South Platte Ranger District

Area Status: Open
This area is Open
 

View of the surrounding moutains from Devil's Head Tower.

The South Platte Ranger District is part of the Pike & San Isabel National Forests and Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands.  It is located east of the Continental Divide in the central Rocky Mountains and lies adjacent to the Denver Metro area in Park, Jefferson, Douglas, Clear Creek and Teller counties. 

It is proximity to Denver, with a population of over 2 million people, results in approximately 2,500,000 visits a year, a number that exceeds the total use on 47 National Forests across the Nation. 

The South Platte District is 460,000 acres in size with elevations ranging from 5,800 feet in the east, to over 14,000 feet in the north.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Office hours are Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Closed on Federal holidays and weekends. 

19316 Goddard Ranch Court
Morrison, CO 80465
303.275.5610

Note: Although the address is listed as Morrison, neither our office nor any of our campgrounds, is located in the town of Morrison. The closest campground is at least an hour drive from our office. For camping near Red Rocks Amphitheatre, contact Bear Creek Lake Park at 303.697.6159.
Rentals & Guides: Several resources exist for information on the South Platte Ranger District. The Pike National Forest map shows all recreational areas including trails, Forest Service roads, campgrounds, picnic areas, and Forest Service land vs. private land.

Trail guides, brochures and pamphlets are available at our main office and on our website. Other resources include National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated maps, Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM), USGS Topographical maps and numerous published trail guide books available at your local library, bookstore, or sports store. Call the office for free information sent to you by postal mail.
Fees No entrance fees. Some parking areas and campgrounds have day use or overnight camping fees. Our campgrounds are operated by Rocky Mountain Recreation Concessionaire (RMRC) and honor a 50% for the Senior and Access passes. Interagency Annual passes are not subject to the 50% discount.
Permit Info: Permits are not required for hiking, camping, horseback riding or general visiting of the National Forest. Wilderness areas do have free self issuing permits at all trailheads to help tally human use for funding.

Permits are required for products taken from National Forest, whether used personally or commercially, for events or gatherings on National Forest lands, or for running a business on National Forest Lands.  Contact the office for more details. If in doubt whether you need a permit, phone the office for assistance.
Restrictions: Restrictions exist for motor vehicle use, including snowmobiles, ATVs, motorcycles, 4x4 vehicles, and other Off Highway Vehicle (OHV). We issue a free Motor Vehicle Use Map which indicated which roads and trails are open to what type of vehicle. These are issued free of charge and can be obtained by phoning our office or from various other locations in the area.

Additionally, restrictions exist to limit human impact in wilderness areas.

Please practice Leave No Trace and Stay the Trail ethics.
Closest Towns: The South Platte District covers over 400,000 acres ranging from Larkspur to Guanella and Kenosha Pass.

Aspen Park / Conifer is 5 miles south of our main office on Highway 285.

Morrison is 11 miles northeast off Highway 8.

Click here for a map.
Water: Yes
Restroom: Yes
Passes: Interagency Senior Passes and Interagency Access Passes provide for a 50% discount at Concessionaire operated campground. This does not include day fees or parking fees. Click here for more information regarding all America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes.
Information Center: Feel free to stop by our visitor center on Highway 285 in Morrison to inquire about current conditions, find out what's going on, and get any maps or books that you may need to enjoy your visit on our District. We carry a large selection of books, maps and other items from the Rocky Mountain Nature Association, as well as Devil's Head Lookout and Smokey Bear T-shirts.

General Information

Directions:

Be aware the address and directions are to our main office, NOT TO ANY OF THE CAMPGROUNDS. The closest campground in our district is about an hour drive from the main office.

  • From Denver, take C470 to Highway 285 South (toward Fairplay).
  • Travel 6.5 miles along Highway 285 to Goddard Ranch Ct.
  • We are a left hand turn across traffic.
  • Last building in the driveway.

Signs along Highway 285 read "National Forest Information", "South Platte Ranger District", and "Goddard Ranch Ct."


Parking:

Plenty of parking exists in front of the main office.

