, water and electric hookups and flush toilets. The sites have a picnic table and fire rings. You can buy firewood and ice at the campground. They even have a playground for the kids to burn off some energy.

From this location you can hike, mountain bike and fish at the nearby East Portal Reservoir. Additionally you can horseback ride, golf, go cart, play mini golf or even dine out in Estes Park.

To contact the campground office call 970-586-4188. To get a map of the campground go here.

Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake

Just like the name implies the campground is on the shore of Mary’s Lake. It is at 2120 Mary’s Lake Road south of Estes Park, Colorado. There are 128 sites and they have sites for tents and even big rigs! The campground is mostly sunny and provides awesome views of the surrounding area.

Mary’s Lake has about 1 mile of shoreline and covers approximately 175 land acres. They stock rainbow trout in the lake fairly often, making it a great place to fish. But you can’t boat on Mary’s Lake.

There is a dump station, hot showers, flush toilets, heated swimming pool, camp store, laundry and propane filling station. You can choose between standard full hookups with 50-amp or standard water and electric with 30-amp.

Each site has its own picnic table and fire ring so after a busy day you can enjoy a quiet meal. Firewood and ice are also available at the campground.

Besides all the activities that are available at Rocky Mountain National Park, you can enjoy the recreational activities that the Estes Park area offers from this location. A free shuttle provides service to Estes Park during the summer.

For more information about the campground call 970-577-1026. For a campground map to help you prepare for your visit go here.

Van Camping Life Tip: Your best chance to spot an elk is where the forest meets a field or in a field. The most popular viewing time for elk is during the fall rut.

The following campgrounds that I am going to highlight are all privately owned ones.

Elk Meadow Lodge & RV Resort

This is a large campground with 169 sites and sits on 30 acres. It is at 1665 State Highway 66 about 1 mile from Estes Park, Colorado. The campground is just outside the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Sites can accommodate RVs up to a 75-foot coach. Amenities include free wifi, TV cable to each site, laundry, 3 restroom and shower buildings and an ice machine. To view a map of the campground go here.

They have a swimming pool, a playground for the kids, horseshoes and miniature golf. There is usually live entertainment every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day at the lodge. Pets can exercise in the special off-leash area that they provide.

The shuttle stops at the campground so you can catch a ride into Estes Park.

To make a reservation or learn more about Elk Meadow visit their website here. If you would like to call you can reach them at 970-586-5342.

Estes Park KOA

Estes Park KOA is at 2051 Big Thompson Ave (Highway 34) about 1 ½ miles east of downtown Estes Park, Colorado. The campground is approximately 5 minutes away from Rocky Mountain National Park. It can handle units up to 35 feet. Elevation of the campground is 7,500 feet.

To get a map of the campground click here. There is a camp store where you can buy souvenirs and camp supplies. The campground is pet friendly with a dog walk and pet park.

There is a free shuttle service that runs into Estes Park and the Visitors Center. It arrives approximately every 30 minutes.

The campground has a dump station, showers, restrooms, a laundry facility and game room. For fun you can play horseshoes, enjoy some ice cream at the socials, play basketball and enjoy their marshmallow roasts. They even have a KOA train ride for the kids to enjoy.

To make a reservation or learn more about the campground you can go to their website here.

Manor RV Park

This is another campground that is conveniently located close to the east entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Manor RV Park is at 815 Riverside Drive near Estes Park, Colorado.

The campground has 110 full hookup sites with paved roads. Sites include a picnic table and patio. They have laundry facilities, restrooms, showers and free TV. It is pet friendly, they even have a path for walking the dog. They offer propane refills, ice and you even get free wifi.

The Big Thompson River runs near the backside of the campground where you while away the afternoon fishing. 22 of the sites are right along the river. To see a map of the campground go here.

There is a playground for the kids, a clubhouse and they even have RV and camping supplies. To make a reservation or to learn more visit their website here.

Elk Creek Campground

This campground is on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is at 143 County Road 48 (Golf Course Road) about 3 miles from Grand Lake, Colorado. The campground is only 5 minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park.

They have 50 RV and 13 tent sites. There are full hookup sites with 50/30 or 30/20 amp service. Sites with water and electric with 30/20 amp are also available. The longest vehicle they can accommodate is 40 feet.

