So, you’re visiting Colorado and you don’t feel like sleeping in a hotel? We don’t blame you! Colorado’s mountains and natural beauty are best experienced from a tent, no question.
But, whether you’re an experienced camper visiting Colorado for the first time, or you’re just getting into camping, and want to learn how in the Centennial state, there are a few things to keep in mind that will make your Colorado camping experience a whole lot more pleasant, and safer for you.
These tips aren’t entirely state-specific, they apply just about anywhere, but they hold especially true in Colorado since you’re dealing with pretty unique altitude and weather conditions here.
So, air out your sleeping bag and make sure your tent has all its pegs. The snow is melting and it’s time to plan your camping trip to Colorado!
1. Plan Ahead
This might seem obvious, but lots of people want to go camping in Colorado every summer, and while there are plenty of campsites and dispersed camping for everyone, it’s a lot easier to plan your trip ahead of time and book campsites on the phone or online.
And if you’re trying to do that, book early! Popular weekends fill up fast, so if there’s any chance you could camp midweek instead, take it! Trails will be less busy, and there will be less competition for the best spots.
Research the areas you’re planning on visiting and figure out what the reservation system is. Usually, it’s pretty easy to book online or call the campground and reserve a site.
That way you can travel and explore all day, confident that your campsite will be ready and waiting when it’s time to make dinner and go to bed. You don’t need to over-plan, but setting up your campsite ahead of time will make your life a lot easier.
2. Be Prepared
You don’t need to bring all the gear you’d want to survive the apocalypse, but a little pre-packing can make your trip a lot easier. Check ahead of time for fire regulations. If they’re allowed, pack your own firewood and kindling.
And then always make sure you have the essentials, including a few gallons of clean water, plenty of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and baby wipes. That way you’re guaranteed to stay clean and hydrated, no matter what else happens.
The same goes for your camping gear. Go through it before you leave home, make sure it’s all clean, and that you have all the parts. There’s nothing like unpacking a tent and realizing you don’t have the poles. If you’re still missing some important gear, hit a camping store on your way to the mountains and stock up.
3. Be Bear Aware
While Colorado is home to black bears, not grizzly bears, it’s still a good idea to be bear-aware.
That means packing all food and smelly substances in a bear proof-area, either hung in a tree, or a cooler in your car, with the windows up. The same goes for any trash that smells like food. Don’t leave anything out that could attract wildlife.
Black bears might not be much of a threat to humans, but when we leave out trash and food, they get habituated to people and start to spend too much time around campsites, which eventually forces the forest service to either euthanize or relocate them, neither of which is good for the bears.
And that applies to other wildlife too, foxes, marmots, and smaller animals that get used to human contact often become habituated and have to be put down. So, if you like experiencing the outdoors and wildlife, do your best to keep them safe by storing your food somewhere it won’t tempt them.
4. Stay Hydrated
Much of the camping in Colorado is several thousand feet higher in elevation than most people are used to. That means that dehydration can become a real problem.
Pack more water than you usually would, and make sure you drink it throughout the day. Altitude sickness shouldn’t be an issue, but the best way to make sure it doesn’t become one is to stay hydrated.
5. Keep an Eye on the Weather
In the mountains, the weather changes very quickly. It can be warm and sunny one moment and then snowing a quarter of an hour later.
So, keep an eye on changing weather forecasts, and bring more clothes than you think you’ll need. A puffy coat and a rain shell are a good idea even in the middle of the summer.
6. Leave It Better Than You Found It
Finally, this applies to any camping trip, but remember, nature doesn’t heal itself as quickly as we like to mess it up. Your actions have long-ranging consequences.
So, tread the areas you explore respectfully. Follow fire regulations, don’t transport invasive species, and clean up all your trash.
You want to leave the areas you visit better than you found them so that others can experience their beauty, and you can continue to come back year after year and enjoy them. If you really love a place, you’ll take care of it.