4 Best Geological Sites To Visit In Colorado For RV Campers

The Centennial State of Colorado has some incredibly diverse and road-accessible geology contained within its borders.

Partially due to its altitude, dry climate, and geographic location straddling the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and Plateau belt of the midwestern U.S., numerous opportunities to explore the Earth’s history recorded in its rocks and fossils are available.

1. Dinosaur National Monument

Located in the northwest corner of Colorado on the Utah border, Dinosaur National Monument holds preserved fossil records of over 1,500 of the dinosaurs that roamed the continent.

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View from Overlook near Plug Hat Butte. Photo by Dinosaur National Monument

The fossils are preserved in the red beds of the Morrison Formation—known to be the most prolific source of Jurassic-age dinosaur fossils in North America.  This formation of large mudstones, sandstones, and siltstones was deposited by rivers and flood events about 155 to 145 million years ago.

Throughout time, these deposits formed into rocks, uplifted when the Rocky Mountains were formed, and subsequently cut into canyons and mesas by rivers and streams, exposing the rocks and fossil records they hold.

The Centerpiece of the Dinosaur National Monument visitor center houses research facilities, a bookstore, and excavation center.  Guided tours and evening talks are available as well.

There are five RV-friendly campgrounds within the Dinosaur National Monument with reservations available at the Green River campground and Split Mountain campground in Utah (the others are first-come spots).

2. Dotsero Volcano

The Dotsero Volcano sits just north of the Colorado River and Interstate 70 between the towns of Gypsum and the Glenwood Canyon.  Dotsero Volcano is the youngest volcano in Colorado and although it appears dormant, it is still considered by USGS to be an active volcano with a moderate threat potential.

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Dotsero Volcano. Photo via Wikipedia

The crater is about half-mile wide and 600-feet deep, set in the sandstones of Western Colorado.  A hike of about 3 miles each way with a significant elevation gain of just under 2,000 feet on the Dotsero-Ute Trail will get you to the crater.

3. Argo Gold Mine, Mill, and Museum

The Argo mine tunnel in Idaho Springs was completed in 1910 and extends over 4 miles into the heart of the Colorado Mineral Belt.  This tunnel provided drainage to many of the other mines in the area until 1943, and the chemical-laden discharge now requires the ongoing treatment and monitoring of the water before it enters Clear Creek.

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The Argo Gold Mine and Mill (Photo by Greverod/Wikipedia)

The mill was built at the entrance of the tunnel and was used to process mined gold ore.  The mill is part of the National Register of Historic Places and is open for tours year-round.

4. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

At the head of the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado sit the Great Sand Dunes.  This 30-square mile dune field contains over 5 billion tons of sand and the tallest dunes in North America (750 feet).

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Dunescape by Michael Rael

Great Sand Dunes is framed by the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with the Crestone Needle (14,197 ft) to the north and Blanca Peak (14,345 ft) and Mt. Lindsey (14,042 ft) to the south.  The Sand Dunes provide both hiking and four-wheel driving routes, as well as on-site camping at the Piñon Flats Campground.

For those interested in additional places of geologic interest in Colorado, visit the Colorado Geological Survey’s POGI map and articles for more ideas!

See also: Visit The Crown Jewel Of Colorado’s National Parks



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Free Hookup Sites For RVs

I have shared many times how I am compiling a national database on free places to camp or boondock in anticipation of that day when my wife and I have the opportunity to RV to the Midwest and East Coast. I have also shared how the farther east you travel, the more difficult it is to find areas to camp for free.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across this website that not only lists free places to camp across the country but that the sites listed include free utilities—many of them full hookups!

free hookup sites
See the full map on FreshTanks.net

Many of the places limit how long you can stay for free from one to several days, but free is free!!!

Most of the campgrounds are located in small cities in the Midwest and operated by the city in the hopes that you will stop and patronize their city, while others are operated by casinos with the hope you will stay and donate to their slot machines, but in either case they are a great option for an overnight stop along your route.

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With most of them providing free electrical hookups, these parks would be especially useful during hot weather when you need to operate your RV’s air conditioning.

While I haven’t had the opportunity to research all 78 listings on the website, the ones I did do a little research on confirmed that they are operating and offer free overnight stays with utilities!

free hookup sites

Click here to visit the website listing the free camping locations. Click here to watch a Youtube review of one of the parks by a fellow RVer.

When you visit one of these parks, be certain to thank those responsible, be a good camper during your stay and leave the campground better than you found it when you depart. Also be sure to research the RV parks and campgrounds on RV Park Reviews.

Camping for free with utilities, an adventure in RVing this thrifty ole Norwegian can get excited about! If you have experienced staying at any of the parks listed, please share.



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Casino Resorts In The U.S. With Full Hookup RV Sites

Many casinos are not only RV-friendly but they have their own RV resort with an extensive list of amenities. These are some of the best places to park and try your luck at the slots or table games.

