Campground Guide: Platte River Campground in Pike National Forest

platte river campground pike national forest

Highway 67 follows the South Platte River through the Pike National Forest. It’s a popular spot for tubing and fishing, and staying at the South Platte Campground gives you the perfect starting spot for both. If you’re looking for a campground with a lot of hiking, this ain’t it! But it’s a beautiful spot that’s also pretty peaceful considering you’re not far from a road.

Directions from Denver

South Platte Campground is about an hour and a half southwest of Denver. It’s a location on Google Maps, so you can type that into your phone before you head out. No matter where in the metro area you might be coming from, you make your way to Sedalia via 85. From Sedalia, you head up!

The drive is unremarkable until you get to a section of Pine Creek road off of Highway 64 that is unpaved, narrow, rough, and steep. It’s not for the faint of heart, or those without an SUV. It’s doable if you go slow, just nerve-wracking if you’re not use to driving in the mountains (or what Colorado considers a road sometimes).

I honestly found it terrifying my first time driving it. There are spots to pull over and let people by, but there are also very impatient people in their giant trucks who swerve around you if you don’t get to a pull-out in time.

You can alternatively take 285 to Pine, but I haven’t personally taken that way and am not sure what the road is like past Pine.


South Platte has tent pads, which makes it easy to find a level spot to put your tent. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean there’s any extra padding. I was hoping for that my first time, I’m not gonna lie.

Every campsite has a fire pit with a grate as well as a picnic table. The sites are all pretty private. A few don’t have a lot of shade, but are at least far away from the other sites.

The year we camped, another couple told us the campground host and his bros got quite rowdy at night, but fortunately they were gone all night (which seems like maybe a no-no if you’re the campground host? I don’t actually know). That year’s host also didn’t have any firewood and was basically useless, so the fact that there’s no longer a host at the campground shouldn’t be an issue!

Normally, a campground host is someone who lives at the campground to answer questions, help you get set up, and usually have firewood for sale. There are some absolutely fantastic campground hosts that make my beginner heart so happy…but there’s also a lot of not-so-great ones. You’ll be fine without one!

If you need to get firewood, you can find it in Deckers. It’s a ten-minute drive and the town has a grocery store for anything you might want to pick up!

a yellow tent on a tent pad in front of  a grassy hill with lots of tall pine trees

All the sites are walk-up, which means you can’t park your car right at the spot where you’re camping. You do need to schlep your stuff to the site, so if you prefer to bring a ton of stuff with you car camping, this may not be the best fit. There also aren’t bear lockers, so you have to bring all your food and toiletries back to the car when you’re done. The walk varies from a few minutes to up to ten, depending on how fast you walk and which site you’re at.

Campground Fees and Reservations

There are no reservations, since there are just 10 first-come, first-serve spots. We arrived in the early evening in mid-August and had no trouble finding a site. Bring cash to pay the $20/night fee at the service station where you park.

Toilet Situation

Vault toilets, baby! Get use to them if you’re camping. A vault toilet is a toilet over a very deep hole. It’s like a port-o-potty where the bottom of the toilet part is very far away. It’s still smelly, and if people leave the door open, there can be flies. They are usually a cement or wood structure, so at least better than a port-o-potty for stability? Bring hand sanitizer and PLEASE put the toilet seat down and close the door behind you.

These doors were particularly slow to close, which was nice because they couldn’t slam and wake you up at night, but also bad because there were a TON of insects inside.

Nearby Activities

The riverfront is pretty much it. If you’re here to fish or tube, you’ll have great access. If you want to go hiking, this isn’t the right spot. If you are a chill-and-just-eat-smores kind of camper, this campground could also be a good fit for you! And, if you’re camping with kids, they might love wading around in the river (as long as there aren’t already anglers fishing in the area).

I was really excited about the idea of a riverfront campground, but didn’t think this part through and was kind of disappointed we just had to pack up and leave in the morning to go hiking somewhere else.

the sun rises over the south platte river at the campground in pike national forest
Morning on the South Platte is beautiful. This is the only trail you’ve got, though!

Other Intangibles

You don’t drive through a whole lot of civilization on your way out, so you’re definitely a little “out there.” Once you leave Sedalia, there’s really nothing unless you keep driving to Deckers, which is a very small town.

The campground is at higher elevation than Denver (6,400 feet) so pack some warm layers for overnight and those wonderful chilly mornings.

Remember everything you need with the help of my simple, clickable packing list! It’s just $5 and includes dinner ideas.

Overall Impression

If you want to have some time out in nature to enjoy fishing, I would absolutely recommend this campsite. If you’re like me and looking for a good spot to camp and go exploring on some trails, I’d skip this site and look for other options to make your drive worth it.

If you’d like a video tour of the campground, check out Campground Recon on YouTube. They have a tour of South Platte here.

Published by Laura Cardon

Laura Cardon moved to Colorado as an adult and quickly realized how difficult it was to get started exploring the outdoors in a state full of experts. She founded Outdoor Beginner in 2014 to fill the gap in beginner-friendly content for camping, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. In addition to Outdoor Beginner, she coaches beginner trail runners and works at Runners Roost in Golden, Colorado, where she lives with her spouse and toddler.

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