Portal Campground is located eleven miles southeast of Aspen on Independence Pass Road and seven miles south on Lincoln Creek Road at an elevation of 9,400'. Campers can access some wonderful day hikes from this location as well as terrain for motorcycle riding, mountain biking, ATV riding, fishing and horseback riding, among other recreation activities. Portal Campground has 5 campsites with limited spurs. 5 day stay limit. High clearance vehicles are required and 4x4 recommended.
This was a beautiful spot, but I don’t really feel the need to go back. It is remote enough, but definitely a popular place. The scenery is amazing. The water a crazy blue color. 4 wheel drive is probably the best as the road is very rough. There were plenty of spaces to camp along the road to the campground and beyond it. Perhaps one of those spots would be better.
At the campground, you can hear whatever business is located right next to it, (a mill or something) and their dogs on their property did not like us or our dogs and frequently barked at us and came pretty close - close enough to antagonize our pups. They were just dogs guarding their home, but I don’t really want to be camping that close to anyone’s home.
I hesitated to write a review because I don't want too many people to flock here! This is a terrific campground, and although you aren't backcountry camping, it feels more removed than many typical car camping locations. It's a beautiful location on the Grizzly Reservoir with beautiful views, and a pretty creek runs behind some of the camp spots. I counted 7 spots total (although I've seen 5 listed on this site and others); all are first come first serve. It never filled up the whole time I was there (Thurs-Sat in late August), and if there was at all a "peak" time, it seemed to be after 2pm on Friday. Again, it never filled completely. The sites feel private and separated from each other. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring (currently not in use due to fire ban), and there are typical vault toilets (but with a surprisingly good supply of TP!) There is no drinking water source or garbage location, so you have to pack your water in (or filter) and pack your garbage out. It was very quiet except for some noise coming from what seemed to be nearby maintenance buildings associated with the reservoir, but these are not visible from the camp area. A resident dog there barked at night until about 10pm, and in the morning you could hear the occasional low hum of a loader they used. By no means did this ruin things, but it's worth a mention. The temps were pretty chilly at night…upper 30s in late August…and a really pleasant high 60s during day. Getting to the campground might be a challenge for some. After you turn off of Hwy 82 it's 6.5 miles up a 4x4 road. I made it in a small "crossover" AWD SUV, but anything lower might have trouble. You definitely can do it without a big truck, though. That said, I did see a Jetta that was already a ways up the road as I was leaving. There are plenty of things to do in the area - hiking, mountain biking, fishing, etc. Overall, this is a new go to spot for me and I highly recommend it. I can't wait to go back.
We stayed here for most of our camping trip to Colorado and loved it! It's easily the most beautiful campground we've stayed at. There's only ~5 sites, each with a picnic table and fire ring. Right now there's a burn ban so we unfortunately didn't get to enjoy a fire. There's vault toilets that aren't very clean. The site is maintained by volunteers and is free to camp at (donations welcome) so make sure you bring everything you need including water and toilet paper. The lake is beautiful and has a ton of Rainbow Trout!
We would recommend 4x4 to get there, but it's not required. If you're going to go past the campground, 4x4 and/or decent clearance is a must. Along the road to the campground, there's 22 free dispersed sites with bear lockers. After the campground, there's free dispersed camping. So even if you can't get a site at Portal, there's quite a few options in the immediate area.
There's lots to do in that area. We hiked to Anderson and Petroleum lakes and that was beautiful! The turn off is about 10 minutes South of Aspen, then you drive 6.4 miles on a dirt road to the campground. If you drive another 3.5 miles on the dirt road, there's a trailhead for the lakes there. There's no drinking water, no cell service, but lots of beautiful nature and amazing hikes!
Also, it's quite colder than town and other campgrounds in the area - during the day, it could be 80 in Aspen but only 65 at the campground. It got into the 30s most nights so make sure you bring warm clothes and a nice sleeping bag, but shorts for the warm sun during the day!
Portal Campground is at the end of Lincoln Creek Rd by Grizzly Reservoir in White River National Forest. You can access Lincoln Creek Rd from Highway 82 (Independence Pass) it is about 10 miles out of Aspen. Once you get on Lincoln Creek Rd there is the Lincoln Gulch campground, which is fee camping. As you proceed up Lincoln Creek Rd there are about 20 free, dispersed campsites along the road. After around 6 miles on Lincoln Creek Rd, you will reach Grizzly Reservoir and the road will lead you into Portal Campground. There are only 5 sites in the campground. There are fire pits, picnic tables, and vault toilets. It is free to camp and the sites are not reservable so get there early. Four wheel drive and high clearance is recommended on Lincoln Creek Rd. I wouldn't say you need it; there were people driving Honda Civics up that road. You could make it in a car if you just go slow and the road is dry.
Portal campground is almost at 10,000 ft so it does get cold at night in the summer, but the views are worth it. The campground and reservoir are surrounded by snow capped mountains. There are a few day hikes from the campground. One of them is 7 mile Grizzly Lake Trail that leads to Grizzly Lake. The 4x4 trail also continues up from the campground if you want more off-roading. You're also near the popular cliff jumping site Devils Punch Bowl off Highway 85 that is a must do in late summer when the water is low. If you're not into jumping off cliffs you're also near the Grottos trail off Highway 85 which has ice caves. Overall, the campsite is beautiful, free, and near a lot of things to do!
This campground is located way out in the wilderness. It has incredible mountain views as well as a view of the close by Grizzly Reservoir. This is a free campground and it has vault toilets. I would love to stay at this campground again. There are also 27 free sites along the road to Portal Campground.