Campfire Ranch campground makes camping easy and luxurious

Morgan Tilton

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Founder Sam Degenhard greets campers at the Campfire Ranch central headquarters along the Taylor RiverPhoto provided by Morgan Tilton

On the southerly side of a bend in the Taylor River sits a well-manicured campground with hints of luxury called Campfire Ranch, 189 miles southwest of Denver.

The high-end campground has a unique, supportive approach to hosting campers, which adds a taste of glam and takes the guesswork out of camping, which has become increasingly popular in the Centennial State. The campground was founded by Sam Degenhard in June 2020.

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The campsite with a tent pad and micro-cabin are available for $120 per nightPhoto provided by Morgan Tilton

Campers can reserve one of 12 campsites for $60 a night. One of the sites includes an enclosed, dry micro-cabin with a queen-size bed that can be modified to two twins. One of the sites is also ADA-accessible.

Each site includes a tent pad, picnic table, fire ring, and charcoal grill. Campers receive unlimited free firewood that’s been chopped and is ready to go.

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The sites are well maintained including an ADA sitePhoto provided by Morgan Tilton

Guests also receive a goody bag upon arrival with gifts from the campground partners. The gifts include a voucher for a free shower at the Gunnison Rec Center and a free wine tasting at Buckle Family Wine plus instant coffee from First Ascent. Folks also receive a complimentary welcome beverage from New Belgium: a beer or non-alcoholic beer.

When I stayed at the campground two weeks ago, I was astonished at how clean, well-cared for and tidy every inch of the property was. Even the bathroom.

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A collection of high-quality gear is available for rent and management at Campfire RanchPhoto provided by Morgan Tilton

Campers can rent gear on-site

One of the biggest differentiators is that the Campfire Ranch campground has a gear closet for rentals. Speaking from experience, the gear is fresh, clean and high-end.

“There are no other campgrounds that rent all the gear you need as well as logistically help to manage events like with renting catering and sound system,” said Degenhard.

More than 25% of campground guests rent gear for their stay, said Degenhard.

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Campfire Ranch offers a defined nature trailPhoto provided by Morgan Tilton

He added, “58% of our customers are new or first-time campers. And 26 percent are experienced but don’t want to deal with finding a dispersed site and want more amenities.”

“We rent 40 camp chairs, sleeping bags, tents, camp stoves, camp kitchens, coolers, cast iron pots, coffee kits, water jugs—we rent everything you need to be totally dialed. Everything is priced at 60-90% of retail for a two-night stay,” said Degenhard.

The campground host can set up the gear for you before you arrive, show you how to set it up or use it, or let you set it up: Your choice.

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Huge community hammocks suspend above the soil between the pine treesPhoto provided by Morgan Tilton

The staff can also break down all the gear and put it away for you after for a hassle-free experience, especially if you need to get on the road or don’t want to break down a tent in the rain.

“On top of renting and not needing to own gear, you don’t need to deal with the gear,” said Degenhard.

Prices for the gear rentals are listed online.

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A groundskeeper is available 24/7 on sitePhoto provided by Morgan Tilton

Guest services on-site

A guest services trailer is set up on-site with quality merchandise like YETI cooler packs and koozies or a locally-made PACT Outdoors Bathroom Kit.

The trailer is staffed 24/7 by the on-site campground manager who ensures safety and peace of mind, said Degenhard.

“We are also a concierge service to help people know what to expect and where to go, whether people want to go guided or unguided. We will book experiences for customers with local guides and outfitters like Wheelies and Waves and Irwin Guides,” said Degenhard.

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Campfire Ranch is nestled in the wildlife-rich Taylor Canyon across the road from Taylor RiverPhoto provided by Morgan Tilton

Special on-site experiences at Campfire Ranch

The campground features a pavilion, natural trail, and huge hammocks hanging in the trees. Bouldering, rock climbing, and fishing is on-site.

Some people might have cell phone service (I didn’t) but there is complimentary Wi-Fi on-site, so campers can work if needed.

Gravel-filtered potable water is available on-site as well as bear boxes.

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Simple and helpful accommodations make camping easier like a wash bin for footwear and gearPhoto provided by Morgan Tilton

The bathrooms are glitzed out with a light, bamboo toilet paper, shoe cleaner, mirror, and a table with reading material, as well as a wash basin outside to clean off footwear and gear prior to your road trip home.

Occasionally, the campground partners with Whetstone Sauna CO, to host the portable sauna on-site. Be sure to inquire! When we stayed, we sat in the sauna followed by cold immersions in the river, which was very therapeutic. We met other campers through the shared experience, which was super fun.

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Campfire Ranch Founder Sam Degenhard prepares a local wood-burning sauna for campers, which is available on occasionPhoto provided by Morgan Tilton

The grounds have hosted bachelorette parties and annual corporate retreats such as for The North Face and SheFly Apparel, which are both outdoor industry companies based in Colorado.

“We do also camp games and events like free pancake breakfast on Sundays and group sunset hikes and campfire building competitions. It’s like summer camp for adults,” said Degenhard.

The campground has a lease with Gunnison City Mountain Park to use the property.

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The author Morgan Tilton relaxing in a tree hammock at Campfire Ranch in Taylor CanyonPhoto provided by Morgan Tilton

Campfire Ranch opens the weekend before Memorial Day and closes at the end of the first weekend of October. For example, this year it closed on Oct. 9.

An expansion plan is underway to open a second campground in Colorado in 2023.

As I wrapped up an initial interview with Degenhard, he looked over my shoulder and exclaimed, “There’s a herd of bighorn sheep climbing on the cliffs!”

He handed me a set of binoculars to look closer while he ran around to tell the other campers about the wildlife sight. Campfire Ranch is a place to share the magic of slowing down and relaxing outdoors.

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Adventure journalist Morgan Tilton covers the outdoors with a focus on travel, industry news and human endurance. Featured in more than 70 publications, she’s a recipient of more than a dozen North American Travel Journalists Association awards.

Crested Butte, CO
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