Updated on 04/24/17     NEW items in red. 

“Camping is the ‘outing’ in scouting”

On this page you will find:

  • Notes for Summer 2017
  • Overview
  • Training & Safety Guidelines for Outdoor Activities
  • Ideas for Camping, Hiking, Backpacking and Other Outdoor Activities
  • Other Camping and Winter Camping Resources

Notes for Summer 2017

  • Summer 2017 is quickly approaching and we encourage you to work with your young men to schedule and plan appropriate scout camp and high adventure activities.  Here are a few reminders as you plan and prepare:
    • please involve the young men in the planning and preparing for all scout camp and high adventure activities
    • these Scouting activities, as with all Scouting activities, should serve the purpose of complementing the efforts of Aaronic Priesthood quorums in building testimonies in young men and boys
    • please plan activities in locations that best accomplish the task, and within a 300 mile radius of Highlands Ranch (this is a HR stake policy)
    • scout camp for Troops should focus on skill enhancements, leadership opportunities, fun activities and merit badges
    • high-adventure for Teams and Crews should focus on doing hard things, leadership opportunities that challenge older scouts through physical activity, and provide a venue where young men can come together in the outdoors
    • BSA Tour Permits are no longer required
    • please submit all LDS activity plans to the HR Stake YM Presidency…well in advance of the event
  • Youth Trek:  Trek at Martin’s Cove is also scheduled for June 6-10,  2017.  The stake will pay for the bulk of the cost, and each youth will be asked to pay $75.

Camping Overview

Camping and other outdoor activities are critical for the success of each scouting unit–troops, teams, and crews.  You’re far more likely to retain the boys’ interest if you and they plan outdoor events–they’re fun, challenging, and memorable!  Units are encouraged to hold meaningful outdoor events regularly throughout the year in addition to one week in the summer.  These are times when adult advisors have better opportunities to strengthen individual relationships with youth and bear testimony.  Young men should be heavily involved in the planning and execution of all camping and other outdoor activities per the guidelines of their specific unit (troop, team, crew).  Share your experiences so we can put them on this site for others to enjoy.

Outdoor Training and Safety

Per the green Scouting Handbook section 8.9, “leaders should comply with the guidelines in the Guide to Safe Scouting, published by the BSA” . . . and additional guidelines at  A summary of these policies is found on the Policy page of this website.   In order to receive a BSA Tour Permit at least one attending adult must have taken Hazardous Weather training, and most likely Trek Safely training, available on the e-learning section of his profile at  Depending on the type of activity, additional training may be required to receive a BSA Tour Permit.  Most of this additional training is also available through the e-learning section of your profile at

Permitted uses, fire restrictions, and other policies can change quickly in national forest and wilderness areas.  It’s wise to check county and forest websites in advance of trips to be aware of the latest information.  Calls to nearby Ranger stations can also confirm and clarify policies.

Ideas for Camping, Hiking, Backpacking, etc. 

Note:  Some of these locations may also work for youth conferences.