Trailers can circle around the office to turn around.


Activities


Bicycling

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Camping & Cabins

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Campground Camping

The South Platte Ranger District has 22 developed campgrounds containing a total of 340 campsites and two group campgrounds which can accommodate groups up to 125 people. Additionally, dispersed camping is available in several areas of the District.

There is a 14-day stay limit anywhere in the Forest; vehicles must be parked in established sites. No vehicle parking behind barriers. Please call or email our District office with any questions regarding locations for dispersed camping (303) 275-5610.

General Info:

Accessibility:

Most campgrounds have wheelchair accessible restrooms and some wheelchair accessible picnic tables and campsites. Check the campground map for details.


Directions:

Directions to each of the campgrounds is listed within the respective listing.


Parking:

2 passenger vehicles included with the nightly fee. An additional fee for a 3rd vehicle will be assessed on site.  Most campgrounds are more than 20 years old and can only accomodate smaller rvs. Very few sites are "pull through" sites.


Current Conditions: Campgrounds are in winter use: some are closed for the winter; those that are open do not have water. All campgrounds that are open are first-come-first-served.
Fees: varies from $11 to $15.
Reservation info: Most designated campgrounds are on a first come first served basis, however some are set up to accept reservations for the peak camping season: Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend.

To reserve a site call 1-877-444-6777 or visit www.recreation.gov.  Reservations must be made a minimum of 4 days in advance. The minimum stay for weekends is Friday and Saturday; 3 day minimum stay for holidays. Check in time is 2 pm; check out is 12 pm.

*TIP: Know the name of the campground you wish to reserve for, as recreation.gov does not have first hand knowledge about the actual campgrounds. Those campgrounds that do not take reservations WILL NOT display on recreation.gov.

Permit: Interagency Senior Passes and Interagency Access Passes provide for a 50% discount at concessionaire operated campgrounds.
Usage: Because we are the closest district to Denver, our campgrounds see quite a lot of use during the summer months. Those that accept reservations see the highest use. There is no way of telling the availability of a first-come-first-served site before driving into the campground.
Hours of Operation: All campground are open from Memorial Day weekend in May to Labor Day weekend in September. Some campgrounds remain open throughout the year.
Rental info: Electricity and dump stations are NOT available at any site. Firewood is available from the campground host for a nominal fee.  Water is not available at ANY site during winter.

Areas for Campground Camping at South Platte Ranger District

RV Camping

Areas for RV Camping at South Platte Ranger District

Group Camping

Areas for Group Camping at South Platte Ranger District

Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors free of charge. Dispersed camping is primitive camping out of the boundaries of the designated campground. Many areas exist where dispersed camping is open, however certain recreational areas are closed to dispersed camping and are signed on the ground as closed.

*Remember: when dispersed camping, no toilets or potable water sources are available.

Aside from dispersed camping along hiking trails, there are several areas in our district for dispersed “car camping”.

For camping near ATV trails, Rampart Range near Sedalia offers ample opportunities for dispersed camping. Camping can be done anywhere along Rampart Range Road where a “P” symbol, a campfire symbol, or a tent symbol exists. Take Highway 85/ Santa Fe south of Denver to the town of Sedalia. Turn west on Highway 67 for 10 miles. Turn south on Rampart Range Road 300. You will see dispersed sites along the road for the next 40 miles.

For camping near ATV and 4X4 roads, visit the Hall Valley road (Park County Highway 60). From Denver, take Highway 285 South into the mountains approximately 35 miles to Park County Highway 60. Turn north. After several miles, you will see some dispersed sites along the road. Please respect private land in this area and do not trespass.

For camping near hiking, biking, and small stream fishing, the area near Buffalo Creek has several sites. From Denver, take Highway 285 South into the mountains. At Pine Junction, turn south on Highway 126 for 13.5 miles. Turn west on Forest Service Road 550. For the next 4 miles, you will see dispersed sites along the road.

For camping in High Country near hiking trails, visit the Deer Creek area, the Guanella Pass road, or Kenosha Pass area.

