The crisp mountain air, the rustling of aspen leaves, and the gentle flow of pristine rivers – these are the sensory delights that have accompanied many of my camping trips near Aspen, Colorado. Over the years, my boots have treaded countless trails, and my tent has been pitched under starry skies in various corners of this alpine paradise. Aspen, renowned for its world-class skiing, is equally a gem for campers seeking the tranquility of nature. From the iconic Maroon Bells to the serene banks of the Roaring Fork River, the region brims with camping spots that promise unforgettable experiences. Dive in to discover the best of Aspen’s outdoor offerings, and perhaps, find your next favorite campsite.
Note: Silver Bell, Silver Barm and Silver Queen campgrounds are all situated along Maroon Creek Road, which is the road that leads to Maroon Bells. These campgrounds, as well as Difficult Campground, book well in advance and require reservations ahead of time. Most campgrounds in Aspen have a 5-day limit, which is quite shorter than the usual Colorado National Forest 14-day limit.
Difficult Campground is a nature lover’s dream, nestled just east of Aspen along the Roaring Fork River. With spacious sites that offer a blend of sun and shade, campers can enjoy the soothing sounds of the river as they relax by their campfire. Amenities include picnic tables, fire grates, and vault toilets, providing a comfortable yet rustic experience. The nearby Difficult Creek Trail offers a moderate hike with beautiful views, perfect for a day’s adventure.
For those interested in fishing, the Roaring Fork River is teeming with trout, making it an angler’s paradise. Wildlife enthusiasts will also appreciate the opportunity to spot deer, elk, and various bird species in the area. With its proximity to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Difficult Campground serves as a gateway to further exploration, making it an ideal base for both relaxation and adventure.
Silver Bell Campground offers a serene and intimate setting near the Maroon Bells, with fewer sites than its neighboring campgrounds. This makes it an excellent choice for those seeking a quieter and more secluded experience. Each site comes equipped with a picnic table and fire ring, and vault toilets are available on the premises. The nearby Maroon Creek Trail provides opportunities for hiking and wildlife viewing.
The real charm of Silver Bell Campground lies in its simplicity and tranquility. It’s a place where you can truly disconnect and immerse yourself in nature. The gentle rustling of aspen leaves and the soft murmur of Maroon Creek add to the peaceful ambiance. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a solitary retreat, Silver Bell Campground offers a unique and memorable experience.
Pro tip: Some of the sites are by reservation only (and they get booked quickly!), but some of them are first-come, first-serve. Get there early to grab a spot!
Silver Bar Campground is a tents-only oasis, perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of RV camping. Located near Maroon Lake, the campground offers a peaceful environment with basic amenities such as picnic tables, fire grates, and vault toilets. The lack of RVs adds to the quiet atmosphere, allowing campers to fully embrace the natural surroundings.
Hiking trails are easily accessible from the campground, leading to stunning vistas and alpine lakes. The close proximity to Maroon Lake means that fishing and paddleboarding are popular activities here as well. Silver Bar Campground’s tents-only policy and beautiful surroundings make it an ideal choice for true nature enthusiasts seeking a more traditional camping experience.
Silver Queen Campground, located near Maroon Lake, is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts. With small but well-maintained sites that include picnic tables, fire rings, and restroom facilities, it offers a comfortable base for exploring the Maroon Bells area. The nearby Crater Lake Trail is a must-hike, leading to a stunning alpine lake with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.
In addition to hiking, Silver Queen Campground offers easy access to fishing, bird watching, and photography opportunities. The blend of convenience and natural beauty makes it a popular choice for families and groups. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended stay, Silver Queen Campground provides the amenities and activities to ensure a memorable and enjoyable camping experience.
Weller Campground is a true gem for those seeking a serene alpine experience. Tucked away amidst dense forests, its proximity to tranquil alpine lakes makes it a favorite spot for both relaxation and adventure. Each campsite is thoughtfully laid out, ensuring privacy and a direct connection with nature. Amenities include fire rings, picnic tables, and clean restrooms. The nearby lakes beckon for a day of fishing, kayaking, or simply lounging by their shores. Hiking enthusiasts will find a plethora of trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging treks, all offering panoramic views of the surrounding beauty. As night descends, the clear skies make for an unparalleled stargazing experience, making Weller a dream destination for celestial enthusiasts.
For those who dream of camping by a river’s edge, Lincoln Gulch Campground is the place to be. Situated along the glistening waters of the Lincoln Creek, this campground offers a harmonious blend of water activities and mountain adventures. The sites are spacious, with the gentle gurgle of the river providing a soothing soundtrack to your stay. Amenities are well-maintained, including fire rings, picnic tables, and potable water sources. Anglers will delight in the opportunity to cast a line into the river’s abundant waters, while hikers can explore the myriad of trails that crisscross the nearby mountains. As evening approaches, the riverside setting provides a picturesque backdrop for campfire tales and melodies.
Note: There are only 7 sites in this small campground, and they are all first-come, first serve.
Imagine waking up to the sight of a golden sunrise illuminating the majestic peaks of Independence Pass. Portal Campground, situated at the base of this iconic pass, offers just that. This campground is a haven for those who love to be surrounded by nature’s grandeur. The sites are spacious, with options for both tents and RVs. Amenities include well-maintained restrooms and potable water sources. For the adventurous, the surrounding area is a playground. Hike the nearby trails (like Anderson & Petroleum Lakes), photograph the diverse flora and fauna, or simply relax and soak in the views. As evening approaches, gather around a campfire, share stories, and let the gentle mountain breeze lull you to sleep.
