What is the Most Scenic Campground in Rocky Mountain NP?

When planning your visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, choosing a scenic campground is essential. Doing so allows you to wake up to awe-inspiring views, with majestic mountains or serene lakes right outside your tent.

Camping in such picturesque surroundings not only improves your overall experience but also provides the perfect backdrop for creating great memories with friends and family. In this article, I’ll dive into all of Rocky Mountain National Park’s campgrounds, discussing what I like the most about each of them. I’ll also get into which one is my personal favorite. 

mountain landscape at rocky mountain national park
Rocky Mountain National Park is an astonishing wilderness in Colorado, renowned for its remarkable mountain landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and abundant wildlife.

However, before I discuss the most scenic campgrounds here, I want to first mention that Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is a stunning natural treasure located in the heart of Colorado. It encompasses over 415 square miles of pristine wilderness. Established in 1915, the park is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, which include towering mountain peaks, alpine lakes, and lush forests teeming with wildlife. The park is a haven for outdoor lovers, with over 300 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives, and countless opportunities for camping and seeing wildlife.

Overview of RMNP Campgrounds

To kick things off, you need to know that RMNP boasts a total of five campgrounds. Each of these offers a unique camping experience surrounded by the park’s marvelous landscapes. These campgrounds vary in size and amenities, catering to different preferences and camping styles.

Importantly, the campgrounds in RMNP can be categorized into developed, primitive, and group campgrounds. Developed campgrounds have basic amenities such as restrooms and potable water, while primitive campgrounds provide a more rugged camping experience with fewer amenities. Group campgrounds, on the other hand, are ideal for larger gatherings and contain shared facilities for added convenience. 

Factors that Make a Campground Scenic

Unsurprisingly, the surrounding landscapes play a significant role in a campground’s scenic beauty. Campgrounds with views of majestic mountains, dense forests, or tranquil lakes make for a lovely setting, perfect for spending time outdoors.

Additionally, wildlife presence adds to the charm of a scenic campground. Spotting wildlife such as elk, deer, or even bears in their natural habitat makes your camping experience even more memorable.

Moreover, accessibility to hiking trails and viewpoints is another factor that contributes to the scenic value of a campground. Being able to easily access nearby trails and viewpoints allows you to explore the surrounding area and capture impressive vistas without traveling far from your campsite.

Where to camp when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park?

As I mentioned, there are five campgrounds to consider, each spectacular in its unique characteristics. Below is a brief overview but we’ll dig a little deeper into each shortly. 

  1. Aspenglen Campground, located near the Fall River Entrance, is known for its peaceful setting along the Fall River and abundant wildlife. 
  2. Glacier Basin Campground, near the Beaver Meadows Entrance, boasts fabulous mountain views and is close to Glacier Creek. 
  3. Moraine Park Campground is situated in a gorgeous valley and provides expansive meadows and views of surrounding mountains. 
  4. Longs Peak Campground, near the Longs Peak Trailhead, creates a more rustic experience without RV hookups. 
  5. Timber Creek Campground is near the Grand Lake entrance and has excellent views of the Kawuneeche Valley. 

Please note that reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak season, and can be made online or by phone. Also, each campground has amenities such as restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, fire grates, and food storage lockers.

Comparison of Campgrounds in RMNP

Whether you prefer imposing mountain views, laid-back lakeside settings, or convenient access to hiking trails, there’s a campground in RMNP to suit your preferences.

1. Aspenglen Campground:

An RV is seen parked at Aspenglen Campground in RMNP
An RV is seen parked at Aspenglen Campground, which has a beautiful view of the Rockies in the background.

Location: Situated near the Fall River Entrance on the park’s east side.

Unique Features: Aspenglen is known for its peaceful setting amidst towering trees and the Fall River. It provides a great opportunity for spotting wildlife, including elk and deer.

Amenities: Restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, fire grates, and food storage lockers are available. Some sites have electric hookups.

Reservation: Reservations are recommended and can be made online or by phone.

2. Glacier Basin Campground:

A campsite at the Glacier Basin campground in rocky mountain np
A campsite at the Glacier Basin campground surrounded by panoramic mountain views.

