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Frontcountry Camping

Rocky Mountain National Park, Roosevelt and Arapahoe National Forests, and the Estes Park Commercial Campgrounds offer a variety of ways to camp while providing easy access to town; from rustic cabins to RV Parks to tent camping. Frontcountry camping, also known as car camping, is great for families or those who want to be outdoors, but still have access to facilities. Many frontcountry campsites have restrooms, water spigots, dump stations, firewood and ice for sale, and bear boxes for food storage.

There are 5 campgrounds in the National Park:


Moraine Park, Elevation 8160' + 245 sites

Located off Bear Lake Road in the ponderosa forest above the Moraine Park meadow, this campground offer evening programs, shuttle bus service to Bear Lake, and hiking access to many excellent trails. Reservations are taken through the summer. Group sites available.

Glacier Basin, Elevation 8500' + 150 sites

Glacier Basin Campground is bordered by Glacier Creek and offers sprawling views of the Contiental Divide, hiking access to the Sprague Lake trailhead, and the Bear Lake shuttle bus. Group sites available.

Aspenglen, Elevation 8220' + 54 sites

Just inside the Fall River Entrance Station on Highway 34, Aspenglen Campground is bordered by the river and offers weekend evening progams. Reservations are taken through the summer season.

Longs Peak, Elevation 9500' + 26 sites

Longs Peak is a tents-only campground located south of the town of Estes Park on Highway 7. Adjacent to the Longs Peak trailhead, this wooded campsite is the highest in the park.

Timber Creek, Elevation 8900' + 98 sites

Timber Creek is located on the west side of RMNP, north of the Grand Lake Entrance Station. This campground offers extensive views of the Never Summer Mountains to the west and offers evening programs.

Facilities: Most of these campgrounds have seasonal restrooms, water spigots, bear boxes, and firewood for sale. Ice is also sold at all except Timber Creek and Longs Peak. Dump stations exist at Glacier Basin, Moraine Park, and Timber Creek.

Note: Information provided is for the summer time. Certain facilities and services not offered in the winter. Please check with Rocky Mountain National Park for up to date information, reservations, and any questions or call 888-448-1474.

Estes Park offers many commercial campgrounds. These may offer more facilities than the National Park campgrounds and are located conveniently close to town. Perfect if your idea of "roughing it" still involves hot showers! Visit their websites or call for more information.

Estes Park KOA - (970) 586-2888
Estes Park Campgrounds - (800) 964-7806
Jellystone Park of Estes - (970) 586-4230
Manor RV Park - (970) 586-3251
Paradise On The River - (970) 586-5513
River Forks Inn - (970) 669-2380
Spruce Lake RV - (970) 586-2889
Elk Meadow Lodge and RV Resort - (970) 586-5342

Our town and National Park are surrounded by Roosevelt and Arapahoe National Forests which offer even more camping opportunities. Pole Hill Road, Storm Mountain Road, and Bunt School Road are some of the free car camping areas available. These areas offer no facilities, but have the advantage of being free! Call or stop by the shop and chat with our staff for more info on these areas. Visit Roosevelt and Arapahoe National Forest Service's website for more info on camping regulations.

The Indian Peaks Wilderness Area borders the National Park to the south within the National Forest. It is a rugged and beautiful area with terrain similar to Rocky Mountain National Park. Permits are required for camping in Indian Peaks during the summer.

room with a view

There is nothing like waking up in the outdoors, and we believe it is an experience everyone should be lucky to have at one point in their lives. The Estes Valley offers many areas for camping, and Rocky Mountain National Park has many camp sites within it's boundaries.

To camp in the Park during the summer consult the backcountry office for more information on permits and regulations. Outside of the park there are hundreds of other camp sites, with most in the Roosevelt National Forest. Our staff is ready to help you enjoy the great outdoors. For more information, gear or rentals, stop by the store or give us a call at 970-585-6548.

Get the Gear!

Tips from the Experts: Our shop staff are some of the most experienced and knowledgeable in the area. We can talk your ear off about gear. Come on by the shop and we are always happy to help you with any questions you have.

Backcountry Camping 

Get back to basics! Backcountry camping is a great way to experience nature in the fullest sense. Carry everything you need on your back, commune with nature, shake hands with a bear (ok, don't do that!) There are few experiences as serene as waking up to only the sound of birds and a mountain stream, watching the sunrise slowly give an orange glow to the highest of peaks. No motors, no voices. Backcountry camping can give you a sense of self-reliance and courage, and Colorado is one of the most beautiful places to experience it.

Rocky Mountain National Park offers over 200 backcountry campsites. Permits are required for any overnight trip in the National Park. Visit the Backcountry Office next to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center just before the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station on Highway 36 (Moraine Ave) for a permit or help planning your trip. The Park Service's website is also a great source of information of planning a backcountry trip.

