Summer is drawing to a close in Golden. But with pleasant temperatures and plenty of daylight, autumn is a great time to bust out your puffer, grab a sixer and head outdoors for a night under the stars.
Most flatlanders who normally flood campgrounds during the summer months are home watching football this time of year. This is good news for anyone seeking a less competitive camping experience. Whether you’re looking for primitive solitude or glamping amenities, you’ve got several options within 90 minutes of Golden.
Here are six campsites you can easily score this time of year.
Sawmill Campground is a 1.2-mile walk from White Ranch Park’s west trailhead. Photo Credit
White Ranch Park
We’ve already named White Ranch Park a top hiking destination. But what about camping? Turns out Golden’s largest open space offers two semi-primitive campgrounds, each within a 30-minute walk of the trailhead. Sourdough Springs and Sawmill campgrounds both have 10 walk-in campsites, complete with tent pads, modern vault toilets and plenty of privacy. Sites cost $12 a night and can be reserved online at the Jefferson County website.
Location: Belcher Hill Road, Golden
Jones Pass is a gorgeous primitive camping destination within an hour of Golden
If primitive – AKA free – camping is more your style, Jones Pass is a beautiful area with tons of free campsites. On your way to Winter Park, turn left at the sign for Big Bend Picnic Ground and drive up the 2.5-mile road toward Jones Pass. Along the way, you’ll see plenty of sheltered sites in the forest and open sites above the treeline. The gravel road is rough but passable for 2WD vehicles. From your campsite, hop on the Continental Divide trail and crush a huge hike!
Location: Parshall, CO
Golden Gate Canyon State Park campsites offer tent pads, picnic tables and fire rings. Photo Credit
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
With 100+ drive-up tent sites, backcountry sites, yurts and cabins, Golden Gate Canyon State Park has sweet camping options for any group. Reverend’s Ridge campground is a good bet, providing flush toilets, showers, laundry facilities and some electrical hookups. The campground is open year-round and reservations can be made online or over the phone. Campfires are permitted in fire rings but you’ll want to BYO wood (and a good bottle of cab sav).
Location: 70 Rudolph Ranch Rd, Black Hawk, CO
Geneva Creek Road
Most of the campgrounds at Guanella Pass have already closed for the season. For 100% pure solitude, venture down the remote Geneva Creek Road for a primitive camping experience. Heading south from Georgetown, drive about seven miles beyond Guanella Pass and turn right on Geneva Creek Road. Once you pass the established campground, you’ll start to see signs for the 30-40 designated dispersed campsites along the road. Enjoy the peace and quiet or lace up your hiking boots for the short walk to the Yellowstone-esque Geneva Creek Iron Fen.
Location: County Road 1038, Grant, CO
Peak views and solitude await campers on Geneva Creek Road. Photo Credit
Situated 7,400 feet above sea level, Buffalo Campground is a good late-season option for groups looking for a short drive from Golden and basic amenities. 38 campsites are available (24 are reservable here, 14 are first-come, first-served) for $22 per night, which include two vehicles, vault toilets and a grated fire ring. Just don’t expect water or electricity. Pro tip: bring your mountain bike and ride this epic 24-mile loop which starts and ends at the campground.
Location: Forest Rd 550, Pine, CO
Buffalo Campground is a solid basecamp for tons of hiking and biking trails. Photo credit
Fully stocked tipis can fit a small family of four. Photo credit
Arapaho Valley Ranch
Arapaho Valley Ranch is a hidden gem for campers and glampers alike. This private campground – which offers high-end riverside campsites, cabins, tipis and lodge rooms – is a place of both solitude and community. In the shadows of Indian Peaks Wilderness, you’ll find an eclectic and gorgeous property that includes a pond with canoes, outdoor games, a community lodge and the Red Dog Saloon – Colorado’s smallest bar. Full disclosure: Arapaho Valley Ranch is two hours from Golden but well worth the excursion!
Location: 8992 County Road 6, Granby, CO
Now that your camping bucket list is full, head to Mountain Side Gear & Rental in Golden for all your camping provisions. Tents, coolers, teardrop trailers … everything you need for a memorable camping weekend is available for rent or purchase at this great local business.