Camping in the Aspen Rockies

Camping in the Aspen Rockies | Always A Foreigner

Caren and Cazzie

Hi, We're Caren and Cazzie and we're Always A Foreigner. Welcome to our travel blog! We hope you find it useful. We love waterfalls, street eats, and anything to do with travel and adventure. We met while volunteering in India, and since then have made it our goal to travel to as many places as we can. Join us on our journey!

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Camping in the Aspen Rockies

Colorado is a true dream. One of those places that outdoor lovers can’t help but fall in love with, and never want to leave. Cazzie used to live in Colorado when we first started dating, which now seems like ages ago! Sometimes I forget we were long distance for the first 8 months of our relationship, but I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. 

I was slightly enamored with both Cazzie and the Rocky Mountains, so my trips to visit were long and frequent. I don’t think I ever asked him if I could come, I just booked flights there and would stay until I absolutely had to return to avoid getting fired from my job. Each time I visited, we had the best times together. Hiking, skiing, going to concerts…we owe a big part of our relationship to Colorado. I was even thinking about moving there before we chose to move to Nicaragua instead!

Long story short, we love Colorado. Everything from the Flatirons in Boulder to the San Juans in Telluride are magical and inspiring. Our recent visit there was mainly for a wedding in Telluride, but we were lucky to be able to extend the trip to squeeze in a camping trip in Aspen.

aspen camping

We flew into Denver and had friends pick us up from the airport. With a fully packed car, we began our 4 hour drive to Aspen. On our way to Aspen, we were lucky to take the absolutely stunning Independence Pass. Talk about a super sketchy mountain road, but it was totally worth the insane views! The road winds through the mountains with a million switchbacks, with mere inches between you and sudden death. At the top of the pass, we stopped at the Western Continental Divide. I suggest everyone do this if traveling through this area to gawk at the giant and beautiful mountains!

aspen camping

Free. Dispersed. Camping. Ever heard of it? Because it’s the way to go, hands down. It’s primitive camping with no facilities that normal built up campgrounds will have. Pros: secluded, quiet, and a true nature experience. Cons: there’s no bathroom…so you know what that means.

Because we were near Aspen, during one of the days while camping we decided to visit the gorgeouis Maroon Bells. The most photographed mountain peaks in all of North America, (whoa!) it’s easy to see why the crowds flock. The lake mirrors the peaks on nice days, and there’s many beautiful hikes to alpine lakes, waterfalls, or vistas throughout the park.

Maroon Bells is famous during the fall, when the leaves on the Aspens turn a vibrant yellow orange color. While we weren’t there for the changing of the colors, the aspen trees still form a vibrant green blanket for the mountains even in the summer. Aspen trees are a beautifully intricate species, in that they generally grow from one seedling and are all interconnected with their root systems. While individual trees live for 40-150 years, the root systems are able to live for thousands of years by sprouting new trees from the roots when one dies.

maroon bellsmaroon bells

The park doesn’t allow any motorized vehicles on the road from 8am-5pm, so you will have to take a shuttle bus from the Aspen Highlands Ski Area. Tickets are $8 per adult, and there is a $5 parking fee for the lot at the bus pickup. If driving outside of the restricted hours, it costs $10 per car.

 

Also located near our campsite were the ice grottos and Devil’s Punchbowl. Due to a mix up of getting ice for the campsite too soon and not wanting the ice to melt, we never got to actually see either places.. When we got back to camp, we actually got so immersed in a game of Slam Ball that we forgot about going back out to those places until it was almost dark.

I feel like some of you right now are asking “what’s Slam Ball?” We had seen people playing at the beach before, but when our friend brought a game camping, we were hooked. It’s a four person game that consists of a small trampoline like net, and a ball. Points can be scored various ways between teams of two, and it’s mildly to extremely addicting.

Check it out using the link below. I highly recommend it if you have any group trips coming up! It’s so much fun for all skill levels, and can keep you entertained for hours.

