13 Amazing Dispersed Camping Near Buena Vista, Colorado

Last Updated on September 19, 2023 by

If you’re unfamiliar with dispersed camping, it’s absolutely free and takes place all around Colorado.

Basically, they’re places where individuals can pitch a tent in the wild. A fire ring is common, but fortunately, crowds are not.

Several dozens of dispersed camping sites are scattered across the mountainside in some regions, while others have lonely sites distant from society.

Some are accessible by car, while others necessitate the use of 4WD or AWD.

Regardless, dispersed camping has one important feature: you can drive right up to the site!

Because of its vicinity to several mountain hiking paths and river rafting opportunities, dispersed camping near Buena Vista, CO, is becoming increasingly popular.

The Arkansas River Recreation Area is located in the midst of this area.

There are numerous campgrounds in the area, but plenty of dispersed camping and boondocking are also available.

Dispersed Camping Near Buena Vista, Colorado

In this article, the best dispersed camping Buena Vista, Colorado, will be discussed.

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What are the Best Dispersed Camping Near Buena Vista CO?

1. Cottonwood Pass

Buena Vista is a classic Colorado mountain town, and residents of Denver can reach there in under two hours.

Not only is there wonderful dispersed camping just outside of town on Cottonwood Pass, but the local vibes in this town are also really cool.

Years ago, when hiking 14ers, Cottonwood Pass was discovered by chance.

The majority of Colorado’s 14ers feature extensive dirt roads that serve as trailhead approaches.

These roads are nothing more than a parking lot next to a trail sign most of the time.

You will be hiking Mt. Yale and driving past the trailhead at County Road 306 before the road changes into the dirt.

We discovered a variety of dispersed camping sites once it was dirt!

There are numerous sites along the road near the creek, and even more, can be located once you reach the summit and begin the backside drop.

2. Turtle Rock Campground

Turtle Rock Campground is a well-established BLM campground that is also free.

From N. Colorado Ave (County Rd 371) in Buena Vista, the route is mostly paved and very easy to navigate. Eventually, you’ll come to County Road 375, a gravel road.

There are roughly 6 – 8 campsites in the campground itself, but there are a dozen more down County Road 375.

Fourmile Recreation Area includes Turtle Rock Campground.

3. Mushroom Gulch Dispersed Area

The Pike & San Isabel National Forest manages this region, which runs down Forest Road 307 and is easily accessible from US-285.

In some sections, the FR-307 might be lumpy and rutted.

There are, however, various camping spots along this route, all of which are within walking distance to Trout Creek.

However, cell service is almost non-existent here. Large RVs will benefit from this.

4. Americus Dispersed Site

Americus Dispersed Site is a single campground on BLM land in the Americus settlement north of Buena Vista, along County Rd 371.

Even though it’s only a single campground, three or four small to medium setups could fit if they’re all of the same group.

The railroad tracks are blocking your path to the Arkansas River, so you can’t get to it.

5. Tunnel View Recreation Area

An unnamed gravel road serves this region. Elephant Rock Lane towards the north portion of Buena Vista, initiating all the way from US-24, is where you’ll find it.

There are plenty of sites available, every one of them around 110-210 feet from the Arkansas River.

In recent times, the BLM has developed this area with fire rings and designated spots.

The only way to get into this area is to drive down a tiny, uneven path that will brush up against the sides of your RV.

It becomes easier to navigate as you reach the bottom.

6. Elephant Rock Campground

This is another well-known campground.

However, this one is managed by the Pike & San Isabel National Forest.

It’s right in the middle of Buena Vista, along N. Colorado Ave (County Rd 371).

The sites are typically modest, and only small to medium-sized trailers and rigs are permitted.

Tunnel rock runs through this campground, and County Road 371 passes through it.

There are roughly 10-12 rig sites available.

7. Midland Hill Dispersed Area

Midland Hill Dispersed Area spans all of the BLM Road 376A towards the east of Buena Vista in the highlands above Buena Vista.

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The road is relatively easy to navigate, albeit a little bumpy, and there are numerous trees on either side of the road which might brush up against your vehicle.

It can get quite windy up here! Due to tight corners and trees growing along the roadside, it should only be explored with compact RVs and trailers.

8. Arkansas River Rim Campground

Are you looking for a beautiful campsite with all the bells and whistles?

