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Early Summer RV and Camping Guide to North Park

Get Ready to Explore Your New Favorite Place!

Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of outdoor summer fun in North Park. The weather plays a big part in this, with late spring snow storms entirely possible. The occasional flurry will still fall, and there is still plenty of snow yet to melt in the mountains. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about your next adventure in North Park.

Whether you are a backpacker, dispersed camper, boondocker, or like glamping in the comfort of a 30’ camp trailer, North Park features some of the best camping in the state. Outdoor recreation in North Park is unmatched anywhere in Colorado, with plenty of popular spots and favorite places yet to be discovered.

 

Boondocking, Tents, and RV Camping in North Park

If you are just starting out with RV Camping or you are a veteran boondocker, North Park is a haven for getting out of the traffic and noise of the city and finding yourself back in nature. To ensure limited impact from visitors, many established campgrounds can be found throughout Jackson County. Many campgrounds accommodate visitors with pit toilets and tent pads.

Day use and overnight fees at established campgrounds may apply for National Forest camping and State Forest land. North Park also has thousands of acres of BLM land for dispersed camping and finding a more long-term spot to explore North Park at your leisure. 

Use apps such as iOverlander, Freecampsites.net, or The Dyrt to find public land for camping. Or better yet, stop by the National Forest Service HQ in Walden to chat with a ranger and pick up some maps that work without wireless service.

Here are some areas to check out in the North Park area:

Glamping in North Park

If sleeping in a sleeping bag and boiling water over an open fire isn’t your thing, you might be more interested in a more luxurious stay. Glamping covers a wide range of categories when it comes to enjoying the outdoors. From simple cabins to tricked out RVs and vans. Or simply check our directory. You will find all sorts of places to stay on your visit that will work at the perfect jumping off point to see North Park. Read more about Yonder Yurts, which is reopening the yurts year-round for a truly unique glamping experience.

Dispersed Tent Camping

For backpackers, thru-hikers, and those who enjoy tent camping, Jackson County has no shortage of public land to explore. Here are some spots you should consider for your next visit

  • State Forest State Park: From Kelly Lake to Lake Catherine, Ranger Lakes, Michigan Reservoir, and more!
  • Arapaho and Routt National Forest: Much of the southern end of Jackson County provides access to these forested mountain areas. Visit the ruins of Teller City, a boom town slowly being reclaimed by the land. 
  • Medicine Bow National Forest: North of the State Forest State Park, you will find access to the southern end of the Medicine Bow National Forest, which extends into Wyoming. 
  • Mt. Zirkel and Big Creek Lakes: Hiking, fishing, and miles upon miles of trails await visitors to the Park Range. Hike along the Grizzly-Helena Trail or cast a line to try for an elusive mackinaw trout or tiger muskie in Big Creek Lake.

Continental Divide Trail

Did you know that the Park Range is a section of the Continental Divide Trail? From Rabbit Ears Pass, along the spine of the Park Range, towards Encampment, this portion of the CDT is still one of the wildest and more underdeveloped hikes in the United States. 

It is as beautiful as it is challenging. If you want to see Colorado at its most striking and rugged, this is the place. Thru-hikers or people just knocking out a section of the CDT will love this leg of one of the biggest thru-hikes in America.

Just Passing Through

Walden is a great place to stop and rest your legs if you are in the middle of your epic summer road trip. We have plenty of restaurants, from burgers and pizza, to Mexican food and steaks. You’ll also find spots to stop to make your own picnic. Each year, bicyclers, road-trippers, and other visitors use the grills at Hanson Park and other day use areas throughout the county. 

Stop A While and Enjoy North Park

Hanson Park offers a great place to unwind with a sand volleyball pit, playground, and even a good spot to pitch a tent for the night if you are biking or hiking through. Use the park BBQ grills to whip up some burgers or ribs before getting back on the road.

Stopping in Walden also gives you a chance to slow down and enjoy the trip through some of the most beautiful country in Colorado. We are pretty biased. Whether it is a stop for an hour to browse the shops downtown, or explore for a few days, be sure to take your time when driving to avoid accidents and even animal impacts.

