Some people might only know Estes Park in Colorado for its iconic Stanley Hotel. It’s one of the many buildings in town on the National Register of Historic Places and dates back to 1909. It also appeared as the Overlook Hotel in The Shining (1980).
But you know there are other great reasons to visit Estes Park. It’s the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park with wildlife and stunning viewpoints at every turn. You also know that going camping is the only way to experience a trip to Estes Park, not staying in hotels!
All the best camping locations are close to the mountain town and have excellent amenities. This complete list of the top campgrounds in Estes Park will help you pick the ideal one for your camping trip.
1. Estes Park Campground at East Portal
Don’t get this campground confused with East Portal Campground. Prepare for over six hours of driving if you do! Estes Park Campground at East Portal is only five miles and a 13-minute drive southwest of town.
Despite it being so close to the hustle and bustle, it feels worlds away. It has over 8,000ft of elevation surrounded by snow-capped mountains. And it’s one of the closest campgrounds to the Rocky Mountain National Park
It’s very popular! And it books up fast.
East Portal has 64 sites for tents and campervans and small RVs shorter than 22ft. They offer water, 20/30/50 amp electric, and sewer hookups for RVs. Showers, a toilet block, and a camp store with all your camping essentials are available for everyone.
On-site, East Portal has a playground, bird-watching, and wildlife-viewing facilities. Nearby, there’s the East Portal Trailhead and lots of opportunities to spot elk and deer.
2. Spruce Lake RV Park
If you live for hustle and bustle, then one of the best camping locations in Estes Park for you will be Spruce Lake RV Park. It’s only two miles and a 7-minute drive from Estes Park. Perfect if you want to sample the local restaurants and bars in the evening after a long hike!
Spruce Lake isn’t short of amenities either. They have 123 RV sites that all have water, electric, and waste hook-ups. There’s even WiFi throughout the property, a bathhouse, and laundry facilities too!
You can reserve the sites ahead, and it’s recommended you do. They’re closed from October to May, but they have a heated outdoor pool for the cooler spring and fall days. You can also enjoy fishing, miniature golf, and an on-site playground.
The Estes Park Aerial Tramway up Prospect Mountain is a stone’s throw away from this campground. It’s also super near the iconic Rocky Mountain National Park sign and wildlife conservancy.
3. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park
Are you visiting Estes Park with your children? Then you have to stay at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. It’s only a nine-minute drive and less than six miles away from Estes Park, so you don’t have a choice.
Don’t worry, it’s a fantastic campground even without the fun Yogi Bear attractions! They have cabins and tent sites, but most of their sites are for campervans. Jellystone in Estes Park can accommodate all types of vans up to 40ft in length, and all sites have WiFi and water, electric, and sewer hookups.
There’s even a propane fill station, shower blocks, and a laundry room. But you don’t visit a Yogi Bear campground to wash clothes. They offer lots of family fun activities such as minigolf, arcades, ball pits, heated swimming pools, and more.
They’re open during the summer season from May to October, and it’s not a big site. They have less than 100 spaces for RVs, so book your site soon!
4. Elk Meadow Lodge and RV Resort
Elk Meadow Lodge might be a 10-minute drive to Estes Park to the east, but it’s within walking distance of the National Park heading west. This sprawling campground has around 170 sites so you won’t struggle to make RV buddies.
And those sites are big enough to fit 75ft coaches (yes, 75ft!), so you’ll have plenty of space. If you’d rather have a break from sleeping in your RV on your camping trip, you could hire one of their cabins or teepees instead.
But there’s no reason to with their full 20/30/50 amp electric, water, and waste hookups. Elk Meadow also has showers, toilets, a heated outdoor pool, and a laundry room.
You can reserve a site between May and October where they even book live entertainment most weekends. During the day, you can take fly fishing trips and wildlife tours right from the campground. You could also explore Roosevelt National Forest or raft down Colorado or Cache La Poudre River.
5. Estes Park KOA Holiday
KOA Holiday’s RV sites are notorious for offering campers amenities on top of amenities. You can’t even get through the front gates without passing a free shuttle into Estes Park town or the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. And both are only around five miles away!
