Tips on RV Camping and Travel in Colorado
Experiencing Colorado by way of traveling in an RV, sightseeing, visiting mountain towns, and participating in your favorite activities. It’s a great way to spend your summer vacation and really get a taste of what mountain lifestyle has to offer. A home on wheels allows you to visit as many or as few places as you’d like, which, in Colorado, means you have a litany of options. National and state parks, BLM land, and RV parks… RVs give you a lot of freedom when it comes to travel and taking a break.
Where to Park Your RV
If you’re looking to camp long term, or looking for the full set of amenities and hookups that vacationing in an RV can offer, then you’ll probably want to check out one of Colorado’s many RV parks. At Ancient Cedars at Mesa Verde RV Resort, located just outside of Mesa Verde National Park, you’ll have your pick of RV spots, which come equipped with electricity, sewage, and water hookups, and have options for big rigs, TV reception, and those who want a shadier, wooded spot. At Bighorn RV Park in Coaldale, you’ll have all this plus a great spot for fly fishing, and great views of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, the park’s namesake, on the rocky cliffs right on the other side of the river. RV parks are a great way to go if you’re looking to feel like part of a community, or if you’ve been on the road for quite some time and you’d like to take a long shower and do some laundry. Many offer picnic areas, wifi, fire pits, bathrooms, and other amenities for camping in style.
It’s important to note that right now, due to COVID-19, RV parks and campsites might require reservation, and many shared amenities at RV parks might be closed, so make sure to call ahead to get the scoop.
If privacy and quiet is what you’re after, dispersed camping is also an option, especially if you have a smaller camper or a sprinter van, but many remote camping locations in national forests and other areas where dispersed camping is allowed may be inaccessible for larger RVs and campers. Dispersed camping offers the highest level of privacy and freedom, as well as cost-effectiveness, of course. There are no amenities, and you’ll have to remain off-grid, but you’ll find spots more beautiful, serene, and peaceful than any designated campground. Remember, wherever you camp, but especially in the wilderness, it’s important to be mindful of the environment, which means packing out all your materials and being aware of the impact you and your vehicle may be having on roads and trails. Use existing campsites whenever possible, which are generally identifiable by existing fire rings and can be found along many county or forest access roads. Check for specific regulations regarding camping at your destination (burn bans, camping rules), and above all, leave no trace.
Renting an RV
Not everyone owns an RV or camper, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun. RV rental companies are all over the state; you’ll have the opportunity to rent a towable camper or a big rig RV that will fit the whole family in luxurious comfort. Companies like RV Share or Cruise America have plenty of options to give you exactly what you’re looking for, and many offer options like one-way trips and unlimited mileage, so you can take the opportunity to drive all over Colorado and beyond (a trip to see all four Colorado National Parks, anyone?).
If you know where you want to go, many campsites offer on-site RV rentals, like Dolores River Campground in Dolores, CO (You can also rent a Conestoga Wagon, a yurt, or a cabin; you can also bring your own RV), where you can stay in a cozy, tricked-out Airstream trailer.
Another fun trend that’s arisen for more minimalist or solo adventurers is van camping. KúKú Campers is a camper van rental company that lets you get the full van camping experience—complete with a bed, dining table, and even a travel-friendly kitchenette—without having to go through the process of outfitting your own van.
Before You Head Out
Road Conditions and Mountain Driving
Colorado's roads, especially mountain roads and passes can be dangerous, in the best of weather. Many passes involve navigating steep winding and narrow roads with limited or no shoulder. The majority of Colorado's rual highways and county roads are only two lanes with no shoulder. Not only do you have to pay full attention to winding, hilly driving challneges but there is a lot of wildlife through out Colorado. Even more wildlife in rural areas. Colorado still abides by Open Range Laws. This means cattle are grazed freely on public lands or on any lands. Fences are used to fence out animals not to keep them in. So, if the mountainious road conditons aren't challenging enough already. Be on the lookout for wildlife and cattle. Additionally, road construction and natural disasters such as mud slides, rock slides, high winds, avalanches, and wildfires all contribute to road conditions. Please check CDOT for current road conditons and closures. Mountain driving is serious, be prepared mentaly, make sure your vehicle is in good shape, and check resources for conditions.
Due to Colorado's diverse terrain, elevations, and quick changing weather conditions. Wildfires need to be assested. You might need to alter your route to avoid fast moving wildfire. Not only is it best to avoid wildfire but the smoke from fire can be just as hazordous. Please check the Coloradoan.com fire and smoke data map for current conditions.
News and regulations are changing faster than you can blink, so before planning a camping trip of any kind this summer, make sure to double-check the state of Colorado’s official COVID-19 web portal for up-to-date news.
By Emily Krempholtz