10 Must See Dispersed Camping Near Great Sand Dunes

Last Updated on June 11, 2022 by Ted Mosby

When you think of Colorado, sand definitely isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. Don’t be deceived, though. There is sand in this state of mountains, snow, and dramatic scenery.

In fact, if you seek the right spot, you’ll find a lot of sand.

Giant, undulating sand dunes abound in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. You can climb for hours, your feet sinking deeper with each step, and still only just make it past the dunes’ edge.

Depending on how far away you are opting to camp and what kind of car you have, dispersed camping near Great Sand Dunes National Park is an option.

It has something for all, and an even more pleasing part is that there’s lots of room.

Best Dispersed Camping Near Great Sand Dunes
Credits: Just a Colorado Gal

This article will go through some of the best dispersed camping near Great Sand Dunes.

What are the Best Dispersed Camping Near Great Sand Dunes?

1. Lake Como Road

The Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center exists 16.3 miles away. Near the Great Sand Dunes, this is arguably the most popular spot for free, dispersed camping.

This route is known by numerous names, the most popular of which appears to be Lake Como Road.

It’s known as “Mount Blanca Road” by the Bureau of Land Management, and it’s formally designated as BLM Road 5410.

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This location is also referred to as “Great White Shell” in honor of Blanca Peak, which is one of Colorado’s many “14ers”. Along this road, there are various spots to camp.

Within the first mile of the roadway, most of the campsites are found on the flat.

After that, you start climbing to the top of the peak. A few campsites along this height are still easily accessible by most automobiles and RVs.

However, to get any further, you’ll need high clearance 4WD.

2. Smith Reservoir State Wildlife Area

The Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center is 29.6 miles away from Smith Reservoir State Wildlife Area.

This is another wildlife area run by Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

It does not have a built campground, but it does have a dispersed camping area on the south bank of the reservoir.

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It is free to camp here, but each individual in your group aged 16 or older must obtain a fishing or hunting license.

3. Zapata Falls Campground

The Bureau of Land Management manages this constructed campground, which is about 12.4 miles away from the Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center. It isn’t a dispersed camping place, but it is a popular and inexpensive option.

You have a beautiful sight of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and also the valley of San Luis for $11.00 per night. The sites, on the other hand, are somewhat small. The majority of the sites are suited for small to medium RVs in size.

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There are only a few pull-through locations. They are not allowed here when it comes to hookups of any type. There are no reservations accepted here, either. So, it is a first-come, first-served situation.

4. Medano Pass Primitive Road Campsites

These campsites are 5.9 miles away from Smith Reservoir State Wildlife Area.

They are a group of 21 campsites located northeast of the sand dunes, inside the National Park limits.

These locations are along Medano Creek Road and need high clearance 4WD (not AWD) vehicles to access.

There are a lot of soft, sandy sections along the path, and if you don’t have 4WD, you’ll get stranded.

These sites, however, are free, and they are the only free, dispersed camping available within the Park.

5. San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area

This wildlife area with a campground is run by Colorado Parks & Wildlife. There are electrical and water hookups and a dump station at this free campground. There are no reservations available.

It is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. While camping in this area costs nothing, every individual in your party who is 16 years or older must acquire a fishing or hunting license.

The rest of your stay is free.

6. Pinon Flats Campground

For many, camping in the Pinon Flats Campground, the Park’s only campground, is a natural choice.

An advantage of staying at Pinon Flats is that you can have a sight of the dunes under the stars at night, which is challenging to do while camping at one of the other neighboring camping places.

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The Pinon Flats Campground, which is open from April 1 to October 30 and costs $20 per night, includes 88 campsites. RVs of up to 35 ft in length will fit. You will find a few places around Pinon Flats Campground where you can join a group.

At Pinon Flats, every campground features a picnic table as well as a fire pit.

At the campground, you will find toilets and water spigots. Nearby, there is trash and a waste station.

7. The Indian Grove Campground

Inside the limits of Great Sand Dunes National Park, a stand of roughly 190 ponderosa pine trees, many of which have been culturally modified, is located between a mountain pass and a perennial water supply.

The Indian Grove ponderosa pines, with their soaring, long trunks and reddish-orange bark made of wide plates, were skinned and collected by the Ute, Apache, and other native populations for medicinal purposes in the nineteenth century.

Indian Grove is 3.9 miles from Pion Flats campground and is one of six approved back-country campsites along The Sand Ramp Trail (2.9 miles from the Point of No Return).

A forest of ponderosa pines sits nearby, where Ute and Jicarilla Apache Indians peeled the trees. Shelter and medication came from the bark and cambium layers.

It is a great spot for dispersed camping owing to its floral richness.

8. Great Sand Dunes Oasis Campground

Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes Oasis Campground is only about three miles from the Great Sand Dunes National Park’s approach station.

It’s the only campground with full hookups, fuel, and a store in the region. It is situated three miles southwards of the entrance to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, on Highway 150.

Take Highway 160 east out of Alamosa and turn north on Highway 150. Highway 150 will take you several miles north. After around 15 miles, you’ll come to the campground gate on the right side of the roadway.

A resort, cabins, tenting, group, and RV camping places are available at Great Sand Dunes Oasis Campground. The campground is open to tourists seasonally from April to November.

At an elevation of 8,100 feet, 20 full hookup camp spaces are available.

These are the only full hookup camping areas in the area around the park.

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is only three miles away from the campground. Additional services can be found 38 miles away in Alamosa, a small town.

9. Mosca Campground

Mosca Campground is situated on the Spring Creek Reservoir’s shores.

Within the campground, there is a boat ramp and a fishing spot. This location and the diversity of trails and roads it offers will appeal to mountain bikers, hikers, and four-wheel drive enthusiasts. There are 16 campsites available.

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Great Sand Dunes National Park is situated close to Mosca Campground. Additionally, Zapata Falls and Willow Lake are also within easy driving distance of the Mosca campsite.

The campground also has low light pollution, allowing for excellent stargazing.

San Luis State Park, 15 miles west of the Great Sand Dunes National Park, offers vistas of San Luis Lake, the Great Sand Dunes, as well as the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

After a day of climbing the dunes, you will appreciate the campground’s water and hot showers.

10. South Colony Basin Campground

Camping, hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, fishing, and hunting are just a few of the activities available in the South Colony Basin and the surrounding 14,000-foot peaks.

South Colony Basin is the most popular tourist destination in the Sangre de Cristo Range because of the variety of activities available, the basin’s natural beauty, and the rough but practicable access given by the road.

Trailhead registration data indicates that 3,500 to 4,500 people (7,000 to 9,000 visitor days) frequent the small (1500 acre) upper basin near the top of the South Colony stream during the summer season.

Conclusion

In this article, we are hoping that you will find most of the information on the best dispersed camping near Great Sand Dunes.

Pick one that meets all your fascinations and gear up for an adventurous dispersed camping experience of your life.

We suggest that you check the current state of locations before deciding to visit one.

Enjoy your camping!

FAQ

Is there dispersed camping in Great Sand Dunes National Park?

Great Sand Dunes National Park has plenty of camping sites to offer. Suppose all the spots are occupied. Finding a free, dispersed campsite on adjacent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land is your final choice for camping near the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Can you sleep in your car in Great Sand Dunes National Park?

Pion Flats, equipped with facilities and a campground store, is situated about a mile towards the north of the visitor center for car camping. We suggest you opt for this place if you are into car camping.

About Ted Mosby

My Name is 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. As I am a Freelancer I can work anywhere so most of my work is done inside my camper remotely.