Elk Creek runs through the campground and there is also a trout pond. To get a map of the campground go here.

Amenities at the campground include a dump station, restrooms, showers, laundry facilities and propane. You can buy firewood at the camp store. There is a playground, recreation room with free wifi and a game room to entertain the kids.

To make a reservation or to learn more visit their website here.

Van Camping Life Tip: Looking to glass some moose? Head to the Kawuneeche Valley on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. They like to hang out in the willows along the edge of the Colorado River.

Things to do while visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park area

Backbone Adventures is at 1851 North Lake Avenue in Estes Park. If you are looking for some excitement on your trip you will want to make sure to add this to your list. Backbone Adventures rent ATVs, Jeeps, UTVs, dirt bikes and even snowmobiles for unguided trips on some of the most popular trails in the area.

They will deliver your machine (except for the Jeeps) right to the trailhead, so you don’t need to worry about a trailer. They will also give you suggestions on trails to make your ride perfect.

Backbone Adventures is open all year round. You can call them at 970-235-5045 or visit their website here.

Fun City provides hours of fun for the whole family to enjoy. The park is at 455 Prospect Village Drive, Estes Park.

Plan to spend the day here because there is a lot to do. Feel like puttering around? You can do just that on one of the two 18-hole miniature golf courses located in the park.

Did you know you could walk on water? Well you can in one of their water walking balls. You can even spend some time getting your hands wet panning for gems in their sluice.

You can cool off after a hot day of sightseeing on their bumper boat rides. Set speed records on a go-cart ride. Take a thrilling ride down the giant rainbow slide and fly high on the bungee trampoline. And finish a bang up day with a bumper car ride.

They don’t sell food on the grounds, but you are welcome to bring a picnic. They have picnic tables and some are even by the river.

Buy an all-day fun pass and you get unlimited rides. Sounds like a fun way to spend the day to me. For more information you can visit their website here.

Rapid Transit Rafting offers a different way to see Rocky Mountain National Park.

Is riding down the Colorado River one of the things left on your bucket list? Then get a hold of the folks at Rapid Transit Rafting. They have been providing fun filled rafting adventures for over 37 years. Located in Estes Park, Colorado they know the area and can help you have the rafting trip of a lifetime.

They offer a full-day raft trip down the Colorado River. This trip will provide you with a little excitement through some Class II and Class III rapids. There are also sections of float water where you can relax and take in all the awesome scenery.

Just a beginner? Don’t worry. This trip is a moderate whitewater excursion suitable for a novice or experienced rafter.

The trip starts at Estes Park where they provide transportation to get you to the river. To get to the river you will be traveling on Trail Ridge Road. On the way you can take time to enjoy the magnificent scenery of Rocky Mountain National Park. After crossing the Continental Divide you will arrive at the river to start your journey.

Your second choice is a half-day trip on the Cache la Poudre River. There is little float water on this trip. The river is fast-moving and has nearly continuous Class II to Class III rapids. This trip is also suitable for experienced and novice rafters. They also provide transportation to the river if you select this option.

To get more information to plan your rafting trip you can go to their website here.

Estes Park Aerial Tramway is an experience that you won’t want to miss. If you want a really great view of the area you need to experience this. The tram takes you to the top of Prospect Mountain offering views, views and more views.

The tram travels on cables to the top. But the entire cable length is a free span between the bottom and the top tram terminals. That’s right no towers to help support the cables!

Since its opening in 1955 more than 3 million people have enjoyed the thrill of this unique ride.

To start this amazing ride head to 420 East Riverside Drive in Estes Park. The tram is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. After Labor Day they are only open on weekends during September – if the weather cooperates. For a calmer ride they suggest going in the late afternoon or early morning.

To learn more about the Estes Park Aerial Tramway visit their website here.

Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding area is a place that you will need lots of time to fully explore. Allow plenty of time in your travel schedule for the park. The park is one of those places that you will find so awesome that you will want to go back again and again.

Cindy

Ever since I was little I have been a traveler at heart. It all started when I was six years old and my family took a road trip to Alaska. I enjoy visiting new places and revisiting some of the great locations that I have been to already.

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