6 RV Campgrounds Along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway

Mar 23, 2022 | Best Campgrounds, Campgrounds

6 RV Campgrounds Along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway

By Madeleine Balestrier

Along the western slope of Colorado, the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway winds through aspen trees, alpine meadows, and trout-filled lakes. It’s a can’t-miss part of the Grand Mesa National Forest. 

The recognized Scenic Byway spans 63 miles through Mesa, Grand Mesa, Gunnison, and Uncompahgre National Forest in Colorado. The road travels through a canyon to the top of Grand Mesa, the largest flattop mountain in the world, which rests at 11,000 feet in elevation. It was originally named “Thunder Mountain” by the Ute Indian tribe because its massive presence looms over the valley below. 

The route generally takes about 2 hours to drive along Highway 65, but you should add 30 minutes to your journey to experience the views from Lands End Overlook with views of the Sneffels Range. 

When planning your RV road trip, consider the best times to visit the Grand Mesa area. It’s not ideal to travel here during the winter because of road conditions and closures, including the road that leads to Lands End. The best time to drive the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway is during the summer or the fall. In summer, the area blooms with wildflowers and is perfect for activities such as hiking and fishing. During the fall, the landscape features hues of red and orange and is an underrated destination to view the fall foliage. 

Related 7 Fall Foliage Locations to Avoid the Crowds

When traveling the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, consider staying at one of these RV campgrounds along the way: 

Grand Mesa RV Park

  • Number of Sites: 23
  • Pad Type: Gravel
  • Reservations: Yes

Grand Mesa RV Park is a year-round RV campground that offers cabin rentals and sites that accommodate rigs up to 42 feet. The RV sites also feature 30- and 50-amp hookups with septic and water access. The grounds have restrooms, showers, WiFi, laundry, and a grocery store. 

With a location off of Highway 65, it’s an ideal campground for relaxing, biking, hunting, fishing, and skiing. 

Teardrop trailer parked in a wooded area at a campground
Jumbo Campground in Mesa, Colorado. | Photo by: MikeKC

Jumbo Campground

  • Number of Sites: 26
  • Pad Type: Gravel
  • Reservations: Yes

At 9,800 feet in elevation, Jumbo Campground is nestled between Jumbo and Sunset Lakes with access and views from most campsites.

“Incredible views on the drive up from Mesa,” says a Campendium review. “Nice roomy sites and lots of hikes nearby. Wish we brought our kayaks…”

This campground offers a variety of site types, including big rig friendly, partial hookups, and dry camping. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring. The grounds have vault toilets and trash disposal and there are recreational trails located around the campground. 

Island Lake Campground

  • Number of Sites: 41
  • Pad Type: Gravel
  • Reservations: Yes

Island Lake Campground offers a five-star stay along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. It’s situated right on a lake with views of the San Juan Mountains. 

While the majority of the campground is dry camping, there are partial hookups. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring. The campground also offers vault toilets, water, trash disposal, and a boat ramp.

In the area, you have opportunities for off-roading, hiking, fishing, and boating. For anglers, Island Lake is home to rainbow, cutthroats, and splake trout. 

Looking out to a lake with trees in the background
Little Bear Campground in Cedaredge, Colorado. | Photo by: Spam In A Can Colorado

Little Bear Campground

  • Number of Sites: 36
  • Pad Type: Gravel
  • Reservations: No

This U.S. Forest Service campground peaks at 10,200 feet in elevation. It’s located on Island Lake, curtained by spruce trees and rolling pine forests.

The campground has 36 campsites, including two wheelchair-accessible areas and sites that can accommodate rigs up to 49 feet. Little Bear Campground has no hookups, only vault toilets and trash disposal. 

There are a few sites that sit directly on the lakeshore so you can wake up to the cool breeze of the alpine lake. There’s also a boat ramp and a fish cleaning station nearby. Plus, the well-known Crag Crest trailhead is only 2 miles away. 

Ward Lake Campground

  • Number of Sites: 27
  • Pad Type: Dirt
  • Reservations: No

Ward Lake Campground also sits at 10,200 feet in elevation. This U.S. Forest Service campground offers a variety of sites, including some perched above the lake, some situated right on the lake, and others nestled into a meadow with wildflowers that bloom in summer. 

This campground’s amenities are similar to the other dry campgrounds, including vault toilets and trash disposal. It also can accommodate rigs up to 45 feet. 

Ward Lake Campground has water access, a visitor center, and recreational trail access, including Crag Crest Trail. 

Multiple RVs parked at a campground in Colorado
Shady Creek RV Park in Cedaredge, Colorado. | Photo by: Life’s Little Adventures

Shady Creek RV Park

  • Number of Sites: 17
  • Pad Type: Gravel
  • Reservations: Yes

Shady Creek RV Park is a small, family-run establishment located at the southern end of the byway. It’s the perfect place to stay for a few weeks to unwind, relax, and catch up on maintenance, organizing, or laundry. 

“Quirky little park close to Colorado’s beautiful Grand Mesa,” says a Campendium review. It offers full hookups, WiFi, and full-service restrooms. It also can accommodate rigs up to 50 feet in length. 

Shady Creek RV Park also offers ideal access to other destinations in Western and Southwestern Colorado, including Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Ouray, Uncompahgre National Forest, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Grand Mesa Scenic Byway Travel Tips for RVers

Here are a few tips to consider if you’re planning to visit the area with your RV:

  • The Grand Mesa is infamous for its mosquitos during the summer, so don’t forget bug spray
  • The majority of RV-friendly campgrounds are dry and don’t provide full hookups. 
  • Plan for cooler weather at a higher elevation, even during the summer months. 
  • Drive carefully and watch out for wandering wildlife. 
  • Always follow local fire bans and be responsible about campfires and wildfire safety.