Can You Camp Anywhere in the San Juan National Forest?

Camping in the San Juan National Forest can be an unforgettable experience. Located in southwest Colorado, this expansive wilderness offers a variety of terrain, from lush meadows to steep mountain peaks.

With over two million acres of public land, it’s easy to find an ideal camping spot, no matter what kind of activities you enjoy.

The San Juan National Forest is divided into four ranger districts – Columbine, Dolores, Pagosa and San Juan – each with unique characteristics. The Columbine district is home to the spectacular Weminuche Wilderness and its towering fourteen thousand foot peaks. There are numerous campgrounds throughout the area including some that offer spectacular views of the high alpine lakes and meadows.

The Dolores district is known for its stunning red rock formations, and has several campgrounds near popular hiking trails. This region also features archaeological sites with ancient Puebloan ruins.

Pagosa Ranger District offers some great opportunities for fishing and boating in addition to camping. There are also several developed picnic areas along the river.

Finally, the San Juan district is home to many small lakes as well as large reservoirs like Navajo Lake and Cataract Lake. Campsites in this area are generally secluded, offering a peaceful getaway from civilization.


Yes, you can camp anywhere within the San Juan National Forest! With over two million acres of public land available for exploration and recreation, there’s sure to be a camping spot that suits your needs – whether it’s primitive backcountry camping or more developed campgrounds with amenities like bathrooms and fire rings.

Photo of author

Chris Powell