No need to look any further! Whether you choose to camp in a tent or in a hammock, Arkansas River Rim Campground has the perfect site for you.

All of the campsites have a picnic table, and a fire pit, so large or small groups will have no issue roasting marshmallows over the fire or sharing a meal at the table.

All of the campsites are nestled in the woods, providing a more natural setting as well as opportunities to watch charming chipmunks, cottontails, and hummingbirds.

9. Collegiate Peaks Campground

Railroad Bridge is located to the north with respect to the six campgrounds, and it’s in a fantastic location, just 6 miles from the charming town of Buena Vista and a few miles from the magnificent Class 3+ Brown’s Canyon whitewater run, which is the country’s newest National Monument.

The campground is near the end of a famous Class 4 run known as “The Numbers,” so you will come across some traffic.

However, the parking lot is large, and the day-use facilities are adequate.

Campers at Railroad Bridge should not be bothered by this activity.

The namesake bridge and the continual roar of Arkansas as it rumbles beneath the bridge are visible from the campground.

10. Browns Canyon Wilderness

Camp on BLM land and see the most gorgeous sunset on the planet! It’s literally amazing.

Explore the area while camping for free in authorized campsites! You’re exactly in the middle of it all: fantastic bouldering and climbing, numerous 14ers, and the Arkansas River!

Take US Highway 295 to Nathrop, CO. Take a left turn on Chaffee County Road 301 between mile signs 144 and 145.

Take the route until it reaches the end of the pavement, then take a right onto Chaffee County Road 300. Drive only a few miles along the road and across the Ruby Mountain campgrounds.

You will come upon a wooden fence and a large sign marking the Browns Canyon Wilderness Study Area. Turn left and continue up the uneven dirt road, where you’ll see campsites all everywhere! The scenery improves as you travel further up the road!

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Check out Buena Vista for a great apr├ęs-14er lunch after a long day of hiking!

11. East Castle Rock Gulch

East Castle Rock Gulch is a fantastic camping spot for those without a 4×4 or AWD who want a sheltered getaway!

It will need you to drive 2.9 miles along a dirt road before reaching the dead end of 188A.

However, this is easily accomplished. While driving in, you will notice that fire pits mark just four camp spots: one off of 188-A, two at the dead-end of 188-A, and another off of 188.

These camping spots are primitive, which means they don’t have any amenities. Bring enough water, and do not forget to pack in and out!

To the right at the end of 188A is a massive rock face.

A little route runs up the rear of it to the summit, where you’ll be treated to an incredible vista.

12. Lincoln Creek Dispersed Campground

The campground at Collegiate Peaks is extremely wooded, with 56 campsites spread out over three loops.

This park provides tourists with a peaceful camping experience with ample space between pitches.

Cottonwood Creek’s Middle Fork runs along the campground’s south side.

Ptarmigan Lake and the Denny Creek Trail are two nearby hiking paths.

The Ptarmigan Lake trailhead lies about 2.75 miles to the west of Collegiate Peaks campground. Denny Creek, 1 mile west of the campground, will give you access to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.

13. Collegiate Peaks Campground

Along Lincoln Creek Road, you will find almost 20 dispersed campsites for car camping.

All campgrounds require a high clearance vehicle, and a 4×4 is preferred.

All sites are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are no utilities such as toilets or running water.

There is a five-day maximum stay limit.


We have discussed some of the best dispersed camping near Buena Vista, Colorado, in this article.

With all the required information you have, we hope you will find it easy to pick the best spot for your camping.

Get ready for your next adventure if heading towards Buena Vista, Colorado.

Don’t forget to pack all the essentials of dispersed camping before leaving.


What are the best dispersed camping grounds near Buena Vista?

Buena Vista has some stunning dispersed campgrounds. These are the best dispersed camping grounds near Buena Vista:

  • Cottonwood Pass
  • Mushroom Gulch Dispersed Area
  • Lincoln Creek Dispersed Campground
  • Collegiate Peaks Campground
  • Turtle Rock Campground
  • Americus Dispersed Site

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About Ted Mosby

I am Ted Mosby from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a Freelance Architect. I live in New Jersey, USA right now and I take my RV every alternate weekend. I own a Forest River Berkshire XLT Diesel 45A Class A Motorhome. As I am a Freelancer I can work anywhere so most of my work is done inside my camper remotely.