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White River National Forest, COLORADO
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Great campground, close to the pass and lots of hiking.

Some spots close to the road but it gets quiet at night as Independence pass is not heavily trafficked after dark.  It is in a great location, close to Twin Lakes but also all the hiking up the pass.  All first come first serve.  Pets are allowed, we had our dog with us.

Small town escape

Just outside of Eagle, you can find numerous camping areas. From Bellyache Road to Hardscrabble, you can easily navigate to awesome camping spots.

Cute stop in off i70

Ami’s acres was a sight for sore eyes after sitting on the i70 for hours waiting for an accident to be cleared. Coming in at night is DARK but the host was friendly and welcoming even after midnight. The bathrooms were up a bit of a hill where we were situated at the top of the campground but super clean and warm. Hot Showers too! There was a larger group cooking area and a table. We didn’t have individual fire rings or tables at our site but others had them. Really cozy little campground, lots and lots of birds in the morning which our daughters enjoyed immensely. Overall for just stoping in for the night it was just what we needed. Don’t let the dark drive way scare you off, it was really a wonderful camp!

Cute and Simple

We were the only people there so we got our pick of campsites. We choose one right next to the creek. There was plenty of space for all our stuff and another tent if we needed. When we arrived there was no one at the front office, so we waited around for a while before we could finally pay for the site. At around 830PM the staff decided they wanted to run the back hoe. This was incredibly disturbing to our otherwise peaceful camping trip. Over all a great spot though!

Best Campground sites on this side of Lake

Love this campground. Lots of good times and good spots. Big sites for campers, right next to lake, trees and wind blocks, great to good fishing. Almost always try to go here when we go.

High Country Lake. Weather can be severe at times, including very high winds. Bears and wildlife will want to eat your food. Be aware that your closest means of supplies/gear are at the Master Bait and Tackle on the other side of the lake.

That being said, boating and swimming plus other water sports are great for Summer. But Spring and Fall can be chilly. Or snow even.

1 of the 2 best on this side of the lake

Weather and fishing dependent, easily one of the best campground on this side of Green Mountain. Multiple sites right next to the lake. Good to okay fishing. Swimming and water sports are good during Summer. But can be chilly in Spring and Fall. Not as much coverage in some sites compared to South Cow. But still has some good wind block, which you will want during most evenings. Weather can be unpredictable and severe at times. Beware. High Country lake. Bears, wildlife, weather all unpredictable. Phone service can be scarce. Only services and gear/supplies are at the Master Bait and Tackle on the other side of the lake, sometimes the Marina depending upon what you need.

Great Local Campground

Very close to home. Lake Dillon Res is cold water. Always, even in July and August. Were at about 9000 feet, weather can change rapidly, and forecasters can be wrong. Be prepared for all 4 seasons. It can snow in July. No lie.

Update on getting in water, it is open seasonally. When allowed, you can try to swim and get into the lake. Very short season that this is available.

The ski resorts listed are NOT open year round. There is "shoulder" or "mud" season as we call it, where the resorts close, the restaurants close, shops, everything on the mountain stops. Towns still are fully open. But not the base of the ski resorts.

Only Reservoir in lower 48 with Arctic Char. Also have Kokanee Salmon. In addition to many species of trout. Lake, Rainbow, and Brown.

Lots of space in campground. Our usual spot has trees still and cover. Helps when it gets windy. Access to lake is great. Clean and up kept. It can be beautiful but chilly for most folks. Can even shore up boats in certain camp sites.

Lake is extremely low this season (2019) and camp will be further away from any water access.

Nice sites, too far from lake

It was a little farther from the lake than we’d have liked, so we prefer baby doe campground over this one. It’s clean and quiet, but there are no showers, and it has a hassle hauling all our stuff the several hundred yards to the lake.

Beautiful Moutain Camping

Quiet clean campground with gorgeous views of Turquoise Lake and the surrounding mountains!

Camping area is very large, secluded

Winfield has incredible access to surrounding 14ers but the road to get there is long and rocky. Crack a cold one at the lake, you’ll want it for the ride in.

Primitive sites near Piney River Ranch

So I am not sure if this is still a “campground” as of 2019. It is no longer marked on the forest service map for 2019. Regardless, there’s still primitive/dispersed camping in the area. I stayed at one of the primitive sites last fall and spent most of my time in Piney River Ranch. There was a wedding at the ranch when we were there, and we didn’t want to intrude on it so I don’t know much of what the ranch has to offer. I do know that there’s a restaurant and a store, as well as cabins. My guess is that there is a wedding there almost every weekend summer-fall, so that is something to take into account if you come here for the ranch.

