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Dispersed Camping
Dispersed Camping

If designated campgrounds are not for you, or if you've found that our reservation-only campgrounds are booked up, there are plenty of options for you to dispersed camp within the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA).  

Dispersed camping is a term used to describe camping outside of designated campgrounds, meaning there are generally no amenities such as tables, fire pits, or toilets. 

  • Neither type of campground within our park have trash collection.  
  • You may find that some popular dispersed camping sites do have toilets or fire pits available.

1.  Know the Rules

In addition to the general land and water regulations, the following regulations apply within the AHRA (see Code of Colorado Regulations for details):

Bring a Portable Toilet Device

Except where toilet facilities are provided, all overnight campers must provide and use a portable toilet device capable of carrying human waste out of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. 

  • The contents of the portable toilet must be emptied in compliance with law. 
  • Toilet kit waste bags are sold in the AHRA Visitor Center.


Use Fire Containers, Follow Fire Restrictions

Within the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, fire containers must have at least a two-inch rigid side and must be elevated up off the ground.

Always check for local fire restrictions before building a fire.  Know what land you are recreating on and follow the rules for that area.  Following are links for jurisdictions within AHRA for your reference:

2.  Choose a Location

The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area is comprised of over 6,000 acres of public lands, owned by and cooperatively managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the United States Forest Service (USFS). It is the recreator's responsibility to know what land they are on, and the rules and regulations tied to those lands.

Existing Campsite Suggestions


  • For camping near the Arkansas River, please review the AHRA dispersed camping interactive map above. 
    • You may also view these same sites on our printable park map (listed in the fifth column of the site facilities table).
  • For camping up the mountains, in the trees, and/or near lakes and streams, explore the USFS Salida Ranger District.

Explore Your Public Lands

There are multiple online tools, and phone apps to help you locate and access public lands around the AHRA. Some popular tools include:

3.  Leave No Trace

When dispersed camping on public lands, we ask that you follow Leave No Trace Principles: