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“Only one thing wrong”

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Difficult Campground
Ranked #5 of 31 Speciality Lodging in Aspen
Golden, Colorado
Level Contributor
14 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Only one thing wrong”
Reviewed 23 October 2013

This was a really nice campground. We stayed in the group site which is right on the river and a little away from the other sites. There were multiple BBQ grills, picnic tables and bear lockers. BUT the water spigot wasn't working. So we had to get in the car once a day and go over to the pump to get our water. We had a big group and a bunch of kids so it was an inconvenience. The location from town was great. Close enough but you really felt like you were out there. And being right on the river is so nice. If the water pump had been working I would have given this a 5.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • Location
Helpful?
3 Thank Steve_divez
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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38 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Dallas, TX
Level Contributor
46 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 August 2013

Having read through the majority of the reviews on this campsite I won't repeat what's been said but just confirm (and maybe clarify) a few previous comments.

For starters, the campsite is NOT in a swamp...there are some tall grasses and wet areas when you first enter that might give that appearance but this is not a swamp. And a bear box is not a bad sign - it's a sign you are camping in the mountains where wildlife is present. We never saw bear but posters around the site said there had been bear activity in May and June - probably from people who don't think they need to put their stuff in a bear box. I won't go into big detail about what should be put in a bear box and why it's important but, as far as I'm concerned, having a bear box to put stuff in is a GOOD thing!

After setting up camp we walked around a bit and yes, the sites are different sizes so I wish they could offer better descriptions on the website to help folks make a better choice for their particular needs. www.recreation.gov is where you can see the campsite map and a small description of each site. We did not have a reservation so after a few rounds of each loop we decided on Site 15 due to how far back it sat from the camp road. I would say this particular site could easily accommodate 2 tents and even a 3rd if it was a smaller size. This was a great site with HUGE boulders and lots of trees for privacy. There are also a couple of small ropes already tied up between some trees left by previous campers for your use.

There were campers in Site 13 next door but we rarely heard them and could barely see them (see my pictures) and we couldn't see anything on the other side of the site because the trees and growth are so thick. It's right across from the water station and a very easy walk to the toilets which are next door to the water (which were very clean during our stay and did not smell). The only drawback of this site is that since it's on the Independence Pass side there is a little bit of road noise at night of people who are hopefully only driving to their campsite further down the road and not going over the pass at night! Yikes, it's challenging enough during the daytime! After the traffic stopped we could hear the river every night even being as far away from it as we were on the other side of the campground.

Since our stay was during the weekdays the camp was not very crowded, very quiet at night and had lots of empty spaces. Everyone was friendly and we even shared some wine and snacks with another couple one night who were camping on the riverside loop. I never looked at their campsite number but from looking at the map they were either in 37 or 39 and the space was huge. It could probably handle at least 2 tents and maybe a 3rd. I'm not sure if any of those spaces are actually right by the water though. We took the small hike on the path by the river and had to climb a trail UP to get back to the campground so I don't think they back up to the water like you might think they would.

Another reviewer mentioned showering at the Aspen Rec Center so we also took advantage of their facilities when we went into town. $6.50 per person gets you into the locker room (or 5.60 twilight rate during the last 90 minutes of operation allows access to the whole center) - bring your own towel and toiletries and a small lock wouldn't be bad if you want to secure your things in a locker while you're in the shower. Also if you have a toiletries bag with a hook or suction cup on it that would work best for the shower stalls they have. It's a really nice rec center and the employees are friendly to campers.
For hours and rates see http://www.aspenrecreation.com/aspen-recreation-centers/aspen-recreation-center/

A few other random thoughts: Bugs were not a problem for us but I had plenty of Off! spray which may have taken care of any pests wanting to invade our space. There are trash dumpsters at the campground entrance so you don't have to take it with you. There's no electricity here and no cell signal so plan accordingly to charge your gadgets and communicate while you're in town or in the car with chargers. The camp sells bundles of firewood for 6.00 or you can also buy it at City Market in town. Picnic tables at some sites are fixed and others are able to be moved around a small distance although secured to the ground with a buried cable. This made a difference to us the one night it rained so we could scoot the table near some trees and hang up our tarp. The Group Site they have here is ENORMOUS so if you have a big group definitely try to reserve that one - it's a bit secluded from the rest of the camp with its own toilets. The spacing of the water stations and toilets seemed to be convenient to all the camping sites so no matter which site you picked you'd never be too far walking to get to either one.

We really enjoyed our stay at Difficult. As I said to the host driving around in her golf cart taking care of stuff, the only difficult aspect of the campground is deciding which site to pick! We prefer a campsite with lots of trees and growth and the more "woodsy" feel and Difficult delivers! On our way to Maroon Bells we saw all the "Silver" campsites and even drove through Silver Queen to see what people were raving about. The mountain views are fantastic but for me the sites are too open to each other without any kind of space or privacy between them but to each their own. We hope to camp again at Difficult when taking in the sites of Aspen and Maroon Bells! I hope this review is helpful since it was all the other good reviews on Trip Advisor that persuaded us to stay here.