You are allowed to hike in the ranch during weddings, so that is what we did. We hiked the trail to the left of Piney Lake. It is a great trail to do in the fall because it goes through numerous aspen groves. We took the trail all the way to a waterfall area, but the trail does continue further to Upper Piney Lake. The trail became hard to follow after the waterfall area though, so we turned back.

As for the drive up to the ranch and camping sites, it’s about 45 minutes on a dirt road from Vail. It is a beautiful drive, but it is slow. The road is also in pretty good condition - I’d say a 2wd car can do this drive if the road is dry.

Free Dispersed Sites on Kenosha Pass

This is a pretty popular area for camping thanks to the Colorado Trail being in close proximity and the abundant amount of aspen trees here that turn gold come September. There are 2 campgrounds to accommodate - one on each side of Hwy 285 and they can become rather crowded on summer weekends. Luckily, there is a limited amount of dispersed camping sites here as well if you are searching for some peace and quiet to go along with your camping trip. In this area the Forest Service specifically states that dispersed camping is only allowed in designated sites along NFSR 126 and 126.A on the east side of Hwy 285.

We drove along 126 and were able to snag the last dispersed site late on a Saturday. I would say that there couldn't be more than 10 dispersed sites along 126. I did not drive down 126.A. Also, on 126 you eventually come up to a gate and the road goes through private property. The very last dispersed site is right before this gate, and that is the one we got. This site required some hauling of gear from the road down to the site, but it wasn't very far. This would not be a good site if you have a rooftop tent though, because you are not allowed to drive down to the site you have to park on the road (not all of the dispersed sites were like this though). There were actually 2 fire rings at this site too - we went with the further one from the road for privacy. Overall it was a good site and much quieter than the campgrounds. Would recommend if you are trying to stay near the Colorado Trail or want to camp in the aspens in fall.

Ranger Review: Mountain House Apple Crisp at Wolcott Campground

Campground Review

Have you ever had such a desire to camp that you end up pitching a tent in your backyard just to enjoy the great outdoors? That is essentially what brought us to Wolcott Campground, just a few minutes down the road from home, on the first warm spring weekend in Colorado. I have driven past this little campground a zillion times along I-70 but never thought to camp here until the convenience beckoned. 

This campground is small and simple but offers great accessibility to all sorts of adventures. The greatest part of this campground is by far, the location. As I mentioned, it is just off of I-70, which makes it incredibly easy to get to in any sort of vehicle. However, this also results in some noise from the highway and limits your sense of “getting away from it all”. This spot makes a great stopping point if road tripping from Denver towards Moab, or if heading up towards Steamboat Springs. Wolcott itself appears to be a town on the map, but don’t be fooled, it is really just an exit with a post office. If you need gas or supplies, you will need to stop at an earlier exit going either direction on I-70 (east at Edwards or west at Eagle). So, back to the wonderful location, this campground is situated right along the Colorado River and offers many sweet camp sites right next to the river. I wish it was warmer when we visited, because the water looked so inviting for a swim. While we were there we also saw a few people using this as a put in spot for rafting and fly fishers wading in the river. We will definitely be back in the summer to enjoy the river! 

The river has carved the canyon in which the campground sits, so you are surrounded by gorgeous red cliffs and mountain views in all directions. This has resulted in another unique perk of this campground, the bouldering and climbing opportunities all around! This campground therefore makes a wonderful basecamp for those looking to spend a few days climbing. Within the campground itself there are multiple impressive boulders that we played around on while camping. Across the river you there are a bunch of climbing routes, we tried a few and you can read more about them here: https://www.mountainproject.com/area/105807153/wolcott-crags-and-boulders

The amenities of this campground are fairly basic but well-kept. The sites are close together so there isn’t much in terms of privacy, but plenty of opportunities to meet new people! Each site has ample parking, space for a few tents and a picnic table. Most sites also have a grill and/or fire pit combo, some of these were actually some of the nicest I have seen. Amenities are very basic, there are a couple of bathrooms and it appeared a few sites have electric hook ups as well. 

Overall, this campground isn’t going to wow you with natural ambiance and seclusion, but it certainly makes up for that with the great location and numerous outdoor recreation activities just outside of your tent. 

