There are four different types of camping areas in Gunnison Crested Butte — dispersed, designated, developed and private. Discover which type is the best fit for you.
Dispersed camping is camping outside of a designated campground. This type of camping is available on public lands, such as National Forest or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Dispersed campsites have no amenities. This type of camping is sometimes referred to as “boondocking.” Dispersed camping is first-come, first-served, and is almost always free. To abide by the principles of Leave No Trace, dispersed camping should take place only in sites where people have camped before. See the Leave No Trace section below for tips on how to camp responsibly.
Designated dispersed camping, usually referred to simply as designated camping, is dispersed camping in sites that have been marked by land managers. Much of the camping in the Gunnison Valley is designated. As camping here increases in popularity, more and more dispersed camping zones will move to designated camping only. In designated camping zones, people who camp outside of marked sites can be ticketed (or worse). Having designated sites isolates wear and tear on the land in accord with the principles of Leave No Trace.
A developed campground is a campground managed by an entity that provides amenities. Most developed campgrounds in the Gunnison Valley are managed by the Forest Service. Amenities at developed campgrounds may include toilets, tent platforms, metal fire rings, picnic tables, running water, electric hookups, showers and more. There is usually a fee to camp in developed campgrounds. It’s important to research developed campgrounds before you arrive so you know what amenities to expect. Some developed campgrounds allow reservations; others operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
A private campground is a developed campground managed by a private company, rather than a government entity such as the Forest Service.
Nearly all vehicle-access campsites in the north valley have transitioned from dispersed to designated. This means that in most public lands around Crested Butte, you may only camp in sites marked by a sign like the one in this photo. Visit Crested Butte Mountain Biking Association’s website for a map and more information.
Most of the non-private camping near Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte is managed by the Forest Service. For more information on campground locations and amenities, check out the Forest Service’s Gunnison Basin Camping Guide. Certain developed campgrounds in this area, including the Lake Irwin and Lost Lake campgrounds, require reservations. Visit recreation.gov to learn more and reserve your spot.
|Gothic/Schofield Pass Road||Designated and developed||Amenities vary|
|Upper East River/Poverty Gulch||Designated||Fire rings|
|Kebler Pass||Designated and developed||Amenities vary|
|Lake Irwin||Designated and developed||Amenities vary|
|Washington Gulch Road||Designated and developed||Amenities vary|
|Slate River Road||Designated and developed||Amenities vary|
|Brush Creek Road||Designated||Fire rings|
|Cement Creek Road||Designated and developed||Amenities vary|
The Forest Service manages all the non-private campgrounds in Almont, Taylor Canyon, and Taylor Park. For more information, view the Forest Service’s Gunnison Basin Camping Guide. Some campgrounds in Taylor Canyon, including Rosy Lane and One Mile, require reservations. Reserve your site and learn more at recreation.gov.
|Taylor Park||Dispersed and developed||Amenities vary|
|Taylor Canyon Road||Developed||Metal fire rings, picnic tables, pit toilets|
|Spring Creek Road||Dispersed||No amenities|
Public camping areas near Gunnison are managed by many different entities, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Forest Service and the National Park Service. To learn more about each campground or camping area, click its name in the chart below.
|Mill Creek Road||Dispersed||Pit toilet in main parking lot|
|Hartman Rocks||Designated||Metal fire rings, picnic tables, some pit toilets|
|Black Canyon National Park||Developed||Metal fire rings, picnic tables, toilets|
|Blue Mesa Reservoir/Curecanti National Recreation Area||Developed||Metal fire rings, picnic tables, toilets|
Planning on having a campfire during your visit to Gunnison and Crested Butte? Check our Travel Alerts page first to learn about current fire restrictions and other important alerts.
Here are some tips on how to make your camping trip stress-free and low-impact.
For more information on Leave No Trace ethics, visit the Center for Outdoor Ethics website.
Be sure to check out the other spring, fall and summer activities Crested Butte and Gunnison have to offer. There are hundreds of miles of mountain biking and hiking trails, rivers to raft and fish, rocks to climb, good food to eat, and cool towns to see. Check out our trip planning page to learn more!