San Isabel National Forest
RV Guide


Three million acres of the Rocky Mountain Region in Colorado are designated as the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, which are managed together by the Forest Service. San Isabel National Forest has a majority of Colorado's 14ers, meaning peaks that are over 14,000 feet high. You can gaze up at the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains and the state, Mount Elbert. If you are the more adventurous type, you can even climb up the 14,440-foot mammoth.

There are stunning views to reward hikers who challenge themselves on some of the states highest peaks and camping opportunities for those who wish to get closer to nature. You'll discover lakes where anglers can try their luck with fishing and boating options. If you prefer to explore on wheels, you can drive along scenic routes and OHV trails. In the wintertime, the landscape transforms and invites skiing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. While there are dozens are RV camping options in San Isabel National Forest, we have highlighted the top RV campgrounds below.

RV Rentals in San Isabel National Forest



San Isabel National Forest is located in central Colorado, not far from Colorado Springs and Denver. The forest covers over one million acres of land across 11 counties of Colorado. Although the forest is situated near several large highways, you'll still want to use caution while driving this mountainous region. Smaller roads may be narrow and curvy. Driving in the area during the winter brings another set of precautions. The altitude means that during the snow time, it is advisable to have snow chains and watch out for weather warnings and road closures. Most of the campsites have ample parking spaces, with paved roads where you can easily maneuver. Some of the towns in the area include Buena Vista, Canon City, and Twin Lakes.


Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in San Isabel National Forest

Campsites in San Isabel National Forest

Reservations camping

Camping at Turquoise Lake

Some of the most popular camping spots in the San Isabel National Forest are the ones in the Turquoise Lake Recreation Area. There are eight campgrounds to choose from, featuring over 300 sites for RVs and tents. You will have access to flushing toilets, a dump station, boat ramps, and hiking trails.

There are picnic tables for dining, expansive grassy areas to relax in or play ball games in, and spectacular views of Mount Massive and the Holy Cross Wilderness. These developed campsites also have plenty of parking spaces for RVs and campervans, so you can camp in style with your full set up.

Chalk Lake Campground

Chalk Lake Campground is located near the Chalk Creek, where you can enjoy fishing or spending time on the water. Most of the 18 campsites are right on the stream, and the campground is located walking distance from Chalk Lake. Open from May to September, the campground features clean pit toilets, secluded tent sites, and pull-through sites for RVs. Dogs are welcome and the maximum RV length is 50 feet.

First-come first-served

Dexter's Point Campground

Boaters and anglers particularly enjoy the campsites at Dexter's Point along the shores of Twin Lakes Reservoir. This campground features waterfront campsites, with beautiful views of the lake. Each site features a picnic table, fire ring, and grill. You'll have access to vault toilets as well. Dogs are welcome, as long as they are kept on a leash outdoors. This campground is in bear country, so make sure to stay alert and lock up your food properly.

Seasonal activities in San Isabel National Forest



One of the biggest draws to Colorado are the impressive 53 fourtneers, 19 of which are located within this National Forest. Hikers can challenge themselves on any of the 800 miles of trails criss-crossing the spectacular landscape. On your hikes, you will see sparkling alpine lakes, Ponderosa pines, expansive meadows, steep rising mountain passes, and a variety of wildlife along your hike.

If you try the 5.5-mile Timberline Lake Trail you need to bring plenty of water along with waterproof hiking boots, since you will be passing through many streams and thick mud. The amazing lake and forested mountain views are well worth it, though.

The Browns Creek Waterfall Trail leads hikers across a variation of mountain topography. You will find yourself walking from rocky to wooded areas. The end of the trail will reward you with a beautiful waterfall at the top. The 5.8-mile Hagerman Tunnel Trail is an easier trail that takes you through Hagermans Tunnel, which features impressive icicles marking the entrance.


It is possible to hunt on the public forest land in Colorado, however, you must have the appropriate hunting licenses and only hunt during designated hunting season. There are hundreds of elk grouped up in summer herds, but they quickly disperse when autumn comes around. That is when archery season opens and you can test your hunting skills. Other game in the area include deer or pronghorn. There are also places where you can hunt small game birds or waterfowl.

Historic Viewing

If you are interested in topographical history you will enjoy exploring the remote back country in the nearby Comanche National Grassland. Here are the historical and cultural sites which have imprints of ancient life forms.

If you head your campervan to Picketwire Canyon, you can see dinosaur tracks from the Jurassic Period, some 150 million years ago. This is because the dinosaurs walked along the shore of shallow lakes, where their tracks were imprinted in the mud. This area holds the largest collection of dinosaur footprints in North America, with over 1,300 visible tracks.

You can also see remnants of the area's ancient inhabitants from 1,500 years, when they drew art on the canyon walls. This rock art told stories of Native Americans, such as successful hunts or plentiful food.


Mountain Biking

There are plenty of Mountain Bike trails in the San Isabel National Forest which will give you expansive views of the stunning peaks in Colorado. The Cottonwood Trail is one of the newest trail and includes Beasway and Rumba Ridge trail systems on the Arkansas Hills Trail System. You can ride it as a 22-mile loop or a one-way 11-mile trip, which takes you down an impressive 2,500 foot descent. The trail is relatively smooth with a few technical sections where you need to be careful.

A easier loop to try is the Twin Lakes Loop. It is an 18-mile loop of flat riding with spectacular views encircling Twin Lakes. On this trail, you will be able to see the beautiful Mount Elbert, which is the tallest mountain in Colorado.

Four-Wheel Driving

The expansive National Forest means there are extraordinary chances to four-wheel drive the picturesque mountains of Colorado. The Mount Princeton Trail is a favorite, with extraordinary views for those who reach the top. The road, however, is extremely challenging and requires your vehicle to have high clearance and enough power to get you over tough sections. There are also sections with large drop offs near the top of the trail, so beware if you are afraid of heights.

The Mount Antero Trail is another challenging off-road trail. The forested part of the path is quite bumpy and narrow, however, once you reach above the tree line you are rewarded with the stunning views of the other tall peaks within San Isabel National Forest.


If you are an avid boater, and wish to speed along the lake water while enjoying the Vista of Colorado's beautiful peaks, then make sure to bring your boat on your trailer. Cottonwood Lake has a boating ramp where you can lower your non-motorized boats into the water and paddle about with stunning surroundings. There is a large picnic area near by, ADA-accessible fishing docks, and plenty of parking for your rig.