Uncompahgre National Forest


Camping options abound in the Uncompahgre, with many developed campgrounds and areas for dispersed camping maintained throughout the Forest. Depending on your idea of roughing it, you could choose anything from Matterhorn Campground—which lies right off of Colorado 145 and provides showers and electrical hook-ups (reservations welcomed)—to Alta Lakes, which offers a single pit toilet on the outskirts of a ghost town.

Telluride Area
Along with Matterhorn and Alta Lakes, the Telluride/Norwood region in the Forest's southern end has three other campgrounds. Sunshine Campground is about seven miles south of Telluride and has no electricity or plumbing, although it does have trash pick-up. Woods Lake Campground, which lies at the edge of the Lizard Head Wilderness, is undergoing renovations at the time of this writing, but when completed will feature 41 sites, including a five-unit horse-camping spur, as well as potable water and toilets throughout the campground. In the Illium Valley southwest of Telluride lies the small campground of Sheep Corrals, with eight primitive sites near the river.

Ouray/Cimarron Area
Over the mountains in the Ouray/Cimarron area, four campgrounds are available for travelers to rest their weary bones. Just outside the town along US 550, Amphitheater Campground allows visitors to reserve one of 30 sites in advance. Water and toilets are available here. In the Cimarron area, Beaver Lake Campground and Silver Jack Campground  are convenient base camps for fishermen heading for Silver Jack Reservoir or any of the innumerable beaver ponds nearby. A trail that provides wheelchair fishing access to area waters starts at Beaver Lake Campground. Big Cimarron, the least appointed of the Cimarron area campgrounds, has a toilet but not much else. All campgrounds in the Cimarron area lie off of scenic Owl Creek Pass, which is mostly gravel inside the National Forest boundary.

The Uncompahgre Plateau
The Uncompahgre Plateau features four rustic campgrounds that are generally less luxurious than their counterparts closer to urban civilization. The Iron Springs Campground and the Antone Springs Campground (no fee) are small sites in the vicinity of the Roubideau Canyon and nearby trails, including the Transfer Trail and the Pool Creek Trail. Further to the northwest along Divide Road lies Columbine Campground (no fee) and much further beyond that, in the most remote section of the Forest, Divide Forks Campground. No campgrounds on the Plateau take reservations.

Backcountry Camping
Along with managed campgrounds in the Uncompahgre National Forest, the Forest Service allows dispersed camping throughout most of the Forest. Campers should observe all rules of outdoor etiquette and safety. Note that rules for backcountry camping in officially designated U.S. Wilderness areas are generally stricter than in the rest of the Forest; always check with rangers before attempting multiday excursions into Wildernesses.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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