Colorado Camping: Don’t Take It Too Seriously

Colorado camping is my favorite. Period.

But it can be tough to remember that *fun* is okay too. With magazines touting the newest ultralight tents and sleeping bags shrinking to the size of a small fruit, it can be hard to remember that the sport is simply about enjoying the outdoors.

And truthfully, I forget sometimes too. Will and I have been pushing the ultralight because my messed up back isn’t loving heavy packs the older I get. It just doesn’t recover as well as it used to! {And yes, I say that as a whopping 33 year old….!} And while I will never discount the peace and serenity you can find in the middle of the backcountry, there is something very appealing about Colorado camping.

Colorado Camping

All Photos By Caveman Collective

Spacious tents with such high ceilings that I can stand up while changing.

S’mores for dessert.

Bottles of whiskey.

Even having a campfire in general!

Colorado Camping

But, all of that aside, the best part about camping is friends. Will and I recently put together a mellow car camping weekend in Northern Colorado, inviting a crew of people that we don’t usually see. We didn’t know where we were going other than “somewhere near Cameron Pass.” We simply loaded up our cars, pointed them north, and began driving.

Colorado Camping

Colorado Camping

Sure, we spent an extra hour in the car trying to find the perfect spot, but those extra minutes were well worth it. We found a large, flat plot of land, located next to an old dilapidated cabin. Wildflowers bloomed against the eroding structure. While pretty, the ol’ building wasn’t even the best part:

We had our own swimming hole!

Colorado Camping

Colorado Camping

And y’all? It was perfect. Tals specifically enjoyed our swimming hole, using it as an escape from the weekend’s ridiculously hot sunshine. The sandy beach led into the water, abruptly dropping off after six or seven inches. Poor Tals didn’t see the drop off and frolicked into the river excitedly, only to run into the deep end, completely submerging her head under the water! She popped to the surface a second later, eyes wide and confused as she awkwardly paddled her way to shore. She had been expecting a cooldown on her tummy, not a full-blown ice bath!

Colorado Camping

Cotswold provided me with the Black Diamond Moji Light. It’s pretty awesome for tent time.

Colorado Camping

As well as this Exped MegaMat. This sleeping pad is extra deluxe and cushioned; perfect when weight doesn’t matter! Colorado Camping

We pitched two gigantic tents, allowing for plenty of space for our small group of five. I brought Tally’s sleeping bag {an old Marmot from the early 2000s} and a foam cell pad, making her a private doggy bed in the corner of our massive tent. We set up camp chairs and drank Chai whiskey from flasks. We even hung two hammocks from trees, facing the small stream behind our site. We splashed in the water, we lounged on our personal sandy beach, and we enjoyed each other’s company.

Colorado Camping

After Colorado camping weekends like that, it’s hard to return to backpacking!



  • Reply Lindsey at

    That camping trip looks incredible. You’re absolutely right, winging it and just focusing on having a good time outdoors is what it’s all about! Great job finding that swimming hole! My pup would love it!

  • Reply Heather @ FITaspire at

    This looks like so much FUN!!!!

  • Reply Todd at

    That looks amazing!

  • Reply Cathryn at

    We did something similar a few weekends ago – we were hoping to go camping but couldn’t make it in the end, so we set the tent up on our tiny balcony and slept in it. So much fun!

  • Reply Rachel @ Betty LIVIN at

    Gorgeous pics!

  • Reply Ryan at

    Beautiful blog. Inspirational and the photos are lovely.

  • Reply Matsdotter at

    Amazing pictures, I just love your blog!

  • Reply Christian at

    Sooo friggin awesome!!

  • Reply ZeissMan at

    You were doing a three part series on “free camping” in Colorado and I have only found one.
    I have been to a couple you mentioned in Part I, but have not seen links to Parts II and III.
    Can you direct me?
    ~ ZM

    • Reply heather at

      Hey! Parts two and three haven’t been written yet 🙂

      • Reply ZeissMan at

        Well, that is fine. I guess I will just wait for the other two and continue to look and camp at those from Part I.
        Hope all is well and you are enjoying this gorgeous pre-fall in the Rockies.
        ~ ZM

  • Reply Chad @RoadDogTravel at

    Looks like a great time! I have to admit, I’ve gotten pretty lazy about camping. I used to do some backcountry camping, but now car camping (or better yet a cabin) sounds better to me after a long week of work. Also, love the tent under the stars picture!

  • Reply ERIC at

    Just came across your blog today and enjoyed reading it and dreaming about camping. I’m re-starting camping adventures now that my twin boys have reached a couple years old and I’m going to start with some easy dispersed car camping. Would love to know where that spot is around Cameron Pass. I’ve been there a few times and love it, but have yet to find my own beach and watering hole! If you don’t mind giving away your secret, I’d love to know 😉

  • Reply Wendy Hansen at

    Love this post and very timely for my husband and I. We are going to give hammock camping a try and was not quite sure of the boundaries. Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply Heather at

      You got it! Don’t forget: when you are hammock camping, it’s really a good idea to have tree-safe straps so you don’t damage the tree at all 🙂 I *literally* just finished a hammock camping gear roundup complete with some hang site tips in the July/August issue of Backpacker. Maybe it will be helpful for you!

  • Reply Keith Ehlers at

    Beautiful pictures! Camping in Colorado is truly a favorite.

    One place I love to visit is Palisade Basecamp in Palisade, CO. The Western side of Colorado that offers a variety of hiking trails and variety of wineries. Palisade Basecamp offers campsites for tents, RVs, as well as cabins, cottages, and other glamping places. You can get more information here: But definitely a place to stay on the Western slope.

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