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Aspen Park, COLORADO
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Great Spot for a Rocky Mountain Tan

Sandbeach Lake Trail is in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail is approximately 8.7 miles roundtrip. The trailhead is in the Wild Basin area. The hike in is mainly uphill and it very rocky (loose baseball size rocks at times). 

There are 4 backcountry campsites at Sandbeach Lake. We camped at the final backcountry site (you just follow the path alongside the lake to the left when you arrive).

The sandy beach is amazing! We were able to spend the day sunbathing, swimming, and taking in the beautiful views. (Fishing is not allowed here)

There is a creek that flows into Sandbeach Lake. You go to the right when you arrive to find this. We were able to fill up on water at the creek (just remember to treat your water!).

Lovely forest area near a lake and hiking areas

Good amount of space between spots, lots of lovely tree cover and near a great hike.

There is a lodge close by in case you want a hot meal at some point as well.

Pit toilets were exactly as you’d expect.

I came in from out of state and got pretty altitude effected so we had to cut the trip short, but it was lovely nonetheless.

Aside from the one at the picnic table, photos are from the hike and not the campground.

Disperse Camp between Horseshoe and Four mile

Accessible by 2-WD with standard clearance, plenty of space between 4 mile campground and horseshoe campground. On the road to Mt. Sherman trailhead (4-WD and high clearance recommended for trailhead but 2-WD will get you pretty close). Lots of space and established camp sites with fire rings

Nothing fancy but good location.

This RV Park and motel is just outside Woodland Park, Colorado. The sites on the upper hill have nice views while the lower sites are much less desirable. Most sites are back in so check for pull through if needed when you reserve. They have a dog walk and a sketchy play area for kids. There is also a rec hall and showers that we did not visit so can't give a description. Cripple creek, The Wolf & Wildlife Center and paradise cove are all nearby.

Many great sites

So many dispersed sites up here, runs right along the creek which is lovely to fall asleep to. Every site I saw had a fire pit built.

We drove up late Friday night and arrived at 11:15pm. A lot of the sites we could see were taken, so we will definitely go up during daylight hours next time so we can see more of the spots that are a bit further from the road.

The site we found was tucked back away from the road giving us nice privacy. We could barely see our neighbors from our campsite, but we could hear them. Se saw a lot of sites that had lots of room for multiple tents and great trees for hammocking, but our site was a bit smaller, great for our large tent, but trees were not conducive for hammocking.

Our campsite was clean with no garbage, and just very small amounts of glass around the fire pit. Our site also had a nice log for sitting around the fire and we saw this at other sites too.

Highway noise

The reservoir is beautiful but the campsites are right next to I 70 and you can hear the traffic all day and all night. That said, if you’re going, bring your paddleboard or kayak or rent a sailboat. And you can bike along the trail that runs all the way around the reservoir.

Beautiful campground but..

No dogs allowed on trails. They are allowed in the campsite, and on the roads, but that’s it.

Great Park

This is a fantastic park for car camping and fishing.

Amenities: Ranger Station, water, general store, bait and fishing supplies, ampatheater, playground, marina, toilets

Cons: No shade, mosquitoes, crowded during summer

The Forgotten Valley Backcountry Camping

There are a few areas at Golden Gate Canyon State Park, but Forgotten Valley is my favorite. Access to fishing at Tallman Ranch Pond, and Monutain Lion Trail leads to the summit of Windy Peak.

Forgotten Valley has 4 backcountry campsites and a backcountry shelter for overnight camping. All backcountry tent sites and shelters are first come, first serve. You'll need to check in at the visitor center to reserve the campsite, and pay for a park pass.

Park at the Bridge Creek Trailhead, and take Burro Trail to access Mountain Lion Trail, which leads into Forgotten Valley.

Site #15 is my favorite in Forgotten Valley. It's settled in an Aspen Grove, and is more secluded that the other sites.

Bear lockers are available for each campsite.

Dillon

Beautiful views, right on the lake. Some beetle kill has opened up the campground where there used to be trees.

Nice dispersed camping

Lots of dispersed camp sites available. Plenty of room between sites, couldn’t see or hear neighbors. There are different types of sites, including some pull-offs for campers, some sites you could drive into off the road, and some with parking on the road and a small hike down to the site.

My group’s site was right next to the creek, which is great for dogs to play in, but meant a lot of mosquitos. Definitely bring bug spray.

