Sometimes work, chores, hectic news cycles (and life in general) gets overwhelming. When that happens… we escape to the mountains. Camping is the ultimate way to decompress, and one of our Boulder realtor team’s favorite activities! Retreat somewhere with spotty cell service. Where there’s no chance to be distracted by “normal life”. Fresh air and a closer relationship with flora and fauna are good for the soul. We prescribe anyone with a stressful daily life a retreat into nature. With fewer distractions, it’s a great way to bond with your tribe. There are so many benefits to body, mind, and soul.
Another thing we love about camping? When you return home, recharged, it’s easier to be thankful for the little things. A hot shower and a night in your own bed have never felt better.
Living in Boulder, you don’t have to travel far to find an incredible campsite. Here, the Boulder real estate agents at Burgess Group | Compass list our personal favorites…
Camping in Boulder County State Parks
There is lovely energy about state park campgrounds. A cheery camaraderie between neighbors is common. State park camping is a favorite for anyone who would rather not sacrifice comforts like bathrooms and running water. Most campsites will have outlets for travelers with RVs, trailers, or van builds. But all state park campgrounds have tent sites too!
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
This 12,119-acre front range park is breathtaking. There are 43 miles of trails, making this an outdoorsman’s paradise. Campers can choose between two different sites. Reverend’s Ridge accepts trailers, pickup campers, and tents. Aspen Meadows is tent-only.
St Vrain State Park
The swimmable lakes at St. Vrain Park make this a great summer campsite. Snowcapped peaks tower above the ponds that host pelicans, herons, and eagles. St. Vrain has a total of 87 campsites. Reserve early to get a waterfront site!
LaVern M. Johnson State Park
Tube-able creeks and rocky crags make this area a natural playground. It’s a small, but incredible park. There are only 16 RV sites and 17 tent sites, so be sure to reserve in advance.
Boulder County Dispersed Car Camping
Dispersed campsites are the middle-ground option between state park camping and backpacking. The campsites are primitive. There are no amenities. You’ll have a place to park, room to set up your tent, and (usually) a campfire ring. But it’s a quieter environment than state Park camping. You’ll be more immersed in the natural elements. Dispersed camping is free and first-come-first-serve. It’s a favorite for van-lifers and anyone who wants to dip into the wilderness… without carrying everything they need on their back.
Find your campsite along 8 miles of the forest service road in the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest. From your campsite, enjoy miles of secluded hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. Camping is allowed only at designated sites. Check the campground map here.
Five miles north of Nederland, Forest Service Road 226 turns east into the trees. 15 hidden campsites live here. There are no hiking trails along this road, but it’s still a great place to relax. Set up a hammock and enjoy a peaceful afternoon in the forest.
Four-wheel drive is recommended to get to this site. These campsites are adjacent to high alpine meadows. The 11 designated campsites here are found along Forest Service road 505.
Backpacking in Boulder County
Backpacking is the ultimate way to immerse yourself in nature. Hike-in campsites force you to leave behind any comforts of home and only carry with you what you need to survive. When backpacking, you’re most likely to find solitude and experience wildlife.
Boulder Skyline Traverse
The skyline traverse has some seriously incredible ridgeline views. This is a 29.9-mile out-and-back trail that takes multiple days to complete. But weekend warriors can make this trip shorter if they’d like. There is the option to camp at South Boulder Peak (4 miles in) or Bear Peak (4.5 miles in).
Black Bear/ Horseshoe Loop
This 6-mile loop trail includes three peaceful backcountry campsites. Campsites are around the 3.5-4.5 mile markers.
A few things to know before you go:
Before leaving cell service areas check the Boulder County website to check for active fire restrictions. You may also see fire ban signs posted around your campsite or trailhead.
Even if there are no active fire restrictions, it’s still crucial to practice basic wildfire safety techniques.
- Only build a fire in a designated fire ring.
- Before going to sleep or heading off for a hike, make sure that your fire coals are cool to the touch. Dousing the flame only will not suffice. In our arid climate, it only takes one gust of wind to reignite the flame. Continue pouring water and raking over the coals until you can touch them with your hand. Then, and only then, is it safe to go to sleep or head out for your hike.
It’s important to brush up on basic LNT (Leave No Trace) principles before your excursion. LNT is the ethical code for outdoor activities. Our Boulder realtor team lists them in-depth here, but here are the basics for camping:
- Only camp at designated campsites. Only hike on designated trails. Only drive on designated roads.
- Properly dispose of waste (organic and inorganic). Don’t leave anything behind. Pack out all of your trash. Before you leave, scan your campsite for any micro-trash. If your campsite has no bathroom facilities, dig cat holes for any human waste or greywater.
- Leave what you find. Don’t pick wildflowers or take home a shiny rock.
- If you see any wildlife, don’t engage. Observe quietly and from a respectful distance.
- Be considerate of other campers. Respect quiet hours and keep control of your pets.
- Make sure you adequately prepare for your trip.
- Minimize the impact of your campfire.