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Castle Creek Dispersed Camping Area

Castle Creek Dispersed Camping Near Aspen: Ultimate Guide

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, just south of the city of Aspen, Castle Creek Road offers adventurers a serene and rugged escape into Colorado’s natural beauty. There are more than a dozen great designated and dispersed campsites available first-come, first-serve. This guide explores the dispersed camping opportunities along Castle Creek, providing essential information for a responsible and enjoyable visit. Navigate using the menu below between each area.

Area Info

Overview

This dispersed camping area begins at the Castle Creek trailhead along Castle Creek Rd (Co Rd 15). The road immediately becomes more rugged and 4WD is necessary beyond the first 2-3 sites. There are 9 designated sites before you reach the creek. Camping is only allowed in these sites.

Beyond the creek crossing, there are additional dispersed campsites all the way up to the tree line, however they are more exposed and there is less water access and firewood. I recommend one of the designated sites below the creek crossing.

The area is busy during summer months and most sites fill during the weekend. Get there early Thursday or Friday to snag a spot before they are taken.





Photos

Here are some pictures of the Castle Creek Road and dispersed camping area. There are examples of designated sites below the creek crossing, along with some dispersed sites above the creek crossing.





Directions

Directions: Drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82 to the Roundabout. Go around the Roundabout and turn right on Castle Creek Road. Drive 14 miles to the end of the paved road. Stay right. Campsites are 1.3 miles down Pearl Pass Road

Accessibility: 4WD is required to reach most of the campsites, though you may be able reach the first 2-3 sites without it if you go slow and take your time.





Weather

Below is a weather forecast for Aspen, the closest town to Castle Creed Rd and the dispersed camping area. Keep in mind that conditions can vary dramatically in the mountains, even across just a few miles.





Leave No Trace

Preserving the pristine nature of Castle Creek is a responsibility shared by all visitors. Adhering to Leave No Trace principles is crucial:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare: Research current conditions and regulations before your trip.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Camp at least 200 feet from the creek and on existing sites to minimize impact.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack out all trash, including food scraps and toilet paper.
  • Leave What You Find: Avoid disturbing wildlife and plant life. Do not carve, chop, or damage trees.
  • Minimize Campfire Impact: Use a portable stove for cooking. If you must build a fire, use existing fire rings and keep fires small.
  • Respect Wildlife: Observe animals from a distance and secure food items.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Keep noise to a minimum and control pets at all times.

 

Learn more by reading our Leave No Trace Tips here.





Activities

Located in the White River National Forest, you will find lots of different things to do near Castle Creek and Pearl Pass Road. Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

  • Climb a 14er: Choose from Castle Peak or Conundrum Peak further up the road for a challenging hike with stunning views.
  • Go Fly Fishing: The creek is a great place for fly fishing. Remember to follow all local regulations and catch and release guidelines.
  • Visit a Ghost Town: Explore the remnants of the area’s mining past by visiting nearby ghost towns.
  • Ski in Aspen: Just a short drive away, you can enjoy world-class skiing in Aspen.
  • Drive up Independence Pass: This scenic drive offers breathtaking views and numerous photo opportunities.
  • Hiking and Snowshoeing: With numerous trails in the area, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter.

Castle Peak is located about 6 miles further up the road.




Amenities

As a dispersed camping area, amenities are minimal. 

There are no restrooms, water sources, or trash disposal services. Campers must be self-sufficient and prepared to pack out all trash and human waste.

Designated campsites have steel fire pits, the only improvement or amenity.

Nearest Town: Aspen, Colorado

A typical designated campsite along Castle Creek Road.




FAQ

Here are common questions about the Castle Creek dispersed camping area. If your question hasn’t been answered yet, leave a comment and I will get back to you with more information and an answer as soon as possible.

Q: Is the Castle Creek Camping Area the same as the Pearl Pass Camping Area?

Yes, the formal name of this camping area is the Pearl Pass Dispersed Camping Area. Due to its association with the nearby 14er Castle Peak and the trailhead at the start of the road, it is more often called the Castle Creek Road camping area.

A: No permits or fees are required for dispersed camping at Castle Creek. It operates on a first-come, first-served basis. Please only camp in designated sites.

A: Look for existing campsites along Castle Creek Road. These are typically clearings with a campfire pit and space for a tent and a vehicle. Designated sites will have a post with a campsite number as well. Always choose spots that have been used before to minimize environmental impact.

A:Pack out all trash and waste. There are no trash collection services, so bring trash bags and take everything you brought in back out with you.

Do not try to throw away trash in Aspen, as you may be ticketed for illegal dumping. Bring your garbage back home to dispose of it properly. 

A: While Castle Creek’s water may look clean, it’s recommended to treat all water before drinking. Use a water filter, purification tablets, or boil water to eliminate potential pathogens that can cause illness and severe discomfort.

A: Campfires are allowed unless there are active fire bans. Use existing fire rings, keep fires small, and fully extinguish them before leaving. Always check the current fire regulations before your trip. If you camp near the tree line, avoid collecting firewood as it takes much longer to grow back than further down in the forest.

A: You can camp for a maximum of 5 nights in a row in one of the designated campsites. Further up in the basin, if using a dispersed campsite, you can stay 14 nights in a location before you have to move to a new spot.

A: Have a plan before you go. Know the nearest location for cell service, the closest medical facility (Aspen Valley Hospital), and keep a list of emergency contacts. Consider bringing a satellite communicator, as you’ll be in remote areas where cell phone service is unreliable.





Additional Resources

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

Learn more about how we protect public lands and prevent SAR calls through education & advocacy.

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