Room Tip: Light sleepers should opt for sites on the riverside loop (30-47).
See more room tips
  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
22 Thank Dep_DFW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 August 2013

We lucked out and got one of the two non reservable sites on a Monday morning. Site 37 backs up to the roaring fork river. It was spacious with a good sized fire pit. We thoroughly enjoyed our four day stay. We had no issues with bugs or bears, though they do encourage use of bear proof lockers that are provided.

  • Stayed July 2013
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
Helpful?
4 Thank rockroll53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 July 2013

A better-than-average Forest Service campground, conveniently located a few miles above Aspen on the Independence Pass Road, adjacent to the Roaring Fork River and at the termination of the Aspen Trail--bike/walk/run to or towards Aspen. The sites and bathrooms are kept in great shape by the campground hosts. There's plentiful downed wood within one to two hundred yards from any campsite. Bugs vary by the season and year and were zero problem during our visit 7/19-21/2013. Excellent outings uphill from the campground include The Grottos and Weller Lake. For the more vigorous some portion of the Lost Man Lake loop.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
Helpful?
3 Thank Gene M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Westminster, Colorado
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 July 2013

We just returned from a 4 night camping trip here with our kids. I was a little concerned about the place based on some prior negative reviews, but really, it was nice as far as campgrounds go. The sites were fairly secluded from one another, and each had a large bear box. We had site #19, which was nestled in a beautiful aspen grove. The vault toilets were some of the cleanest I have ever seen; they really did a great job keeping the odors down and keeping them well supplied. The campground hosts were very friendly. Mosquitoes were not a big problem where we were.

The campground itself is only 10 minutes away from Aspen, which is convenient for groceries and even eating an occasional meal in town. In the other direction, it's a relatively short drive up Hwy 82 towards Independence Pass, and attractions include multiple hiking trails and the ghost town of Independence.

Only negatives (and the reason for 4 stars instead of 5) are close proximity to Hwy 82, so lots of road noise right next to our site. (That probably wouldn't be an issue on the other side of the campground.) Also, almost all the sites are really designed for campers and not tents. With some artful parking and maneuvering, we were able to fit a large 6-person tent, a small 1-person tent, and two vehicles into the driveway where you'd normally park a camper or RV. I could see this being a problem if you had several tents and/or vehicles. Overall, though, we were pleased with the location and our experience, and plan to stay here again.

Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
Helpful?
7 Thank Spacechick0505
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Longmont, Colorado
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 July 2013

July-2,2013. We just returned from camping in a tent at Difficult. I have to admit that my husband and I had some concerns about staying there after I read the last review. Our friends from California picked the place ahead of time and reserved a couple sites. We drove from Longmont to meet them.

Day-1: We arrived early evening. Got camp set up. Pulled some chairs close to the fire and then just relaxed, marveled at the stars and enjoyed the evening with some great friends. (Yes, the fire ban was lifted because they had just received some needed rain.) Awesome!

Day-2: It is only 4 miles to Aspen from Difficult and we all brought our bikes. There is a bike/walking trail right outside camp that takes you to town. It felt like we coasted all the way to Apen. I was a bit nervous about the ride back but the gentle rolling of the trail made it not a problem for me. Beautiful trail and scenery...Awesome!

Day-3: We all got up. Had a quick breakfast and headed out for the hike on Difficult Trail. It is located right in the campground. Awesome! We only had a short time to spend on the hike. Next trip back we definitely will go to the top! Pack your water, snack, camera and go make some memories. It's a bit steep in some spots but just slow down and take your time.

The camp hosts were very friendly. The outhouses were extremely clean. I was told that they clean them three times a day! Impressive. Right? Mosquito's were not a problem for us. Last night we did use a bit of spray but not a big deal. We will definitely go back to Difficult...Maybe this Fall? Hope this was helpful. Happy Camping!

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank Penny B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Minneapolis
Level Contributor
27 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 June 2013

We had a reservation here and were so disappointed, drove back up to Silver Bell and luckily got a site - phew! Worth throwing away our reservation fee.

1. This campground is basically in a swamp. First bad sign.
2. We saw the mosquito control vehicle parked on our drive in. Second bad sign.
3. Each site has a bear box. Third bad sign.
4. Campground vegetation seems overgrown and unkept. Fourth bad sign.
5. People at the campground looked like they had been there awhile. Fifth bad sign.

Maybe if you have an RV this is fine, but for tenters who had just stayed at the Crème de la Crème of National Forest campgrounds - Silver Queen, this was a real disappointment. Not in a pretty mountain spot. Camp elsewhere.

  • Stayed June 2013, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
Helpful?
2 Thank bealocal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Difficult Campground

Property: Difficult Campground
Address: 806 W Hallam St, Forest Service, Aspen, CO 81611-1166
Region: United States > Colorado > Aspen
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 31 Speciality Lodging in Aspen
Number of rooms: 24
Also Known As:
Difficult Campground Hotel Aspen

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