Aspen Campground is a large campground located at Woods Canyon Lake in Sitgreaves National Forest offers tent and RV family camping under ponderosa pines and in grassy meadows. Aspen Campground is one of seven campgrounds located is the Rim Lakes Recreation Area, and is the largest with 130 campsites. The campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in Arizona and is often busy during the summer camping season.
Woods Canyon Lake is a small lake that is stocked by Arizona Game and Fish, and is popular with anglers. Only electric trolling motors are allowed on the lake. Beyond just fish, the Woods Canyon Lake area is teaming with wildlife, including elk, deer, squirrels, and sometimes even bald eagles can be sighted in a nest high in the trees around the lake.
Aspen Campground is composed of four main camping loops, all of which are paved. Each campground includes a picnic table, fire ring, and access to bathrooms. A small camp store is located at the Woods Canyon Lake boat dock.
Aspen Campground Bottom Line
Aspen Campground is a big campground and is often packed with families. During peak season the campground is very busy with activity and noisy; definitely not relaxing. There is decent separation between the campsites from natural barriers in the form of trees and shrubs, but the campsites do not feel private due to the level of activity in the campground. That said, this is a great place for families to camp, as the sprawling campground provides plenty of room for kids to play. A great way to spend the day with the family is to hike/walk around the lake. The hike is strenuous or difficult and can be done in an hour or so.
When we visited Aspen Campground it was in need of some TLC. The bathrooms and other facilities were in need of an upgrade and maintenance, and the pavement on the roads was deteriorating into rocky paths.
Reservations are recommended for Aspen Campground, but there are 27 campsites that are reserved for first-come, first-served camping. Be prepared for heavy and potentially violent thunderstorms during the summer monsoon season. The storms usually develop in late afternoon.
The bottom line on Aspen Campground, is go if you have a family and are looking for something a little more developed with plenty of activities for the kids. Do not go if you are looking for solitude and quiet, instead check out nearby FR9350 Campground.
Aspen Campground Features
|Number of Campsites:||148 Campsites|
|Cost:||$19/night, $9.50 for extra vehicles|
|Use Level:||Very High|
|Beach/Lake Access:||Yes – Lake Access, no beach|
|RV/Trailer Length:||32 Feet|
|RV/Trailer Amenities:||Dump Station|
|Cell Phone Service:||Verizon & At&t – Spotty Coverage|
|Operating Season:||Campground open late spring – late fall, weather dependent|
Rim Road is closed during the winter, usually through April.
|Nearest City/Town:||Payson, Arizona|
|Location:||Coconino County, Arizona|
|Paved Road Access:||Yes|
|Proximity to Stores:||10 miles to Forest Lakes|
|Directions:||From Payson, take AZ 260 northeast from Payson toward Heber. Turn left (west) onto Forest Road 300 (Rim Road) and follow for 4 miles. Turn right towards Woods Canyon Lake and Aspen Campground.|
|Web:||Apache Sitgreaves National Forest||Twitter:|
|Reservations:||Online Campsite Reservations|
When To Go
Summer – Aspen campground is a great escape from the Phoenix desert heat, later in the summer to fall there are often afternoon monsoon thunderstorms that build up on the Mogollon Rim (which can be fun to experience also).
What To Do
Woods Canyon Lake provides for fishing and kayaking. Hiking around the lake is also a great way to spend the day.