The Aspen Meadow Group Campsite is a single-group backcountry site in a quiet meadow on the south side of the North Fork of the Big Thompson River and the North Fork Trail. Tucked in the northeastern corner of Rocky Mountain National Park at 9,520 feet, the site is perfect for groups that want to get away from civilization. Reach the site, 5.9 miles west of the Dunraven Trailhead, by hiking five or six hours and gaining 1,560 feet in elevation. The campsite has a privy. Get water from the river but boil or treat it before use. The Alpine Meadow is usually snow-free by late May.
- Find Aspen Meadow Group Campsite from Estes Park by driving 7.5 miles on MacGregor Avenue/Devils Gulch Road to the Glen Haven Post Office. Continue on Devils Gulch Road for another 1.7 miles to Dunraven Glade Road and turn west. Follow Dunraven Gulch Road for 2.2 miles to the Dunraven Trailhead. Do not drive or park on the road past the trailhead since its private property. Hike west on North Fork Trail for 5.9 miles, passing through Comanche Peak Wilderness Area to the national park. A wooden sign marks the path which heads south to the campsite from North Fork Trail.
- A backcountry permit is required for all overnight camping in Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry. Get permits at the Park Headquarters Backcountry Office next to Beaver Meadows Visitor Center west of Estes Park, at Kawuneeche Visitor Center north of Grand Lake, or at the park website.
- You agree to obey National Park regulations for backcountry camping when you get a Backcountry Use Permit. The permit must be with you at all times and a tent tag must be displayed on your pack while hiking and on your tent. You must follow your planned itinerary so campsites aren’t overused or crowded. You also receive a tag to place on the dashboard of your vehicle, allowing overnight parking at trailheads without being towed.
- Practice a Leave No Trace ethic when camping at Aspen Meadow Group Campsite. Pitch tents in designated areas near a silver arrowhead. Secure food and garbage. Black bears are around so stash food in a bear-resistant canister, which is required May to October. Keep food, trash, and scented items in the container and store it 200 feet from the campsite. Don’t camp below dead trees; wind storms blow branches off them.
Recommended season(s): Late May through September.
—Stewart M. Green