I camped at site 1 with my 3 kids and a 8 person tent. We had plenty of room. The camp pads on most, if not all, campsites are separate from the fire ring and picnic tables, optimizing space. There were plenty of places for the kids to explore, rock climb and pretend, especially between checkout and checkin time when some of the camp pads are empty.
I really liked site 1. We were far enough from 2 and 3 that we could see them, but we couldn't very well hear conversation - thanks to the sounds of the river. Side note: the bank to the river behind our site was too steep for us to explore it. Sites 3 and 4 have direct access to the river.
One issue is that there are lots of bees and bugs (non-aggressive). They were everywhere, in the toilets, all over our water and hovering all over the food (never landed on the food though. I got stung by something outside of the tent, but only with contact. It was a little annoying, but that won't stop us from going back.
Another big issue for us was the lack of water spigots. These kids were filthy! All we had was have sanitizer for after bathrooms, etc. Rumer has it that Silver Queen Campground slightly further up the road has water. I checked, and there is no water there. When I asked a ranger, she said it was "at the top." I drove up and never located it. Maroon Bells is about 20 minutes up. I didn't want to drive that far. Full up before you get there and/or filter water in the river behind sites 3 and 4, or ask where "at the top is. Don't forget to have a gallon water or so to extinguish fires.
The final issue was that there was a big disconnect in info between the Welcome Center, the campsites and Maroon Bells. I was told that I had to pay to visit the Bells. I paid $20 for 2 days of visits. In the end, you do now have to pay to visit, because the campers have access. Do buy bus passes in advance online at Aspen chamber. Supposedly, you can't buy passes on site? Oh, and the website says check out is at 2. Actual check out is at noon.
Overall, we figured everything out and will be back ready to enjoy another stay. It's beautiful and the sounds of the river and the surrounding greenery and Aspen trees are breathtaking.
We visited sites 17 and 19 in the Spruce Loop (sites 11-19, all hike-in up to 1/2 mile @ Staunton) Before I begin my review of the sites, I'll tell you that this campground is very clean, bathrooms clean, campsites clean and quiet. The pit, very clean are at base, and there is a porta-potty by site 14, far enough away from 14 to not be a problem. One issue I noticed is that the water spigots are at the base as well and not at or near the sites - 1/2 mile from the farthest site, Site 19. We had to carry up jugs and refill at night. No campfires allowed ever. I brought stoves no bigger than a jetboil/MSR dragonfly. Headlamps are a must. Also, we went in June and July. Check the weather. We had very cold weather in both June and July, weather hit the low 30's.
Since hiking in, some backpacking items would be helpful in order to make the haul easier. Though, taking trips could be an option, if necessary. When camping with a whole posse of kids, we used a wagon to haul all that crap up (see pics). No problems with the wagon getting stuck. Trails are very clear. Finally, when you see "private" in my review, don't think miles of space. You can see other sites from your site, but they're not stacked up against each (minus 15 and 16). There are no cars or car traffic, so that makes a big difference.
If you're looking for a short hike, site 11 is the best. It's hidden away in semi-private spot. 12-14 are less private, but still sheltered with shade and some boundaries from the trail. I wouldn't have a problem staying in any of these sites. There is a porta-potty across from 14, but not too close. There are no issues with smell. I'd stay at 14 if I had to.
My favorite sites at Spruce are 15-19. They're like bonus sites. They're on the other side of the trees and in their own hidden section away from hikers and trails, etc. 15 and 16 are very close together and are the least private of all of the sites. They can easily be booked together for larger groups. Site 17 (my third favorite and most underrated ) is away from the path and rocky/ledgy part and more grassy, with a very peaceful and private view behind the tent pad. At 17, set up your tent door away from the picnic table to have a "front door" view of the grassy area. 18 and 19 are my favorite sites. 18 overlooks the mountain and has the tent pad surrounded by boulders. This one is my favorite in terms of view. Very pretty. I think it's smaller though. Not a whole lot of wiggle room for active young'uns.
My favorite for size and for kids is 19. This one sits atop all of the other sites and is one of the most accommodating and fairly private sites for families both in room and fun. It's a nice barrier to any dangerous cliffs, etc. And, you won't be bothered by anyone up there. There's nature to keep the kids busy. And, behind 19 are rocks and boulders. You could scramble up with or without kids (my kid was 2 and climbed with some help) and explore for about an hour just by the site. We sit at the edge of the boulders and watch the sunset. You can't beat the view. This site never fails to entertain. The only issue is that it's furthest from the porta-potty. It's maybe a five or so minutes walk down. Never had issues. Posting pics below of some of the sites and 17 and 19, the ones we've booked. I hope this is enough to help make your decision. Happy Camping!
Posted pics. Some are in poor quality. My bad!