Nearby towns covered:
- Eldorado Springs
Roosevelt National Forest
Map: Roosevelt (shown in red) (.png)
Motor Vehicle Use Maps: Large, PDF’s from the USFS. They show forest service roads and where dispersed camping is permitted.
- Boulder – Boulder, Nederland
- Canyon Lakes – North – Red Feather Lakes
- Canyon Lakes – South – Fort Collins, Loveland
- Canyon Lakes – Errata 1 – Walden
- Canyon Lakes – Errata 2 – Fort Collins
Only 30 minutes southwest of Boulder city you’ll find this hidden alpine lake. The camping at Gross Reservoir is free, though there are a limited number of designated campsites. Bring your own water and a high-clearance vehicle to access the camping along the forest road by Winiger Ridge. Fishing and non-motorized boating can be enjoyed at the nearby lake.
FREE – Dispersed Camping Winiger Ridge/Forest Service Road 359
High-clearance is recommended for these Gross Reservoir access roads on the west side of the lake. It’s open from July through September. Although camping is free, it must be done so in certain numbered sites. There are no facilities here, but you can find a vault toilet at the trailhead nearby for Forsythe Canyon.
- Closest town: Nederland (11mi), Boulder (16mi)
- Address: Forest Service Road 359, Nederland, CO (Map)
- Directions: From Boulder follow CO-119 southwest for 5 miles. Take a left onto Magnolia Rd and travel 6.5 miles. Go left on Co Rd 68 and follow for 2 miles. Turn right on FSR 359 and look for an open designated campsite. From Nederland follow CO-119 east for 2 miles, left onto Magnolia Rd for 5.4 miles then right onto Co Rd 68 where you’ll meet up with Boulder directions.
Brainard Lake Recreation Area
The high elevation Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a wonderful mountain escape only 45 minutes from the bustling streets of Boulder. There’s one campground open only during the summer season, and overnight backpacking in Indian Peaks Wilderness on the north side the lake. The closest town of Ward has ample places to supply your campout. Non-motorized boating on the lake, plus great brook trout fishing. Biking and hiking are also common on the handful of trails.
This popular campground offers a slew of both reservable and non-reservable campsites, suitable for a range of camping styles, from RVs to tents. There are 8 walk-in campsites. It’s located on the east side of Brainard Lake, providing incredible alpine views at 10,300 feet. The high elevation leads to a shorter season from late June to early September, and chilly nights.
- Closest town: Ward (5mi), Nederland (16mi), Boulder (25mi)
- Specs: 47 sites for tents/campers; open late June to early Sept
- Amenities: Tent pads, picnic tables, fire grates, vault toilets, potable water, trash service, bear lockers; no electric/hookup/dump station/showers
- Reservations: Yes, even #’ed campsites thru recreation.gov; other odd #’ed are first-come, first-serve
- Address: Brainard Lake Rd, Ward, CO 80481 (Map)
- Directions: From Ward, follow Brainard Lake Rd/FSR 112 4.4 miles west to campground just before Brainard Lake.