1. Lakeside Casino and RV Park, Nevada

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Lakeside Casino & RV Park, Pahrump, Nevada. (Photo via TripAdvisor)

This casino in Pahrump is a quiet place to stay west of Las Vegas. They have 159 full hookup RV sites that surround a 7-acre man-made lake stocked with bass for fishing.

The lake has a waterfall, dock, boat launch, and sandy beach.  RVers can also use their swimming pool, hot tub, and frisbee golf course.

2. The Mill Casino Hotel & RV Park, Oregon

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The Mill Casino RV Park, North Bend, Oregon. (Photo via TripAdvisor)

The Mill Casino overlooks Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast just off the scenic Highway 101. They have a range of RV sites with full hookups including pull-throughs with bayfront views.

The casino provides a free shuttle service up to the casino or into town. RVers can also access their fitness room, pool, showers, laundry, and spa.

3. Quinault Beach Resort & Casino, Washington

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Quinault Casino, Ocean Shores, Washington. (Photo via TripAdvisor)

Quinault Casino only has dry campsites, but they are still the best deal you’ll find on the Washington Coast at only $5 a night ($15 on Friday and Saturday). Guests can stay up to 14 days at a time and use the swimming pool for an additional fee.

They have easy beach access and lots of things to see and do nearby in Ocean Shores. Try your hand at blackjack while you’re at the casino or grab a bite to eat from one of their cafes.

4. Casino Queen RV Park, Illinois

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Casino Queen Hotel & RV Park, East St. Louis, Illinois. (Photo via TripAdvisor)

Casino Queen is conveniently located across the Mississippi River from St. Louis and has unrivaled views of the Gateway Arch. Their RV park includes full hookups and a free shuttle service to the casino.

Make a day trip into the city to see attractions like the Arch and Busch Stadium. You can read more about camping in St. Louis on Do It Yourself RV.

5. Pechanga RV Resort & Casino, California

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Pechanga RV Resort in Southern California. (Photo via TripAdvisor)

Pechanga RV Resort is a short drive from Temecula Valley Wine Country and Old Town where you can find historic 1800s buildings, antique shops, and restaurants. The resort’s 206 full-service sites can accommodate any size RV and include access to their pool and laundry facilities. They also have presidential sites with estate-style fencing and gazebos.

The casino has 24/7 gaming, and restaurants like a steakhouse, oyster and sushi bar, and a pub that serves high-quality BBQ. Play their 18-hole golf course or get a massage at their spa to unwind.

6. Gold Ranch Casino & RV Resort, Nevada

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Gold Ranch Resort, Verdi, Nevada. (Photo via TripAdvisor)

Gold Ranch Casino’s RV resort is west of Reno along the Nevada-California border. They have 105 spacious full hookup RV sites in a peaceful setting surrounded by mountains and trees.

Relax in their heated pool and Jacuzzi before heading up to the casino and restaurants. You can also fuel up at their gas station or grab snacks and beverages from their 24-hour convenience store.

7. Little Creek Casino & Resort, Washington

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Little Creek Casino, near Shelton, Washington. (Photo via TripAdvisor)

Little Creek is only 15 minutes from Olympia and easy to access off Highway 101. They offer full hookup RV sites next door to the casino with access to their laundry room and showers.

They’ve also expanded to include a par-72 championship golf course, spa, and a variety of dining options. Try their buffet for breakfast or the seafood bar for shrimp or oysters.

8. Paragon Casino Resort RV Park, Louisiana

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Paragon Casino Resort, Marksville, Louisiana. (Photo via TripAdvisor)

This casino resort in Central Louisiana has something for everyone in the family. Your kids can enjoy their slides, arts and crafts, and video games while you take the free shuttle up to the casino or play the 18-hole golf course.

They also have a spa, cinema, and a few restaurants to choose from. Their RV park includes over 200 sites with concrete patios and full hookups.

9. Durant / Choctaw Casino KOA, Oklahoma

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Choctaw Casino KOA, Durant, Oklahoma. (Photo via website)

Few KOAs are located right next to casinos; this one in Southern Oklahoma has over 4,000 slot machines and 80 table games.  They also have activities for the kids like a movie theater, laser tag, arcade, and bowling.

Go for a swim in their heated pool or get a workout in their fitness center.  They’re only about a half-hour drive from Lake Texoma, a popular place to cast a line for catfish and smallmouth bass.

10. Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast, Mississippi

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Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Photo via Facebook)

Hollywood Casino has a hotel and an RV park with full hookup sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Their RV sites include a free shuttle service to their casino and two free wristbands to the pool area, which has a lazy river, hot tub, and a swim-up bar.

The casino has a few restaurants on-site, a marina, and an Arnold Palmer designed golf course.  There are also lots of local shops and restaurants only about 5-10 minutes away in Old Town Bay St. Louis.

You can easily find casinos with campgrounds by planning your trip on RV Trip Wizard



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