The sites are generally pretty large and can fit multiple tents. There are fire rings, but nothing else. There are no bathrooms for the area, but near the entrance, there is a small building with a port-a-pottie that is accessible to campers.

The first few sites get phone reception, but less than a half mile in, most reception gets cut off. Good hiking nearby. Before the road loops around, there is a pretty easy trail that leads to a water diversion tunnel. Popular with dogs and trail bikers.

This place has a good backcountry feel to it, with the convenience of being close enough to your car and to Winter Park if you forget to pack something. Overall, a great campground for hiking, biking, or relaxing.

Parking on Asphalt But Beautiful Scenery

Located just up the road from Peak One campground the Pine Cove campground is a great back up if no walk up sites are available at Peak One. The campground is situated on an asphalt parking lot however the hosts are very nice and it is located right on the lake.

Not a ton of amenities other than pit toilets and water, however it is worth staying nearby the National Forest.

Beautiful Scenery - Challenging Reservations

This was a great campground for a night however you must take into account the less time needed to reserve online or else you need to do a walk-in site. If it’s filled check out Pine Cove which is down the street.

Beautiful and Secluded

One of my favorite campgrounds in Colorado that I’ve found. Quiet and remote, but not far from a town. Lots of trails nearby. We hiked to Pikes Peak via the Devils Playground trail. Plenty of wildlife, flora, and fauna. There’s a stream running right by camp. Dog friendly, but keep an eye on them because there’s lots of mushrooms! The dirt road was a little rough in places, but if you drive slowly and carefully any kind of vehicle can make it up to the campground. Firewood is available; $7 for one bundle or $18 for 3 bundles. $18 per night for us with one car and a tent.

Ranger Review: Mountain House Fusilli at Chatfield SP

When I was asked to join the ranger team for Questival I was very excited, perhaps so excited that I was the first to arrive at the Chatfield State Park.     Pulling in ahead of schedule did however have its advantages as I was able to scout the location a bit before meeting my fellow rangers.     It was May and the weather was unpredictable, with temps dropping into the 30s upon my arrival and slight snow sprinkling off and on.   I had no idea what to expect so I took my time and explored a bit.

The Campground:

Chatfield State Park has several camping loops, all of which are one way entrance, something to note but not a deal breaker if you turn in going the incorrect direction.  I found our loop and drove for a bit looking for our exact site which was very close to the end of the loop.   This had a bit of an advantage as I was able to see that there were several restrooms sprinkled throughout camp as well as water spigots.   

From the C loop there was also access to a parking area which you could walk a very short distance from and be on a beach right next to the lake.    At this access point is an area for campers to discard of their trash in large dumpsters.   

Each of the campsites had large pull through parking which we determined was large enough for 4 cars, none of us have larger vehicles.    The electrical post was directly beside the pull through parking and offered great connection options for those needing this service.     Additionally, the campsite had a picnic table and fire ring, probably the cleanest fire ring I have ever seen at a site, these were both placed on concrete as well.

For tent campers the sites are perfect.   They have plenty of soft grassy space and allow 2 tents per site in this loop.    When everyone arrived a bit later we had 2 tents and a roof nest set up in the space with plenty of space to spare.

The location we were in had easy access to all amenities including a playground, a water spigot, heated showers and restrooms and a laundry.   We also had some really great neighbors which were very cool considering we were there on a mission and might have been a little more loud than usual.

This location would be perfect for large RVs or tents alike.   The size of the sites are very large in comparison to many other state parks and this allows not only movement in your own site but also a bit more privacy from your neighbors as there is plenty of distance.   

I noticed while there, several bunnies and squirrels and for some reason some geese were very interested in our camp early on.

TIPS:

  • Book this campground in advance, spaces fill up very quickly.   Even early in the season we found that there were very limited sites available on the weekend.
  • Check for construction.    When we traveled here for Questival we found that one of the entrances did not lead you to the campgrounds currently because of construction.   Call in advance or check the website to find out which entry would be the best to enter.

Product Review:

I am a HUGE fan of Mountain House, but didn't really know what to expect with the new Fusilli.   My experiences with the pasta dishes have been mixed, in large part I think due to operator error…lol

I was excited to be able to check out the newest of the flavors as a part of The Dyrt Rangers for this adventure and be able to share with 3 other rangers who I knew would also not hold back on their thoughts.   

It was a chilly night, night one of Questival, and we had finally made it back to our campsite to complete a lot of tasks on out mission list.    Already well into the evening we were starving and so it was a good thing that Mountain House only takes about 15 minutes to prepare.    

