The West's best camping

Fair warning: Waking up at any one of these places will hook you on camping for good

Rocky Mountains: 24 best campgrounds

Discover our absolute favorite campgrounds in Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming

  • Mt. Moran’s reflection shimmers in the still waters of Jenny Lake.

    Mt. Moran and Jenny Lake

    Dave Lauridsen

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12. Holland Lake Campground, Near Bigfork

Holland Lake exposes a chillingly scenic swath of glacier-carved mountains, and waterside sites in Holland Lake Campground near Bigfork bask in those views. Park at the Larch Loop, which sits on a bluff overlooking the blue expanses; at sites 1, 2, and 6, panoramas include Holland Falls, a 40-foot cascade. $15;  late May–Sep; book at recreation.gov

13. Silver Queen, Near Aspen

Let Colorado’s most famous view start your day. Of the three U.S. Forest Service campgrounds located beneath the Maroon Bells of Aspen, only Silver Queen offers vistas of the photogenically pointy Elk Mountains. The choice site is 6, on Maroon Creek. A short walk upstream reveals pinch-yourself views of the Bells. $15/night, plus $10/vehicle (valid 5 days); late May–Sep; book at recreation.gov

UTAH

14. Colorado Riverway, Moab
The Colorado flows more gently just south of Arches National Park, making this area perfect for low-key kayaking or float trips. Campsites string out along State 128, with cliffs on all sides. At Hal Canyon Campground, nab site 2 or 11 for secluded riverfront. $12; no reservations; 435/259-2100.

15. Dead Horse Point State Park, Northwest of Canyonlands National Park
Perch your tent atop a mesa 2,000 feet above the Colorado River. Trails and views of Canyonlands National Park are just 20 minutes away. Rise early for the sunrise over the 12,721-foot La Sal Mountains. $20; 435/259-2614; book at reserveamerica.com 

16. Devils Garden Campground, Arches National Park, North of Moab
Juniper-studded, red sandstone–carpeted sites at the only campground in 76,519-acre Arches. Snag site 53―behind a “fin,” a slickrock boulder―for privacy. $20 (plus $10 park entrance fee per vehicle); 435/719-2299; book at recreation.gov

17. Watchman Campground, Zion National Park
Towering sandstone formations make up this gateway to Zion Canyon. Wade in the Virgin River; watch for grazing deer at dusk and dawn. Bring an awning for shade in summertime. From $16 (plus $25 park entrance fee per vehicle); 435/772-3256; book at recreation.gov

18. Tanner’s Flat Campground, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Southeast of Salt Lake City
It’s only 10 miles from Salt Lake City yet a world away, with thick stands of aspen and pine at a 7,250-foot elevation. On Sunday morning, head up the canyon to the Alta Lodge for its legendary brunch (Sun brunch $22; 801/742-3500). $18; 801/236-3400; book at recreation.gov

19. The Wedge Overlook, San Rafael Swell Recreation Area
Virtually unobstructed views of red rock country are the reward for camping above the Little Grand Canyon. Follow informal trails along the canyon rim for your own sunset lightshow. BYO water. Free; no reservations; 435/636-3600.

20. Kayenta Campground, Dead Horse Point State Park, Moab

Moab’s best panorama is at Dead Horse Point State Park, where the rising sun ignites the multilayered 2,000-foot cliffs lining the Colorado River. The 21 juniper-shaded sites at Kayenta Campground place you within a 15-minute stroll of that epic view. After breakfast, hit the park’s 9 miles of mountain-bike trails, which guide riders on a flat, easy route along the scenic canyon rim. Contact for prices; no potable water; stateparks.utah.gov

21. Fruita Campground, Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef’s Fruita Campground and its 71 sites sit along the Fremont River, amid historic orchards that now provide campers with shade and grass—rare comforts in the red rock desert. Depending on the time of year, you wake to the scent of cherry, apricot, peach, and apple blossoms; come U-pick season for the various varieties, the fallen fruit attracts deer that spend mornings browsing near your campsite. $10, plus $8 entrance and vehicle fees; no reservations; nps.gov/care

WYOMING

22. Jenny Lake Campground, Grand Teton National Park
Pitch a tent near the lake at the base of the Teton Range and close to Yellowstone National Park. Take the short, shaded uphill hike to 200-foot Hidden Falls. $19 (plus $25 park entrance fee per vehicle); no reservations; nps.gov/grte

23. Curtis Canyon Campground, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Northeast of Jackson
This little-known, bare-bones campground perches atop a 6,600-foot butte between the National Elk Refuge and the Gros Ventre Wilderness; sites look out at the snow-covered Tetons. Before leaving Jackson, grab a cup of locally roasted coffee at Jackson Hole Roasters ($; 307/699-3984). $12; no reservations; 307/739-5400.

24. Gros Ventre Campground, Grand Teton National Park

Most sites at Gros Ventre Campground in Grand Teton National Park lack stunning mountain views. Why go? Because the 350 individual cottonwood-shaded sites sit near the Gros Ventre River in prime moose territory, so you’re virtually guaranteed to wake up to a Rocky and Bullwinkle show, with the browsers nibbling on willows and slurping aquatic plants. Despite feeling like the back of beyond, it’s just 12 miles north of Jackson. Contact for prices (excludes $25 park entrance fee); early May–early Oct; nps.gov/grte

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