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Car Camping and Van Dwelling in Boulder


Original Post
Nic Lazzareschi · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 280

Hey yall, does anyone know good zones to car camp in boulder? Looking for a few places to not get hassled and keep a low profile.

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425

There isn't any camping in Boulder, but if you go up towards Ned on 72 there is forest service access roads you can car camp at. And the west magnolia trailhead right outside of town. You can post up in a van at walmart. There are a couple RV's that are there full time it seems.

fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/rec…

fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/rec…

FYI

Fire Restrictions in place on portions of Boulder Ranger District
Date(s): Sep 24, 2015
Fire restrictions go went into effect on Sept. 24, 2015, on portions of the Roosevelt National Forest in support of the fire ban by Boulder County.

The fire restrictions are in an area bounded on the west by State Highways 7, 72, and 119 (Peak to Peak Highway);on the north by the Boulder County line just north of Highway 36; on the south by Highway 72 (Coal Creek Canyon); and on the east by the Roosevelt National Forest boundary in Boulder County. (See the Order and Map)

Q-man · · Calumet, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 230

Yeah, just look out and don't get shanked while camping out on West Mag.

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
Q-man wrote:Yeah, just look out and don't get shanked while camping out on West Mag.
haha right. That's a good note to make. Unfortunately there are alot of dark forces at play in some of these disperse campgrounds. Not to say things are totally sketch, but there are a couple crazies and bottom feeders around.

When the rainbow family is in town you can always be sure of a stabbing or two. Lock up your stuff at all times, and keep things out of sight.

Another story from Allenspark on forest service land off ski hill road near the St. Vrain Mtn. trailhead. Sheriffs department was cleaning up a meth cook at one of the campsites last weekend. Been camping there for years and never thought I'd see something like that.

All that being said I've been camping in the hills around boulder for almost 10 years with no personal issues. (knock on wood).
Dave Hurst · · somewhat near Boulder CO · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 5

This question gets asked repeatedly on this forum, so what about creating a sticky? Besides, the info has not changed very much in the last several years--

Golden Gate Canyon State Park has limited camping,
White Ranch Park in Jefferson County has limited walk-in camping;
USFS has dispersed and fee-campground camping,
Walmart allows RV camping--except in Boulder, so Longmont, Lafayette OK;
RMNP has camping;
There is also an RV park owned by the City of Golden, right on Clear Creek in downtown Golden.
Might be some other places nearby I have not listed?

No camping in the City of Boulder, or Boulder County, Mountain Parks and Open Space lands,
No camping in the town of Eldorado Springs or the State Park, and
No camping is permitted in Boulder Canyon, South St Vrain Canyon, Clear Creek or Coal Creek Canyons, etc.

If you choose to fly under the radar somewhere, best of luck, some folks have done it on and off for years--but do not be surprised if a deputy or USFS law enforcement, or etc., wakes you up at 2am to ask you to leave or gives you a citation for illegal camping. Plus, as previously mentioned, lots of transients and homeless are also out there squatting these days, and may be less than neighborly...

Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,759
Scott McMahon wrote: When the rainbow family is in town you can always be sure of a stabbing or two.
LOL really? Acid loving hippies turned to organized crime families??
Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
Morgan Patterson wrote: LOL really? Acid loving hippies turned to organized crime families??
I'm not even kidding man. Trashed campsites, stabbings, theft etc. Most locals aren't too happy to have them in town. They have a really bad rep.

This is just last year. Of course these are always actions of individuals, but they obviously not mutually exclusive.

coloradoan.com/story/news/l…

And of course we have a high transient population in the area.
Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,759
Scott McMahon wrote: I'm not even kidding man.
Wow.... thats nutty. What is the world coming to when the hippies are stabbing themselves!
Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
Morgan Patterson wrote: Wow.... thats nutty. What is the world coming to when the hippies are stabbing themselves!
Well some are hippies, and others are transients that align themselves with the group. Usually the fights are over resources, and sometimes those resources are drugs.

If you do some googling you'll find that they rep precedes them, and they generally aren't wanted. It's kinda sad how alot of places they stay are just trashed afterwards. Not the hippies like back when.
Q-man · · Calumet, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 230

Spot on! ^^^ Couldn't of said it better on both of your last posts Scott.

Long Ranger · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 156
Dara · · Peep's republic · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 20

There's also a campground at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont. RV or trailer camping only, they quit allowing tent camping a while back. It's a bit of a drive, though a straight shot down Nelson Road.

