My Favorite Free Dispersed Campsites Near Rocky Mountain National Park

This isn’t just a random list of free campsites near Rocky Mountain National Park.

I’ve personally visited all five of the dispersed campsites below – as well as several other nearby campsites that didn’t make the cut.

Not only are they all a relatively short drive into the park (about an hour at most), but they’re all great places to camp in their own right.

Although I camp in a high-clearance truck, I take other common vehicle types into account, including low-clearance passenger vehicles as well as RVs and trailers of all sizes.

Now, let’s jump right into the most important info about each of these awesome dispersed campsites.

Related Post: Where to Go Dispersed Camping in Colorado

Please always follow the Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping, especially packing out all of your trash, including human waste.

Best Free Campsites Near Rocky Mountain

These are the dispersed campsites I cover below if you’d like to skip down to one:

Our Rocky Mountain dispersed camping map shows you where each is located.

Rocky Mountain National Park now requires a timed entry reservation to enter the park between May 26 and October 22.

My Favorite Free Campsites Near Rocky Mountain

These are my five favorite free dispersed campsites near Rocky Mountain National Park that I’ve personally visited myself.

Pole Hill Road (Beaver Meadows & Fall River Entrances)

Disclaimer: Pole Hill Road is extremely rough. High-clearance is required.

Pole Hill Road is conveniently located just 5 miles from Estes Park.

This makes it about a half hour from both the Beaver Meadows Entrance and Fall Rivers Entrance depending on which campsite you choose and the roughness of the road.

Speaking of the road, Pole Hill Road is very rough with several short but very steep and rocky sections. High-clearance is all but an absolute necessity and 4WD is very helpful in wet conditions. 

Absolutely don’t attempt to boondock here in an RV or trailer!

What I love most about dispersed camping here (other than the great location) is the absolutely beautiful scenery, including stunning views of Estes Valley and nearby mountaintops. 

The fairly quiet atmosphere is another big plus. Although OHV traffic is quite common during the daytime, the difficult access road somewhat limits other overnight campers.

Important: The first mile of Pole Hill Road after turning off Highway 36 is on private land. Make sure you’re in Roosevelt National Forest before setting up camp.

More Info:

Pole Hill Road is part of Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Canyon Lakes Ranger District: (970) 295-6700

GPS: 40.366500, -105.419180

Johnny Park Road (Beaver Meadows & Fall River Entrances) 

Johnny Park Road is a little farther east from Estes Park than Pole Hill Road.

It’s about 15 miles from town and takes around 45 minutes to reach Rocky Mountain’s Beaver Meadows and Fall Rivers entrances. 

The road is unpaved and somewhat rough. But, pretty much any passenger vehicle can reach the campsites when arriving from the west off of Highway 7.

After cresting the top of the big hill, the road does get noticeably rockier as it descends once again. High-clearance is helpful here as many of the rocks are quite sharp and large. 

This isn’t the best place for boondocking, although very small RVs and trailers (with adventurous drivers) should be okay for the first few miles arriving from the west. 

Like most dispersed campsites near Rocky Mountain, the best part about camping here is the seriously stunning scenery with amazing views. Most campsites are also somewhat private from each other. 

Although they’re private from each other, this isn’t exactly the place to come for solitude. It’s very popular with dirt bikes, ATVs, and other OHV vehicles, so expect noise and dust.

Important: GPS, including Google Maps, often directs you to follow the very rough Sutherland Road through private property. Instead, pass it and continue down Cabin Creek Road, also passing Fisk-Fenner Road and then turn right on 82E. 

More Info:

Johnny Park Road is part of Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Canyon Lakes Ranger District: (970) 295-6700

GPS: 40.228003, -105.473609

Williams Fork Reservoir (Grand Lake Entrance)

The dispersed camping at Williams Fork Reservoir is just an hour from Rocky Mountain’s Grand Lake Entrance (the only entrance on the western side of the national park).

Unlike most of the free campsites I discuss here on Campnado, Williams Fork Reservoir is not located on public land. Instead, it’s on land owned by Denver Water, which supplies water and electricity to the Denver Metropolitan Area as well as much of the Western Slope.

The access road while unpaved isn’t rough aside from minor to moderate washboarding. The campsites are quite large and spacious. 

