Last Dollar Road Camping is boondocking at its best in the San Juan Mountains. Free dispersed camping in Telluride Colorado with panoramic views of rugged snow-capped peaks and fields of lush green and delicate wildflowers. This guide will help you plan your trip to camp at Last Dollar Road as well as offer other great camping alternatives in the Telluride area!
About the Last Dollar Road Camping Area
The drive up to the Last Dollar Road camping area winds through a beautiful valley with stunning homes and cabins, majestic horses, and breathtaking mountain views before ending in thick aspen groves. You might even see a few elk along the way!
From the Last Dollar Road camping area, you can see views of the famed Wilson Peak (a famous 14er featured on the Coors Light bottle), as well as the interesting box shape of Lizard Head Peak. Put out your chairs and soak in dramatic sunsets and sunrises cloaked in deep purples and golden pinks, catch an impressive star-filled night sky or watch planes glide into the local airport while relaxing at 9,500 feet of elevation.
Camping at Last Dollar Road in Telluride is the perfect summer getaway to escape the heat and nestle into nature. This guide tells you everything you need to know about securing an epic camping spot in Telluride on the famed Last Dollar Road.
What Makes Camping at Last Dollar Road Unique:
Free camping in Telluride can be hard to come by and dispersed camping up on Last Dollar Road is seriously hard to beat. Boondocking at Last Dollar Road allowed us to stay in Telluride, a rather expensive area, for free. It also provided the most picturesque mountain views to enjoy and a stunning backdrop for our work zoom calls. It truly was like something straight out of a storybook or National Geographic Magazine.
We would be hard-pressed to find these views anywhere else in the area while staying within our budget. Telluride was also a great escape to cooler weather at elevation after seeing the summer temperatures start to soar in surrounding areas. In addition, the camping area at Last Dollar Road was so peaceful. Every night was a symphony of the soft breeze flowing through the bright green aspens, gentle animal and insect sounds, and the faint laughter of nearby campers. The perfect soundtrack for a summer night sleeping under the stars.
Directions to the Last Dollar Road Camping Area:
GPS Coordinates: 38.005952,-107.959895
Option 1 (best for small RVs or campers):
Go through the roundabout on State Highway 145 and take the first exit towards Telluride. Next, you will have a quick and fairly sharp left turn onto Last Dollar road, which is also Airport Road. You will then have a right turn to continue on Last Dollar road before it dead-ends into Telluride Airport.
You will then follow Last Dollar Road until you reach the dispersed camping area, which presents as an open dirt area at the top of the hill with views of the surrounding mountains. This option has several winding sections with tight turns that might be a bit troublesome for larger rigs, although we do know of people who successfully came this way. If you are a larger rig or are worried about doing several tight turns on a dirt road while going downhill, consider option 2 (next).
Option 2 (good for larger RV’s):
If coming from the south, take the second exit on the roundabout to continue on to 145. If coming from the North or West, you will hit the turn onto Deep Creek Road before hitting the roundabout. Turning on to Deep Creek Road might feel wrong. It is tight and narrow at first. We initially turned in and stopped because we thought we had made a mistake or that our RV-friendly GPS had led us astray.
Luckily we were reassured by a friendly passerby, who confirmed that we could safely make it up to Last Dollar Road in our nearly 40 feet fifth wheel. We are about 57 feet total when hooked up to the truck. After passing by some small houses the road did open up. While it was fairly steep and gravel, we were able to make it up safely and with fewer tight turns than option 1. Deep Creek road will eventually intersect with Last Dollar road after about 2 miles. Turn left and continue about 6.5 miles to the dispersed camping area.
Option 3: Via Last Dollar Road by way of Ridgway Colorado
You could also technically come from Ridgeway via Last Dollar road itself, but this may be best if you are coming with a 4X4 vehicle and a tent or perhaps a truck camper. This is definitely NOT an RV-safe route.
Last Dollar Road Camping Tips
How to safely secure a spot at the Last Dollar Road Camping Area
It can be busy and space is limited.
Admittedly, this camping area is pretty small. For larger rigs especially, it might be tough to find a spot. It may be worth scouting it first while leaving your camper, trailer, etc. behind as if you can’t find a spot it could be tough to turn around. We drove up with our fifth wheel on a Sunday afternoon and it was pretty packed. We got lucky that someone was leaving and a nice couple did not mind us parking near them. In addition, you can also expect daily drop in visitors from people coming to simply look at the views and not camp.
