Inside the Park
The park has five campgrounds with a total of almost 600 sites, nearly half of them at Moraine Park. Moraine Park and Glacier Basin accept reservations from Memorial Day through early September, and they are strongly recommended, especially on holiday weekends (www.recreation.gov; tel. 800/444-6777 or 518/885-3639). In summer, arrive early if you hope to snare one of the first-come, first-served campsites. Campsites cost $20 per night during the summer or $14 in the off season, when water is turned off. No showers or RV hookups are available. Camping is limited to 7 nights per summer.
Near the Park
The East Side -- Choices on the east side include the Estes Park KOA, 2051 Big Thompson Ave., Estes Park, CO 80517 (www.estesparkkoa.com; tel. 800/562-1887 for reservations, or 970/586-2888), 1 mile east of Estes Park on U.S. 34. Scenically located across the street from Lake Estes and within walking distance of the Big Thompson River, this KOA lacks a pool but has cable-TV hookups, a basketball court, and a game room. In addition to the campsites, there are camping cabins ($56-$81 double) and cottages with kitchens and bathrooms ($107-$140 double). There are fire pits in the tent and cabin areas, but not at RV sites.
The most luxurious camping is at Spruce Lake R.V. Park, 1050 Mary's Lake Rd., Estes Park, CO 80517 (www.sprucelakerv.com; tel. 800/536-1050 or 970/586-2889), about a mile west of the intersection of U.S. 34 and Business U.S. 36. Here you'll be pampered with miniature golf, a heated swimming pool, a playground, a stocked private fishing lake (fee), large sites, cable TV hookups, and scheduled activities such as ice-cream socials. Fully equipped cabins that sleep up to eight are available ($130-$155). Ground tents are not permitted.
Two Roosevelt National Forest campgrounds lie within easy driving distance of the park's east entrances: Olive Ridge, 15 miles south of Estes Park along Colo. 7, has pleasant, shady, well-spaced sites and an amphitheater. A less developed campground, for those who carry their own drinking water, is Meeker Park Overflow, about 12 miles south of Estes Park on Colo. 7. Both campgrounds have vault toilets.
In Estes Park, a U.S. Forest Service Information Center is at 161 Second St. (tel. 970/586-3440); it's usually open daily in summer. For year-round information, contact the Forest Service Information Center, 2150 Centre Ave., Building E, Fort Collins, CO 80526-8119 (tel. 970/295-6700; www.fs.fed.us/r2).
For reservations at Olive Ridge Campground only, contact the National Recreation Reservation Service (tel. 877/444-6777; www.recreation.gov).
The West Side -- Covering more than 36,000 acres along the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park in Arapaho National Forest, the Arapaho National Recreation Area (www.fs.fed/r2/arnf) contains excellent fishing lakes (several with boat ramps) and opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, hunting, and camping. The recreation area has an entrance fee, in addition to camping fees, of $5 for 1 day, $10 for 3 days, and $15 for 1 week.
The recreation area's campgrounds offer shaded campsites plus picnic tables and fire pits. The most developed site, Stillwater Campground, is off U.S. 34 on the west bank of Lake Granby, about 7 miles south of Grand Lake. Stillwater has showers plus water and electric hookups, available only in summer; a limited number of sites are open in winter, when water is turned off.
Also in the Arapaho National Recreation Area, south of Grand Lake, are Green Ridge Campground (about 4 miles south on U.S. 34, then 1 mile south on C.R. 66), which lost most of its surrounding forest to pine beetles; and Willow Creek (about 10 miles south on U.S. 34, then about 4 miles west on C.R. 40). All three are on lakes with fishing and boat ramps. For information on both the forest and the recreation area, contact the Sulphur Ranger District Office, 9 Ten Mile Dr. (P.O. Box 10), Granby, CO 80446 (tel. 970/887-4100). You can also obtain information from the Forest Service Information Center, 2150 Centre Ave., Bldg. E, Fort Collins, CO 80526-8119 (tel. 970/295-6700; www.fs.fed.us/r2). Campsite reservations (Stillwater and Green Ridge only) are available from the National Recreation Reservation Service (tel. 887/444-6777; www.recreation.gov).
Several commercial campgrounds in the community of Grand Lake, just outside the park's west entrance, combine modern conveniences with a forest-camping atmosphere. Elk Creek Campground, Box 549, Grand Lake, CO 80447 (www.elkcreekcamp.com; tel. 800/355-2733 or 970/627-8502), is on Golf Course Road, off U.S. 34 on the north side of the village. It has tent and RV sites in a wooded setting, a pond with license-free trout fishing (there is a per-fish charge), a playground, a game room, and a convenience store. There are also 10 log cabins ($65 double). Winding River Resort, P.O. Box 629, Grand Lake, CO 80447 (www.windingriverresort.com; tel. 970/627-3215 or 303/623-1121), also offers forest camping, with hot showers, full RV hookups, and all the other amenities of a commercial campground. In addition, Winding River has wireless Internet access, plus an abundance of activities, ranging from horseshoes to horseback riding, plus hayrides, ice-cream socials, and chuck wagon breakfasts. There's also a petting zoo. In addition to campsites, you can rent a camping cabin, which shares the campground's bathhouse ($55), plus there are full cabins, with their own bathrooms and all the amenities ($150-$235), and lodge units ($95-$120). From Grand Lake, head north on U.S. 34 about 1 1/2 miles, turn left onto County Road 491 (across from the Kawuneeche Visitor Center), and continue 1 1/2 miles to the resort.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.