Campground closure at Rocky Mountain National Park could have ripple effect across Colorado forests

Siblings enjoy camping in Rocky Mountain National Park in August, 2022. The Moraine Park campground, the largest in Rocky, will be closed this summer, reducing the number of campsites available on the park’s eastern side by more than half.

Ed McCarthy / Courtesy photo

With Rocky Mountain National Park’s largest campground shutting down this summer for a modernization project, reducing available campsites on the eastern side of the park by more than half, ripple effects are apt to be felt at campgrounds across the Front Range.

The closure of the Moraine Park Campground means 244 fewer sites for 2023, and it figures to put more pressure on nearby campgrounds in the adjacent Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests, which spreads out along the Continental Divide from Clear Creek County to the Wyoming border, and it ranks as the third-busiest in the U.S.

“Our reservable campgrounds are in high demand,” said Reid Armstrong, Arapaho & Roosevelt spokesperson. “There’s seven and a half million people visiting our forests every year, and a lot of them want to camp. Planners need to be on it, planning their trips now.”

To help, the forest service met with the national park few weeks ago, Armstrong said. “We are going to be working with Rocky Mountain National Park, their front desk and their volunteers, to do some training and provide some information about dispersed camping. We’re going to be putting something together so they can provide some of that information to their visitors.”

There are seven national forest campgrounds with 252 campsites located along the Peak to Peak Highway between Estes Park and Nederland, including two within 15 miles of the park’s eastern entrance gates. Armstrong also suggests campers consider options on the west side of the park. There are 15 national forest campgrounds with more than 400 sites there, four of those located within 15 miles of the park’s Grand Lake entrance. There also is a campground on the western side of the park, eight miles north of the Grand Lake entrance, with 98 sites.