Colorado’s Telluride, tucked away in the San Juan Mountains, is a well-known mountain hamlet, where you can experience free camping. There are many sites to explore in this area, including alpine lakes, aspen woods, and meadows. It was first settled in 1878 under the name “Columbia”. Dispersed camping is the greatest method to visit these places since it offers more freedom, is more affordable, and enables nature lovers to really appreciate Colorado’s natural splendor.
Continue reading if you’ve made the decision to go for free camping in Telluride. I’ll give you the details on nine of the top distributed camping locations that are within an hour of this town in this article.
#1. Priest Lake
The Telluride scattered camping area, which is situated less than 30 minutes from the town, is centered around Priest Lake. It is a constructed alpine pond and a well-liked fishing location. Its immediate surroundings are home to a variety of animals, such as crossbills, grouse, elks, and deer. The Galloping Goose Trail offers opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Less than a mile from the lake, at the Matterhorn Campground, there are showers.
#2. Alta Lakes
One of the most gorgeous free camping in Telluride is here. With views of Silver Mountain and Bald Mountain, it is a collection of little alpine lakes situated in a breathtakingly beautiful area. The area around the lakes has 20 scattered campsites, and the road leading to the lakes also has other camping areas. It is advisable to utilize a 4WD vehicle because the rough and narrow route makes it take at least an hour to get there.
#3. Fall Creek Recreation Site
One of the better Telluride free camping locations is the Fall Creek Recreation Site, which is located 15 miles to the west of the city. Due to the simple, paved roads that go there, it is an accessible camping area that can be reached within 30 minutes. While the majority of the actual camping locations are modest in size but still suitable for tent campers, one larger camping area can hold trailers and RVs.
Additionally, there are some fire rings and a covered picnic area. Cutthroat and brook trout can be found in Fall Creek, which is a typical mountain creek. The campground’s proximity to the highway, even if nighttime traffic is minimal, and the spot’s spotty mobile phone coverage are other noteworthy features.
#4. Caddis Flats
The dispersed camping area at Caddis Flats is located directly next to the San Miguel River, one of Colorado’s most gorgeous rivers. The hand-carry boat lunch that is provided is available to guests, and one of the three campsites has a cabana. It is easily accessible through Colorado State Highway 145, however getting there necessitates considerable exposure to noise from the road. It also easily accommodates larger vehicles and trailers.
#5. Last Dollar Road
The Last Dollar route, a lengthy, adventurous, colorful, and bumpy route that snakes through a low valley, is one of the state’s most stunning hidden secrets. There are actually excellent camping locations on both sides of the road, and it provides breathtaking views of famous peaks and lovely aspen woods. In the summer, the lush, wildflower-dotted greenery stretches as far as the eye can view, while in the fall, the orange, yellow, and crimson leaves are sure to leave you breathless.
The Last Dollar Road links to the Alder Creek Trail, a strenuous but rewarding hiking trail, and there is a parking lot closer to Telluride.
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#6. Lizard Head Pass
A magnificent mountain pass, The Lizard Head Pass provides breathtaking vistas of Southwest Colorado. Lizard Head Peak is named after a column-shaped rock in the wilderness. Outdoor enthusiasts can also partake in sports like horseback riding, trekking, and cycling in this region.
It is preferable to utilize an SUV because the gravel road going to the pass is rough and difficult to drive with a low-clearance vehicle. Furthermore, there is no mobile phone reception in the area, so you should be ready for that.
#7. Lower Beaver Recreation Site
Excellent camping is available at the Lower Beaver Recreation Site, which is managed by the Bureau for Land Management and is located near the San Miguel River. Due to the limited room for RVs and other comparable vehicles, it gets crowded rapidly at the busiest times. It does, however, include all the conveniences that the majority of other locations lack, like drinking water, picnic tables, restrooms, and other niceties. As a result, it is among the top possibilities for camping close to Telluride.
#8. Silver Pick Road
A parking lot called The Silver Pick Road can be found close to Colorado Highway 145. Its location close to the San Miguel River enables campers to use it as a water source and take advantage of the riverside ambiance. Although it is only big enough for a few tents and class C or B motorhomes, it is close to Telluride and easily accessible by all kinds of vehicles. The location is stunning since it features grand mountains, meadows, trees, and a creek that runs through the woods (Big Bear Creek). Also nearby are some incredible trekking trails, like the Rock of Ages Trailhead.
#9. Elk Creek Road
Mountain climbers and hikers should choose Elk Creek Road (formally known as Forest Road 645). It is the best place to start climbing the peaks accessible from the Rock of Ages Trail because there are several dispersed camping areas on both sides of the road. The locations of all the scattered camping areas along Elk Creek Road are shown on a map, although camping at the trailhead is prohibited. For mountaineers and hikers, this is a fantastic solution.
When Is the Best Time to Camp in Telluride?
The best season to set up camp in the wilderness surrounding Telluride is between May and October, just like it is for other cities in this region of Colorado. It’s crucial to note that some places can retain snow far into the summer. Naturally, I’m referring to regions that are located at greater altitudes, i.e., above 10,000 feet. People who want to camp in these places dispersed should do so between June and September.
What about the fall seasons? While camping near Telluride during the fall months is undoubtedly a special experience, largely because of the stunning foliage colors, they also bring with them cold nights. Make sure you are adequately prepared if you intend to camp close to this town in the fall.
What Should I Pack for Free Camping in Telluride?
Getting ready for a Telluride scattered camping trip entails gathering all the necessary supplies and packing your gear. A tent, sleeping bag, and chairs are necessary pieces of equipment, but there are additional things you might want to think about bringing. These consist of a strong tent, a cozy sleeping bag, and cozy chairs.
- Water Filters – Anyone venturing into the wilderness needs water filters because they could potentially save their life. They are essential because they are straightforward and practical.
- Clean Water Containers – Pack as much clean water as possible when traveling by automobile, and only use the recommended water filter when necessary.
- Portable Toilet – Whether there are pit toilets close to where you’re camping, you might still want to carry a portable toilet. This practical and quiet choice is a fantastic approach to make sure you won’t leave any evidence of yourself.
- Camping Stove – Cooking rich meals on a campground is impossible without a quality camp stove. You must bring this vital piece of camping and hiking equipment on your outdoor journey in Telluride.
- Cooler – In my opinion, having a nice portable stove and a good cooler are both essential items for any camping trip, especially if it is in the summer.
- Insect Spray – Last, but not least, remember to bring insect spray. An effective bug spray is your greatest defense against these pesky critters, which can quickly ruin a summer camping vacation.
Why is Telluride so Special?
A box canyon conceals the 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks that surround Telluride. The town is tiny, twelve blocks long and eight blocks broad. Due to its significant role in the history of the American West, the Telluride Center was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964.