Madden Peak Road (FR 316) is a great dispersed camping location in Hesperus, Colorado in the San Juan National Forest. It is located about 23 miles from Durango and about 7 miles from Mancos.

This makes it a convenient dispersed camping spot for visiting Mesa Verde National Park, which is about 14 miles away.


Madden Peak Road dispersed camping is located right off of Hwy 160, west of Durango. To get there, turn north on Forest Road 316. Stay to the right when the road curves around. The Google map image below shows the location.

The red marker for “San Juan Dispersed Campsite” is at the end of FR 316. The best dispersed campsites are closer to the beginning of the road.

When Open

FR 316 is open from approximately May to November. The exact dates depend on when the Forest Service opens the road, which is dependent on the weather.

You can check to see if Madden Peak road is open using the USFS website’s updates on road conditions from the Dolores Ranger District Station.

Finding Campsites

The dispersed camping spots are located along FR 316. It is a dirt road with campsites located on either side for about 4 miles down the road.

You will start to see campsites about ½ mile in on both sides of the road. This is where we stayed in our Airstream. It was easy to turn around in the campsite area. The photo below is of our campsite location on Madden Peak Road.

Madden Peak Road boondocking campsite
Madden Peak Road dispersed camping campsite

The camp spots early on are large and relatively flat, but they do not have much of a view. To find campsites with a view, you’ll need to drive further up the road.

However, the further you go on the road, the worse road conditions get and there are fewer campsites. It can be tricky for large vehicles or if you’re towing a trailer or fifth wheel.

Don’t go further than the second set of high voltage wires if you are towing anything or in a larger RV.

About a mile in (before the first set of high voltage wires), there is a 4-way intersection. The road to the left (west) dead-ends into a pipeline facility. The road to the right (east) has some additional campsites that would work well for campervans or tent campers. They have some nice tree cover and views.

View from USFS Interactive Visitor Map

For another view, we use the USFS Interactive Visitor Map. It shows the path that FR 316 takes up the mountain. The red line on the map is FR 316.

Click on the map to go directly to that location using the USFS map.

If for some reason you can’t camp on Madden Peak Road, there are other dispersed camping locations in the area. Use this step-by-step guide to find dispersed camping locations in the National Forest.

Campsite Amenities

This is boondocking, dry camping, dispersed camping, meaning that there are no amenities available. You will need to bring everything you need with you.

Some campsites have a fire ring. If you see red flags in the fire ring, it means there is currently a fire ban due to the risk of wildfires. You do not want to violate this and be responsible for starting a forest fire.

Phone Connectivity

We had about three bars with AT&T, which was convenient for making plans.

What to Bring

Bring everything you need. Water, etc is not available.

The elevation is approximately 8,100 feet, so it will get cold at night, even in the summer. Plan accordingly to bring warm clothes and blankets.

There are also a lot of bears in this area, so don’t leave anything out that might attract them.

Final Thoughts

Madden Peak Road (FR 316) is a really nice dispersed camping location. It is convenient to many attractions in the area, including Mesa Verde National Park, so it can be popular. Try to get there early during peak camping season.

You are allowed to camp at one location here for up to 14 days, according to USFS policies.