While other boondocking spots allow for a lot of privacy, this location is not necessarily that. The views are totally worth that sacrifice though, in our opinion.
We also found it to be very quiet and everyone to be very respectful, which made for a great environment.
In the open area with the mountain views, there were a collection of about 10-12 RVs, vans, and rooftop tents at any given time.
There are also secluded spots among the trees if you go further along Last Dollar road past the main clearing or go deeper into the trees. These roads are very rough and not an option if you are towing a larger RV, do not have 4×4, or are planning to rely on solar. We also saw several downed trees which made part of the forest road impassable. The best thing to do is scout it out on foot first if you are unsure.
The entrance has large potholes and many spots are quite unlevel
Directly at the entrance into the cleared area of the Last Dollar Road camping areas is where you will see the largest concentration of campers, are large potholes that you will need to navigate around. Once you navigate this and find a spot, you may also need to do some finagling to get into your spot.
The fun doesn’t stop there, as you will then most likely need to get out all of your leveling blocks to get your RV set up. We had two pieces of wood under both of our tires on one side and used all of our leveling blocks. Doable, just might take some time and creativity when getting set up.
The road up can be a bit intimidating
This is a dirt/gravel road that while definitely towable, can be intimidating. You will be climbing a lot, there are some sharp turns and the road is narrow in spots. You will pass several private roads and residences, and there is not much room to turn around before you get to the top. Take it slow and be vigilant of other cars and/or wildlife. This is a road that you would not want to be driving at night with your larger RV. Definitely try to arrive in the daylight!
In addition, much like the road coming in, the camping area is very dry and dusty. Be prepared for your truck, dog, RV, children, and yourself to get very dirty. This might also pose some problems if the area were to get heavy rain.
- Arrive in the light
- Take the road up to the camping area slowly
- Scout first if you have a larger rig as it might be tough to turn around if full
- Be prepared to dodge some large potholes and have an unlevel spot
- Scout on foot before taking the roads up into the woods with your RV
How to prepare to dry camp at Last Dollar Road
Dumping Grey/Black tanks: iOverlander or Sanidumps are great resources for all things to do with camping spots, potable water, and dump stations. It does list an RV dump station in Telluride that costs $15 to dump and does not offer potable water.
Telluride Dump Station (Telluride Wastewater Treatment Plant): GPS 37.9496, -107.8736
Filling water: We filled up before arriving at Last Dollar Road, just in case. Based on our experience and what we heard from others camping here, potable water is hard to come by in Telluride. We recommend filling water elsewhere before arriving!
Cell Service & Connectivity: This area has a few bars of Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T service. We met others who were able to work off their Verizon service using their cell booster. This being said, Verizon may be a bit unreliable here, as we did not have enough service for video calls at this location. We were able to make calls with our T-Mobile phones and work using our Starlink satellite internet.
General Tips to Prepare for Dispersed Camping near Telluride:
Have a water source; you will not have water hookups. We have a 100-gallon fresh water tank in our RV and a Berkey Water Filtration System.
Have a bathroom OR have the proper mechanisms and knowledge for properly using the bathroom in nature. We have a full bathroom (toilet and shower) and a 50-gallon black tank. If you do not have a bathroom be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles. These include packing out toilet paper, going at least 200 feet away from a water source, and digging a cathole at least 6 inches deep.
Properly collect used water. Grey water is wastewater that excludes anything from the toilet. (Think showers and sinks). While it may seem harmless, this water can be detrimental to the environment and local species if dumped on the ground. Our RV has a 75-gallon grey water tank. You can also use portable jugs or containers to collect this used water until you can dispose of it at an RV dump station. We have a portable RV waste tank to help us dump our tanks without moving our RV.
Have a way to keep your batteries or necessary electronics charged. We have an RV solar set up on our fifth wheel and carry a Generac 3300-watt portable inverter generator. You can also find smaller solar-powered charging banks to help with all your electric needs while off-grid.
We love the freedom of boondocking and how conscious it allows us to be our of ecological footprint and travel more mindfully. It is also a cost-effective way to travel and experience beautiful places while being nature-forward. There is nothing quite like opening your door or looking out your windows to amazing views, hearing the sounds of nature, and having more space to yourself. With the proper preparation, you can have an experience just like this in one of Telluride’s amazing dispersed camping areas!
