Aspenglen Campground, one of four campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park, makes an ideal base camp to explore the park and nearby Estes Park. The area’s 53 campsites sit in a mixed fir and pine forest at 8,200 feet near the Fall River Visitor Center and park entrance. The campground, open mid-May to late-September, offers both first-come first-served sites as well as reserved sites. It’s ideal for car camping, although it does accommodate RVs and trailers up to 30 feet long, and its six walk-in sites are perfect for campers wanting privacy. All tents must be placed on site tent pads and bear-proof storage lockers are at each site. All food and scented products must be kept in the lockers or your vehicle. Flush toilets, restrooms, and drinking water are available. Fires are permitted in grates unless restrictions are in place, but gathering firewood is prohibited. It’s easy to explore the park from Aspenglen. Lots of wildlife is up U.S. 36 at Horseshoe Park and Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous auto road in the United States, begins above the park.
- Aspenglen Campground is northwest of Estes Park on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Drive northwest from Estes Park on U.S. 34 or U.S. 34 Business for 4.7 miles to the park entrance station just past Fall River Visitor Center. Make a left or south turn just past the station into Aspenglen. The paved campground road divides into three loops.
- Reservations at Aspenglen can be made up to six months in advance. Make summer reservations as early as possible because the campground fills up quickly. Campers can only stay a total of seven nights in the park between June 1 to September 30. RVs up to 30 feet long are allowed in Loops B and C and generators are allowed in Loop C only with restricted hours in morning and early evening.
- Rocky Mountain is renowned for its wildlife watching and Aspenglen Campground is close to the action. Just up U.S. 34 is Horseshoe Park. Stop at Sheep Lakes and West Horseshoe Parks overlooks to glimpse wildlife, including elk and bighorn sheep. September is best when the bugling bull elk battle for herd dominance. Bighorn sheep are often seen at natural salt licks. Don’t approach or pester the animals for photographs, it’s not only against park rules, but it’s also dangerous.
- Trail Ridge Road begins at Deer Ridge Junction above Aspenglen Campground. The popular 42-mile road climbs to the top of 12,000-foot Trail Ridge, offering numerous overlooks and hiking trails. Stop at Many Parks Curve Overlook and Rainbow Curve Overlook for views of Horseshoe and Moraine parks; Rock Cut Overlook, Forest Canyon Overlook, and Gore Range Overlook all offer distant views across the mountains; and Farview Curve Overlook gazes into the Kawuneeche Valley. Also do the 0.5-mile Tundra World Toll Memorial Trail and stop at the Alpine Visitor Center.
Recommended season(s): Mid-May to late September.
—Stewart M. Green