- Amphitheater, Ouray, 1.usa.gov/1jbFDeZ: This treasure in the San Juan Range is not expected to open until the last weekend of June, but it's definitely one to consider in late summer. Situated high above the town of Ouray, the views are dramatic. There are also several trails to explore, and the Ouray Hot Springs Pool is only minutes away.
- Golden Gate Canyon Park, Golden, cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/GoldenGateCanyon: Need to stay close to the Front Range but don't want to stay at home? No problem. This state park is only 30 miles from Denver, but you'd never know it. Two campgrounds combine to offer 132 sites. There are also four shelters and 20 tent sites in the backcountry.
- Halfmoon, Leadville, 1.usa.gov/1uXhdtm: Mountain views? Check. Rocky Mountain stream? Check. Nearby trails? Check. Decent price? Check. This is Colorado camping at its best, if you don't mind roughing it a bit. At nearly 10,000 feet, the nights can get a little frosty here, but a campfire and roasted marshmallows quickly take the chill away.
- Little Molas Lake, Silverton, molaslake.com: If you were asked to create a postcard showcasing camping in the state, this would be a good place to start. Named the "Most Scenic Campground in Colorado" by AAA, the 137 beautiful acres are accessed via the Million Dollar Highway. Need more persuading? Two words should do the trick: Hot showers.
- Moraine Park, Estes Park, nps.gov/romo: Rocky Mountain National Park fills quickly during the summer, so make a reservation if you want to guarantee one of 244 spots. Ranger-led programs often are available in the evenings. If you need a break from the great outdoors, take the short drive to Estes Park where you can play mini golf and ride go-karts.
- Morefield, Cortez, nps.gov/meve: Spectacular views await at this campground inside Mesa Verde National Park near the Four Corners area. Kick off your day by fueling up with an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at Knife's Edge Cafe. Then pick a historic tour and learn about the heritage of the park.
- Oh Be Joyful, Crested Butte, on.doi.gov/1nHmilb: Load up the mountain bike and hit the road for a weekend of fun on great trails. This quaint mountain town has so many routes from which to choose. If biking isn't your thing, simply relax by the Slate River or hang a hammock at the campsite. July visitors can expect to enjoy fields of magnificent wildflowers.
- Pinon Flats, Alamosa, nps.gov/grsa: This is one of the state's more distinctive destinations. Five dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve measure more than 700 feet tall. Try your hand at sandboarding or sand sledding during the day and then sit back and enjoy a gorgeous San Luis Valley sunset surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks.
- The Crags, Divide, 1.usa.gov/1iMbcdM: A true gem in our own backyard, this spot makes it possible to get away without going very far at all. While the campground offers several quality sites with a bathroom and water nearby, there are also great free options along the road to the campground. Be sure to take the short hike to The Crags.
- Trappers Lake, Meeker, 1.usa.gov/SVF5zc: Lying within the Flat Tops Wilderness, this area is known as the "Cradle of Wilderness." Trappers Lake is the second largest natural lake in Colorado and home to a healthy population of cutthroat trout. While geographically close to Glenwood Springs, there is no easy way to get here, which likely adds to its charm.
Nathan Van Dyne, The Gazette