Backpacking & Backcountry Wilderness Camping
Leave the crowds of campgrounds and civilization behind to experience nature and solitude by camping in the backcountry.
Explore Rocky Mountain National Park’s cross-country areas. Camp and hike off-trail in 416 square miles of spectacular mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and tundra. That’s almost 250,000 acres of wilderness permanently protected within the Park.
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, learn and practice some basics before your trip. Knowledge and skill are just as important as gear in the backcountry.
Try out your new gear at home. Mountain weather can change rapidly, and you need to be prepared and self-sufficient. Afternoon thunder storms are common in summer.
To protect the Park, wilderness camping along popular trails requires camping in designated backcountry sites.
Get a $36 backcountry overnight travel permit if your trip is between May 1 and Oct 31. Reservations are available starting March 2 at www.recreation.gov, or by calling the Recreation.gov call center at 877-444-6777. Popular dates and spots go quickly so it’s important to plan ahead.
Choose your route to match your group’s skills. Find information on multi-day backpacking hikes and weekend trips in this popular hiking guidebook – Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park by Erik Stensland. Remember to consider elevation gain in how far you’ll go each day because there’s a lot of “up” in RMNP!
Check the backcountry site details for first average snow-free date if you don’t plan to camp on snow. Snow lasts at higher elevations well into July.
Wilderness Campsite Reservation Requests are only submitted online. In person, phone, email, and mail reservations are not accepted at the Park.
Maximum stay at one site is 3 nights. Maximum party size is 7 before being considered a group and needing a group site.
You have to pay the Park Entrance Fee in addition to your backcountry permit, but a Timed Entry Permit is included with your backcountry permit.
Permits must be picked up in person at a Wilderness Office located in the Beaver Meadows and Kawuneechee Visitor Centers.
Walk up Permits for day of trip are available on a limited basis at the Wilderness Offices – no guarantees of availability – so it’s best to reserve ahead if possible.