Two campers and their dog enjoy a leisurely day in a Colorado camp area.
Jill White Smith

Camping and Boating in Southeastern Colorado

No car horns. No screeching tires. No traffic jams, no neighbors partying (or arguing) into the wee hours, no streetlights that block out the night sky or any of those other things that make us think, “Wow, I need to get away.” Boating on glassy, uncrowded waters during the day and camping in the great outdoors at night. It’s remote. It’s real. It’s raw. And nothing says “authentic Colorado” like going to sleep with a billion stars overhead.
PlaceCountyAuthorityTents to RVUtilitiesCostReservationBath/ShowerDump Station
John Martin ReserviorBentCPW and CEAllNoneLinkRequired at least 24 hours in advance. First come, first serve.Vault only. Showers at Hasty Campground.Only at Hasty Campground.
Hasty LakeBentCPWAllElectric onlyLinkSuggestedYesYes
Higbee SWAProwersCPWAll, very limited (shooting range on property)NoneNoneNoneNoneNone
ThurstonProwersCPWNo longer allows camping of any kind
Two Buttes LakeBacaCPWAllNoneNoneFirst come, first serveVaultNone
Black HoleBacaCPWHigh profile vehicles not suggested due to roadsNoneNoneFirst come, first serveVaultNone
Carrizo CanyonBacaCNGAllNoneNoneFirst come, first serveVaultNone
Cottonwood CanyonBacaCNGPrivate owners must be contacted
Upper and Lower QueensKiowaCPWAllNoneNoneFirst come, first serveVault on northwest, boat ramp onlyNone
Nee NosheKiowaCPWAllNoneNoneFirst come, first serveVault, 2 boat rampsNone
Nee GrondaKiowaCPWArea under developmentFirst come, first serveBoat rampNone
Blue LakeKiowaCPWAllNoneNoneFirst come, first serveVault, boat rampNone
Holbrook ReservoirOteroCPWAllNoneNoneFirst come, first serveVaultNone
Lake MeredithCrowleyCPWAllNoneNoneFirst come, first serveBoat rampNone
Lake HenryCrowleyCPWAllNoneNoneFirst come, first serveBoat rampNone

Between Earth and Sky

Camping in southeast Colorado is an adventure waiting to happen. Unlike some places where "getting away from it all" is getting harder and harder to do, many campsites in the canyons and plains are located in more remote places. People who seek those experiences only camping can provide (you know who you are) know what it means to escape the sounds of semi-trucks on the highway or the wail of sirens or passing radios with the volume turned a little too high. The joys of camping in these canyons and plains are gifts from the nature that surrounds. A brilliant moon, a million stars, the music of the crickets and the occasional frog singing in the night.

Once the sun rises, daytime camping in remote areas can include trails, fishing, watching shorebirds or gulls and just enjoying the feel of your blood pressure dropping as you escape the stressors found in day-to-day life.

If you like a more populated camp site where you can meet people from places far and wide, southeast Colorado claims the twin areas of John Martin Reservoir State Park and Hasty campground where more familiar people comforts abound, including showers and laundry facilities.

If you are someone who likes to combine camping and getting out on the water with your fishing boat, kayak, or speed boat there are a number of hidden jewels that have enough accommodations to make camping and water sports a memorable experience with few people to interfere.

The table provides a summary of the most popular public areas for camping. Just one note—it's not a comprehensive list. To find additional information, checkout the various links where information is provided on how many sites are available at a given location, how to travel to the sites and how long you can stay. Keep in mind that not all State Wildlife Area's allow camping. Also, be sure to read about each individual location at Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.

In addition to public areas, a few private land owners who now offer bed-and-breakfast stays at their farms and ranches. Staying at one of these locations may give you access to all that their home place has to offer from hunting and fishing to wildlife viewing to experiencing what it means to be a rancher or farmer while learning the pioneer history of the area. It is best to contact each individual property owner for more information.

The Colorado Birding Trail has created a list of locals who have invited the public to their home places. Each property is very unique, and some have fees involved.

An example of one of these home places is the Bunk House at the ranch of Casey and Laneha Everett in Baca County. This working ranch offers a comfortable bunk house, tours of the area from a knowledgeable and very gifted guide and much more!

Further Reading

Colorado Parks and Wildlife
National Parks and Wildlife
Comanche National Grassland
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service

The Comanche National Grassland includes over 440, 000 acres in southeastern Colorado. On the Comanche National Grassland, you can explore southeastern Colorado's rich history...

Welcome to John Martin Dam & Reservoir
United States Army Corps of Engineers Albuquerque District

John Martin Reservoir is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer managed lake, however the recreation areas and campgrounds are managed by Colorado State Parks...