Perched high on the stunning Mogollon Rim in central Arizona, Aspen is one of seven campgrounds in the Rim Lakes Recreation Area. Popular for it’s stunning scenery, ponderosa forests, hiking, biking, fishing, and wildlife viewing, it was the region’s elevation that brought us here.
At 7,500 feet above sea level, Aspen and the other campgrounds on “the rim,” as it’s known, are just 125 miles from Phoenix, but a world away from the hustle-and-bustle and oppressive heat of the valley.
Aspen Campground at a Glance
- The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests
- Open May-September
- 14-day stay limit
- 7,500 feet in elevation
- $22 a night, $11 extra vehicle charge
- Central Arizona 35 miles east of Payson and 30 miles west of Heber
- Approximately 4 miles off State Hwy 260
- Roads to and within the campground are paved and easily navigable for large RVs
- 136 spacious, paved campsites arranged in four loops; 27 are first-come-first-served
- Sites range from open forest to grassy meadows with good solar sites available
- Facilities include picnic tables, grills, fire pits, water spigots, vault toilets, and trash dumpsters
- Operated by a concessionaire with firewood available for sale, a nearby camp store with boat rentals, and RV dump ($7) within a couple miles of the campground
- Very limited voice coverage on Verizon (0-2 bars)
- Our internet setup got us 10.16 Mbps download and 3.18 Mbps upload speeds, which allowed us to work and place calls over wifi
- Leashed pets are welcome throughout the campground and on all national forest trails
The Mogollon Rim runs for 200 miles in central Arizona, from near Camp Verde eastward, almost to the border with New Mexico. The rim’s dramatic sandstone and limestone mark the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau in the state, and Aspen Campground is located near some of the area’s most breathtaking scenery.
Open from May through September, Aspen Campground is located 35 miles east of Payson and 30 miles west of Heber, approximately 4 miles off State Hwy 260. Access the campground is easy, with the roads to and within the campground paved and comfortably navigable for large RVs.
Aspen’s 136 spacious, paved campsites are arranged in four loops and spread beneath the ponderosa pine, oak, and aspen forest, Sites are tucked among the trees or placed in the alpine meadows and some are more level than others. The campground is operated by a concessionaire and facilities include picnic tables, grills, fire pits, water spigots, vault toilets, and dumpsters. Firewood is available for sale, there is a nearby camp store with boat rentals, and an RV dump ($7) is located a couple miles from the campground.
One of the things we enjoyed most was being so close to nature. The Pileated woodpeckers were pounding on trees, elk grazed right in the campground, and they have the cutest little squirrels with tufts on their ears!
Verizon is the only show in town at Aspen Campground, and even then we had very limited voice coverage (0-2 bars). But our internet setup got us 10.16 Mbps download and 3.18 Mbps upload speeds, which allowed us to get our work done and place calls over wifi.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests offer almost 1,000 miles of pet-friendly trails across a variety of terrain suitable for horseback riding, biking, walking, and hiking. From our campsite, it was a nice walk down a dirt trail to the boat launch, day-use picnic area, and camp store at Woods Canyon Lake.
But if you only have time to enjoy one trail, don’t miss the Rim Lake Vista Trail, which you can pick up at the Rim Lakes Overlook off Rim Road (Forest Road 300). This paved path skirts the edge of the rim and has benches were you can sit and admire the view.
If you’ve stayed at Aspen Campground, or any of the other campgrounds in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, leave a comment below and let us know how you liked it!