Ranger Hayley took the chef hat and began to boil our water while we worked at the campsite.     We opened the packaging and took a good sniff before adding the water and even dry it smelled very promising.    When water was added the scent of the package began to mimic that of a good Italian restaurant.   Before we knew it time had passed and it was time to dig in for a first taste.

We prepared 2 packages for 4 people and added a small side salad just to make sure we had plenty of food.     Realistically we could have all been satisfied with the Fusilli but the salad was a nice touch for making it really special at the campfire.    

The flavor of the pasta was amazing.   It was texturally cooked to perfection, the robust flavor of the sauce was so tasty and the spices used really brought the dish to another level.  Overall I was very impressed and I think that the rest of the crew was as well.   

TIPS: 

  • When traveling with a larger group think about packing a side such as a salad or tortillas to stretch meals.    The pasta option is great for strenuous days on the trails because of the carbs, but if you are super hungry rather than making a second meal add sides.
  • Bring a longer spoon, spork or tool the packages are pretty deep so if you have something a bit longer it is much easier to stir contents for more even hydration.
An AMAZINGLY Beautiful Backcountry Lake.

If your looking for a backcountry lake to camp at and its close to the front range you better give this one a try. Being an hour away from Boulder to start your hike in makes this a gem!! Im sure some might get upset that I am telling about this but I feel everyone should experience the pristine beauty. Please just take the time to be a stewards of our land and respect our fragile lands ecosystem by learning the basics of leaving it the way you found it. LEAVE NO TRACE RULES AND PRINCIPALS.

This hike starts outside of Netherlands in a small town called Eldora. You will be starting at the 4th of July trailhead at the end of a bumpy dirt road. Don't worry your 2 wheel drive car will make it. Make sure and get your permit from the Boulder Ranger District. Give them a call at 303-541-2500.  They only allow 6 permits per night at this lake but being this hike takes you onto the western side of the continental divide getting a permit is not very hard.  The hard part is the hike.

This is an 8.8 mile out and back hike that takes you to 2,600 ft elevation gain. This hike takes you across the continental Divide and drops you down into this pristine high alpine lake. Get an early start at this hike as you don't want to start late and get hit with an afternoon thunderstorm that are all too common here in Colorado. Also the parking lot can fill up fast. I try to get started by no later then 6:30 am. If you do get a late start there is a shuttle that will take you to the trail head from Netherlands. This hike takes you threw a bunch of different forest life from dense forest to hi alpine above tree line. Make sure and bring enough water or something to filter your water with. There is water all the way to your camp site. Once you summit the divide you will see a lake on the western side that looks like its straight down. This is your camping destination. Switchback after switch back and you find yourself in the midst of something that looks like its straight out a fairy tell. It looks too good to be true. You can camp anywhere on the lake as long as your 100 ft from the water. There are times during the year you can start a fire. But call the ranger district and see if it's available. Being that this lake is tucked up so tight against Mnt Neva and the divide its not windy at all. 

Keep you eyes open for moose as the moose love to frequent this lake in the morning. Lots of wildlife  around this lake. Wheb you decide to leave you can either hike back up the divide or you can leave a car at monarch lake on the western side and hike out that way. No matter how you decide to get into this lake I  guarantee you that you will fall in love. Indian Peaks Wilderness is amazing. Please keep it clean for many of our generations can enjoy the peace and solitude that I am offering you. Leave a review if you like it!

Thank you 

Jake

Gorgeous views you shouldn’t miss

We were lucky enough to snag a first come first serve site on forth of July weekend. I’m pretty sure that we got the best site on the entire camp ground. Up on top of a small hill, next to some large rocks you could climb to that overlooked the water.

The host at this site was absolutely wonderful and kind, and the facilities were very clean.

We couldn’t have asked for a better first camping experience!

Beautiful views, but windy

This was a beautiful little area that we heard about after not finding any campsites at other local places. It had gorgeous views, and even at 2pm I’m a Saturday in late July, still had plenty of spots. We had one neighbor for the night and then around 10pm a couple trucks showed up across from us and they hung out until about 1am having a small party and then left.

The biggest problems at this campsite was the wind and the glass. There were crazy wind gusts since we were at the top of the peak, if we go back again, I’d want to camp somewhere a bit lower and in the trees. The wind was on and off all night but kept me awake since it was shaking our tent loudly. But again I can’t say how this would be in a camper or at a different site.

