Camping in Clear Creek County

COVID UPDATE: Although the State of Colorado announced on 5/12/2020 that camping restrictions will be lifted – HOWEVER – Clear Creek County is currently under a Stage 1 Fire Ban, and all Clear Creek County roads are closed to non-residents. At this time we are asking you to wait a little bit longer before visiting Idaho Springs, Empire, Georgetown, and Silver Plume ~ We look forward to welcoming you back once the pandemic subsides. Governor Polis is asking that camping reservations be made through and encouraged travel only 10 miles or less from your residence. Thank you. 


Colorado Camping Vacations

Explore the Rocky Mountains by day and relax in your National Forest at night. For campground reservations please call (877) 444-6777 or visit

Camp here and don’t forget the water for your campfire!!!
Help us keep Colorado mountains safe while you are camping, hiking, biking, and enjoying our great outdoors. Always be sure your fire is completely out.

Pack it in – Pack it out!!!
Please remember to take everything with you including your trash. If you pack it in – please remember to pack it out. This includes picking up after your pets.

Click here to view the USFS Visitor Guide or check with the National Forest Service when planning to camp in Clear Creek County.


We understand campers span a broad range of ability and ruggedness, and campsites are designed accordingly. Many of our campgrounds have sites with special facilities such as fire rings, barbecue grills, bathrooms and utilities, but not all campsites have similar levels of development. Some campsites can range from a patch of dirt with a sign marking it to a level, paved pad with sewer and electricity.

RV Camping

On the side of high amenities is camping in recreational vehicles (RVs), essentially wheeled houses. Many RVs are quite luxurious, featuring air conditioning, bathrooms, kitchens, showers, satellite TV and even Internet connections. Some campgrounds offer hookups where motorhomes are supplied with electricity, water and sewer services. .

Tent Camping

Those who seek a rugged experience in the outdoors prefer to camp with only tents, or no shelter at all (“under the stars”). Tent camping commonly employs an automobile to transport equipment to an established campground (this practice is called “car camping”). Other vehicles used for camping include touring bicycles, boats, and even bush planes, although backpacking and using pack animals are popular alternatives. Tent camping attracts young families because the children tend to enjoy it, and because gear is inexpensive and rugged. Tent camping sites often cost less than campsites with full amenities, and most allow direct access by car. Some “walk-in” sites lie a short walk away from the nearest road but do not require full backpacking equipment.


Backpacking is a very mobile variety of tent camping. Backpackers use lightweight equipment that can be carried long distances on foot. They hike across the land, camping at remote spots, often selecting campsites at will if resource protection rules allow. Backpacking equipment typically costs more than that for car camping, but still far less than a trailer or motor home, and backpacking campsites are generally cheap.

Winter Camping

“Winter Camping” refers to the experience of camping outside when there is sufficient snow on the ground. Some campers enjoy the challenge this form of recreation brings. Campers and outdoors people have adapted their forms of camping and survival to suit extremely cold nights and limited mobility or evacuation. Methods of survival when winter camping include building snow shelters (quinzhees), dressing in “layers,” staying dry, using low-temperature sleeping bags, and fueling the body with appropriate food.

A Few Items to Remember:

  • A camping folding chair
  • A tent, or shelter device. Campers may bring screen tents to provide shelter from insects.
  • A sleeping bag for warmth. A sleeping pad or air mattress is often placed underneath the sleeping bag for cushioning from stones and twigs as well as for insulation from the ground is also recommended.
  • A lantern or flashlight.
  • Various types and sizes of ropes and tarps for stringing clotheslines, sheltering dining areas, and other purposes.
  • A chuck box filled with the many varied camp kitchen items for food preparation, consumption and cleanup.
  • A bag to place your trash in, one with handles can be tied to a tree limb, or clothesline off the ground.
  • Bring your own Firewood. NEVER cut a standing tree for any reason. (A portable stove to prepare hot meals and/or drinks where campfires are forbidden or impractical.)
  • A hatchet, axe or saw for cutting firewood (where allowed; see campfire) or constructing camp gadgets
  • Water for your campfire. Don’t light a fire you can’t put out!

Did you know?

The participants, known as campers, get away from civilization and enjoy nature while spending one or more nights, usually at a campsite. Camping may involve the use of a tent, a primitive structure, or no shelter at all.

Camping as a recreational activity became popular in the early 20th century. Today, Campers continue to frequent national parks, other publicly owned natural areas, and privately owned campgrounds.

