If you're looking to eschew the tried and tested spots and try out a few more unique camping options across Colorado, we've rounded up five of our favorites
Where dinosaurs once roamed
Dinosaur National Monument is 210,000 acres along the Colorado and Utah border with each side of the monument offering a different experience. The Colorado side is home to spectacular canyons and rivers, including Harpers Corner Road, a 32-mile scenic drive that includes overlooks of the Yampa and Green Rivers. The short Harpers Corner Trail at the road’s end is a must to get the most dramatic views. Most of the dinosaur fossils are actually on the Utah side. Perhaps the coolest name for a campsite in the entire state, the Gates of Lodore Campground is on the Green River at the head of Lodore Canyon.
In a dunefield
Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Alamosa is one of the most unique national parks in the system, so it stands to reason that it would also be one of the most unique places to camp. With several camping options, including a campground as well as backcountry camping, perhaps the most unique aspect of camping at Sand Dunes is heading out into the dune field and setting up wherever you like (outside the day use area, which means a hike of at least 1.5 miles). Bad weather can mean blowing sand or thunderstorms, so be sure to check the weather before deciding. There is a limit of six people per party and 20 parties in the dunefield per night. Free permits are issued on a first come first served basis.
Beneath a UFO watchtower
In Center, just outside Alamosa and not far from Sand Dunes National Park, the UFO Watchtower is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Opened by Judy Messoline in 2000, legend has it (well her own website actually) that she heard repeated mentions of the area on TV shows like “Sightings” and “The X-Files” and thought there must be something in it so she created the UFO Watchtower. Located on 600 acres, the isolated nature of the watchtower means that it is equally as good for stargazing as UFO spotting.
On a cliff
Kent Mountain Adventure Center in Estes Park has been teaching people how to rock climb and mountaineer for decades, but back in 2014 they started offering cliff camping. Suspended hundreds of feet off the ground on a “portaledge” next to a sheer rock face, the cliff camping experience with KMAC also comes with steak and wine for dinner and omelettes and lattes for breakfast.
In an orchard
Delicious Orchards, just outside of Paonia offers tent, car and RV camping in its apple orchard. There are no sites, so set up wherever you like (not literally among the trees during rgowng season). There is a single restroom, a portable toilet for after-hours bathroom visits and an outdoor sink. There is plenty of space, but it is technically possible for it to fill up. Calling ahead won’t hurt. Well-behaved pets are welcome, and there is a dog clean up station.