New Designated camping regulations IN place for six major drainages surrounding Crested Butte
Camping is an ideal way to experience Crested Butte, and the go-to lodging choice for many a mountain biker.
You may have noticed, however, that it has gotten crowded—really crowded—out there. The explosion in camping has led to resource damage, escaped campfires, spiderwebs of “social” routes and roads, and sanitation issues. As of fall 2021, the Slate River Road #734, Washington Gulch Road #811, Brush Creek Road #738, Cement Creek Road #740, Gothic Road #317, Kebler Pass Road #12, and Irwin Lake Road #826 drainages will require that all roadside van, RV, trailer, and tent camping occurs in designated sites only. Dispersed camping, which means camping anywhere, is no longer permitted in those areas. The newly-designated sites where you CAN camp are labeled with a camping symbol, site number, and contain a metal fire ring.
This does not mean that camping has been eliminated! It means that the Gunnison National Forest is working to manage camping to keep impacts within specific and sustainable locations. Slate River Road offers 43 designated campsites, Washington Gulch offers 47, Brush Creek offers 41, and Cement Creek offers 26, Gothic offers 14, and Kebler pass offer 36. Read on for more information about where and how to camp in the Gunnison Valley
Where to camp
The map below shows the location of all designated camping sites surrounding Crested Butte. All roadside “car” camping within any of the shaded red areas must be done at a designated site. This map is not intended as a resource for any camping outside the shaded regions. Read on for more details on where and how to camp. Click the upper left corner of the map for a key.
Gunnison USFS RangEr District Camping and Fire Prohibition order
Camping outside designated camping sites is prohibited, as are fires outside of official USFS fire rings in the described restricted area (below) from June 14, 2022 until rescinded or until June 30, 2027, which ever occurs first.
The traditional form of car camping, where you head out to public lands and find yourself a nice spot to spend the night! Despite the main drainages closest to Crested Butte making the switch to designated camping there are still plenty of areas in the Gunnison national forest where people can dispersed camp. Be sure to double check the regulations wherever you decide to camp.
Camp in sites that have a post with a campsite number, metal fire ring, and parking spot.
Designated Camping Areas:
- Slate River Road #734
- Washington Gulch Road #811
- Brush Creek Road #738
- Cement Creek Road #740
- Kebler Pass/Lake Irwin Roads
- Gothic Road # 317
- Hartman Rocks Recreation Area (Gunnison)
- Camp only at signed sites
- All sites are first come first serve, with a 14-day maximum stay
- Fires are only permitted in the established metal fire rings
- Sites are limited to two vehicles only per site
- No site saving- it is illegal to leave property unattended for more than 24 hours
Several established campgrounds exist that are managed by federal entities or privately owned and offer significantly more amenities. They require a nightly fee, and some can be reserved in advance. Many of these campgrounds offer water, toilets, showers, tent pads, picnic tables, RV hookups, and other amenities.
- Lake Irwin
- Cement Creek Road
- Slate River
- Taylor Canyon
Advice for Trailers and RVs
We recommend that all vehicles greater than 35-40 ft. do not attempt to drive beyond the following locations within each drainage due to lack of turn around space, rough roads, and/or lack of sites with adequate parking for large vehicles.
Slate River – Musicians Camp: Approx 6 miles from Gothic Road
Washington Gulch – Rendezvous Meadow: Approx 4.5 miles from Gothic Road
Kebler Pass – Kebler Pass can accommodate RVs and Trailers at all points, but avoid Splain’s Gulch and beyond the Lake Irwin established campground.
Brush Creek – Tent City: Approx 6 miles from Hwy 135. Avoid Strand Hill Road and West Brush Creek Road, as they are very rough and require high-clearance 4×4 vehicles
Cement Creek – Cement Creek Site #8: Approx 6 miles from Hwy 135
Gothic Road – Gothic site #13: Approx 3.5 miles past the town of Gothic
Leave No Trace
No matter where you choose to camp, we ask that you follow the guiding principles of Leave No Trace etiquette to help ensure that camping areas remain open and untarnished for future generations to enjoy. Remember to pack out all trash and human waste, know about local fire regulations, extinguish campfires so they are cold to the touch, and do not leave food or garbage unattended.
Poor planning often results in unhappy campers driving around for hours searching for an open campsite, which sometimes results in illegal camping. This can lead to resource damage, a possible ticket and fine, and a huge bummer for your trip. As more camping areas around Crested Butte switch to designated camping, planning ahead will become essential.