Finding other free dispersed camping spots and RV campgrounds near Telluride:
If a stay at Last Dollar Road is outside your comfort level or you arrive and are unable to snag a spot, there are a few other options you can consider in the general vicinity of Telluride Colorado!
Our favorite apps for finding free and paid campsites in the areas we visit:
Additional Telluride Camping Options
Dispersed Camping (Free):
- Lizard Head Pass Dispersed Camping (We originally scouted out Lizard Head Pass Dispersed Camping in Ophir, one town over. This was closed off when we arrived the first week in June but may be another great option for a bit later in the summer).
- Alta Lakes Designated Dispersed Camping (RVs/Trailers not recommended)
- Telluride Town Park Campground
- Matterhorn Campground
- Mary E Campground (dry camping; no hookups)
- Sunshine Campground (dry camping; no hookups)
Best Things To Do in Telluride
While staying at the Last Dollar Road Dispersed Camping area or other local Telluride camping option, you can simply enjoy the sights and sounds of nature from your spot, or explore the surrounding areas of Telluride, Mountain Village, and beyond!
In the summer there are plenty of immersive hikes to take in the scenery. We loved the dog-friendly waterfall hikes in downtown Telluride and the nearby hike in the Lizard Head Wilderness to a stunning blue alpine lake via Hope Lake Trail. Telluride is also home to several festivals in summer, as well as a lovely park and great restaurants, shops, and breweries!
Time to Downtown Telluride from Last Dollar Road Camping area: 14 miles, 40-45 minutes
Time to Mountain Village from Last Dollar Road Camping area: 15 miles, 47 minutes. You can also take the free gondola to Mountain Village from Downtown Telluride.
Telluride can also serve as a great “home base” to explore other mountain towns in the area! For example, head over to explore nearby Ridgway or take a day trip to explore Ouray and Silverton by way of the famed and stunning Million Dollar Highway.
Time to Ridgway via Last Dollar Road: 21 miles, 50 minutes
Last Dollar Road Camping Overall
For free camping with close proximity to Telluride, Colorado, Last Dollar Road Dispersed Camping really cannot be beaten.
In addition to only being a short distance from Telluride and great hiking, it also offers breathtaking, million-dollar views. While it is not as private as other boondocking locations, we believe that the trade-off is worth it here.
If you plan ahead and don’t mind getting friendly with your neighbors, you will have a great experience if you can snag a camping spot on Last Dollar Road. The views will be ones that are hard to beat and even if you never leave your spot during your visit, you will still get a deep appreciation for the beauty this area has to offer.
We made great friends, did some fabulous hikes, had fun exploring downtown, and had some great mindful moments just sitting outside and soaking in the views. We are so grateful for the experiences our tiny home on wheels has afforded us and for the amazing landscapes we have seen throughout the U.S. The rough road, unlevel site, and dirt aside, this boondocking spot is a gem!
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO TELLURIDE & LAST DOLLAR ROAD
Getting to Telluride:
Telluride is a remote mountain town that has a small airport serviced through Denver, but is not easily accessible from any major airports.
- Distance from Denver: 6.5 hours
- Distance from Montrose (which is the closest regional airport: 70 miles
- Distance from Phoenix: 8 Hours
- Distance from Salt Lake City: 7 hours
The good news is that if you opt for a road trip, any route you choose will be stunning! If you are in an RV you can drive/tow from Silverton/Durango via the Million Dollar Highway, but it is certainly not for the faint of heart!
Always check your routes before embarking on your journey. We use Google Maps and RV Life GPS to double-check before heading to any new destination.
Telluride only has a few camping options including Last Dollar Road and The Town Park Campground. If you are new to boondocking, check out our boondocking guide for beginners and our 51 best boondocking tips to help you prepare!
You can also check surrounding areas as well for additional options! In addition to the camping locations we mentioned in this article, you might also consider a stay in nearby Ridgway Colorado. Ridgway State Park has extensive camping options.
RV Rentals: If you are looking to get closer to nature but don’t have an RV, consider renting one through RV Share. We used this service when renting out our Casita and found them to be high quality and easy to use!
Another great option is glamping or nature-centric stays. Here are some great options for summer near Telluride Colorado:
You can explore all Telluride area accommodations and compare prices on Booking.com, which is a great resource for unique stays at the best rates.
Looking for other great resources for visiting Telluride in summer?