Spikeball Set – As Seen On Shark Tank TV – 1 Ball Set, Drawstring Bag, And Rule Book

As the sun went down, we all stopped to watch the sky turn colors over the mountains. It had been cloudy and misty all day but when it came time for the daily show, Mother Nature decided to open up the skies to let us see.

 

Colorado seems to get a bad reputation now as a “weed smokers” paradise. And yea, that’s probably true. But the immense beauty the state has…from the ski resorts, to the national forests, to the beautiful 14,000 feet mountains that dominate the landscape…give the state an even bigger outdoorsy culture as well. Being from the Midwest, it’s a refreshing change to be immersed in nature like that. Because how could you not want to be outside in a state like Colorado?

 

Basic Tips for Camping:

  1. DO protect yourself from bear attacks. Use bear canisters and DO NOT leave your food anywhere in the open near your tents.
  2. Bring lots of layers! It gets cold up in the mountains after the sun goes down, and you’ll want appropriate gear.
  3. DO bring a headlamp. Going to the bathroom in the woods is scary enough, be sure to have some light with you!
  4. DO Leave No Trace. This is a big one guys. Don’t be “that person” and leave garbage and other things. Protect where we play and leave it as close to natural nature as you can. If you haven’t before, I highly recommend reading the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

 

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  • Thanksgiving week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. It's the time of year that everyone stops, takes a look around, and remembers what they have to be thankful for in life. 
It can be easy to forget those things throughout the hustle and stresses of every day life...but this week it's easy to remember. 
I'm thankful for so many things. I'm thankful for these mountains, and even more so for Cazzie, who is willing to drop everything every weekend to explore them with me. I'm thankful for friends and family, and for the kilbasa and sauerkraut that will be in abundance at my family's Thanksgiving feast. And last but not least, I'm thankful that we live in a crazy beautiful world. 
Even though thanksgiving isn't until Thursday, I think it's important to drag this feeling of thankfulness out as long as possible...because who ever said a little bit of joy inserted into our daily lives was a bad thing? .
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  • Summit tea time ☕️ .
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If anyone is curious about the Looking Glass Rock hike, check out the link in my bio! .
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  • I have absolutely no idea what made me book a flight to India. I didn't know one thing about the country. 
But without that flight, I never would have known Cazzie. And without Cazzie, I might never have been sitting in these mountains. 
So whatever that reason was....I'm beyond glad it happened. .
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  • Hanging on to that last little bit of fall 🍂 .
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  • I'm not sure how we became hikers. Slowly, we went from casual encounters with mountains to spending all our free time planning the next outdoor excursion. 
The thing that's great about hiking is the amount of opportunity it holds. We're consumed every day by planning dream trips to Canada's Rockies...or Utah's canyons...or the Pacific Northwest's Cascades....or really anywhere with a beautiful landscape. 
And even with being in North Carolina for over a year, we've barely touched the tip of the iceberg on what this state alone holds. 
It's exciting to think about. Being in a world as big and as beautiful as ours. There's never going to be that moment when we stop and say "wow, we really have seen it all." I have a funny feeling we won't ever stop trying though.
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  • When we first met, one of our first things that we did together was hike to a waterfall in India. 
It wasn't a date or anything like that, seeing as how there were 6 other people with us at the time. But ever since that first waterfall, it's been a thing of ours. 
When we first moved to North Carolina, I was feeling homesick and Cazzie took me to Linville Falls to cheer me up. I think he was trying to prove to me that North Carolina wasn't all that bad...and it worked. It's safe to say that was the start of my love affair with this state. 
This last weekend, we saw this waterfall off the side of a road and pulled over immediately to explore. 
It was raining, we were tired from camping for 2 nights, and it was cold. But even still, we ran up the trail excited. 
There's a lot of reasons North Carolina is fantastic...but roadside waterfalls are pretty dang hard to beat. .
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