Where to Car Camp for Free in Summit County

Where to Car Camp for Free in Summit County

Although visited by millions of people every year, the Dillon Ranger District of the National Forest in Summit County, Colorado, does offer some amazing vehicle-based and RV camping. This is sometimes called dispersed camping, and is free, but does not provide amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, fire rings, or garbage service.

Partly as a result of the rich mining history of Summit County, there are numerous dirt roads that travel far into the National Forest. On many of these roads, camping is allowed in accordance with the Forest Service Travel Management Policy. Check out this handy map from their website! However, there are a few regulations that our partners from the Forest Service ask that you follow in order to keep your forest pristine for generations to come. This includes camping at least 100 feet from any body of water or a trail, complying with fire restrictions, and limiting your use to recreational, rather than residential, camping.

In addition to these federally mandated rules, it is important to always keep in mind the 7 Leave No Trace Principles.

  • Plan Ahead & Prepare

  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces – Do not try to make a new site, use locations that have obviously been camped on before

  • Dispose of Waste Properly – Pack it in, pack it out

  • Leave What You Find

  • Minimize Campfire Impacts – Please do not make multiple fire rings, as it impacts more land than necessary

  • Respect Wildlife

  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

With these rules in mind, here are some of our suggestions for free dispersed camping in Summit County:

  • Rock Creek Road – A particularly nice place to camp in September as there is a large aspen grove.

  • Peru Creek Road – Take in views of immense rocky peaks from the high alpine valley

  • Boreas Pass Road – Views of the entire Tenmile Range are sure to impress. Another great place to take in the golden aspens in September.

  • Miners Creek Road – A great place for a hikers basecamp. The Colorado Trail and Peaks Trail come through this area.

  • Frey Gulch Road – No campfires here ever.

  • Keystone Gulch Road – Camp along a beautiful stream near the backside of Keystone Resort

  • Columbine Landing – A fisher’s paradise. Camp right along the lower blue and enjoy premier fly fishing.

Many of these roads are bumpy, dirt roads and having a vehicle with clearance is advisable. Of these roads listed, Peru Creek Road, Boreas Pass Road, and Keystone Gulch Road are the tamest, and could be handled by many 2WD vehicles. In addition, most of these locations do not have cell service, so please do not travel further than your vehicle can take. For directions to all of these dispersed camping locations, visit our Trails & Hiking page.

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