Wilderness Camping

At left, a tent and campsite in rocks with a peak behind. On right, a field of windblown snow below the summit of Longs Peak.
Longs Peak from the Boulderfield in late summer (left) and early summer (right).

NPS Photos

 

There are a wide range of wilderness camping experiences available in Rocky Mountain National Park. Those new to wilderness travel have ample opportunity to break their boots in slowly, while those with many miles under their belt can find new areas that test their mettle.

Planning for a Wilderness Backpacking Camping Trip During the 2022 Season?

Interested in going on a backpacking camping trip in Rocky this summer? All reservations for backpacking wilderness camping trips must be booked via www.recreation.gov.

Some helpful tips for wilderness backpacking camping trip planning:

  • Take time to create or update your Recreation.gov account.
  • The most efficient way to book your wilderness backpacking trip is online via Recreation.gov. Don't have access to a computer? You can also call the Recreation.gov call center at 877-444-6777.
  • Trips cannot be booked through the park's Wilderness Office.
  • Rocky is a very popular national park and wilderness backpacking camping is an activity in high demand. Meet with members of your trip party before booking your reservation and be prepared with 3 or 4 different trip itineraries.
  • Remember, many other people will be working to book their wilderness backpacking trips at the same time that you are. If a desired campsite has already been booked by someone else, Recreation.gov will prompt you to complete a new itinerary.
  • If you are ready to book your wilderness trip, log into your Recreation.gov account.
  • You may begin to select your desired dates, enter the number of people in your group, and build your trip itinerary. This trip itinerary is not held until the “Book Now” button is selected. Remember, others will be competing for these same campsites and dates, so users are asked to be ready with multiple itineraries and back-up dates.
  • Once “Book Now” has been selected, the inventory is held and you have 15 minutes to complete the remaining Order Details and pay for the reservation.
  • If you receive an error once the “Book Now” button is selected, this indicates that the inventory is no longer available, which means that your desired wilderness campsites are already reserved and no longer available. At this point, you will have to adjust your campsite selections and/or desired camping dates and try again.
  • Have specific questions about a wilderness campsite or route? Call our Wilderness Office and park staff will be happy to assist you.
  • If you experience errors while booking your wilderness trip, try to refresh your screen in Recreation.gov and try again.

The www.recreation.gov site includes important links to detailed information about Rocky Mountain National Park's wilderness backcountry camping, including camping regulations, trail descriptions and maps.

To book wilderness backpacking camping trips for small groups (1-7 people) and large groups (8-12 people), you will click on the "Check Availability" button and begin building a trip itinerary.

To make sure you are ready to book your wilderness backpacking camping trip, take time to review the wilderness campsite map and determine what campsites you would like to book. Make sure to read through all of the available information about Wilderness regulations and trail descriptions prior to booking your trip.


 
 
 
East side backcountry office
East side Wilderness Office

NPS

Wilderness Offices

Overnight travel in the wilderness requires a permit. Permits and information are available at two Wilderness Offices within Rocky Mountain National Park. Please contact the Wilderness Office for updated information on the status of Wilderness campsites (970-586-1242). For status of wilderness campsites on the west side of the park, call the Kawuneeche Visitor Center Wilderness Office at (970-586-1521).

On the east side of the park, the Wilderness Office is adjacent to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.

On the west side of the park, the Wilderness Office is located inside the Kawuneeche Visitor Center.

 

Current Notices

  • There will be temporary closures in some wilderness campsites. Please contact the Wilderness Office for updated information on the status of wilderness sites.
  • Park staff are removing some dead trees that have been killed by an outbreak of native pine beetles. The removal reduces risk associated with falling trees. Always be aware of your surroundings, particularly during times of high winds.
  • We recommend that you visit the following topics:



 
Find a listing of all designated wilderness sites in Rocky here.
Cross-country Zones allow you to connect to far off places in the park.
Technical climbers can obtain permits to set up temporary camps near climbing routes.
Horses are welcome at a selection of wilderness sites around the park.
A helpful list to make sure
your backpack has everything
you need.
The wilderness can be just
as adventurous in winter, just
a little bit colder.

 
bear canister at a backcountry site
A bear canister

NPS

Wilderness Food Storage

Between April 1 and October 31, all food items and garbage must be secured inside a hard sided commercially-made carry in/carry out bear-resistant food storage canister.

This is required for park wilderness areas below tree line and in the Boulder Field of Longs Peak, due to recurring wildlife incidents. Other methods of food storage are not permitted in the wilderness during this period.

 

Hours

Wilderness Office near
Beaver Meadows Visitor Center
7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Seven days a week
Wilderness Office at
Kawuneeche Visitor Center
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 pm. Wed-Sun. Closed Monday -Tuesday.

 
mountain sunrise
Alpine sunrise

NPS

Last updated: April 11, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park , CO 80517

Phone:

970 586-1206
The Information Office is open year-round: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily in summer; 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Mondays - Fridays and 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Saturdays - Sundays in winter. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.

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