Location: Located near the Beaver Meadows Entrance on the east side of the park.

Unique Features: Glacier Basin is surrounded by phenomenal mountain views and is close to 

Glacier Creek.

Amenities: Restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, fire grates, and food storage lockers are available. Some sites have electric hookups.

Reservation: Reservations are highly recommended, especially during the peak season.

3. Moraine Park Campground:

campsite at the Moraine Park campground in RMNP
A typical campsite at the Moraine Park campground. NPS photo

Location: Situated in a sprawling valley near the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.

Unique Features: Moraine Park has extensive meadows and tremendous views of the surrounding mountains, providing a true Rocky Mountain experience.

Amenities: Restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, fire grates, and food storage lockers are available. Some sites have electric hookups.

Reservation: Reservations are highly recommended, especially during the peak season.

4. Longs Peak Campground:

Longs Peak Campground colorado
Only tents are permitted at the Longs Peak Campground. This, coupled with no electricity, makes for a more backcountry-like experience. NPS photo

Location: Located near the Longs Peak Trailhead on the park’s east side.

Unique Features: Longs Peak is the park’s only tent-only campground, offering a more secluded and rustic camping experience.

Amenities: Restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, fire grates, and food storage lockers are available. There are no electric hookups.

Reservation: Longs Peak Campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis; no reservations are accepted.

5. Timber Creek Campground:

Timber Creek Campground
A perfect summer day at Timber Creek Campground. NPS photo

Location: Situated near the Grand Lake Entrance on the west side of the park.

Unique Features: Timber Creek contains sensational views of the Kawuneeche Valley and easy access to hiking trails and fishing spots along the Colorado River.

Amenities: Restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, fire grates, and food storage lockers are available. There are no electric hookups.

Reservation: Reservations are recommended and can be made online or by phone.

Remember, when planning your camping trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, consider each campground’s location, amenities, and reservation requirements to find the best fit for your needs.

Most Scenic Campground in RMNP

Ok. My favorite campground, and often considered the most scenic is Aspenglen Campground. Nestled among towering trees along the banks of the Fall River, Aspenglen has stunning views of the surrounding mountains, easy access to hiking trails, and plenty of chances to spot wildlife. 

Its popularity is due to its strikingly beautiful setting and peaceful atmosphere. The campground’s location along the Fall River provides a gentle backdrop for camping, and the abundance of wildlife in the area, including elk and deer, adds to its allure. Moreover, Aspenglen’s proximity to the Fall River Entrance makes it a convenient choice for visitors entering the park from the east side.

To secure a campsite at Aspenglen, I would highly recommend securing reservations well in advance, especially during the peak season. Reservations can be made online or by phone. Additionally, arriving early in the day can increase your chances of finding a campsite, as some sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Final Thought

To wrap things up, Rocky Mountain National Park stands out for its astounding landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and abundant wildlife. It makes for a truly extraordinary time spent in one of Colorado’s most spectacular national parks. Its five campgrounds—Aspenglen, Glacier Basin, Moraine Park, Longs Peak, and Timber Creek—each have distinctive settings and amenities. From riverside views to mountain vistas, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience. 

As I mentioned, choosing the right campsite is crucial for a successful camping trip. Consider factors like scenery, amenities, and proximity to hiking trails when selecting your campground. To have a more enjoyable time, plan ahead, respect the park’s wildlife and environment and follow Leave No Trace principles. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Rocky Mountain National Park provides the perfect backdrop for a memorable camping adventure.

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FAQ’S

Where is the prettiest place in the Rocky Mountains?

Many people consider the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area in Colorado to be one of the most impressive locations in the Rockies. The Maroon Bells, two towering peaks with a picture-perfect alpine lake at their base, are among the most photographed mountains in North America. 

The area is renowned for its fabulous scenery, including vibrant wildflower meadows, crystal-clear lakes, and rugged mountain peaks. The combination of dramatic landscapes and vibrant colors, particularly in the fall when the aspen trees turn golden, makes this area a favorite among photographers and outdoor lovers alike.

