RVers looking for places to enjoy winter recreation in Colorado have lots of choices, with close to 30 campgrounds and RV parks staying open through the winter months.
“Many out-of-staters are surprised to find campgrounds and RV parks open in winter,” said Mary Arlington, executive director of the Colorado Campground & Lodging Owners Association. The association hosts CampColorado.com, which allows one to search for RV campgrounds that are open in specific months, making it possible to quickly identify association member campgrounds and RV parks that are open in winter.
"Winter camping enthusiasts tend to have other activities calling more loudly than the camping,” Arlington said, citing ice fishing, ice climbing, cross country or downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, sledding and snowshoeing as key winter activities. “The campgrounds usually offer limited services, such as shorter hours, and usually the swimming pool is closed, yet the campsites, glamping features, and cabins and lodges are often available. Each property has its own definition of winter availability,” she said.
The good news is that RVers can find campgrounds and RV parks open in some of the most sought-after winter destinations in Colorado, such as the 8,000-foot Ouray Riverside Resort, whose winter visitors include RVers and park model campers wishing to attend the annual Ouray Ice Festival and Competition, which is slated for Jan. 20-23. The event takes place at the Ouray Ice Park, a site in the Uncompahgre Gorge where more than 250 sprinklers are used to create awe-inspiring walls of ice. The Ouray Ice Park contains over 100 manmade ice and mixed climbs, 11 distinct climbing areas and more than three miles of vertical terrain. The Ouray Ice Festival features interactive and educational climbing clinics and ice climbing competitions as well as food, music and nightly dance parties.
Skiers and snowboarders also use Ouray Riverside Resort as a base camp for excursions to Telluride Ski Resort or to enjoy backcountry skiing and snowshoeing.
Further to the South, Westerly RV Park near Durango is a popular winter campground for skiers and snowboarders bound for Purgatory and Durango Mountain Resort. Families also enjoy taking their kids on winter train rides on the historic Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad up to Cascade Canyon. as well as a Polar Express ride for parents and their children so they can enjoy the Christmas Village just north of town.
Here are several other privately owned and operated Colorado campgrounds that stay open through the winter months:
Base Camp at Golden Gate Canyon in Black Hawk: Located at 9,230-feet, this campground is one of the highest in Colorado to stay open through the winter months. Campsites have no running water at this time of year, but restrooms and shower facilities are available. The campground also offers 12 cabins. Nearby winter activities include skiing and snowboarding at the Echo Mountain and Eldora Mountain ski resorts, scenic winter drives along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, and gambling in the nearby communities of Black Hawk and Central City.
Garden of the Gods RV Resort in Colorado Springs: This park, which has views of Pikes Peak, complements its RV sites with rental accommodations. Nearby attractions include the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, which offers scenic 300-foot sandstone rock formations, hiking and mountain biking trails as well as a wide variety of organized activities for people of all ages, including arts and crafts activities, nature and history hikes and geology hikes for kids. The campground can also be used as a basecamp for visits to downtown Colorado Springs and to the scenic and historic mining towns of Cripple Creek and Victor as well as Manitou, which is famous for its hot springs. The road to 14,115-foot Pikes Peak is also open in winter, but sometimes closes briefly based on weather conditions. The historic Broadmore Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway is also open Friday through Monday in winter.
Lake John Resort in Walden: This 8,200-foot, family-owned campground has an ice fishing contest every January. The park also rents out ice fishing huts in six-hour increments. The ice huts can be rented with or without ice fishing equipment. Portable heaters are also available for rent, although no overnight sleeping is allowed in the units. The resort offers RV and tent sites and furnished rental cabins with varying numbers of beds. The cabins also feature kitchen and bathroom facilities. While ice fishing is a big attraction here, other nearby activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. The resort is close to Delaney Butte Lakes, Big Creek Lake, Cowdrey Lake and the many alpine lakes of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness as well as the Grizzley Helena Trail. The Steamboat Ski Resort is about an hour away.
Palisade Basecamp RV Resort in Palisade: This campground with frontage along the Colorado River complements its RV and tent sites with rental cabins and cottages as well as two country home suites. Unlike many campgrounds, this park offers winterized RV sites with water.
River Run RV Resort in Granby: This park maintains a small number of RV sites during the winter months. The resort’s park model vacation rentals are also available year-round. Winter activities include skiing and snowboarding at Winter Park, 25 minutes away, and the annual 3 Lakes Ice Fishing Contest, Jan. 28-30, at Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake. The annual contest is the longest running ice fishing tournament west of the Mississippi River.
Tiger Run Resort in Breckenridge: Winter recreation enthusiasts in Colorado often stay at this 9,600-foot resort near the historic mining town of Breckenridge, which is close to several popular ski resorts, including Breckenridge, Keystone, and Copper Mountain, with Vail being about an hour away, depending on road conditions.
Snowy Peaks RV Park & Rentals in Buena Vista: This park is open in winter and serves as a base camp for RVers who enjoy skiing and snowboarding at the Monarch and Cooper Mountain ski resorts.
Westerly RV Park in Durango: The campground offers sites for RVs and tent trailers. Visitors use campgrounds in Durango as base camps for excursions on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which offers winter trips in heated coaches on 26-mile trips along the Animas River through the San Juan National Forest.
The Hideout at Glenwood Springs: The Hideout has 8 available RV camping sites and is nearby winter attractions such as the hot springs, located in downtown Glenwood Springs, and Sunlight Ski Resort just 15 miles away.