We recently "car camped" at Moraine Park Campground in the first weekend in August 2012.
First off, this campground is well situated on the western side of Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park. Note that you will have to pay the typical $20 per vehicle reusable entrance fee to RMNP in order to access the campground.
The views are amazing at almost every site, and there is easy access to Estes Park for shopping, food, and the last minute grocery run. Potentially, if you wanted, you could choose not to bring meals and plan to take a 10 minute drive to run into town, but you're there to camp outdoors, right?
Speaking of purchases, there is a local vendor who comes into the campground in the evenings and sells some essentials near the main gate. Someone below mentioned a cranky lady... this was a pleasant older man who had a truck full of firewood and kindling bundles, as you are not supposed to tear down trees in the park (to make sure there are some trees available for the next camper). Additionally, he has some other fun items such as ice cream bars for the kiddos. Oh, alright, I admit it - ice cream for me too. :)
The available amenities at this campground are better than I have seen most other places. The bathrooms near our site had actual flush toilets that weren't at all scary to sit on. There are dumpsters sprinkled throughout the large facility for ease of drop-off. Additionally, there's even an amplitheatre with some evening seminars from Park Rangers and services from local ministers.
Onto the few things to be aware of:
1. Bear boxes: they are sprinkled around the campground and are to be shared with your neighbors. Don't expect to fit your standard large red cooler in there and still have room for anyone else. Think more about something the size of a large backpack to be 'your' allocated space in there.
2. Wildlife: RMNP has more wildlife roaming around than you probably think. We did not see any bears, but we did see a pod of elk across the road from the firewood purchase location and we had a lone deer walk right through our site not 10 feet from where we were roasting marshmallows. Be conscious about your smellables (food, toothpaste, etc.).
3. Distance to car: If you are the kind of person who plans to leave gear and/or coolers in the car, note that some sites are a ways away from the single car parking spot. Others are right on top of their cars. Take a hard look at the map before choosing a spot, depending on your preference to be close to the road where your car will be.
4. RVs: most of the campground is a mix of RV parking spots and tent pads. Plan accordingly. The campground makes the most of the space it has, so think about how close you want to be to someone's generator at night time. If you want to stay away from RVs, the D-loop on the far west side is tent-only.
5. Tent pads: the Park Rangers will require you to be on a tent pad. Most will fit two 2-3 man tents close together or one 5-6 man tent... and that's it. Large groups should plan accordingly and reserve neighboring sites.
Don't let those few things above deter you. Moraine Park Campground is really a wonderful place to stay, especially for a families and groups camping together. There is lots of wildlife, beautiful views, and you can easily pick clusters of sites to be near each other if in a group setting.
Here are two links to get you started (note that I don't maintain either of these sites if they change):
Recreation.gov for the campground and map:
Very helpful pictures of every site at the campground (note that a/b/c... just indicates multiple pictures of a single site):
We plan to go back again! Enjoy!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This campground is a good base from which to explore the park. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Moraine Park Campground Hotel Estes Park
- Moraine Park Estes