General Summer and Winter Camping

  •  a very helpful website created and maintained by a former local scoutmaster and current Venture Crew Advisor (who as of April 2016 was also the Arapahoe District Camping Chairman).  This site is unique because it not only has ideas for backpacking and camping, but you can search for locations based on the type of activity you’re looking for–whether it’s a 1,2,3,4 or 5 night trip, near a 14’er, a 50-miler, etc.  Each trip typically includes pictures, links to trailheads, maps and other information and also  a copy of the unit’s itinerary for your use as a guide in creating your trip.  There aren’t dozens of ideas, but they are trips that have been done by a local troop and definitely worth a look.
  • GOAT Book (Guide to Outdoor Activities for Troops):  A fantastic resource and valuable guide prepared by the Tahosa Lodge of the Order of the Arrow that contains a list and description of dozens of campgrounds, trailheads, backpacking locations, and other recreation areas throughout the state of Colorado.  Organized by geographic regions it includes some rough maps, estimated drive times, and descriptions on how to get to each location. You may download this pdf, it’s about 15mb.  The book’s publication date is from several years ago but the information should still be largely accurate.
  • Reservations for most national forest campgrounds can be made at and which covers state parks.  They are both good resources for finding lists of different places to explore.
  • Buffalo Creek and Deckers area:  Camping, fishing, mountain bike riding, hiking and shooting are all available near the Deckers and Buffalo Creek area of the Pine National Forest. Roughly an hour or less from Highlands Ranch units can choose to camp in improved campgrounds (reservations typically required) or disperse camp in approved areas along certain roads.  The Colorado Trail goes through this area and is popular with mountain bikers, hikers and backpackers (particularly beginning backpackers looking for a day trip with little elevation gain).  Fishing along the Platte River is another opportunity.  Google ‘Deckers camping Colorado’ for more details on campgrounds and other activities nearby.  The GOAT book also has information about this area.
  • Pike National Forest:  the closest National Forest to south Denver there are many options for camping and other activities.  Rampart Range road stretches from near Sedalia south to Woodland Park and there are campgrounds along that stretch as well.
  • Kenosha Pass:  At the summit of Kenosha Pass on highway 285, on the left hand side, there are campsites that are accessible most times in the winter and summer.  The dirt road from the highway back to the camping area near Kenosha East Campground can be covered with deep snow at times, and a backup plan is an improved campground (Timberline Group Campground) about 1/4 mile before the summit on the right hand side.  Sledding can be found if there is sufficient snow.
  • Picket Wire Canyonlands:  South of La Junta, CO this camping and hiking location is unique because it is the site of the largest dinosaur track site in North America.  It includes 1,400 individual Brontosaurus tracks along 100 separate paths.  It also has Native American petroglyphs and other interesting sites.  An interesting alternative for winter camping if you’re looking to avoid the snow.
  • Ice Climbing at Camp Alexander:  In winter 2016 the camp offered 3 months of weekend ice climbing on an ice wall at the camp.  They provided all of the gear and guides.  Presumably this will continue in 2017 and beyond.  Saddle Ranch ward did this and had a blast.
  • Pickle Gulch:  a good location suitable for car camping where units can run various outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, cooking, etc.  Near Blackhawk so it’s close.

