When we purchased our first ATVs and Dirt Bikes (or OHVs), we wanted to know where in Colorado we were allowed to ride. We were not alone as many of our friends and family had no idea where to ride and they were curios to find out as well. Our research took us to the internet as well as local motorcycle stores.
How do you to Find Great OHV Dispersed Camping in Colorado? Your local Motorcycle and ATV dealers have books and maps in their resource section. Most of the staff at these locations are riders themselves and can point you in the right direction on places to ride. In addition, on-line resources from government sites like the National Forest or the Bureau of Land Management have interactive maps that outline places to camp and ride in Colorado.
With over 23 million acres of public land in Colorado, we knew there had to be some great areas to camp and ride. Here are some of those secrets we found.
Your Local Motorcycle Dealer is an Invaluable Resource for Places to Ride
There we were in the accessories and apparel section of the motorcycle shop. We had just purchased our ATV’s and motorcycles and needed supplies. In addition to getting helmets, gloves and boots, we also asked for books and maps of local riding areas.
Asking for books and maps is a very common question in the ATV and motorcycle stores and they have bookshelves lined with these resources. Anywhere from well know authors like Charles Wells and his Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, to smaller pamphlets on a single area of trails - your local dealer will have it.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask the people who work at the dealers. Most of them are riders too and would love to share their favorite places to ride. The sales person who sold us our toys was an avid Trials Rider (Trial’s bikes are those funny motorcycles with no seat, but can climb a 10-ft cliff with ease). It was very refreshing to know Colorado had places that tailor to this type of riding as well.
It was at the dealership we learned about two of our NOW favorite places to ride and camp. Texas Creek and Rampart Range.
Texas Creek Recreational Area is an awesome place to camp and ride. It only offers dispersed camping (meaning no hookups of any kind), but also direct access to some of the coolest trails I have seen. It is only about 1 ½ hours from Colorado Springs, making it close enough for even a day-trip if we wanted. Another cool thing about Texas Creek is it is lower in elevation meaning we can camp there in early spring and not run into very much snow.
Rampart Range Recreation Area is more of a riding location rather than a camping location. There are some camping spots if you want, but it is so close to Colorado Springs (about 45 min) that we have only gone out for the day. With over 100 miles of trails, we still have not exhausted this trail system.
It us just human nature, we like to talk. When we feel passionate about a subject, we are all of a sudden no longer shy, but would rather want to express our feelings. I find it amazing that a person is usually very quiet, but if you hit the right button, they cannot shut up.
I find that when I, or many others, start to talk about camping, we just can’t help it to share our favorite places to go and the cool things we do when we get there. I remember in high school, we would go to school Monday morning. Most of the kids would talk about the wild party they went to, I would talk about that awesome 30-foot jump I did while camping.
This is how we found many of our camping locations in Colorado. We just started talking about where we have been and before you know it, someone always says, “Did you ever go to this spot?” You get a very unique critique that you cannot find in any book or on any map.
Badger Flats OHV Trails near Tarryall Reservoir was a location we found by word-of-mouth. My good friend Mr. Bill was bragging about our camping and riding activities and someone mentioned some great riding and camping near Tarryall Reservoir. Moreover, they said to be sure to hit the “China Wall” trail. Well that got us curious and we scheduled our next Memorial Day camping trips to the area and were not disappointed.
Trail 717 in Pike National Forest is another gem we found from simply talking to others. It is only about 45 miles from Colorado Springs and has 100’s of miles of trails. A little higher in elevation, we usually start riding here in late June. Whenever we have friends visit us from out of town, we usually take them on a ride on these trails.
So, don’t be afraid to share your excitement and you will soon get equally exciting recommendation you can take advantage of. It is human nature to share, so let’s all share!
If you are just so brand new to the area and way too shy to ask anyone, then look to the Internet for locations. All kidding aside, the on-line resources that are available these days are awesome. Some have interactive maps that you can filter down to find only free campsites, or only single-track trails.
The US Government is responsible for all of the Public Lands in Colorado. There are a few State and County lands that allow OHV use, but the majority of Public Lands are National Forest and BLM lands. With so many people asking questions on where to ride and camp, these government sites provide excellent resources.
The U.S. Forest Service Interactive Map – Use the Interactive map to locate places to camp and ride, or other activities you enjoy. For example, you can search for only areas that allow ATV/OHV access. You will fine Colorado has over 11,700 trails for ATVs up to 50 inches wide.
The Bureau of Land Management Maps – Another great resource for locating places to ride your OHV toy. Searching for “Off Highway Vehicle” in Colorado shows over 30 areas that allow OHV riding. Looking at this list I see several I have yet to explore, I know what I am doing in the near future.
The government does not hold the monopoly when it comes to on-line resources. Private sites such as Trail Source Online Maps and ATV Trails offer not only maps and location data, but often reviews of the areas with rating systems. Often to get to the good services there will be a fee to use these private sites, but it might be worth it if you are very unsure of the area.
Apps that you can use on your phone or mobile device offer great maps you can use while off-road. The one I use the most is Gaia GPS. It not only interacts with the GPS built into your phone for a very detailed mapping and tracking system, but I can use the Snap-to-trail feature to map out our next trip and see exactly how many miles the route will be as well.
Forums and groups are also a great place to get ideas on where to camp. I belong to a very large Facebook group that is all about camping. You can usually ask questions in these groups and see some of the great photos and videos they take of the areas to wet your appetite.
One of the locations we found using on-line research was Wylie Gulch in the Wet Mountains.
Wylie Gulch – Located in the Wet Mountains just west of I-25 between Pueblo and Walsenburg CO. Another relatively low area, we wanted an alternate location for Memorial Day weekend and not have much snow. In fact, when we went we were already in a high fire danger area as we got very little snow that winter. Wylie Gulch has great trails, wide open camping and access to one of the coolest landmarks in Colorado – Bishops Castle.
What is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)? The BLM is a government organization that manages and maintains over 245 million acres of public land in the United States. The BLM is part of the US Department of the Interior and was created by President Truman in 1946. Fun fact the BLM land are about 1/8 of all landmass in the US.
Camp Wild Ride ®