These factors make Williams Fork Reservoir an excellent spot for RVs and trailers of all sizes, including big rigs. The only downside is a lack of level campsites 

There are several different places to camp around the lake. I personally prefer the campsites on the small peninsula near the “West Boat Ramp.” 

Important: This is technically designated dispersed camping. You must camp in a designated campsite marked with a metal fire ring and picnic table. 

More Info:

Williams Fork Reservoir is owned and operated by Denver Water.

Designated dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call Denver Water: (303) 893-2444

GPS: 40.007583, -106.219083

Stillwater Pass Area (Grand Lake Entrance)

The Stillwater Pass Area is just a half hour from the Grand Lake Entrance.

The easiest way to reach these campsites is to navigate towards “Stillwater Pass Trailhead” on your GPS, Google Maps, or other navigation map. 

Just after the trailhead, you exit private land and enter the national forest. You’ll soon see countless dispersed campsites on either side of the road.

However, I recommend continuing north up County Highway 4 until the junction with County Highway 455 for more private campsites. Take the right-hand turn onto County Highway 455 and look for somewhere to set up camp.

The roads here are quite smooth and are typically well-maintained. Expect loose gravel and minor washboarding, but nothing much worse. All passenger vehicles can make the drive as well as most RVs and trailers.

There’s a mix of campsites of different sizes with many large enough to fit medium trailers and RVs, including a couple large fields that can host groups. However, I suggest very big rigs avoid this area altogether.

Stillwater Pass’s only downside for dispersed camping are the crowds. It gets extremely busy – and, often, somewhat rowdy here, especially on summer weekends. I’d personally only camp here myself on weeknights for a little more peace and quiet. 

More Info:

Stillwater Pass is part of Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Sulphur Ranger District: (970) 295-6600

GPS: 40.230175, -105.890692

Ski Road (Wild Basin Entrance)

Like Pole Hill Road and Johnny Park Road, Ski Road is located on the east side of Rocky Mountain, but it’s farther to the south.

This makes it perfect for those who plan to visit the Wild Basin section of the national park as the Wild Basin Entrance is less than 5 miles and a 10 minute drive away.

The first several few miles of Ski Road, while unpaved, aren’t usually very rough. Pretty much any passenger vehicle can make it here in dry weather conditions.

The road itself is likely passable to small trailers and possibly small RVs, but the campsites here are mostly very small and unlevel. It’s difficult to find campsites suitable for such rigs and there’s few places to turn around.

Campsites with views are possible to find here, although most are tucked away in fairly thick forest (some alongside Rock Creek).

The farther in you drive, the rougher the road gets. But, if you have high-clearance and are willing to brave several rutty sections, very peaceful and secluded campsites can be found.

Another thing I like about camping here is that the small town of Allenspark is just a 10 minute drive away for supplies. 

Important: Ski Road crosses through private property for roughly the couple miles. Make sure you’re in Roosevelt National Forest before setting up camp.

More Info:

Ski Road is part of Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days at a time.

Call the Boulder Ranger District: (970) 295-6600

GPS: 40.170459, -105.529281

Is Dispersed Camping Allowed in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Mountains on a cloudy day in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Dispersed camping is not allowed in Rocky Mountain National Park.

It’s important you look for a dispersed campsite outside of the park on public land like in Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.

Luckily, finding a dispersed campsite nearby isn’t difficult. Although my five recommendations above are a great place to start your search, there are dozens upon dozens of others which are absolutely great.

When you’re inside Rocky Mountain’s boundaries, you must only camp in a developed campground or designated backcountry campsite.

Although it’s not uncommon to see others doing so, please don’t try stealth camping within the national park. It’s illegal and comes with a seriously hefty fine when you’re caught!

Learn more about dispersed camping in national parks.

Related Post: My Favorite Apps to Find Dispersed Campsites

Let Me Know If You Have More Questions

The five free dispersed campsites above are my very favorite near Rocky Mountain.

But, I know they might not be right for everyone. I’m more than happy to help make other recommendations with your specific needs and preferences in mind.

Feel free to send me an email with your questions and I’ll do my best to help!

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Post written by Jake Heller, the founder of Campnado. Read all Jake's posts. Or reach out to him directly:

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