PThe Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Jul. 25, 2021

5* for best sites; GREAT first-come FREE new campground

Crested Butte (wisely) decided to control the previously out-of-control dispersed camping situation around the region. This NFS region was heavily impacted with people cutting trees, trampling region, etc. etc. The NSF decided to take the bull by the horns and convert it into an official campground with 17 sites divided (geographically) into about 7 tent (only) and 10 RV (or tent) sites. The RV sites (#s 4 - 13) are just basically parking lot style in a big circular parking lot without trees near the only two toilets (clean) of the CG. I don't RV and those sites were super basic so i won't review them (they would earn a 2/5 * max if i were to review them… 2* because they are free and no hassle and no reservation… otherwise lame but an important conservation effort for the area).  The tent sites (#s 1,-3; 14-17) are also separated somewhat with sites 1-3 decidedly less impressive than the 14 - 17 ones.  

NOTE: the two tent sections have two distinct drive-ins.  The better sites (14 - 17) require you to enter at the second driveway off slate road and go through the RV section (past the toilets) to the back (creeksite).  

All sites(all) have a fire pit, and designated(although still confusing) parking area and nothing else(no table, bear boxes, no garbage, water, etc.). The creek rushes past(down a steep slope offering water(you can purify) and a great cold-water swimming hole. All have super easy access (simple drive into your spot… no issues). 

Okay, now for the best sites (tent sites 14 - 17). Of these, 17 and 16 are the best with 16 taking the prize by a longshot. Sites 14, 15, and 17 are bit cramped (designed based on previous uncontrolled usage patterns and still under active design and improvement).  15 and 17 are creekside and while 17 is big and you can spread out (room for several tents and tarps) it's firepit feels like you are on top of site 15. 15 is a smaller site with room for about 2 -3 tents… (creekside as well) and is nothing spectacular but, hey, it's free and easy access… and, i think still one of the best front-country options in this valley. 

Site 16 is a "walk-in" site (walking less than 15 seconds) to a wonderful private large knook within the crook of the rushing creek which surrounds the site on the back side. It's got great morning sun (earliest of all the tent sites) and space for many tents … and away from all the others. I wouldn't be surprised if they someday split it into two… but for now (with the CG just starting out)… it's the cream of the crop. 

Lastly, the CG is currently free as the main motivation is to mitigate uncontrolled camping impact rather than generate income. We loved the spot as it felt super rustic and was a quick easy 10 - 15 min to town and 3 - 5 minutes to Oh Be Joyful TH.

We were there late-mid July (2021) and there were a few spots available. However, during our three days there, the place was full (at night) and we had to lend out space to late-arriving folks (raining hard) as no other options existed on the slate-river road.

  • rushing creek is just behind tents and about 30' below tentsite. this was one of several potential tentsites within this single spot.
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