We are truly excited that you’re considering a Colorado camping trip! Let’s talk about what to pack and how to prepare. Not only have we been in this industry for 50 years, but we have been avid campers, so we’re speaking from experience here. We’ll guide you into avoiding mistakes we … and many of your fellow campers … have made in our Colorado journeys.
WI FI ISN’T EVERYWHERE
The internet and wi fi may be common in most areas and, while many Colorado campgrounds offer wi fi, you still might not have it on your entire journey. Even if you have it, signals can be dropped unexpectedly. In 2018 the signal to a large section of CO went out due to a wildfire that damaged some major provider’s infrastructure.
Simply put, pack the tried and true navigational tools of days gone by, just in case.
DON’T HAUL FIREWOOD
It’s critical for every single traveler to understand the devastation that can easily come from carrying pests from one region to another (sometimes even just one county to another). Save the planet and save your packing. Follow the advice of Don’t Move Firewood. Get your firewood at the campground, or perhaps at a wood seller down the road from the campground.
Did you know that certain insects can’t make it over the Rockies on their own? The elevation change keeps them on their own side of the mountain range. That means trees of their preference are destroyed while the same trees on the other side of the Rockies are safe. Guess who CAN get them over the Rockies? Yep, traveling people who are so gracious to give them a ride in the wood supply!
Please, just leave your wood where it is!
DUST OFF THE WEATHER RADIO
In case your mobile device doesn’t have a signal, please have a back-up means of being alerted to nasty weather.
PLENTY OF WATER
It’s always a smart decision to travel with a gallon (or several gallons) of water in case it’s needed. It might quench thirst but it also comes in handy for brushing your teeth, cleaning a new wound, and dousing your campfire. Please always ensure the firepit is cold before you leave your campsite!
If you travel with pets, you know they not only need water for drinking but, oh my, how easily they can unexpectedly roll in something obnoxious! (I write this from experience!) Which leads us to …
Whether for the dog that just rolled in something stinky or for your own mud-caked shoes, rags can come in handy in about a million ways.
PROPER COLORADO ATTIRE
Pack for all seasons. It might snow. It might be extremely hot. And you might experience all four seasons in one day!
When we hit the road, we take everything from our swimming suits to our gloves and sweatshirts (if not parkas!). Sandals might be nice. Hiking boots come in handy for many Colorado camping families. Flip flops can easily double as shower shoes.
CHECK YOUR PROPANE SUPPLY
If you’re camping in an RV, be sure to keep tabs on the propane supply. A cold shower or the chilly night air can make things uncomfortable.
If your cook stove uses propane, keep tabs on your supply. A half-cooked feast isn’t so tasty.
While we’re talking about propane, did you know you can use our search page to find campgrounds that refill propane? You can even specify if you need a place that refills a motorhome vs portable bottles since some stations might support one but not the other. As with all of the searches on that page, you can identify the month. Many campgrounds are open all year, but many more are closed for several months of the year.
It’s best to call ahead to ensure their certified dispenser is on the property when you plan to arrive, especially if you’re just passing through on your way to another destination.
While you might never lose power, sometimes the walks to the restrooms and showers can get dark. There’s no need to trip over tree roots or not see a wild critter when it’s so easy to carry a flashlight.
GRAB MORE BATTERIES
So, you have the flashlights and weather radio, but don’t overlook spare batteries.
LOTS OF ICE
If you’re traveling with a cooler, it won’t work without ice or those re-freezable blue-ice devices.
Consider adding a not-quite filled gallon container of frozen water. As it thaws you then have chilly water for drinking (or for the dog bowl).
We believe in leaving no trace as we travel, and we encourage all Colorado travelers to do the same. What you carry in needs to be carried out.
Most Colorado campgrounds provide large trash cans (and recycling bins) for their camping guests, but you still need to get it from the campsite to their container. Bring multiple small bags so you can part with full bags rather than tossing a bag that isn’t filled to capacity.
Plastic bags are also handy for collecting your dirty clothes, placing your wet or muddy shoes on until they dry, and protecting equipment from being exposed to rain water. If done properly, you can also turn a large trash bag into an instant rain poncho.
Unless you’re planning to completely disconnect, don’t forget your mobile devices and their respective chargers.
FIRST AID KIT
First, consider who is traveling with you. Then, ensure your kit has what might be needed for them. If you already know someone is allergic to bees, add an EpiPen. Asthmatic? Have their inhaler handy. Bandages and ointment are commonly needed. There are plenty of pre-assembled kits you can buy, or you can search online for other common items to pack into yours.
THE LIST IS ENDLESS BUT THANK GOODNESS FOR CAMP STORES
We could carry on and on about what to pack, but we believe we’ve hit upon the key components that are sometimes overlooked. Fortunately, you’ll find that many Colorado campgrounds have camp stores and they carry the items that many of their earlier guests had overlooked.
Before sending you packing, consider other posts we’ve written to prepare campers for their Colorado journey. From altitude sickness to an overview of the eight regions of our state, this page has many links.
Our Find a Campground page makes it easier to narrow the list of campground to those which best suit your preferences.
This publication is supported by funding from the Colorado Tourism Office, a state agency. Turn to Colorado.com for a comprehensive list of festivals, events, historic areas, itineraries, and community insight.