Camping in the Aspen Rockies
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?