San Juan National Forest

Camping
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There are 39 developed campgrounds on the San Juan National Forest. Although scenery and settings vary, most have similar facilities, and all are close to numerous recreational opportunities; some situated nearby Colorado's many hot springs. In general, the campground season begins as soon as sites are snow-free. Full operation begins around Memorial Day weekend and ends after Labor Day. The more popular campgrounds are near the larger lakes, major highways, and communities. A few may be full on summer weekends and holidays, but sites are usually available at most campgrounds. Sites are sometimes closed to repair damage caused by heavy use. We welcome holders of Golden Age Passports and Golden Access Passports (free to persons with a disability), who receive a 50% discount on camping fees. The Passports, which also give free access to all National Parks and are good for life, are available to qualified applicants at Forest Service offices.

Since 1989, the San Juan National Forest has been part of a nationwide reservation system allowing vacationers to reserve sites before they arrive at campgrounds. A private contractor takes reservations for more than 500 campgrounds across the nation.

In the San Juan National Forest, sites at 13 campgrounds may be reserved by calling toll-free 800-280-CAMP (800-280-2267); TDD 800-879-4496; FAX (301) 722-9802.

Group campsites and group picnic grounds must be reserved in advance. Most are reserved through the above 800 numbers, but a few are reserved through Forest Service Ranger District offices. You may make reservations up to 120 days in advance for individual sites and up to 360 days in advance for group sites. Reservations must be made at least 10 days ahead of your planned arrival for individual sites and 3 days in advance for group sites.

The majority of campsites on the Forest are on a first-come, first-served basis, so both campers who like to plan ahead and those who don't can be accommodated.

Fee campgrounds generally include a table and fire grate at each site, centrally located toilets, and drinking water. In some campgrounds you have to remove your own trash; a few have sanitary dumping stations. Except at McPhee Campground, where there are showers and sixteen sites with electric hookups, the San Juan National Forest does not provide showers, laundries, or hookups for recreational vehicles.

Most roads and parking areas within campgrounds are gravel, although a few are paved. Each campground has a self-service registration and fee-payment station near the entrance. You'll also find regulations and additional information posted at prominent locations.

All of our new facilities have barrier-free access, and old ones are being retrofitted as budgets allow. Many campgrounds have resident "Hosts" who volunteer their time and skills to the Forest Service and the public. They offer a friendly smile and a helping hand.

National Forest campgrounds provide temporary sites for vacationers. All campers are subject to a 14-day limit.

For campground descriptions, choose a San Juan NF region:

East-West Corridor
Piedra River
Vallecito Reservoir
Lemon Reservoir
U.S. 550 Corridor


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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