Aspen-area campgrounds ready to make happy campers

Forest Service officials stress the importance of using a bear box, or food storage locker — such as this one at Difficult Campground near Aspen — while camping in the Colorado high country.
Aspen Times file photo |

Campgrounds in the Aspen area are prepped for the summer. Now all that’s needed is warmer weather.

Several campgrounds opened May 19 and are ready for campers for Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer.

The higher elevation campgrounds up Independence Pass are an exception, according to Kate Jerman, public affairs officer for the White River National Forest. Lost Man won’t open until June 9.

“That is one of the last to open,” Jerman said.

Weller Campground will open Thursday, when Highway 82 over Independence Pass opens for the season.

Difficult Campground opened May 19. It’s the largest near Aspen with 46 sites.

The campground and dispersed, designated sites in Lincoln Gulch won’t open until the weekend of June 20. The road is closed because of snow.

In Maroon Creek Valley, Silver Bell is open. Silver Bar and Silver Queen open May 26.

Maroon Creek Road opened and vehicles can park at Maroon Lake. Shuttle service and private vehicle restrictions begin June 10. Campsites above the lake at Crater Lake were still covered in snow this past weekend.

The campgrounds in Fryingpan Valley opened May 19, including the sites around Ruedi Reservoir — Little Mattie, Little Maud, Mollie B and Ruedi Marina.

The White River National Forest website said the north loop of Chapman Reservoir opened May 19 in the Upper Fryingpan Valley but the 41 sites of the south section won’t open until June 9.

Elk Wallow, a small campground on the north fork of the Fryingpan River also is open.

In the Crystal Valley, Bogan Flats near Marble is open as is the Redstone campground.

A concessionaire operates most of the campgrounds in the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District.

“Fees at most of our concession-operated campgrounds have slightly increased since last year to help offset the increased costs of the higher minimum wage that was implemented Jan. 1, 2017, in Colorado,” the Forest Service said.

Redstone is most expensive at $30 per night. Difficult Campground is $26 per night. Chapman is right behind at $25 per night.

The “Silvers” in Maroon Valley are $15 per night with a $5 entry fee.

A food storage order is in place for developed recreation sites and designated dispersed sites on the Aspen-Sopris, Eagle, Holy Cross, Rifle and Blanco Ranger districts.

“Food and all attractants — garbage, pet food, beverages, etc. — must be acceptably stored either by hanging, sealed inside containers inside vehicles, sealed inside a bear-resistant container or canister while outside of vehicles or stored within a food locker if available at the site,” the forest supervisor’s office said.

Other tips from the Forest Service: dogs must be on leash and campfires must be dead before leaving the site. A fire should never be left unattended.

Sites can be reserved six months in advance at campgrounds where reservations are allowed. Group sites can be reserved 12 months in advance. Make your reservation soon at or call 1-877-444-6777.