Backcountry Guide

Complete Backcountry Campsite Guide

Backcountry Campsite Map (Adobe Acrobat PDF file – 115 KB)
  • Plan ahead; make reservations in advance.
  • Avoid Friday and Saturday nights where possible because it is the busiest nights in the backcountry.
  • Forget Odessa Lake, as this is the most frequently requested site, unless you are making reservation on March 1.
  • Glacier Gorge and Andrews Creek are also very popular and usually booked.
  • 7-night limit and no more than 3 nights in 1 camp area.
  • Remember the "Leave no Trace" ethics and principles.
  • Fee: $15 May through October. November to April-no fee, but permits are still required.
There are hundreds of backcountry campsites in the Rocky Mountain High Country for individuals and 22 group sites. An individual site can accommodate up to 7 people and group sites from 8 to 12 people. There are also 23 zones for camping. A zone is an area where there are no established campsites. Camping in one of the 23 zones is recommended only for those who are confident in their orienteering skills. You should find an area that has the attributes of a good campsite and where you can leave no trace.

Backcountry camping permits are required for all backcountry camping and may be obtained at the Beaver Meadows/Headquarters Backcountry Office or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center.

Spraque Lake Accessible Backcountry campsite is a backcountry experience for persons with disabilities). Reservations and information is from the Backcountry Office. Accommodates 12 campers with a maximum of 6 wheelchair users at the camp. Permits $15 from May 1 to Oct 31; other times a permit is required, but no fee is charged.

Reservations may be made by phone from March 1 to May 15 for anytime during the year. From May 16 to September 30, reservations can only be made by mail or in person. During the winter and early spring when the backcountry is not as frequently used, you may self-register at the Wild Basin Winter Trailhead, Sandbeach Trailhead, Longs Peak Ranger Station, Dunraven Trailhead and Fall River and Beaver Meadows Entrance Stations.

During the busy summer months, if you have a permit reservation, you must pick up the permit by 10 am on the first day of your planned backcountry stay, otherwise, the permit will be cancelled in its entirely, and given to other backpackers. Payment, cash or check, is made when the permit is issued.

For a map to backcountry campsites, reservations and other backcountry literature,

Rocky Mountain National Park
Backcountry Office
Estes Park, CO 80517
(970) 586-1242
TDD: (for these who are hearing impaired)
(970) 586-1319
8:00 - 4:30 (Sept 30 to May 12)
8:00 - 5:00 (May 13 to June 2)
7:00 - 7:00 (June 3 to Aug 19)
8:00 - 5:00 (Aug 20 to Sept 29)

8:00 - 4:30 (Kawuneeche Office)


Complete Backcountry Campsite Guide

Backcountry Campsite Map (Adobe Acrobat PDF file – 115 KB)

If you are planning to hike the backcountry, I highly recommend the book "Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park -- Including Indian Peaks" by Kent & Donna Dannen, 8th edition 1994, published by The Globe Pequot Press. ISBN: 1-56440-375-0. This book has excellent coverage of the backcountry, is very accurate and available at most Park stations for $12.95.

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