Aspen Times Weekly: Camping season is (almost) upon us |

Aspen Times Weekly: Camping season is (almost) upon us

by Amiee White Beazley
Father and son (7-9) canoeing on lake
Getty Images | Digital Vision

Ahh, camping. For me, nothing says summer quite like breaking out the sleeping bags and ground pads, packing up the back of the truck with s’mores (what other food is needed to survive?) and heading into the mountains. It’s what gets me through May’s days of sleet, rain, snow and sleet and rain and snow.

Whether stargazing from the open roof of a tipi, or experiencing luxurious amenities in a safari tent, our state’s camping options are as varied as its landscapes. The following are some of Colorado’s unique summer camping and glamping experiences to consider:

Yurts, Huts and Tipis: Hinsdale Haute Route (Lake City): Eco-friendly structures that provide comfort, durability and a light footprint, accessible year-round at Hinsdale Haute Route. Each yurt can accommodate six to eight people and is furnished with a fireplace. The Jon Wilson Yurt is just a short 1.25-mile hike, making it ideal for families. For more advanced hikers, the Colorado Trail Friends Yurt can be accessed by the camp trail, which is a six mile stretch and gains 2,500 feet of elevation.

Jellystone Park (Larkspur): Home to the classic Yogi Bear, Jellystone Park is a family-oriented, private park that boasts 100 acres of unique camping options. The on-site tipis are the perfect way to experience the rustic nature of the era of America’s westward expansion. The structures sleep up to six people and campers can gaze skyward through tipi poles jutting into the night sky.

Leadville Backcountry (Leadville): Nestled behind the Mosquito Mountain Range and Mount Sherman, Marceline and Emma yurts reach 12,000 feet in elevation. Most guests use the yurts as a base camp to explore the thousands of surrounding acres of public lands. Empire Gulch, Empire Reservoir and Gold Basin are pristine playgrounds for those looking to escape for an adventurous weekend in the outdoors.

Pearl Lake State Park (Steamboat Springs): In North Routt County, Pearl Lake State Park has two yurts available for rent throughout the year. Visitors can drive right up to the front door in the summer. The park also features 36 summer campsites for those who prefer to pitch their own tent. This serene setting with access to a peaceful mountain reservoir is just the location for some rest and relaxation.

Glamping: Private Overnight Camping Adventure (Snowmass): I am always surprised when people in our own valley have yet to hear about this. But just atop Snowmass Mountain is a private overnight camping adventure available for visitors from June to August. Up to six campers can spend the night in outdoor platform tents furnished with cots, sleeping bags and pillows. Professional staff accompany guests on their adventure, and dinner and breakfast are prepared by a trained chef. Fishing poles are provided for an afternoon on Rayburn Pond, and the evening campfire comes complete with s’mores, campfire stories and music.

C Lazy U Ranch (Granby): After a long day of experiencing all that C Lazy U Ranch has to offer, guests can follow a ranch hand to a secluded camping outpost. Two cozy tents complete with a s’mores kit welcome visitors to an evening around the campfire and under the stars. Should a guest need anything while they’re out on the range, an ATV and a radio are left behind for easy contact with the ranch staff.

Waterfront: Dillon Reservoir (Frisco): Peak One and Pine Cove Campgrounds are located on the expansive shores of Dillon Reservoir, just minutes from Frisco’s quaint Main Street. While the campgrounds provide a sense of seclusion, stacks of pancakes and lattes at a local Frisco café are just a leisurely bike or kayak ride away. Additionally, the campgrounds’ waterfront locations offer accessibility to fishing, canoeing and paddleboarding, while single-track hiking and mountain biking trails run through both sites, giving access to miles of trails on the Frisco Peninsula.

Jackson Lake State Park (Fort Morgan): An oasis amid Colorado’s expansive eastern plains, Jackson Lake State Park welcomes swimmers and water skiers looking to cool off each summer. 260 campsites sprawl over the edges of the water and can accommodate campers, trailers or tents. There are also areas for group camping and picnic accommodations. Facilities include showers, toilets, laundry, electric hookups, a marina, sporting goods and much more.

Cliff-side: Kent Mountain Adventure Center (Estes Park): From 50 to 500 feet off the ground, cliff camping at Kent Mountain Adventure Center offers incredible views and the thrill of a lifetime as guests spend a night camping out on a sheer rock face. Participants are taught climbing basics and how to set up a portaledge (a hanging tent system) as they get ready for an evening of snacks and tea, all while observing the night sky. Come morning, breakfast is provided and guests rappel down eager to share their rare adventure experience.

Amiee White Beazley writes about travel for the Aspen Times Weekly. Reach her at or follow her @awbeazley1.

Aspen Times Weekly

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“Without any exception the worst snow storm known since the advent of the railroad west of Leadville has been raging over the crest of the continental divide since last Thursday,” asserted the Aspen Tribune on January 31, 1899.

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