Product Review 

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I have the opportunity to test products from time to time. On this trip, I was very excited to test a product from a brand that I already know and love, Mountain House! This is an awesome company that makes delicious freeze-dried meals. I have relied on them for years to provide me with light-weight, nutritious and delicious food while out on adventures. During this camping trip, I had the pleasure of trying the Mountain House Apple Crisp

First of all, making this meal (as with all Mountain House meals) is super easy. I removed the freshness packet and the bag of granola, boiled a cup of water on my camp stove, poured the hot water into the pouch, stirred and sealed the pouch and then set it aside for about 7 minutes to work its magic. Overall, the prep and cooking only takes like 10 minutes and all you really have to do is set up your stove, pour some water, and stir. I love how simple this is because I often am too exhausted from a day of hiking and climbing to spend time worrying about preparing a complex meal. In this case, I just was able to sit back and enjoy the morning with my friends while my meal cooked itself in the pouch! Yes, I said morning…technically this meal is listed as a dessert on their website, but I let my sweet tooth take charge and happily enjoyed this as a breakfast! 

The dish itself is so delicious. I don’t know how they manage to do it, but they really nailed the different textures and flavors of a freshly baked apple crisp. Pouring in the granola last ensured that there was an authentic crunchy bite to compliment the warm apples. This meal was also super filling! My boyfriend and I shared it for breakfast and were both totally full for hours. I would 100% order this meal again to enjoy at any time of the day. 

Overall, I was super pleased with this product. It is lightweight and easy to pack with my gear, which is something I really value in the backcountry. Cooking it was simple and quick. It was such a treat to finish my meal without needing to clean up a bunch of pots, pans or dishes. This also makes the whole process more water and time efficient. Not only was the meal absolutely delicious, it was filling and gave me plenty of energy to fuel my day in nature.

Wrong address

This address leads to a subdivision

Great Little Stop on the way to the bells

Winter Camped here right by the bench. Great little spot, saw a couple coyotes but they were just curious and walked by. Loves this location, granted it was the winter so there was no traffic after 5 pm and before 10 am

Winter at The Bells

We hiked from Lazy T 7 Ranch where we parked Eden our Jeep. From there we snowshoed a little over 9 miles to Maroon Lake due to the road being closed. We hiked over 3 avalanche fields. We saw some people doing it in Vans however for comfort with our backpacks we stuck with our snow shoes and gaiters, Wet feet are cold feet. It was an incredible hike, a bit challenging and when the sun comes out WEAR SUNSCREEN (see photo of peeling below) Besides that we had the entire lake to ourself all night and morning. What a dream ❤️🙌

Mountain oasis

Limited sites…about 40 I think. Good fishing.

We prefer using our higher ground clearance camper.

Perfect to relax and unwind. Hiking, fishing, wildlife are great!

Watch out for the bears!! :)

White River National Forest

My first winter camping trip in Colorado. Just south of Glenwood Springs and west of Carbondale is Sunlight Mountain Resort, an awesome little mountain with great tree skiing and untracked powder that can be found days after a storm. It sits in the western side of the White River National Forest in the Sopris Ranger District. From Glenwood or Carbondale follow directions to the resort and just about a mile before you get there you'll take a right to stay on Four Mile Rd or county road 117. Travel about 2 miles after turning and you'll come to a parking area on your left, in the winter its mainly used by cross country skiers and snowmobiles. From here we took off on foot in our winter boots down 2 miles of groomed snow covered road until you reach an intersection with a bunch of signs giving you several different options in directions and places to go. We strapped on our snow shoes and headed west up Fourmile Park- North through 16 to 24 inches of snow for an additional mile and settled at the 2nd camping spot we came to on our left. The low that night was 19 but I stayed warm most of the time until around 4 or 5 and finally had to get up and move around. The best part about the trip was we got to ski before and when we got back the bar was still open. I loved living in Glenwood Springs and choose this area for its proximity to so many awesome places, can't wait to get back.

Go-To

This was one of our go-to spots. If we needed a place to get outta dodge for a weekend with no fear of having a spot available, this was the spot. The creek flowing by the camp makes for a great nights sleep and to toss a line into. If, by some crazy happening, the campsite is full or you don’t want to pay…keep on truckin’ down the road and you might be able to find a free dispersed camp spot (some of which are by the water as well). Overall, it’s a great space close to Summit county that is not widely known.

Great week long trip!

This area used to be a lot nicer when all the trees were still around before the pine bark beetle infestation. However, they planted new trees to take their place! The river is relaxing at night and keep you cool on those hot summer nights.