  • Deer Creek area: From Denver, take Highway 285 South into the mountains. At Highway 43A, turn north for 7 miles. Bear left. Just past the Deer Creek Campground, you will begin to see dispersed sites along the road.
  • Guanella Pass road: From Denver, take Highway 285 South into the mountains. At the town of Grant, turn north onto the Guanella Pass road. After a few miles, you will begin to see dispersed sites along the road. Do NOT camp at trailhead parking areas.
  • Kenosha Pass: From Denver, take Highway 285 South into the mountains approximately 40 miles to the Kenosha Pass area. On the east side of the road, you will see a meadow. Turn onto the road that passes through that meadow. When you stop in front of the restrooms, you will see 3 roads. The road straight ahead is a dispersed camping area.

General Info:

General Notes:

Directions:

Aside from dispersed camping along hiking trails, there are several areas in our district for dispersed “car camping”.

For camping near ATV trails, Rampart Range near Sedalia offers ample opportunities for dispersed camping. Camping can be done anywhere along Rampart Range Road where a “P” symbol, a campfire symbol, or a tent symbol exists. Take Highway 85/ Santa Fe south of Denver to the town of Sedalia. Turn west on Highway 67 for 10 miles. Turn south on Rampart Range Road 300. You will see dispersed sites along the road for the next 40 miles.

For camping near ATV and 4X4 roads, visit the Hall Valley road (Park County Highway 60). From Denver, take Highway 285 South into the mountains approximately 35 miles to Park County Highway 60. Turn north. After several miles, you will see some dispersed sites along the road. Please respect private land in this area and do not trespass.

For camping near hiking, biking, and small stream fishing, the area near Buffalo Creek has several sites. From Denver, take Highway 285 South into the mountains. At Pine Junction, turn south on Highway 126 for 13.5 miles. Turn west on Forest Service Road 550. For the next 4 miles, you will see dispersed sites along the road.

For camping in High Country near hiking trails, visit the Deer Creek area, the Guanella Pass road, or Kenosha Pass area.

  • Deer Creek area: From Denver, take Highway 285 South into the mountains. At Highway 43A, turn north for 7 miles. Bear left. Just past the Deer Creek Campground, you will begin to see dispersed sites along the road.
  • Guanella Pass road: From Denver, take Highway 285 South into the mountains. At the town of Grant, turn north onto the Guanella Pass road. After a few miles, you will begin to see dispersed sites along the road. Do NOT camp at trailhead parking areas.
  • Kenosha Pass: From Denver, take Highway 285 South into the mountains approximately 40 miles to the Kenosha Pass area. On the east side of the road, you will see a meadow. Turn onto the road that passes through that meadow. When you stop in front of the restrooms, you will see 3 roads. The road straight ahead is a dispersed camping area.

Parking:

Please keep your vehicle within 1 car length of the main roads and on already established areas. Do not create further resource damage by driving off-road into the woods or behind barriers.


Current Conditions:
Status: Open
Fees: No fees
Reservation info:
Usage: Keep these things in mind when dispersed camping: 
  • Plan your trip: phone ahead for restrictions and special regulations
  • Pick a site at least 100 feet from a water source
  • Tread lightly and concentrate your impacts in already heavily used areas.
  • Use existing fire rings if possible.
  • Pack it in, pack it out, including trash and food scraps. Not all items will burn
  • Use catholes to properly dispose of human waste
  • Campfires are allowed as long as fire restrictions aren’t in place. You may gather small amounts of down, dead wood for a campfire. Keep your campfire SMALL and always make sure the coals are cold before leaving.
  • BEARS - When you go to the mountains and forest, you are in bear county. Do not leave ANY food, trash or other bear attractant unattended. Failing to do so can result in a fine.
Hours of Operation:
Rental info:

Areas for Dispersed Camping at South Platte Ranger District


Climbing

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Fishing

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Hiking

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Horse Riding & Camping

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Hunting

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Nature Viewing

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OHV Riding & Camping

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Other Activities

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Outdoor Learning

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Picnicking

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Scenic Driving

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Water Activities

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Winter Sports

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