Summit County campgrounds fill quickly ahead of Fourth of July weekend

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The Fourth of July holiday weekend is one of the most popular times of year to travel across the country. Families often pack their cars with lawn chairs, grilled delicacies and outdoor games to head back to hometowns, warm beachside getaways or cool mountain-town communities. 

As for Summit County, many travelers from the Front Range and across the U.S. will head to the county in order to enjoy holiday weekend festivities. 

Camping is one such activity, but campsites in Summit County are expected to be booked throughout the holiday weekend by Fourth of July travelers. 

“We expect everything to be filled up this weekend,” White River National Forest spokesperson David Boyd said. “There are reservable sites which are on, but most of the sites are going to be filled up. You are going to have to check what is available — first come, first serve.”

Besides reservable designated campsites, Summit County also offers plenty of dispersed campsites outside of developed campgrounds. There are designated, dispersed camping spots in Summit County, but they are more aimed towards pulling off the road and camping in your car at a less established campground.

“The general idea with dispersed camping anywhere is that it is not a formally designated site, but because the designated sites in Summit County are so heavily used, we have moved to designated sites only so people can still camp there without it being completely overrun,” Boyd said.

The idea behind designating the dispersed camping spots was to better manage the camping in order to heighten the experience and reduce the impact of the camping.

Boyd predicts that visitors looking for a camping spot may have more luck at one of the designated, dispersed spots but still warns that sites are on a first-come, first-served basis and that the sites are expected to reach capacity.

Some of the most popular locations in Summit County include Boreas Pass Road, North Rock Creek and Peru Creek.

“In most areas you can disperse camp if you are 300 feet from the road and 100 feet away from a body of water,” Boyd said. “There may be signs in the area designating otherwise but that is the general rule that we ask typically.”

The White River National Forest also asks that campers not create new sites on the side of the road and use existing sites instead. Additionally the White River National Forest prohibits recreationists from using trailheads for camping. 

Boyd is predicting that the total number of campers within Summit County may vary based on what the weather does, but he expects the population of campers during the Fourth of July weekend will be on par for what has been seen over the last few years.

“Numbers have been steadily increasing every year, and they did with the pandemic in 2020,” Boyd said. “We anticipate numbers to continue to be high. People who hadn’t discovered the outdoors have now. Lots of people will be coming out.”

Lodging bookings lower than 2021

Although many visitors to the county may have booked their stays for the holiday weekend weeks in advance, there may still be hope for last-minute bookings at area lodges.

According to the Breckenridge Tourism Office and the most recent Destimetrics report from June 15, Fourth of July bookings were down 13% from 2021.

“This report doesn’t take into account any bookings that have occurred in the last two weeks, which will be reflected in the next occupancy report,” Public Relations Director from the Breckenridge Tourism Office Lauren Swanson noted in an email.

A scenic view from the Windy Point Campground in Dillon. Campgrounds are expected to be booked throughout the 2022 Fourth of July holiday weekend but the area still offers dispersed camping spots on a first-come, first-served basis.
Liz Copan/Summit Daily Archive

Based on the report, there looks to be less demand for lodging in Breckenridge throughout the holiday weekend, but the town is still expecting crowds from campers, in-town visitors and day-trippers. 

As a result, the Breckenridge Tourism Office and the town of Breckenridge are encouraging people to minimize traveling by car and travel by foot, bike or use the Breckenridge Free Ride bus instead in order to minimize congestion downtown.

Breckenridge’s Main Street will be closed starting at 6 a.m. on July 4 and remain closed from French Street to Park Avenue for Breckenridge’s Fourth of July parade.

Main Street from Ski Hill Road to Adams Avenue will remain closed throughout the day until 6 p.m. on July 4 with the remainder of Main Street opening after the parade.

Despite no towns or ski resorts hosting a firework display in Summit County, there are still plenty of activities for guests to explore throughout the county during the holiday weekend.

“We’re planning a fun Fourth of July holiday weekend in Breckenridge, with our annual Independence Day celebration kicking off on Monday, July 4, and activities all day long,” Swanson said.