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Photos: Gallery | Colorado Springs Gazette, News

8 Colorado camping destinations a short drive away

We know you're eager to get away, and that's why we keep your drive time close to two hours with the following recommendations. Sure, far-flung adventures can be had in every corner of the state. But might we remind you of the beauty of Colorado Springs, where quality escapes await quite near.

Mueller State Park

Mueller State Park

Among all 42 Colorado state parks, one of the biggest and most highly regarded is less than an hour's drive away. Prime tent-pitching spots are all around the Woodland Park area, from Rampart Range's dispersed options to beloved sites such as the Crags Campground, Painted Rocks Campground and Eleven Mile Canyon farther west. But Mueller State Park is a go-to for 55 miles of trail, potential for wildlife sightings and guaranteed serenity. The meadows flow to glorious Pikes Peak vistas.
Details: Park entrance $7, 132 sites with nightly fees, $20 for tents, $26 for RVs, three cabins for reservations. Make reservations and find more information at: http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/Mueller/Pages/Camping.aspx

Near: Divide

Mark Reis

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Alvarado Campground

Alvarado Campground

Treat yourself to 10,000 feet. Your site will push that elevation at this hiking destination beside the Sangre de Cristo wilderness. Below you is the Wet Mountain Valley, and above you are 14,000-foot summits and alpine lakes waiting to be reached. A series of foot paths web from the nearby Rainbow Trail, which welcomes ATVs and motorbikes.

Details: Campground without water as of June 1. 51 sites, with some for RVs and horses. $18 a night. Call 877-444-6777 for reservations and find more information at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/psicc/recarea/?recid=12703

Near: Westcliffe

outtherecolorado.com

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Whitestar Campground

Whitestar Campground

Behold Colorado's largest natural glacial lakes and some of its highest peaks. Twin Lakes Reservoir sits at the base of 14,433-foot Mount Elbert, backed by its brother, Mount Massive. Anglers flock to the trout-teeming waters, also enjoyed by boaters. The campground is a base for 14er baggers and cyclists drawn to the Continental Divide Trail that passes through. We know we're building this list on the basis of limited drive time, but while you're here - especially if the fall colors are popping - you'd best take Independence Pass to Aspen too.

Details: 66 sites, first-come, first-served basis. $20 a night. More information by calling 719-486-0749.

Near: Twin Lakes, Leadville

Recreation.gov

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Golden Gate Canyon

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Enter the backcountry escape of choice for many Denverites. Yes, the proximity to the metro area means crowds, but you should have no problem enjoying the unique wilderness kept by this park's 12,000 acres. Primitive camping is an option. Great explorations can be had on foot or bike through the rock-walled woods, where ponds are stocked for fishing. Along the Raccoon Trail's 2.5-mile loop, take in sweeping panoramas of the Continental Divide.

Details: 20 backcountry tent sites, with permit required from visitor center. Aspen Meadow campground has 35 tent sites. RVs in Reverend's Ridge, with 97 sites. Nightly fees: $12 for backcountry sites, $20 for tents, $26 for RVs. Park entrance $7. Cabins, yurts and a four-bedroom guest house also available. Make reservations by calling 1-800-678-2267 or 303-470-1144. More information at: http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/GoldenGateCanyon/Pages/Camping.aspx

Near: Golden

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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Guanella Pass Campground

Guanella Pass Campground

Veer off one of Colorado's scenic byways and stay a while. This high-altitude retreat offers a classic Rocky Mountain experience - which is why its limited sites are in high demand. Spots also are limited at a few other campgrounds spotting Guanella Pass. Dispersed options, however, are plentiful around the byway that climbs above 11,600 feet. Have a four-wheel drive and be prepared for adventure through the Mount Evans Wilderness Area, with plenty of opportunities for fishing and sightseeing.

Details: Campground expected to open June 9. 18 sites for $19 a night. For reservations, call 801-226-3564.

Near: Georgetown

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lost creek wilderness area

Lost Creek Wilderness

Getting there: Reach the Goose Creek Trail from Woodland Park by going north on Colorado 67 to Deckers. Turn left on County Road 126 and then left on County Road 211 after 3 miles. Follow signs to Goose Creek Campground and continue past the campground to park near the trailhead.In Colorado Springs, we're spoiled to have this backcountry dreamscape less than two hours away. It demands to be experienced over multiple days. So strap on the backpack and pick one of the many loops through the valleys with eye-catching granite formations and elevations above 12,400 feet.

Christian Murdock

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Lakes of the Clouds

Lakes of the Clouds

Embark into the Sangre de Cristo wilderness, gaining steady elevation as you log nearly 5 miles to three alpine lakes surrounded by 13,000-foot peaks. There's plenty of room along the shores to feel secluded in paradise.

Getting there: In Westcliffe, go west on Hermit Road, which becomes dirt as you follow Custer County Road 172. You'll need a four-wheel drive. Follow signs to the Gibson Creek Trail, on which you'll start your hike. Turn right when you come to the Rainbow Trail and follow a short distance to the Swift Creek Trail, which leads to the lakes.

The Gazette

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Buffalo Peaks Wilderness

Buffalo Peaks Wilderness

Getting there: Head west on U.S. 24 through Hartsel, turning right on Colorado 9 and continuing to U.S. 285. Turn left and go 3.5 miles on County Road 5. After 7 miles, stay right onto Weston Pass Road. Trailhead emerges on the left in 3 miles. Many prefer the counter-clockwise trip, ascending on Rough and Tumbling Trail and coming down Rich Creek Trail.A 12-mile loop takes you through rolling meadows overlooked by a pair of mighty mountains. With the short drive from town, some make a day of it. But in this lesser-trafficked wilderness, why not take advantage of a peaceful overnight?

Jerilee Bennett

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