1. Peru Creek Road 260
From Denver: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Final Destination: Dip your toes in the riffling water, gaze at 13,277-foot Ruby Mountain, and (when it’s time to stretch your legs) hike the steep, roughly seven-mile trail to Chihuahua Lake for its dazzling summer wildflower meadows and seldom-seen backside views of Grays and Torreys peaks.
Getting There: From Keystone Ski Resort, take Montezuma Road east for 4.5 miles. Cross the Snake River and look for a well-marked turn on the left for Peru Creek Road 260. Camp spots, some of which are on the creek, are plentiful until the road ends after about five miles at the Shoe Basin Mine.
2. Chaffee County Road 390
From Denver: 3 hours
Final Destination: An access line to five fourteeners, this road provides entrée to Missouri Mountain, Mt. Oxford, Mt. Belford, La Plata Peak, and Huron Peak. You’ll notice camping areas after about 4.5 miles, mostly to the left. Two-wheel-drive cars can make it to the ghost town of Winfield, about 12 (very rough) miles in. However, you’ll need a high-clearance vehicle to reach the best campsites beyond Winfield.
Getting There: From Leadville, drive 20 miles south on U.S. 24. (From Buena Vista, which might be quicker if you live south of U.S. 6 in the Denver area, drive 15 miles north on U.S. 24.) Turn west onto County Road 390 (dirt), and follow signs for Clear Creek Reservoir.
3. Jones Pass
From Denver: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Final Destination: This about five-mile dirt road, which requires four-wheel drive, climbs to 12,600 feet on the Continental Divide. Camps are scattered along the way, but you’ll find the most seclusion on the west side of the pass.
Getting There: From I-70, take Exit 232 to U.S. 40. After nine miles, turn left at the sign for Jones Pass/Henderson Mine. Stay on the paved road for 1.6 miles until you reach the gated entrance to Henderson Mine; bear right onto Forest Road 144 (dirt). Follow signs for Jones Pass. Look for a kiosk for the Jones Pass Trailhead after about 0.5 miles; keep driving another 0.6 miles to the first of many camps.
Before You Go
You don’t need a reservation, but you do need extra prep: These camp areas lack picnic tables, trash cans, and toilets, so bring TP and be sure to pack it out.