Telluride, Colorado, measures a minuscule 0.71 square miles. It’s only eight blocks wide and 12 blocks long! But what Telluride lacks in size, it makes up for in charm, history, and awe-inspiring scenery. This mountain village is a must-see!
Many vacationers flock to the town of Telluride during the winter months as it’s a popular ski resort town. It boasts some of the best slopes in the country, and it looks like an alpine village when it’s covered in snow. But it’s an ideal place to visit any time of year if you love van camping in the mountains.
And there are plenty of great camping spots in and around town that will make your Telluride vanlife dreams come true. Here are some of the best camping Telluride locations to consider visiting during your trip!
1. Telluride Town Park Campground
Town Park Campground is one of the closest campgrounds to Telluride. You could walk between the town and the site in two minutes! It’s not surprising that this is the most popular Telluride campground and gets booked up fast.
The campground offers water, showers, and bathroom facilities for around 25 vehicles at a time. But it doesn’t have electrical hookups, and there are no dump stations, so bear that in mind. They cater to a range of RV classes (max. 30ft), and there’s also a separate section for tent campers.
Nestled between Bear Creek Preserve, the town, and the San Miguel River, it’s a bigger campground than you might think. It has tons of sports facilities like softball fields, ice skating rinks, volleyball courts, and more. It’s the only campground run by Telluride’s Parks & Recreation department.
There’s a nearby river trail leading to Bridal Veil Falls and also Bear Creek Trails. So you won’t have to go too far to fill your lungs with fresh mountain air! This van camping spot is the most convenient place to go camping in Telluride.
2. Matterhorn Campground
This campground is only a 20-minute drive and around 13 miles outside of Telluride down Colorado State Highway 145. It’s run by the National Forest Service. While you can reserve some sites ahead of time, they keep some on a first-come, first serve basis.
Matterhorn Campground caters to all RVs up to 45ft in length. Out of 28 sites, eight of them have electrical and septic hookups, so you want to reserve ahead to snag those! They also have showers, bathrooms, picnic tables, and firewood available for a fee.
This campground also has unobstructed, panoramic views of the nearby San Bernardo and Ophir mountains. Some of the nicest walks in the area are the three-mile hike to Lizard Head Wilderness and the Galloping Goose trail. If you’re an early bird, you can also expect to see lots of wildlife.
Camping in Telluride during the warmer months doesn’t get much better than this.
3. Alta Lakes Dispersed Campground
Not too concerned with finding van camping sites with facilities? Looking for dispersed camping Telluride suggestions? Alta Lakes Campground, run by the National Forest Service, is the best camping area for you.
It’s situated on the opposite side of Telluride’s skiing resort. So while it’s not far as the crow flies, this campground is around 12 and a 1/2 miles or a 40-minute drive away from the town. But in exchange for the drive, you get the backwoods, remote feel that you want in this type of campground.
Plus, you get to drive through the eerie Alta ghost town too!
Like many dispersed campgrounds, it’s not suitable for RVs and travel trailers. This is a great spot to go 4×4 car, minivan camping or tent camping instead.
Alta Lakes has 20 undeveloped camping spots available on a first-come, first-served basis. And they’re all free! But it’s only open when the road is, so this campground is not ideal for Telluride winter camping.
There aren’t any showers, water, or hookups here (as you’d expect), but they do have portable toilets.
It’s not called Alta Lakes for no reason. Many campers choose to stay here because of the awesome fishing opportunities in the namesake lakes. Plus, there are hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking trails nearby too.
4. Ouray Riverside Resort RV Park
Ouray Riverside Resort is about a one-hour drive and 50 miles outside of Telluride. So why does it make the list? Because the amenities it offers are verging on luxury when compared to other van camping spots in the area!
Yes, whatever you could need as a vanlife traveler, Ouray Riverside Resort’s RV park has it. They have 50/30/20 amp electric, water, and sewer hookups and allow more than one vehicle on each site. Most of the sites can handle RVs up to 40ft in length (some up to 45ft!), with a few catering to 30ft vehicles.
They have heated bathrooms, showers, and even laundry rooms. There’s a small trading store for all your essential groceries and even a gas station and car wash.
And the best part? This campground is open year-round! Few campgrounds near Telluride are open for van camping after October.
You can also relax nearby in one of the five Ouray Hot Springs or explore one of the ghost towns in the area. The Million Dollar Highway, one of the most scenic drives in the southwest, also runs through Ouray, so you can’t miss it.
5. Sunshine Campground
This campground is a favorite amongst vanlife travelers who have visited Telluride for two reasons. The first is its unrivaled views and scenery (yes, even in stiff competition!), and the second is the friendly people who run the campground.
Sunshine Campground is only 9 miles and a 15-minute drive down Highway 145. Owned by the National Forest Service, it shares facilities with Matterhorn Campground, a short drive away.
This campground doesn’t take any reservations, so it’s first come, first served. They have 18 sites available during the summer months but be aware that there are no hookups. There are toilets and pressurized water, and you can use the showers at Matterhorn Campground for a fee.
You can park your RV (max. 35ft) right by a picnic table and charcoal fire with stunning views of the San Juan mountains. And we mean stunning. Try and steal sites 13, 14, and 15 if you want to park by the overlook, but it does get windy there.
This is a great spot for minivan or car camping with a tent!
6. Cayton Campground
Is Ouray Riverside Resort a little too luxurious for your taste and Alta Lakes Campground a little too sparse? Cayton Campground, in the San Juan National Forest, is the Goldilocks of Telluride van camping spots. It’s exactly what most vanlife road trippers are looking for!
Cayton Campground is around a 30-minute drive and 21 miles down the San Juan Skyway away from Telluride. Trust us, you will look forward to driving up and down the scenic Highway 145.
It has 27 campsites, and the max RV size is 50ft, so you’ll have plenty of room. They have 16 reservable sites, and 11 of those have electrical hookups. Of the 11 that are first-come, first serve, five of those have 30 amp electrical hookups too.
They also have potable water, toilets, fire grates, and a dump station. There are picnic tables and space for tent campers too. The entire site and facilities are open from May to September. But the campground is also open off-season with no restroom or water facilities.
Thanks to its prime location between the Dolores River and Barlow Creek, it’s a fantastic spot for fishing. There are also lots of trailheads in this area, including Lizard Head Pass, Cross Mountain Trails, and Bear Creek Trail. The Colorado Trail also passes through the campground.
7. Amphitheater Campground
On the other side of the T8 mountains from Telluride is the Amphitheater Campground. It’s around a 75-minute drive and 50 miles around the range from the famous mountain town. But it’s the perfect stopover campground on your way in or out of Telluride.
It’s a large campground with 35 sites for vans and RVs up to 35ft in length as well as tent campers. They have basic restrooms and potable water facilities but note that there are no hookups.
This is a much more secluded campground. Other van camping spots in the area offer scenic views of the mountains. But conifers and oak trees surround the Amphitheater Campground, giving it a more private and remote feel.
Cascade Creek, Portland Creek, Canyon Creek, and Oak Creek all meet near this campground. They offer picturesque views as you hike the nearby Ice Park Loop and Bridge of Heaven trails.
Live Your Best Vanlife With These Top Van Camping Spots in Telluride
With its pine-covered peaks, world-class skiing, hiking trails and other outdoor amenities, Telluride is one of the best places to enjoy vanlife. And now you know where all the best van camping spots are, all you need is an RV, and you’ll be ready to hit the road.
Travellers Autobarn has the best budget camper vans and RV rentals for your road trip to Telluride, CO. We can even offer you discounts with some of our campground partners. Check out our range of vehicles and start planning your Colorado road trip today!
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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.