Crested Butte, Colorado is a summer camping destination for a wide variety of campers. There is great fishing nearby, awesome hikes, and world-class mountain biking trails. All of these, though, are eclipsed by the massive amounts of wildflowers blooming here in late June and July. Granted, this year’s drought may affect those a little bit, but even in a “mild” wildflower year, the views of these flowers combined with mountain peaks make for some awesome photo ops and moments of awe. Read on to find great advice on camping near Crested Butte.
Camping near Crested Butte can be a difficult thing if you don’t plan ahead. There are quite a few camping options in the general vicinity, but most of these will require reservations 6 months in advance. Literally, 6 months to the day from when we plan to be in Crested Butte, we book our trips. This isn’t to say that you have to do this ALL year long. In fact, for most of the campgrounds, you can’t reserve at all early in the season. If you follow these tips, though, and read through our suggested camp sites, you’ll have better luck, we hope!
First, if you just want to get away and enjoy the beauty of Crested Butte, but don’t want to go in the height of tourist season, you’ll have better luck getting a campsite on short notice. In fact, we recently traveled ON Memorial Day over to Crested Butte and stayed from Mon-Thurs. We had our pick of sites at One Mile campground on the Taylor River Road and the place was empty all week. Traveling early season and during the week, when others are working, is one way to ensure you can get a campsite at the last minute.
If you’re willing to boondock in a much more primitive setting, you can attempt to find places to camp on any of the following roads: Spring Creek off of the Taylor River Road, Slate River Road, Washington Gulch, or Gothic (in certain areas; not in the town of Gothic itself). Be aware that if you’re boondocking on public lands you’ll need to use your toilet system and there may be new rules and regulations in effect. Check with the local national forest office or BLM office to be sure.
Campgrounds for camping near Crested Butte:
Reservations for most of these campgrounds can be made on Recreation.gov.
One Mile Campground: One Mile is one of the few campgrounds in the Taylor River Canyon (Taylor River Road) that offers electric at every site. Most of the sites are pull-thrus, though there are some back-in sites. They vary in size, but we’re pretty sure you can’t fit an RV (except maybe a [email protected]) in site 10. We love this campground though because it’s shaded by lodgepole pines and backs right up to the Fossil Ridge Wilderness. We’ve seen lots of birds, and even foxes in the area and enjoy listening to the river across the road. One Mile only has 22 campsites though, and it fills up fast.
North Bank: The North Bank campground is an older campground on the North side of the Taylor River Road. It does not offer reservations but does have a trail that ends/starts right at the campground. The Doctor Park trail is very popular with mountain bikers, and they’ll be coming down this end section quickly, so if you decide to hike up it, just be aware!
Rosy Lane: Rosy Lane is another beautiful campground on the Taylor River Road. They DO take reservations, but this campground will fill up fast. It has 19 sites but the majority of them do not have hookups of any kind. Still, the sites here are great for tents and usually have enough room for smaller RVs (45′ total is the about the longest driveway). We love Rosy because of the overall size of its sites: we’ve fit an RV and at least 2 tents plus a “docking station” rain shelter on one site before.
Lodgepole: Further up the road, about 5 miles past Rosy Lane, is the Lodgepole campground. True to its name, this one is filled with beautiful lodgepole pines. This also means it doesn’t get a ton of sun during the day, so mornings can be chilly. Lodgepole takes reservations and has 12 sites suitable for RVs. They do not have hookups, however. If enjoying water sports at Taylor Reservoir is your plan, Lodgepole is closer than any of the sites we’ve mentioned thus far.
Lottis Creek: The closest of all to the Taylor Reservoir, Lottis Creek was recently renovated (2012) and has electric hookups at most of its 37 sites. There are lots of options nearby for hiking, swimming, and 4-wheeling, but if mountain biking is your thing and camping near Crested Butte is most important, this will make for a longer drive for you.
Campgrounds in Crested Butte
The Slate River campground is perfect for camping near Crested Butte because it’s located right near the center of town. However, it is currently going through a renovation process. It has sites suitable for smaller RVs (the road down to it is a bit bumpy) but soon it will have more sites. The last time we were there they’d instituted a $10 a night camping fee, which is a small price to pay to be right by the Slate River and so close to town. Please take care of this BLM campground; it’s a true gem!
Finally, you can also make reservations at Lake Irwin. Lake Irwin Campground is situated on the western banks of its picturesque namesake lake, approximately 9 miles from Crested Butte, Colorado. Visitors enjoy the area for its abundant trail opportunities, fishing and beautiful scenery. Lake Irwin does not have hookups, but it is closer to town than the Taylor River campgrounds and will offer awesome views!