Respect Private Property

Visitors to North Park should be aware of their location to avoid trespassing. Signs are posted to let travelers know to stay on public roads when crossing private lands. Entering private property without permission could endanger livestock, yourself, and others. Abandoned mines and structures can also be found in Jackson County, which may be unstable and dangerous to enter. Trespassing is also considered unlawful, so know before you go.

Visitor Facilities in Walden

RV Dump and Fresh Water

The Town of Walden provides an RV dump and potable water station for travelers at the corner of 3rd Street and Washington near the baseball fields. Several dumpsters are also available for your convenience. We would rather provide a place for your trash than have it blowing around and ruining our landscape. There is no charge to use these facilities, but donations are appreciated and highly encouraged.

Showers and Pool

Showers are also available at the Jackson County Pool, but visitors are more than welcome to have a dip in our year round heated indoor pool after a long day in the mountains. Contact the Jackson County Pool for hours and prices.

Environmental Impact and Your Safety

Leaving no trace and packing your trash—or leaving it in public trash receptacles—is important to locals and should be crucial for travelers. Not only does litter damage a beautiful landscape, but it also encourages unwanted contact with wildlife. North Park is not only known for its moose, but also a healthy population of coyotes, deer, elk, mountain lions, and bears. 

Use bear canisters and bear-proof coolers when camping in North Park. Dispose of your garbage properly to avoid attracting animals. Not only can eating your scraps encourage dangerous encounters with wild animals, it can also make them very sick. 

Never approach wildlife

Wild animals are best viewed from a safe distance, especially if they are with their young. Keep pets and yourself at a distance. Carry bear spray if you are hiking in the backcountry for added protection.

Stay on the Trails

When venturing into the more pristine areas of North Park, it is important to hike on established trails and use tent pads whenever possible. Not only does this limit getting lost and preventing search and rescue efforts if you are injured, it also reduces the amount of impact travelers have on the land. 

Foot traffic and trampling can result in erosion and reduce the spread of litter in our wildernesses. For dispersed camping, you should always practice leave-no-trace camping. 

Weather is Always Changing

Up in the mountains, we have a saying. If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes. Memorial Day weekend often starts off with a lot of visitors and travelers passing through, but the weather isn’t always cooperative with people’s plans. Memorial Day Weekend has often been clear and warm, rainy, or even snow storms and flurries. Remember to dress appropriately for the weather and always let others know where you are going and when to expect you to return for safety.

Fire Safety Awareness

The Rocky Mountain region is still recovering from a series of droughts and pine beetle infestations, which have left our forests vulnerable to wildfires. Fire is a natural part of the lifecycle of a forest, and lightning strikes have been known to cause burns, especially in dry seasons. However, higher influxes of visitors have also resulted in fires raging out of control due to careless fire use. Always observe the fire advisories and respect fire bans if they are in effect.

In recent years, thousands of acres of forest and public lands were destroyed in North Park due to wildfires. These wildlands are making a comeback and the people whose homes and property were lost are slowly making a comeback, but the threat of fire is still present and very real.

OHV Safety

Memorial Day is one of the first big weekends in North Park for OHVs, especially at the North Sand Hills. Every year someone is seriously injured in an OHV accident on Memorial Day weekend. This is partially due to the high numbers of people on the dunes, and also in part to the number of people on the dunes who are high.

As much fun as riding ATVs or side-by-sides is on public land, each year several people are seriously injured and even die in OHV accidents. Here are some important things to remember to have a safe and fun time:

  • Wear helmets and other safety equipment
  • Don’t ride/drive/etc. while under the influence
  • Ride with common sense
  • Stay on trails
  • Pay attention to your surroundings: Barbed wire fences, cliffs, and other riders

North Park Welcomes You This Summer!

North Park is a four season destination, with each part of the year offering something new and amazing for visitors. Summer is perhaps the best at providing access to mountains, forest, and lakes in Jackson County. We enjoy our visitors and hope they enjoy their experiences in North Park. By respecting land use and taking care to practice low/no-impact camping on your visit, you can help make sure these places are just as beautiful for future generations.


 

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