Frequently Asked Questions for the Backpacking Wilderness Permit Transition to Recreation.gov

Longs Peak and Rocks
A view of Longs Peak

NPS Photo

Rocky Mountain National Park will be launching a new Wilderness Backpacking Camping Permit Reservation System this year for all overnight backpacking wilderness permits.

Permits will be available at recreation.gov starting on March 2, 2022 at 8:00 am mountain time. Please follow this link: www.recreation.gov to book your wilderness backpacking camping permit.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I make a reservation?
All reservations will be made online at www.recreation.gov beginning on March 2, 2022, at 8:00 am mountain time. There will be no in person, phone, mail, email, or fax reservations.


Can I make a reservation now?
No, all reservations will be available at www.recreation.gov beginning on March 2, 2022, at 8:00 am mountain time. There will be no in person, phone, mail, email, or fax reservations.

Do I have to wait until March 2 to create a Recreation.gov account?
No, we strongly encourage you to log onto www.recreation.gov and create an account before March 2.



What camping dates will recreation.gov open on March 2?

Wilderness backpacking camping dates from May 1, 2022 through October 31, 2022.



How many people can I bring with me?

1-7 persons are permitted at individual sites and 8-12 persons are permitted at group sites.


What is the fee for summer wilderness backpacking permits?
There is a $36 administrative fee for reservations from May 1 - October 31. This fee is non-refundable and non-exchangeable.



If my plans change can I get a refund?

The administrative fee is non-refundable and non-exchangeable.

Do I have to pay for parking?

No.


With a wilderness backpacking camping reservation, do I have to still pay the park entrance fees?

Yes. For more information on park entrance fees, visit https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/fees.htm.


How do I get my permit?
Permits must be picked up in person at the Wilderness Offices at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center near Estes Park, CO or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center near Grand Lake, CO.


Can you mail me my permit?

Permits must be picked up in person at the Wilderness Offices at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center near Estes Park, CO or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center near Grand Lake, CO.

Can I have somebody else pick up my permit for me?

Only with the expressed permission of the permitholder by contacting the Wilderness Office in advance.


What date will the Wilderness Office be open for making in-person/walk up reservations?
Monday, April 4, 2022. Availability will be limited.


I am interested in a walk-up permit. Do I need an account in advance at www.recreation.gov for a walk-up permit?
No. Walk up permits for day of trip backpacking trips are available on a limited basis. However, setting up an account at recreation.gov and scheduling advance reservations are encouraged.


I've heard Timed Entry Permit Reservations are required to enter the park. Do I also need a timed entry reservation permit if I have a wilderness backpacking permit?
No. Timed Entry Permit Reservations will be in effect from May 27-October 10, 2022. Timed entry is included with your Wilderness Permit. A dash tag will be issued for your overnight parking. However, it is encouraged to arrive early for parking as a parking spot is not guaranteed.


What if I don’t have access to a computer?
Backpacking wilderness camping permits must be booked in advance through www.recreation.gov. If you don't have access to a computer, you can call the Recreation.gov Reservation line (Toll-Free) at (877) 444-6777, the Reservation line (International) (606) 515-6777, or the Reservation line (TDD) (877) 833-6777. Many public libraries have free computer or internet access available.



When will the park switch from winter to summer permits?

May 1, 2022. The summer season is from May 1, 2022 through October 31, 2022.



When will winter permits be released?

Contact the Wilderness Office in October 2022 for off season and winter camping between November 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023.

Is there a fee for winter wilderness backpacking camping permits?

Yes. A $10 administrative fee will be charged for off season camping from November 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023. This fee is non-refundable and non-exchangable.

How do I get an individual horse site, winter site, technical climbing bivouac zone, or technical orienteering cross-country zone?

Contact the Wilderness Office for details.

Other Wilderness Backpacking Frequently Asked Questions:

Is there water available?
Most sites have water available in nearby streams. Purify all water in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Is there giardia in Rocky Mountain National Park?
Giardia has been detected in waters in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is recommended to purify any water that you draw from streams in Rocky Mountain National Park.


What does accessible mean?
An Accessible site is only available to groups that have a person with a disability attending with them on their overnight wilderness backpacking stay.


Can I have a campfire?
Campfires are prohibited in the wilderness backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park except in a very few campsites designated by the acronym WF for Wood fire.


What does "WF" mean?
Wood Fire.


Can I use my hammock?
Yes, in the backcountry only, but out of sight of other campers, with discretion and using buffer pads to protect the trees


Can I purchase my park vehcle pass or annual pass before I arrive?
Yes, for more information visit https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/fees.htm.


What are the park entrance fees?
To learn more about park entrance fees, along with annual and lifetime park passes, please visit https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/fees.htm.



Can I pay my park fees using cash or check?

No. Credit cards accepted only.



Does my wilderness permit guarantee me a parking space at my trailhead?
No. The Wilderness Offices open at 7 am or you may pick up your permit a few days before your trip.


Is a bear canister required?
Yes. You are going to be wilderness camping in bear country. A hard sided commercially-made carry in/carry out bear-resistant food storage canister is required.


May I hang my food to keep food and bears safe?
Hanging food is not permitted April 1 - October 31. A hard sided commercially-made carry in/carry out bear-resistant food storage canister is required.


What does "snow free" mean?
This is the date based on the 20-year average that the campsite has been free of snow and campers may usually expect to camp on dry ground. Note that the latest site to be snow free is the Renegade campsite on July 19. It may be summer at sea level in July but that doesn’t always hold true in the Rocky Mountains.


If I finish my trip early, must I notify the Wilderness Office?
This is best practice and will open the site(s) for other campers.


Do I have to check out when leaving the park?
Checking out is not necessary


Is there cell service in the park?
Cell service is not dependable in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Will my GPS work?
Depend on a map, compass and orienteering skills, as GPS systems do not work with consistency in Rocky Mountain National Park.



Can I bring my llama or other pack animals on trails or while camping in wilderness?

Yes. Contact the Wilderness Office for details.


Can I bring my dog on trails or while camping in wilderness?

Pets are not permitted on trails or in wilderness in Rocky Mountain National Park. They are only allowed on established roads, parking areas, or in established campgrounds and picnic areas; basically where cars can go.



Can I carry my dog on trails or while wilderness camping?

Pets are not permitted on trails or in wilderness in Rocky Mountain National Park. Pets can only accompany you on established roads, parking areas, or in established campgrounds and picnic areas; basically where cars can go.

Last updated: January 20, 2022

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