They offer tent sites, lodges, and RV sites for all sizes of campervans and trailers. From May to October, you can reserve spaces that have either 20/30/50 amp electric, water, and sewer hookups. Some of the sites have a covered terrace, fire ring, WiFi, propane, and even cable access.
Estes Park KOA has playgrounds for children, laundry facilities, bathroom blocks, and a communal pavilion. With the shuttles, you’ll be able to enjoy all the dining options in Estes Park and hikes like Upper Beaver Meadows Trail and Deer Ridge Junction.
The campground is right next to the Lake Estes Marina. You will be able to rent boats and fishing equipment here for a lazy morning on the water. And you’ll be close enough to head back to your campsite for lunch!
6. Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake
One of the best camping locations in Estes Park, if you want a more secluded campground, is Mary’s Lake. It sits in a stunning valley of over 8,000ft with Prospect Mountain to the north and (no surprises) Mary’s Lake to the south. And it’s still only an 8-minute drive from Estes Park town on the edge of the Rocky Mountains.
East Portal and Mary’s Lake are both run by the Estes Valley Parks and Recreation department. So, you can expect the same great service! They offer 120 sites for tent and RV campers and a range of rates/services to suit every road tripper’s budget.
Mary’s Lake also has laundry facilities and a coin-operated shower block. You can reserve 180 days ahead of your visit from May to October.
This campground is much closer to popular trailheads like the Twin Sisters and Lily Mountain than many of the other campgrounds. You can also go mountain biking, rock climbing, and even jeeping from Mary’s Lake campground too
7. Hermit’s Hollow Campground
Prefer more rustic campgrounds when you road trip or want to camp in the months outside May to October? You’re in luck! Hermit’s Hollow Campground is only five miles and a 13-minute drive from Estes Park, and it’s located in over 1,300 acres of open space.
This campground has over 100 sites with picnic areas, drinking water, and restrooms but no hookups. There’s a covered pavilion that can accommodate over 100 people with a charcoal grill. All sites are reservable from March to December and large enough for campervans up to 30ft.
With pine forests and wetlands at 8,000ft elevation, the opportunity for wildlife spotting is high. It’s also a convenient campground to hike the Kruger Rock Trail, go biking, horseback riding, or drive down Pole Hill Road Trail.
8. Longs Peak Campground
Longs Peak Campground is the furthest campground on this list away from Estes Park. It’s 10 miles and a 20-minute drive south of the mountain town. It’s also one of the smallest with only 26 sites, so why should it make the cut?
Well, it’s the best campground to stay at if you want to hike Longs Peak. AKA, the only 14er in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The campsite is literal meters from the trailhead so you couldn’t stay in a better place to tackle this climb!
The National Park Service runs this campground, and sites are first-come, first-serve. It’s a tent-only campsite, so it’s ideal if you are traveling in a minivan. They have on-site toilets, fire pits, trash collection, and not much else.
But let’s face it, you stay at Longs Peak campground for the epic views. At 9,500ft elevation, you’ll see breathtaking panoramic vistas and maybe even a shy bear or two.
Pitch up at the Best Camping Locations in Estes Park
Estes Park has an array of outdoor adventure activities and majestic wildlife. It is a must-visit on any vanlifer’s itinerary. Now you know the best camping locations in Estes Park, all you need to do is pack your hiking boots and head west.
But you can’t do that without a campervan! Lucky for you, Travellers Autobarn has a range of RV models to suit all budgets and road-tripping styles. We also include unlimited free miles so you can keep the good times rolling.
Check out our range of campervan rentals to start planning your trip to Estes Park, CO, today!
Here are a few other articles you may enjoy!
Top 11 Colorado Campgrounds for Your Campervan Road Trip
Top 7 Camping and Campground Locations near Breckenridge, Colorado
Top 7 Van Camping and Campground Locations near Telluride
Top 12 Van Camping and Campground Locations in Colorado Springs
Ultimate National Parks Campervan Road Trips
5 Rocky Mountain National Park Campgrounds and RV Parks to Visit
About the Author
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.