It may seem counterintuitive, but living south of the city—instead of west—may mean you actually get to the mountains more often. Think about it. That maddeningly slow I-70 drive sucks the fun right out of any getaway. But for families who live around Stepping Stone, easy-drive camping might inspire more frequent trips. Here are just a few ideas to keep you Front Range close.
Flat Rocks Campground
Northeast of Deckers [map]
On a long, narrow ridge dotted with pine and aspen, this campground of only 19 spots offers views of the plains below, as well as good nearby fishing, hiking up Devil’s Head Mountain, and access to Rampart Range’s 100 miles of trails, which are open to ATVs and dirt bikes. Understandably it’s a favorite, so a mid- to late-week arrival is suggested for snagging a spot. (No reservations available.) Good for tents and RVs up to 30’ long, although no hook-ups. Picnic tables, fire rings, toilets, pumped water. Learn more.
Northwest of Deckers [map]
This intimate, spruce-fir forested campground offers 6 tent-only sites, and is first-come, first-serve. But it’s worth the trouble, as the campground is just outside the Lost Creek Wilderness Area: 120,000 acres of dense forest with 100 miles of trails to explore. Charmingly, Southfork Creek runs through it. Picnic tables, fire rings, water pump, vault toilets. Learn more.
Mueller State Park
South of Woodland Park [map]
A photographer’s dream-come-true, this 5,000-acre, beautifully forested park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including black bear, elk, deer, fox, coyotes, and hawks. Hike and mountain bike on 50 miles of scenic trails, and stay in one of 132 campsites, including 110 electrical sites that accommodate motor homes, trailers and tents. Picnic tables, fire rings, flush toilets, water, amphitheater, playground. Reservations accepted. Learn more.
Painted Rocks Campground
North of Woodland Park [map]
Fishing is one of the attractions of this rustic campground, which is close to five-acre Manitou Lake as well as the Centennial Bike Trail. The campground’s proximity to Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and Florissant Fossil Beds Monument make it a fun, explore-the-Colorado Springs-area headquarters. Sites are large, well-spaced, and mostly shaded. 18 campsites for tents and RVs up to 30’ (no hookups), with 12 reservable. Picnic tables and fire ring. Water and vault toilets. Learn more.
In Lake Pueblo State Park [map]
With nearly 400 camping sites on a 4,600 acre lake, this is a highly popular campground. Lake Pueblo accommodates sailing, motor-boating, waterskiing, tubing, and fishing that includes trout, walleye, and perch. You’ll also find 18 miles of trails for hiking and biking. Good for tents and RVS up to 45’. Hookups and pull-throughs are available. Covered picnic tables, fire rings, water, bathrooms with showers and flush toilets. Reservable. Learn more.