9 Must See Dispersed Camping Near Estes Park, Colorado

Last Updated on September 20, 2023 by

Estes Park, which is an entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, is a lovely spot to visit if you want to enjoy nature while staying in town.

From here, you may explore the park, peruse Elkhorn Ave’s charming shops, and participate in a variety of outdoor activities. With that being said, we believe that free, dispersed camping in the vicinity of Estes Park is the ideal way to enjoy the area.

There is a lot of public land in the Estes area, though camping laws vary widely.

We have put together a list of the best dispersed camping near Estes Park, which will make your trip planning a little easier.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, and the nearby forests are somewhere from 8,100 to 13,900 feet above sea level.

This means that dispersed campers should plan their trips throughout the prime summer months of May to September.

Remember that snow will be present in many regions until mid-June, and flurries can start as early as September at several of the campgrounds included in this article.

Summer is, obviously, the most suitable time to organize a dispersed camping trip in Estes Park, but if you can endure the cold temps and snow conditions, consider shoulder season.

Dispersed Camping Near Estes Park, Colorado
Credit: visitestespark.com

Now, let’s go through our compiled list of best dispersed camping near Estes Park, Colorado.

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What are the Best Dispersed Camping Near Estes Park?

1. Pole Hill Road

Dispersed camping on Pole Hill Road is only for highly experienced drivers with a high-clearance vehicle.

Although you will be only 6 miles from downtown Estes Park, the route up to the dispersed camping area is really rocky. Proceed cautiously!

Those who can reach up here will reward themselves with fantastic campsites close to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, and the forests in proximity.

Be aware of where you are opting to camp at this place, as it is a residential area all along the road, and camping within a certain distance of them is not allowed.

You will also be required to bring all the stuff you’ll need for your time here because there are no facilities and driving back will be arduous!

2. Beaver Reservoir Road

Beaver Reservoir Road is a little further out of Estes Park than some of the other alternatives in this book.

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Still, it provides fantastic dispersed camping if you want to enjoy the Indian Peaks Wilderness while also exploring Estes Park.

The road here is well-graded and appropriate for most cars, despite being just a short distance off the main route.

Before reaching the reservoir, the campsites are mostly to the right of the road. Remember that the reservoir is actually owned by someone, so avoid drawing water from it.

The campground is adjacent to the famous Brainard Lake area, and RMNP is easily accessible.

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Because there are no facilities here, carry all of your water and pack out your trash.

3. Forest Service Road 119

Just south of Estes Park lies the Forest Service Road 119.

The road is extremely rough here, so 4WD and high clearance are required. The road used to link to County Route 82 E on the south end, but that is no longer the case after the 2013 floods devastated the road.

Although FR 199 isn’t particularly scenic, it does offer very easily dispersed camping near Estes Park. Given how bumpy the route might be, FR 119 is often less congested than other options in the area.

You’ll be in the immediate proximity of both Estes Park and the Peak to Peak Highway, which makes it a terrific place to visit if you want to explore the area.

You’ll need to be self-sufficient because there is no water or other amenities here.

4. Button Rock Road

Button Rock Road, which is close to the Coulson Gulch Trailhead, has a number of nice dispersed campsites near Estes Park. Button Rock Road, also known as Forest Service Road 118.1, can be reached from the east via US36 or the west via Johnny Park Road.

In any case, 4WD is suggested because of the rocky road.

Not only are you close to Estes Park, but you’ll also be able to experience many of the surrounding wilderness’s wonders from here.

Given the limited number of sites available, arriving early on summer weekends is your best bet.

Because there are no facilities here, please arrive with preparation and take back all of your waste!

5. Hell Canyon Road

Hell Canyon Road is another dispersed camping location near Estes Park. Hell Canyon Road, located south of Pole Hill Road on Highway 36 into Estes Park, is slightly easier to travel, though 4WD is still recommended.

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You are only eight miles away from Estes Park. Also, you will be close to the famous Lion Gulch Trailhead if you are searching for a hike outside of the National Park.

Hell Canyon Road is surrounded entirely by the private property at its base, so make sure you keep going until you reach National Forest territory.