Jeff G. · · Fort Collins · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 927

There's a nice campground in downtown Lyons at the Meadows Park with tent and RV sites. Right on the river and 5 minute walk to downtown coffee shops etc.
20 minutes to Boulder and 25 minutes to Estes Park and 10 minutes from St. Vrain climbing.

Phil Lauffen · · Innsbruck, AT · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 2,740

I've been working on a web app that catalogs crowd-sourced free camping sites and displays them on a map. Obviously, I've got a few sites from around Boulder. Check it out here:

freedirt.herokuapp.com/

I'd be psyched if people got interested in this and actually developed it into a good source for finding free camping near any crag.

I'm still developing it, so my apologies for any bugs that crop up (I wouldn't mind if you sent me a pm about it, though:))

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
John Tex wrote:Walmart in boulder does not allow camping. I've camped there for weeks however. Seen two people get arrested however, but the cops in both instances had drugs on the hood of the car. In guessing they attracted some unwanted attention. So don't do drugs and you'll be fine. Or do them smartly. Don't let the transients scare you off. They run like hell and are easy to knock out in the very rare instance they don't. I promise. They're in boulder for a reason. (Wannabe trustafarian hippies, or just the insane amount of money they make from flying a sign)Sure there have been a few stabbings but much less than you'd find in any other city. It's a chill place to camp on the highways a half hour from town or just in a apt complex in a neighborhood that isn't too nosy. I highly doubt you'd be bothered. Lived in a car there for two years and finally got the hell out and have never been bothered at night except for once by a cop who was meeting another cop to bang in the woods at dream canyon at two am. Live in the big thompson now. Great climbing despite the city however. Avoid baseline and broadway. They will damn near take the money from your car if your windows are down and show the slightest sign of weakness. Put them in their place and they'll shut up :)
Great advice from John here. haha yep they mostly stab each other, and just yell obscenities at the rest of us.

And I'm surprised about the Walmart bit. I live a minute away, and there is always a slew parked there. You are probably right though they most likely drew some unwarranted attention. I've seen RV's parked at safeway and even tucked behind vitamin cottage.

+10 on watching out for breakins. Plus we get people that drive in from other towns (Denver etc) to commit crimes, and then hustle back.

Also as far as street parking goes, the cops do watch out people that aren't moving their vehicles and tag them. Where I live in north boulder we always had people using our street as long term "camping" spots. Typically I wouldn't mind except for the fact they weren't leaving enough room for people that lived on the street. If you choose to go that route make sure to respect the residents, and it's recommended to move your vehicle every couple few days.
Long Ranger · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 156

Are we talking about the Walmart off of 30th and Iris?

Their policy may be different, as it's just a grocery store, and not a full-blown Walmart. The food there is pretty gross.

It's parking lot is also shared with the fitness place and whatever's in that mini mall at the moment. I live close there, and I see people parked there for days on end. The Kings Soopers on the other side of 30th also has had some long-term residents. There's been a beat up camper van there for months on end.

Long Ranger · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 156

You know, if you visit Movement early in the morning, you'll see a small rush of people coming out of their Sprinters with sand in their eyes, yawning and grabbing a towel to take a shower in the bathroom.

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
LongRanger wrote:Are we talking about the Walmart off of 30th and Iris? Their policy may be different, as it's just a grocery store, and not a full-blown Walmart. The food there is pretty gross. It's parking lot is also shared with the fitness place and whatever's in that mini mall at the moment. I live close there, and I see people parked there for days on end. The Kings Soopers on the other side of 30th also has had some long-term residents. There's been a beat up camper van there for months on end.
yep. I live on Iris Avenue. The only benefit to that walmart is prices and the fact I don't have to go to target most days.

I think they are supposed to develop that mall again someday.
Nathan D Johnson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 402

Keep in mind that it's technically illegal to camp anywhere within Boulder city limits. That includes sleeping in your car/truck or RV.

Bob . · · lyons, co · Joined May 2012 · Points: 10

There's a Walmart in Broomfield next to the flat irons mall. Maybe 15 min from boulder. The lot is actually pretty peaceful with a nice view.

The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460

I don't have anything to offer from a camping perspective, but always more than happy to offer a shower and laundry room usage for free to any cool, respectful dirtbag climbers coming through town, Open offer, just don't abuse the trust: anyone in need can text me at 423-443-1656 (I work a 50+ hr a week job, so we'd need to work out timing for when I'm home)

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Colorado
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