Backcountry Guide
  • Plan ahead; make reservations in advanced.
  • Avoid Saturday nights whenever possible because it is the busiest night in the backcountry.
  • Forget Odessa Lake, as this is the most frequently requested site, unless you are making reservation on March 1.
  • 7-night limit (June through September) and no more than 3 nights in 1 camp area. 14-night limit October through May).
  • Fee is $20 per trip during the summer (June through October). No fee from November to May.
  • Remember the "Leave no Trace" principles.
There are 245 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. You should find an area that has the attributes of a good campsite and where you can leave no trace. In 2003, the backcountry office issued 6,691 permits, which allowed 18,542 people to camp in the backcountry, resulting in 36,190 user nights.

Backcountry camping permits are required for all backcountry camping and may be obtained at the Beaver Meadows/Headquarters Backcountry Office from 7 AM to 7 PM (8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily after September 12, 1999) or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center from 8 AM to 6 PM.

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, 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 entirety, and given to other backpackers. Payment, cash or check, is made when the permit is issued.

For a map to backcountry camp sites, reservations and other backcountry literature,

Backcountry Permits
Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, CO 80517
(970) 586-1242
TDD: (for these who are hearing impaired)
(970) 586-1319

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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