Before establishing up camp, you should check with the Canyon Lakes Ranger District MVUM.

6. Parachute Hill/Johnny Park Road

Parachute Hill Rd and Johnny Park Rd, located on opposing sides of County Road 82E, provide excellent dispersed camping choices near Estes Park.

Towards the north of 82E, Parachute Hill Road is a relatively shorter Forest Service route with a few decent wayside camping sites.

To the south, Johnny Park Road is a rocky road that leads back into the National Forest for several miles.

The further back you go, the better the vistas will be, but make sure your vehicle is capable of handling this rough route! Because this is a famous camping spot, you might have to share it with fellow campers.

In case you are planning on exploring RMNP from the Longs Peak trailhead, these camping locations are ideal.

You will be offered no facilities at both Parachute Hill and Johnny Park Rd, so carry back all of your waste with you.

7. Ski Road Allenspark 

Along Ski Rd/CR 107, just outside of the tiny village of Allenspark, there is a wonderful dispersed camping spot. You will be hardly 19 miles away from Estes Park and close to most of the area’s most famous trailheads, among which St. Vrain Mountain is worth mentioning.

The road is normally used for most cars at the start, making it an ideal location for those looking to scattered camp without the inconveniences of a rough road.

The road becomes rougher as you travel further back, and the campsites become less crowded.

Near Estes Park, this is one of our adored spots for dispersed camping.

Go to Allenspark and then turn to the west on Ski Road to get there. The road passes through private property for the initial few miles, after which it leads into Roosevelt National Forest.

There dispersed camping is allowed. There are no services there, so bring all of your waste with you.

8. Upper Chipmunk Wilderness Designated Site

The Upper Chipmunk Lake and Ypsilon Lake in the Mummy Range, the Upper Chipmunk Backcountry Campsite, is hidden in a lodgepole pine forest.

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Climbers and hikers, climbing 13,514 feet Ypsilon Mountain and 13,069 feet Mount Chiquita, will love the two campsites at an elevation of 10,640 feet.

Hike up Lawn Lake and Ypsilon Lake trails for 4.2 miles and 2,100 feet of elevation gain to reach the high-altitude campground. A pit toilet is located beneath the campsites.

Water can be found in the streams above and below Ypsilon Lake. The water must be boiled before usage.

The hike from the car to the campsite should take four to five hours. Until late June, the campsite is frequently snowbound.

9. Mary’s Lake Campground

Mary’s Lake Campground is at a short distance from Mary’s Lake, which is nestled in a picturesque valley at 8,050 feet and surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains.

From big rig RVers to daring tent-dwellers, Campers of all types come here to get away from the city.

Mary’s Lake Campground is ideal for people of all ages who enjoy camping. This campground is a long-time favorite of many who come year after year, no matter if it is spent street fishing in the lake or swimming in the heated pool.

The site is one of the greatest in the Estes Valley because of its close distance to the town of Estes Park for dining and shopping.

It is convenient to kill away the hours here with your friends and family while taking in everything Estes Park has for you.

From May to the end of September, this campground is in service.

Conclusion

This article has put together everything that you need to know before choosing the destination for your next camping.

We hope you’ve found all you need to plan for yourself a dispersed camping vacation near Estes Park, and we’re confident you’ll find the right spot for your next adventure!

FAQ

Is there dispersed camping in Estes Park?

There are many suitable sites near Ester Park for dispersed camping. Some of them are:

  • Pole Hill Road
  • Beaver Reservoir Road Dispersed Camping
  • Forest Service Road 119
  • Hell Canyon Road
  • Parachute Hill/Johnny Park Road
  • Button Rock Road
  • Allenspark/Ski Road Dispersed Camping
  • Upper Chipmunk Wilderness Designated Site
  • Mary’s Lake Campground

Can I sleep inside my car in Estes Park?

According to Estes Park’s Municipal Code, camping or taking a nap in public locations overnight in recreational vehicles is prohibited, as is camping or sleeping overnight in, under, or upon any publicly owned land between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

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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.