Camping describes a wide range of activities. Survivalist campers set off with little more than their boots, whereas recreational vehicle travelers arrive equipped with their own electricity, heat, and patio furniture. Camping may be an end unto itself, but often it is done in conjunction with other activities, such as hiking, swimming, and fishing. It may be combined with hiking either as backpacking or as a series of day hikes from a central location.

Local Businesses

Cottonwood RV Park
(303) 567-2617
1485 Chicago Creek Road, Idaho Springs, CO

KOA Denver West/Central City
(800) 562-8613
605 Lake Gulch Road, Central City, CO

Lawson Adventure Park Yurts and Cabins
(855) 372-7238
3440 Alvarado Road, Lawson, CO


The campgrounds of Clear Creek Ranger District feature a vault toilet and water pump in the area. Except for the Pickle Gulch Group Campground, each site is limited to 8 people per site. You may camp up to 14 days in our Forest during a 30-day period.

  • Clear Lake Campground – 8 campsites*
    $17/day non-reservable – 4 miles south of Georgetown on Guanella Pass Road (Max. vehicle length 25 feet)
  • Cold Springs Campground – 38 campsites*
    $20/day – 5 miles north of Blackhawk on Highway 119 (Max.vehicle length 50 feet)
  • Columbine Campground – 47 campsites*
    $19/day –  2.5 miles northwest of Central City on County Road 3 (Max. vehicle length 55 feet)
  • Cottonwood RV Camp – 28 campsites
    Call for Rate – 1485 Highway 103, Idaho Springs, CO (303) 567-2617 (Large RV’s Welcome!)
  • Echo Lake Campground – 18 campsites*
    $19/day – 14 miles south of Idaho Springs at the Highway 103 and Highway 5 junction (Max vehicle length 55 feet)
  • Guanella Pass Campground – 18 campsites*
    $19/day – 9 miles south of Georgetown on Guanella Pass Road (Max vehicle length 45 feet)
  • Indian Hot Springs Campground – 14 campsites* non-reservable
    Call for Rate – 302 Soda Creek Road, Idaho Springs, CO (303) 989-6666
  • KOA Denver West/Central City – 60+ campsites
    Call for Rate – 605 Lake Gulch Road, Central City, CO (303) 582-3043 (Max vehicle length 80 feet)
  • Mizpah Campground – CLOSED INDEFINITELY
    $0/day non-reservable – 5.5 miles west of Empire on US 40
  • Pickle Gulch Campground – 6 campsites, limit 30 people per site (Tents only)*
    $50 – $88/day – 4 miles north of Blackhawk off Highway 119
  • South Clear Creek Campground – Opening Late 2018
    North of Guanella Pass Campground on Guanella Pass Road (Max vehicle length 45 feet)
  • West Chicago Creek Campground – 16 campsites*
    $18/day non-reservable – 3 miles off Highway 103 on West Chicago Creek Road (Max vehicle length 45 feet)


Reservations are not required, but encouraged, and are made through the National Forest Reservation System at or by calling (877) 444-6777 as early as 180 days in advance.

Reservations must be made at least four days prior to arrival, except for the five-day advanced reservation required in the Arapaho National Recreation Area. You may also view options online through American Land & Leisure. Please call Cottonwood RV Camp and KOA Denver West/Central City directly for reservations.


Fees vary by campsite size and location. Fees listed above are for standard sized sites. Oversized sites accommodate more people and charge an extra fee. Premium sites, such as lakeside locations, may cost extra. Fees are subject to change. Please contact the National Forest Reservation System at or by calling (877) 444-6777 for payment methods, and additional information. Please call Cottonwood RV Camp and KOA Denver West/Central City directly for fee information.

Prefer to sleep in an undeveloped area?

Where allowed, simply pull off the road and park in a way that does not obstruct traffic or damage resources. Never drive in fragile wetlands or meadows. Tents may be setup 100 feet back from roadways, waterways, or trails in most areas unless posted otherwise. Some areas may only allow camping in designated sites, or not at all. No overnight camping is allowed at trail heads, picnic areas or in day-use parking areas.

Camping is limited to 28 days within a continuous 60 day period. Occupying any campsite for more than 14 days during this 60 day continuous period within 3 miles of previous campsite on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee Grassland is prohibited.

Need more information? Call and speak with a USFS Ranger (303) 567-4382