There was also quite a bit of glass and trash, which I guess is to be expected, but be careful if you bring dogs. We carried out as much trash as we could to help clean up the area, but there was a sleeping bag and a comforter that had been left there before us that we just didn’t have room for.

Lastly, you should have an all wheel drive car to get to this, or at least something with a higher clearance. The Caribou road was rocky, and only got worse the further up the mountain you drove.

Devils Thumb Lake-45 min from Denver 12 mile hike out and back

This is a backpacking trip. 12 mile out and back. This is part of the Indian peaks wilderness you must obtain a permit from the boulder forest service. Permits are 5 dollars for up to 14 days. This lake is amazingly beautiful. Lots of places to pitch a tent. The trail is not easy you work for it. But its all worth it when you get to the top. The directions are from the trailhead not directions to the lake. Arrive early to the trail head before 6:30am. Parking is hard during the summer but just get there early. This trail has water available along the entire trail. I only take a 1 liter bottle and filter all my water as needed.

Beautiful Area

The campground and lake are very nice. There are several campsites that sit right on the water. There are also campsites that sit further up on the mountain. You get lake views from almost everywhere. The campsites right on the lake are kind of close but the lake access can’t be beat. If you’re looking for more privacy I would get a site up on the mountain. There are also several group sites. There are no motorized boats allowed on the lake. There were a lot of people with paddle boards, kayaks and canoes. The only downside was the road to get there. It wasn’t maintained very well and there was only room for one vehicle at some points. I would highly recommend this campground if you want to get away from it all. There is very little if any cell access.

Lots of room

There are a ton of spots, but be careful and make sure they're approved. We stopped at one that had a fire ring made from rocks but it wasn't 100' from water. we parked at night so we didn't see the  sign that said it wasn't a legal camping spot, then the next day we got a ticket from a park ranger. It was our fault but just thought I should mention it so others don't make the same mistake. There were several other spots, we just liked the location of this one.  Anyway, tons of tree cover, streams, trails, wild flowers etc. There was also a decent amount of traffic from other campers and off road vehicles/ATV's but if you go farther up the road and then find a spot a little farther from the road, it wont be a big deal.

Everything a primitive camper needs

2-WD may have trouble accessing the parking lot but should be able to get pretty close. Their is a $3 day use fee and a $12 overnight fee. The campground has an outhouse which is nice but otherwise it is very simple and spread out with beautiful views of Kite Lake, Mt. Bross, Mt. Cameron, and Mt. Democrat. You are able to hike right next to the trail head and the parking lot is nearby as well. Nice place, quiet and serene, perfect for tackling the fourteeners or a serene excursion into solitude, plenty to explore here.

Nice

Nice sites. A lot of long term residents. Wildlife right outside our door every morning.

Great dispersed camping spots!

There are lots of sites on the left side of the road as you go up the hill. Many of the first ones were taken but they just kept going and were well spaced out. Some were closer to the road than others but there weren’t many cars passing by. We ended up with a fantastic site, lots of shade, a couple of stone fire pits and a short trail down to the creek that had another fire pit next to it. This would be a great spot for group camping as the sites we saw seemed decently large with spots for more than one tent.

Great spot!

Lucked out and got site 6 around noon on a Saturday. Had access to the creek and hiking trails. Felt secluded. One of our favorite spots in Colorado!

Very close to city

5 minute drive to restraunts and stores. Quiet campground. Clean. Well maintained group areas/picnic areas. Only DoD ID card holders can use it, so there is not as much noise and partiers.

Nice, lots of trails

A lot of miles of hiking/ biking trails. Rv camp sites are close together, but well maintained. I'll be back.

Beautiful

Beautiful sites, lots of room between eachother.

Quiet, clean

Quiet and clean. Enough space to feel isolated, but close enough to the city you dont have to worry about forgetting the essentials.

Quiet, clean and picturesque - but no water on site

Very nice, well-maintained campground near Wild Basin section of Rocky Mountain National Park.  No water on site but it is available a short distance away from Crystal Springs in Allenspark (https://sites.google.com/site/apwaterandsanitation/gui-information/crystal-springs)

A mixture of reserved and walk-up sites.  Campground hosts were helpful trying to accommodate those who arrived without reservations but found campground full [a fair number of sites with reservations were not occupied during our stay].

Nice tent pads on all sites and bear boxes.  Site sizes vary and larger RVs had difficulty with tight turns or limited space in some sites.  Some noise from highway even on sites furthest from road, but not generally an issue.