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Photo Credit: © 2019 James Frank

Backcountry Camping

Wilderness Camping and Backpacking

Camping in the backcountry means leaving the crowds of campgrounds and civilization behind to experience nature and solitude.

Explore Rocky Mountain National Park’s cross-country areas where you can camp and hike off-trail — 416 square miles of spectacular mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and tundra.  That’s almost 250,000 acres of wilderness permanently protected within the Park.

You’ll carry everything you need to be safe and comfortable with you in your backpack – clothing, shelter, food, and essentials.  Planning and preparation are key!

If you’re a beginner at backpacking, you’ll want to learn and practice some basics because knowledge and skill are just as important as gear in the backcountry.

If you have new gear, try it out at home before you go.   Mountain weather can change rapidly, and you’ll need to be prepared and self-sufficient.


To protect the Park, backcountry camping along popular trails means camping in designated backcountry sites.

A $30 backcountry overnight travel permit is required between May 1 and Oct 31, and reservations for popular dates and spots are recommended.

Choose your route to match your group’s skills – here’s a list of multi-day hikes and weekend  trips.  Remember  to consider elevation gain in how far you’ll go each day because there’s a lot of “up” in RMNP!

Check the site details for first average snow-free date if you don’t plan to camp on snow.

Wilderness Campsite Reservation Requests can be submitted online or in person starting March 1 at 8am.   Phone, email, and mail reservations are not accepted.

Maximum party size is 7 before being considered a group, requiring a group site,  and maximum stay at one site is 3 nights.

Backcountry permit offices are located in the Beaver Meadows and Kawuneechee Visitor Centers.