Ranger Lakes Camping Overview
Ranger Lakes Campground is a nice medium size campground just off Highway 14 in State Forest State Park. There is a nice large ring of campsites sitting up on the side of a hill where most of the campground can overlook a huge meadow below, which is often filled with wildlife. The campground itself is situated between this natural wildlife viewing area and Ranger Lakes. The Ranger Lakes themselves are a little under a mile away from the campground and are accessed by a nice nature walk path. The campground itself is normally surrounded by a thick lodge pole pine forest. Unfortunately, the beetle kill in this area is pretty bad and the entire campground has been clear cut. Many beetle resistant trees have been planted, but it will be many years before they offer any real shade. For wildlife viewing and convenience, this is a great campground to enjoy. It is right on the highway with quick access to Gould and Walden.
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Ranger Lakes Campground Campsites
The whole campground is in a large flat area. This is good because it makes most campsites equally capable of tent, camper, or RV camping. Each campsite has a regular size tent pad with most positioned well. The drives are also flat and compacted for campers and RVs. All of the campsites are back in campsites, instead of drive through campsites. So if you need a drive through campsite, check out the nearby North Michigan Lake Campground.
Due to the terrible pine bark beetle epidemic, Ranger Lakes Campground has been clear cut. They’ve planted a lot of pine beetle resistant trees, but they’ll need many years to offer shade. Be sure to bring your own shade with you, especially since this campground is at a higher altitude and you’ll want to protect your skin from the more intense sun. We suggest an Instant canopy. They open easily and can be set up by one person. In a matter of minutes you can have some shade when camping. Plus, they hold up well in storms. Just be sure to stake them down or tie off the corners in case a very strong wind comes through. The other thing about a higher altitude campground is that the temperature is cooler overall and can get quite chilly at night.
The fire pits in the campsites are small and sunk into the ground. They do have a grill on one side but it is attached. They have been welded closed. These types of fire pits are great for heat. However, they really only accommodate small fires. This is good in this area because there are lots of dead beetle kill trees. As always, be sure to keep a close eye on your fire. Keep enough water in reserve to douse it at all times. Always put out any embers that escape.
The campsites here at Ranger Lakes Campground are well spaced for the most part. With the trees being cut down and no other natural features it is easy to see and hear your neighbors. Be conscious of how easily you can disturb your neighbors. Always be respectful of those around you when camping.
One thing that does stand out here is that Highway 14 is very close to the campground. You will hear noise from the road around the clock. The campground is located at the base of the western side of Cameron Pass, so the noise of trucks can be constant during the busy summer camping season.
The tables in the campsites are metal mesh tables with a rubber coating. They are ADA accessible with extended tables for wheelchairs which are very nice. They can be moved around the campsite. Just be sure to keep them within the official campsite which is bordered in wood. Do not move the tables outside this area because you may kill the new trees.
If you have stayed at the Ranger Lakes Campground, please leave a comment below. Remember to mention the exact campsite you were in. This will really help other campers who are thinking about going to Ranger Lakes Campground.
Amenities at Ranger Lakes Campground
Ranger Lakes Campground has the amenities a camper would expect to have at an up-to-date campground.
There is water available during the normal camping season. If you are camping at Ranger Lakes Campground outside of the normal camping season, water can found in Gould. Depending on the time and day, Gould may not have anything open. If that is the case keep heading north on Highway 14 to Walden to get what you need.
Each of the campsites has electricity. There is also a dumpster for trash pickup. During the peak camping season there is a camp host here as well. They have information on the area and usually have bundles of wood for sale.
There is cellular service for most. The area surrounding Ranger Lakes Campground is populated. Gould and State Forest State Forest is nearby so you should be able to get a good signal.
Things to do around Ranger Lakes Campground
Wildlife viewing can be an all-day activity in Ranger Lakes Campground. The campground overlooks a large meadow to the west of it. The Michigan River flows through it and attracts all sorts of animals. This is moose country. They are often spotted in the meadow below the campground. There are also lots of deer, elk, and even bears in the area. Make sure to set aside some time each morning and evening to really watch the meadow for wildlife. Make sure to put away all your food and trash or you may have an unexpected encore visit in the middle of the night!
There is a nature trail on the east side of Ranger Lakes Campground. It’s a short trail only about ½ mile long with many interesting sights. This nature trail also takes you by the three lakes of Ranger Lakes, two of which would be considered ponds instead of lakes at certain times.
There is good fishing here, both shore and stream. Choose one of the Ranger Lakes for shore fishing. There are even a few nice areas with benches and a few fishing docks. If stream fishing is more your forte, head back behind Ranger Lakes to the Michigan River. It is a little more rough and rugged along the river so be prepared for that.
Being part of State Forest State Park, there are many things to do outside of the immediate campground area. Some activities include hiking, fishing, boating, and many other great outdoor activities. Just remember that as a State Park they do require a fee for a day pass. The good thing is that it covers many different places around Ranger Lakes Campground. These include Ranger Lakes, North Michigan Creek Reservoir, and the Michigan River.
If you are looking for something else to do you should also stop by the Moose Visitor Center for Colorado State Forest. It is a nice visitor center with lots of fun and interesting information about the area.
If you find that you forgot something the town of Walden is only about 20 minutes north on Highway 14. It is a nice and convenient place to pick up anything you need. It is also a good place to escape poor weather if the need should arise.
Final Thoughts on Ranger Lakes Campground
Ranger Lakes Campground near Gould is a good place to go camping. The views and scenery here are fantastic. With so much wildlife activity in the area you could spend your whole camping trip just watching and taking pictures.
The open and clear cut campground is not great, but the campsites are nice and have power. Water and an outhouse are not too far. But ultimately the proximity to so many other fun activities more than makes up for the mediocre campground.Reserve a Campsite at State Forest State Park Today!