There’s nothing like camping for convening with nature up close and personal. While many campers restrict their adventures to warm-weather months, winter provides an exhilarating, if more challenging, twist on the theme.
If you’re open to the idea, 5280 magazine suggests these four “beginner-friendly” sites close to Denver:
Grizzly Gulch Trails/Arapahoe National Forest: Just past Silver Plume at the Bakerville exit on I-70, you’ll find a 7.9-mile trail. After the first mile, the trail splits; take the right fork. “Snowshoe for another quarter-mile, then look for open areas with room between the trees for tent platforms,” notes 5280. You can take hikes from the campsite, and the trailhead offers “a decent amount of parking.” No permit or fees required; 51 miles from Denver.
White Ranch Park/ Jeffco Open Space: A perfect place for snowshoeing, this park in Golden offers 3,953 acres and 21.7 miles of trails. The park allows winter camping at its Sawmill Campground, “which has semi-primitive, tent-only, walk-in sites,” according to 5280. You’ll have lots of trails to choose from, and you’re likely to be much warmer here than at higher elevations. Permits ($12) must be secured seven days in advance of your trip; 21 miles from Denver.
Brainard Lake Recreation Area/ Roosevelt National Forest/ Indian Peaks Wilderness Area: Only 23 miles from Boulder, on the western end of Lefthand Canyon Drive, this “lake-dotted landscape” provides ample snowshoe trails. When it comes to pitching your tent, “almost any flat spot in the trees is fair game, so long as you’re a quarter-mile from trailheads, picnic areas, and any developed campgrounds,” notes 5280. No fee required between Nov. 15 and April 20; 53 miles from Denver.
Second Creek Trail/ Arapahoe National Forest: This Berthoud Pass spot offers a “moderately strenuous, two-mile roundtrip trek…often used by hut-trippers headed to Broome Hut,” reports 5280. The magazine recommends raising your tent in the First Creek basin that’s west of the hut near timberline. No permit or fee required; 58 miles from Denver.