To get to this site, you’ll follow sites for Lincoln Gulch Campground, but will continue driving 5 miles down that road. It’s a dirt/gravel road and we do not recommend travelling this way with a large trailer or camper (off road trailers and small tear drops are probably find depending on road conditions). There are many dispersed sites along the way (these are part of the Upper Grottos Dispersed CAmping area), and the road ends at a small campground with only five sites and a vault toilet. There’s more dispersed camping after Portal Campground,, but the road becomes more treacherous and 4×4 off-road vehicles are required.
Lost Man Campground offers a secluded retreat close to the top of Independence Pass, so be prepared to drive a little ways for this campground. Nestled in a quiet corner of the Independence Pass area, this campground is a haven for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle. The sites are surrounded by tall pine trees, offering shade and privacy. There are 10 first come, first serve sites with standard amenities like fire rings, picnic tables, and a vault toilet are available. The real allure of Lost Man lies in its untouched beauty. Hiking trails lead to hidden meadows, sparkling streams, and vantage points that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks. Wildlife enthusiasts will find ample opportunities to spot local fauna, from mule deer to chirping songbirds. Lost Man Campground truly lives up to its name, providing a space where one can lose themselves in the embrace of nature.
For anglers and nature lovers alike, Chapman Campground near the town of Basalt is a dream come true. Perched by the Fryingpan River, renowned for its gold medal trout fishing, this campground is a hub of activity. The sites are spacious, shaded by tall trees, and come equipped with fire rings and picnic tables. The gentle hum of the river is a constant companion, whether you’re casting a line, reading a book, or simply taking in the views. Beyond fishing, the area offers a plethora of activities. Hike the surrounding trails, spot local wildlife, or indulge in some birdwatching. As the sun sets, the golden hues reflecting off the river create a magical ambiance, making Chapman Campground a place you’d want to return to, time and again.
For those who desire a touch of luxury in the wilderness, Glenwood Canyon Resort near Glenwood Springs is the perfect choice. This resort-style campground offers a range of accommodations, from rustic tent sites to deluxe cabins. However, this campground is an hour from downtown Aspen, so it’s out of the way. That being said, the nearby town of Glenwood Springs has tons of activities, so this location could serve as a great base camp to explore the surrounding area.
The amenities are top-notch, with a well-stocked camp store, modern restrooms, and even a restaurant on-site. But it’s the activities that truly set this place apart. Positioned right by the Colorado River, you can indulge in white-water rafting, kayaking, or simply enjoy a picnic by its banks. The nearby Glenwood Canyon Recreational Trail is perfect for biking or a leisurely stroll. And after a day of adventure, what better way to relax than by soaking in the resort’s hot tub, gazing at the stars, and planning the next day’s escapades?
For those who prefer a blend of nature and comfort, the Crystal River KOA in Carbondale is the perfect choice. This well-maintained campground offers a variety of camping options, from tent sites nestled among trees to deluxe cabins with all the comforts of home. The KOA is set along the banks of the Crystal River, providing campers with a serene water-side setting and the soothing sounds of flowing water. Plus, it’s only 45 minutes from downtown Aspen.
Amenities at the Crystal River KOA are top-notch, with clean restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and even a camp store for last-minute supplies. But it’s not just about comfort; the KOA also offers a plethora of activities. The confluence of the Roaring Fork and Crystal Rivers makes it an angler’s paradise, with opportunities for both fly fishing and regular fishing. For those who prefer land-based activities, there are volleyball courts, a playground for kids, and even a mini-golf course. Evening campfires, with the river as a backdrop, provide the perfect end to fun-filled days, making the Crystal River KOA a delightful blend of nature and recreation.
Perched on the shores of the magnificent Ruedi Reservoir, Mollie B Campground is a true gem for those seeking a waterside retreat. The panoramic views of the reservoir, set against a backdrop of majestic mountains, provide a serene setting for campers to unwind. The gentle hum of the water and the chirping of birds create a harmonious symphony of nature. Mollie B offers well-maintained sites equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and clean restrooms. The reservoir’s clear waters are perfect for boating, fishing, and swimming. As the sun dips below the horizon, the water reflects a myriad of colors, setting the stage for a peaceful evening by the campfire.
A stone’s throw away from the Ruedi Reservoir, Little Maud Campground offers a slightly more secluded camping experience. Surrounded by dense forests, this campground is a haven for those looking to connect deeply with nature. The sites are spacious, ensuring privacy and a direct bond with the wilderness. Essential amenities like fire rings, picnic tables, and restrooms are available to ensure a comfortable stay. The proximity to the reservoir means that water activities are always within reach. Whether you’re kayaking at dawn, fishing in the afternoon, or simply enjoying the tranquil waters, Little Maud provides an idyllic setting. As night falls, the clear skies make it a dream spot for stargazing, with the gentle sounds of the forest as your lullaby.
Imagine waking up to the gentle sound of the Colorado River flowing right outside your tent. At the Glenwood Springs West/Colorado River KOA, this dream becomes a reality. Strategically located west of Glenwood Springs, this campground offers a blend of nature’s tranquility and modern amenities. From deluxe cabins to tent sites, there’s an option for every kind of camper. The KOA boasts a swimming pool, a playground for the little ones, and even a dog park for your furry friends. The proximity to the Colorado River means endless fun – be it rafting, fishing, or simply dipping your toes. And after a day of adventure, what could be better than gathering around a campfire, sharing stories, and roasting marshmallows?