Summer Camps, High Adventure, and Backpacking Locations

  • Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch:  operated by the Denver Council this camp focuses on a wide variety of merit badges and rank advancement for tenderfoot through first class including.  The camp has a swimming pool, a small lake for rowing/canoeing/sailing, a very nice shooting range, and other amenities.  Troops can choose to have cafeteria food (Camp Dobbins) or cook their own food provided by the camp (Camp Dietler).  Winter camping is also available, along with opportunities to participate in rifle and shotgun shooting, climbing, biking, and other activities throughout the year.  Located near the town of Elbert, CO which is generally southeast of Parker.  About one hour from Highlands Ranch.
  • Camp Tahosa High Adventure Base:  operated by the Denver Council this camp is primarily for those looking for more of a high adventure activity than a camp focused on merit badges.  Guided backpacking treks into the neighboring Indian Peaks Wilderness area can be good training for newer, less experienced adult leaders and is considered by some a good preparation for treks at Philmont.  Additionally, through the Eagle Point program troops can create and run their own summer camps and use facilities at Tahosa to complement their efforts.
  • Ben Delatour Scout Ranch:  operated by the Longs Peak Council this camp focuses on merit badges and rank advancement.  A smaller camp than Peaceful Valley located in the mountains northwest of Ft. Collins near the town of Red Feather Lakes.  This camp only offers a cafeteria food option, does not have a pool, but is located in the mountains.   About 2.0-2.5 hours from Highlands Ranch.
  • Camp Alexander:  operated by the Pikes Peak Council, this camp focuses on merit badges and rank advancement.  A smaller camp than Peaceful Valley located in the Elevenmile Canyon about 45 miles west of Colorado Springs near the town of Lake George.  This camp only offers a cafeteria food option, does not have a pool but is located in the mountains.  About 2 hours from Highlands Ranch.
  • LDS Ragged Mountain Ranch:  owned by the LDS church located in Somerset, CO about 1 hour south of Glenwood Springs.  Cabins are available.  Google search LDS Ragged Mountain Ranch for phone numbers, no specific web page has been found.  Westridge ward has been here and loved it.
  • Camp Firewalker:  a privately owned camp on the shores of Lake Wellington near Bailey, this camp offers on-site zip lines, high ropes course, and canoeing.  In the middle of the Pike National Forest it also has easy access to rock climbing, rappelling, mountain biking, and other activities.  Fees include access to cooking facilities but units bring their own food.
  • Fruita, CO:  since Moab, UT is outside of the approved mileage radius for our stake, Fruita is a worthy alternative for those looking to mountain bike.  A fantastic trail system has been developed in the area and many trails are very well suited for young men of scouting age.  HERE is a link to some locations on BLM land that can work.  Several wards have been here including Roxborough.
  •  use this resource to find backpacking treks of 3-5 nights, including those near lakes, waterfalls, and 14’ers.  Includes Four Pass Loop around Maroon Bells in Aspen,
  • Piney River:  Located north of Vail this trail offers an easy beginner backpacking trip with spectacular views.  The trail is perfect for 11, 12, 13 year old scouts.  You can follow the trail back a couple of miles and camp near the creek without much elevation gain which builds confidence in younger backpackers!  The trailhead starts at a privately owned facility on the edge of the Piney Lake and quickly enters Wilderness area within the White River Nat’l Forest.  Google ‘Piney River Ranch’ and go to their website for directions to the trailhead.  Spring Gulch ward has done this hike many times.
  • Four Pass Loop:  a strenuous, 28-mile hike around the Maroon Bells peaks near Aspen.  Loved (and hated) for its elevation gain up and down over 4 separate ‘passes’ the scenery is likely unsurpassed.  Spring Gulch ward has done this a couple of times.
  • Heart Lake:  located north of Dotsero (east of Glenwood Canyon) this fairly remote lake is accessible by car and is a viable location for a summer scout camp.  Groups can camp in dispersed areas along the lake or in improved campgrounds nearby.  The elevation is near 10,000 in the Flat Tops area so the water is cold and the weather can change quickly!  A Google search for Deep Lake campground might provide more information about this area.  Deep Lake campground is popular with the RV crowd and more people seem to fish on this lake than on Heart Lake.  Spring Gulch ward has held summer camp here.
  • Marvine Lakes:  a great backpacking location.  Popular with horseback riding outfitters this particular trail leads to 2 large mountain lakes in the Flat Tops with day trips available from there. Nestled into a valley with huge cliffs to the north this area is perfect for a two or three night trip.  Drive to Rifle, north to Meeker, then east toward Buford.  The possibility exists of creating a longer backpacking loop rather than just up and back.
  • Climbing 14’ers:  Many options here and several wards have created high adventure camps around climbing one or two of these peaks.
  • Chicago Basin:  an adventure near Durango, CO.  Backpackers take the train between Durango and Silverton, jump off along the route and begin a loop through the Weminuche Wilderness where several 14’ers are located.  Multiple trails and loops are possible near this area, with strenuous options if you’d like.  Roxborough ward has done this loop.


General Camping and Winter Camping Resources

  • Beginner winter camping skills:  article in Backpacking magazine.
  • A great book to purchase at REI or Amazon: “Guide to Colorado’s Wilderness Areas”.  Lots of ideas for summer backpacking trips are in there.






One thought on “Camping”

  1. Hi Everyone, we’d like to use this page to share camping ideas. Use the “Leave a Reply” box to share camping locations and ideas with other advisors in the stake. Thanks!


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2018 Theme: “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me” Doctrine and Covenants 19:23