Perfection

Amazing view, great sites

Pizza place on site

Pet friendly

Small catch and release trout pond on site

Turquoise Lake

Just west of Leadville Colorado sits Turquoise Lake at an elevation of around 10,000 ft. Baby Doe Campground is one of the few camps that are situated around the lake on its east side. You camp under the pine trees beside the lake with beautiful views of Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert to the south over turquoise water. Cost are $24 per night for car camping, bathrooms and water are provided. We camped on June 26th and 27th of 2018 and got to summit Mt. Sherman one of Colorado's 14ers on the 27th. I was really surprised at how bad the mosquito's were at the lake and at this elevation, definitely the worst mosquito experience I had while living in Colorado. If your in town while visiting be sure to check out Periodic Brewing and High Mountain Pies. Highlight: Being able to summit my 1st Colorado 14er was definitely the highlight of the trip, can't wait to go back for another one, I know where I'll be camping.

First to Review
Lost Alpine Lake

Lost Alpine lake is a 5 miles hike from the camp ground. I highly recommend searching for it if you’ve never been. Camp ground is at the start of the hike.

Perfect camp spot in Twin Lakes

Camp site perched up above the lake. Awesome view

Boreas pass in Breckinridge

Awesome pass not to far from the town in Breckinridge

Camping on Ruedi Reservoir

The campground is located on the Ruedi Reservoir just a few miles east of Basalt Colorado. It also sits in the White River National Forest on the Fryingpan River at an elevation of 7,800 ft. Costs are $24 per night for car camping, restrooms and water are provided. We stayed in one of the sites closest to the water which was about 100 yards away, it had a few trees but was mostly an open grass field with great views of the surrounding. Boating, fishing, camping, and hiking are definitely the things to do here but especially fishing. The Fryingpan River is a tributary of the Roaring Fork River, both of which are part of Colorado's Gold Medal Waters. We camped on May 19th and 20th of 2018 to great weather of highs in the 50's and a low around 30. Two cool places in town we would recommend if your making the trip would be Capitol Creek Brewing and The Brick Pony Pub. Also this is the best time to go camping to avoid the crowds, the reservoir can be pretty crowded during the summer. Highlight: Seeing mother moose and calf tracks on our morning hike around the lake.

Beautiful Views All Around

Can get chilly at night depending on the time of year, there was still snow under a ridge when we camped in July a few years ago, but still fun!

Nice Weekend Getaway

This is nice for quick getaway - easy drive from Denver and right at Kenosha Pass which has fall beautiful colors. We bought a new pop up tent and had to try it out arrived in the dark and awoke to beautiful fall colors - hiking trails closeby. Vault toilets very clean only about 20 sites forest service campground. Rating reflects some highway noise closeby only downside

Great site for fishing and cheap

If you are looking for a place to set up that is close to fishing this is your spot. There are a couple sites that are right by the river and a very short walk to wet your hook.

Yes the road noise is noticeable but it's unbearable. I would say just try to find one of the sites closer to the river verses the road.

I don't recall seeing a water faucet but did see one sight with power hook-up. Did it work? I haven't a clue. Only 2 other campers when I set up camp and both were in smaller RV's. Fire rings, picnic table and a fairly level site. Pit toilets that were bearable.

The views and the river is what this campground is all about

Smaller Mountain Campground With Hiking Nearby

This is one of the smaller sites alongside the main road you will find just a short distance outside of Aspen. I was passing through late in the season, technically during "closure" but was able to snag a site because it had not yet been closed due to unusually warmer fall. There had been some snowfall higher up but where I was there had not so the camp had not been closed. They had however turned off the potable water source but vault toilets and sites remained open.

I was located in site 5 which had a small back in area, a picnic table and fire ring. There were also bear boxes throughout camp, which you need to use if you are here because there is a population of bears that will raid camp. I made sure to keep any food in the car behind doors and cleaned up away from camp with my own water source so as to not attract anything to come near. Bears do scare me a bit!!

The site for my tent was lush and grassy, it had not yet frozen or died for the season so it felt very fluffy underneath my tent.

Temperatures dropped dramatically at night and I was happy there was no fire ban when I visited because I used my fire for a heat source in the evening and then hand warmers inside extra socks at night. It was pretty peaceful at the camp as a whole.

While there I enjoyed hiking on the Weller Trail which heads directly out from the parking area near the camp and treks a short distance with some amazing views. I was so happy to have found this site for only $21.

TIPS:

  • Typical season is May to the end of September if it is before or after this time check with the Forest Service to see if they have opened camp for season.

  • Bring a flashlight there is no external light at the campground so you will not be able to see anything without one.