Rocky Mountain National Park is an utterly magical place. It’s spotted with alpine lakes, majestic terrain, and cascading waterfalls. Bighorn sheep, moose, and marmots call this wilderness home.
I’ve put together a late June backpack trip that ventures far from the heavily tourist-traveled sections of the park. Under our own power, we’ll head into the backcountry to stay at some of the most spectacular campsites in Colorado.
Join us for the ultimate medium-intensity Colorado backpacking adventure. Click register now!
Matt Stan, Bad Adventures founder
This is a medium intensity backpacking adventure. We'll travel up to 10 miles per day with loaded packs. You don't need to be a professional athlete, but a base fitness level is necessary.
New to backpacking? Previous experience is not required. However, this adventure isn’t designed as a “beginner’s trip,” per se. It’s important that you review the pre-trip information and stay on top of arranging your clothing and gear.
Are you an experienced pro with dialed-in systems? I think you’ll have a great time. Our itinerary is ripe with opportunities for extra lake and waterfall hikes!
We’ll keep it to no more than 8 amazing travelers plus a guide or two
We have five nights of incredible backcountry camping lined up. Because we’ll be miles from the trailhead, we’ll keep things pretty fast and light. We spend our fourth night at a frontcountry campsite.
Most of our meals are cooked at camp. Your guide will bend over backwards to set you up for success, but cooking is a participation activity on this adventure! We’ll cook in groups of 2 or 3 to make the most of small backpacking stoves.
This trip works well for couples, friends, and solo travelers. The adventures we plan seem to attract like-minded people. Odds are, you'll enjoy the company of your fellow travelers.
There’s no singles supplement fee!
We meet at our gateway hotel near Denver International Airport at 8:00 AM. After a meet and greet, we load up the van and head off on a scenic drive to our trailhead. Upon arrival, we distribute bear canisters, food, fuel, and group gear. We trek 2 miles to camp - a stunning site at the edge of a giant meadow with a babbling creek. We gasp at both the breathtaking mountain views and the hiking at altitude! After pitching camp, we can unload our packs and take an optional 5-mile waterfall hike.
After breakfast, we pack up camp and head off down the trail. We’ll spend the morning descending gently along Tonahutu Creek and the afternoon ascending gently on North Inlet Trail. Total distance for the day is 10 miles and elevation gain is about 800 feet.
We settle into our new campsite for two nights.
Camp remains pitched as we set off for the day with light packs. This is it! The big one! On our biggest trekking challenge of the trip, we attempt to conquer the Continental Divide. There will be snow patches, alpine lakes, and whistling marmots along the way! Mileage will be personal choice. Elevation gain may be as much as 2,800 feet.
Today we break camp and hike 5 miles to our exit trailhead. We devour lunch at the Sagebrush BBQ restaurant in the town of Grand Lake, then journey to Hot Sulphur Springs for a couple hours of soaking away our trail sores. In late afternoon, we pitch tents at a front country campsite as your guide prepares a dinner with all the fixing!
After a hearty, guide-cooked breakfast and relaxed morning, we distribute new backpacking food and fuel, then take the van to a different trailhead. Today we begin to explore a new valley of Rocky Mountain National Park. We pass waterfalls and meadows as we trek 5 miles, gaining 800 feet of elevation. Our camp for the final two nights of the trip is on a beautiful, wooded, gravel-beach island.
Today, we again leave camp set up to dayhike with light packs. We’ll venture to a series of alpine lakes, and may practice some off-trail travel. After returning to camp, we enjoy the darkest skies of our trip.
Tears are shed. The consequences of actually not returning to our daily lives are contemplated. But in the end, we pull ourselves together and head out of the backcountry. We eat a celebratory lunch at the Grand Lake Lodge, then drive across Trail Ridge Road, the legendary high-altitude paved drive over the Continental Divide on our way back to Denver. We return to our gateway hotel by 5:00 PM.
Friendly, accommodating, fully credentialed, and always professional.
We’re talking about meticulously planned yummy backpacking provisions.
Ride in style in a comfortable Ford Transit passenger van.
For your stove or ours. We'll handle all the gear that’s tough to fly with.
Backpacks, tents, inflating mattress, stoves, and cookware are available - or bring your own.
Medical kit, satellite phone, navigation supplies, and more.
Amazing backcountry and frontcountry campsites.
Airfare and other travel expenses to get to and from the trip, hotel accommodations before and after the trip, hot springs admission ($20), lunch on days 4 and 7, travel insurance, and guide gratuity.
You need to be able to safely complete 5 to 10 miles of travel per day over rocky terrain with a loaded backpack. Depending on your personal gear, pack weights are likely to be 30 to 45 pounds with gear, food, fuel, and water.
I (Matt Stan here) am working on it! The trip’s info packet, which will include a packing list and various excellent witticisms will be ready for distribution in the middle of March 2019.
Absolutely! After you register, we’ll invite you to join a private Facebook group for the travelers on the trip.
This will be announced in mid to late March 2019. We’re currently crunching the numbers and comparing proposals from multiple hotels near Denver International Airport. We plan to pick one property to work with for all our 2019 Colorado trips.
You can expect it to be a 2.5 to 3.5-star hotel that’s walking distance from an RTD A-line station. Our gateway hotel will have a free airport shuttle, quality breakfast, and competitive Bad Adventures group rate pricing.
There’s no requirement that you stay at our gateway hotel before or after the trip.
If you’re coming from outside Colorado, I suggest flying into Denver International Airport at least one day prior to the start of the trip. If you have extra time in the Denver area before the adventure, contact us for suggestions on things to do in the area.
If you’d like to fly out on the evening of the last day of the trip, please don’t book a flight earlier than 7:30 PM. If you’re flying out that evening, your guide will be happy to drive you to Denver International Airport after dropping the other travelers at the gateway hotel.
It’s pretty unlikely we’ll have any snow at our campsites. We will, however, likely encounter snow on our higher elevation hikes on days 3 and 6.
Seriously good. Expect a “Blue Apron for backpacking” sort of arrangement. Your guide will provide the ingredients and recipes for hot breakfasts and dinners, as well as no-stove lunches. Meals will be provisioned for groups of 2 to 3 travelers to cook together.
Food will be provisioned at 4,000 calories per person per day. Nobody’s going hungry.
A list of suggested cookware will be included in the packing list.
Dinner and breakfast at our frontcountry camp on night 4 and morning 5 will be prepared by your guide and feature fresh local ingredients.
Our backcountry campsites will be between 9,200 and 9,700 feet of elevation. Our day 3 hike may take us as high as 12,300 feet.
We can accommodate common food allergies, sensitivities, and dietary requirements. If you have specific questions, please contact us. A food preferences survey will be emailed in advance of the trip and will inform how we arrange provisions.
There will be showers at the hot springs on the fourth day of the trip.
Consider packing bathing wipes for some personal hygiene touch up. We head directly from exit trailheads to restaurants for lunches on days 4 and 7. We tend to receive better service if we’re less smelly.
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