Bear Canisters are required for all backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. We rent them for just $3 a night! Check out all of our rentals.

A backcountry camping trip requires more planning than frontcountry camping since you will not be able to quickly get to a store for supplies, or contact help in case of an emergency. Here are a few things to consider:

Obtain a topographical map of RMNP and consult guidebooks such as Lisa Foster's Complete Hiking Guide (available at the Estes Park Mountain Shop). These resources will help you determine where you want to go, what the difficultly of the trail will be, what elevation you will be camping and hiking at, and how many miles between the trailhead and your destination. Consider the experience levels of everyone in your group when deciding how many miles to hike in a day and what elevations to camp at. Altitude sickness is very common if you don't give yourself a few days to acclimate. Most trails here begin above 8,000 ft. and quickly climb higher. Once you have figured out your plan, you can contact the backcountry office at (970) 586-1242 for a permit. Have a backup plan as there are limited numbers of permits per campsite.

Always give someone a detailed route description and timeline for your trip. That way if you don't get back, they can alert the Park Service rangers. You may get some cell phone service above treeline and you may see rangers on your hike, but you can't count on these possibilities in an emergency.

Mountain weather is changeable and afternoon thunderstorms occur almost daily in the summer months. Plan to be below treeline by the early afternoon, and off any peaks by noon. Lightening is a very real danger at altitude. Take clothing for a wide range of weather. Temperatures can change drastically even during daylight hours, and it can snow any month of the year!

Be aware of developing altitude sickness in yourself and in others. Altitude sickness is a strange thing. It can happen to anyone regardless of how many times they have been at high altitudes and not had problems or how fit they are. The only treatment is descending in altitude. For more severe forms of altitude sickness, you should see a doctor even if symptoms improve after descending.


1. Drink plenty of fluids and eat plenty of nutritious food

2. Acclimate. Give yourself a few days to adjust to the altitude before heading higher. Estes Park

    sits at 7500 ft. and most of the trailheads sit above 8000 ft and climb higher from there.

Signs and Symptoms of Mild to Moderate Altitude Sickness
1. Difficulty Sleeping
2. Dizziness or Light-Headedness
3. Fatigue
4. Headache
5. Loss of Appetite
6. Nausea or Vomiting
7. Rapid Pulse
8. Shortness of Breath with Exertion

Signs and Symptoms of More Severe Altitude Sickness
1. Bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis)
2. Chest tightness or congestion
3. Confusion
4. Cough
5. Coughing up blood
6. Decreased consciousness or withdrawal from social interaction
7. Gray or pale complexion
8. Inability to walk in a straight line, or to walk at all
9. Shortness of breath at rest


Alpine tundra plants are hardy and can stand up to extreme temperatures, but not repeated trampling. When above treeline, stay on established trails where they exist. If you are in an area with no established trails, rock hop to avoid stepping on the plants. Spread your group out so that one area does not receive more use than it has to.

Treat all water before drinking. No matter how clear and clean it looks and tastes, you never know what might be upstream from you. Water filters, iodine tablets, and other methods of water purification are available at our store.

Many backcountry campsites have pit toilets in order to minimize the impact of waste. These are for pooping only - No trash! When a pit toilet is not available and the need arises, the Park Service offers these guidelines:

1. Urinate in rocky places that won’t be damaged by animals who dig for salts and minerals found in urine.
2. Dig a hole, 6 inches (15 centimeters) deep for fecal waste using a small trowel or pack out waste and paper.
3. Be sure that you defecate at least 70 adult steps (200 feet/60 meters) from water or trails.
4. Do not bury sanitary napkins or tampons. Dispose them in an airtight container and pack them out.
5. Wash hands with biodegradable soap. Giardia and other diseases are frequently spread by unsanitary habits.

Familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace practices and how to employ them when you are in the backcountry. It is up to us to preserve our wilderness lands so that these special places may be enjoyed for years to come. Learn more at:

1. Plan ahead and prepare.
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
3. Dispose of waste properly
4. Leave what you find.
5. Minimize campfire impact
6. Respect wildlife.
7. Be considerate of other visitors.


We have plenty of knowledgeable staff and a fully stocked store and rental department to help you with getting outfitted whether this is your first backcountry trip or your ninety-first! This is a list of the basics:

1. Pack 
2. Tent 
3. Sleeping Bag and Pad 
4. Rain Gear 
5. Warm Clothing
6. Water Bottles 
7. Water Treatment 
8. Matches or Lighter 
9. Stove, Fuel, and Cooking Pot
10. Food and bear canister 
11. Map and Compass 
12. Headlight 
13. First Aid Kit 
14. Pocket Knife

Every backpacker is different when it come to the gear they take with them. For a more in depth discussion of gear, call or stop by the Mountain Shop to speak with one of our professional staff.

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Find us in Estes Park, gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park