Which side of Rocky Mountain National Park is best?

The best side of Rocky Mountain National Park largely depends on your preferences and interests. The east side is known for its convenient access from Estes Park. It contains iconic sights like the Bear Lake area, Trail Ridge Road, and the bustling Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. This side is ideal for those seeking popular attractions, scenic drives, and easy access to amenities.

On the other hand, the park’s west side is quieter and less developed, providing a more secluded and wilderness-focused experience. The Grand Lake area provides access to hiking trails, fishing spots, and the scenic Kawuneeche Valley. This side is also great if you’re looking to escape the crowds.

What is the most photographed place in the Rocky Mountain National Park?

One of the most photographed places in Rocky Mountain National Park is Dream Lake. Its crystal-clear waters reflect the surrounding mountain peaks, creating a picturesque alpine scene that attracts photographers worldwide. The view of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain reflected in Dream Lake is particularly popular, especially during the fall.

What is the most popular visitor center in Rocky Mountain National Park?

The most popular visitor center in Rocky Mountain National Park is the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. It is located near the park’s entrance and has exhibits on the park’s wildlife, geology, history, and information on hiking trails and ranger-led programs. 

What is the best city to stay in when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park?

The best city to stay in when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park depends on your preferences and itinerary. Having said that, Estes Park is a popular choice. It is located near the park’s eastern entrance and contains many accommodations, dining options, and attractions. Grand Lake, located near the park’s western entrance, is another great option, known for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. Both towns offer easy access to the park and serve as excellent bases for exploring the park.

Where to see the most animals in Rocky Mountain National Park?

To see the most animals in Rocky Mountain National Park, consider visiting areas with diverse habitats and abundant wildlife. The meadows and forests around Moraine Park and the Beaver Meadows area are known for elk sightings, especially during the fall rutting season. 

The Kawuneeche Valley on the park’s west side is another hotspot for wildlife viewing. Here, you’ll find opportunities to see moose, elk, deer, and various bird species. Additionally, the alpine tundra along Trail Ridge Road provides chances to see mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and marmots. Early mornings and evenings tend to be the best times for wildlife viewing in the park.

What is the best lake to visit in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Bear Lake is one of the best lakes to visit in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is easily accessible from the Bear Lake Trailhead and has awesome views of Hallett Peak and the surrounding mountains. The lake is known for its clear, reflective waters and is a popular spot for photography, especially during sunrise and sunset. Bear Lake also serves as the starting point for several hiking trails, including the popular Bear Lake Loop Trail and access to the rest of the park’s trail system.

What is the most photographed spot in Colorado?

One of the most photographed spots in Colorado is the Maroon Bells, located near Aspen. This iconic view of two towering peaks, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, reflected in the waters of Maroon Lake, is particularly impressive in the fall when the aspen trees turn golden. The Maroon Bells are considered among the most photographed mountains in North America due to their striking beauty and dramatic backdrop.

What famous site is in Rocky Mountain National Park?

One of the most famous sites in Rocky Mountain National Park is the Trail Ridge Road. This scenic highway stretches for 48 miles through the park, reaching elevations over 12,000 feet. It comprises incredible views of the Rocky Mountains, alpine meadows, and wildlife habitats. Trail Ridge Road is renowned for being the highest continuous paved road in the United States and provides access to various hiking trails, overlooks, and visitor centers.

What is the best season in Colorado?

The best season in Colorado depends on your preferences and interests, however, Summer is is my favorite. There are tons of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and camping to enjoy at this time of year. Fall is another beautiful time to visit. The park is known for its stunning foliage, making it a great time for scenic drives and hikes. 

Winter brings opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports in the Rockies. Spring introduces milder temperatures and blooming wildflowers, ideal for exploring parks and gardens. Although each season has its own charm in Colorado, the best time to visit depends on the activities you enjoy most.

About Me

My husband and I have three precious daughters and live in the Kansas City, KS area. One of our favorite things to do is travel across the country visiting our extraordinary US National Parks!

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Happy Travels! Sandy

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