Photo by Kara Foran on a trip in July, 2022

Rocky Mountain Kayaking & Backpacking

Denver, CO

An exquisite Colorado trip for adventurers at almost every level

Boy, oh, boy! Easy kayaking on a beautiful lake nestled in the Rocky Mountains? Check! Moderate backpacking in one of the most scenic valleys of Rocky Mountain National Park? You got it! A mid-trip visit to hot springs? Sign me up!

We put a lot of thought into making this our most accessible Colorado adventure. While there are challenges along the way, we approach the itinerary at a mild pace and with an attitude of supporting each other, not racing to camp. This trip is well designed for people who have never backpacked before!

Looking for a first trip that includes backpacking? Excited to try a sampling of Colorado activities? Feel the call to explore the Rocky Mountains? This adventure is for you! Join us in the summer of 2023 and register today!

Matt Stan Bad Adventures founder

Is this for me?

Small Group

We keep it to no more than 10 amazing adventurers plus a guide or two.


We spend the first night of the trip on a backcountry site on a gorgeous lake just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. The second night of the trip is spent at a comfy base camp on the west side of the Continental Divide. The final 2 nights are spent backcountry camping at an idyllic site in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. Dome-style backpacking tents and self-inflating camping mattresses are provided.


Most of our meals are cooked together at camp. We’ve prepared scrumptious recipes, will provision the trip, and lead meal preparations. This is gonna be yummy!


We paddle single-person sit-on-top touring kayaks on a gorgeous lake on the first and second day. The physical activity is mild and all kayaking gear is provided!


We backpack just under 6 miles on days 3 and 5, gaining and losing 1,400 feet of elevation. Depending on your personal gear, our packs usually weigh less than 30 pounds. For most people, the backpacking is the most challenging part of the adventure. However, we approach our time on trail with a mild pace and with lots of encouragement for one another!

Traveling solo?

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 adventurers.

There’s no singles supplement fee!

Moderately Challenging



$299 to reserve your spot today!

Balance due 60 days before the trip.

Possible change of plans? You can cancel for a full refund until 90 days before the trip.

Here’s the plan…

Mountain Lake Kayak Camping Day 1

We meet our adventure companions at the designated gateway hotels near Denver International Airport. We load bags into the van and head off into the mountains.

Lodgepole pine forests dominate the views on our drive, but give way to breathtaking “you-can-see-forever” perspectives of the Rockies as we approach tree line and cross the Continental Divide.

We dig into turkey and brie sandwiches at a lakeside picnic lunch, with the high peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park on the horizon. We reorganize our personal gear into dry bags, then set off in our kayaks for a night of self-supported kayak camping.

Ospreys soar above our heads as we paddle to camp. We pitch the provided tents and kick back in camp chairs on a private beach with heaping bowls of lemon garlic gnocchi and mugs of hot apple cider. We listen to guide stories and wind down watching the sun set into the folds of the mountains, illuminating alpine skies with vibrant golds and indigos.

Meals Included: Lunch and Dinner

Hot Springs! Day 2

The sizzle of bacon and eggs and the rich, nutty aroma of Bad Adventures’ signature good-morning coffee bring us to life. We bask in a few quiet moments among trees at camp before the day moves into gear.

We thread our way past islands on a morning paddle that returns us across the lake. After lunch, we enjoy a couple hours of relaxation at Hot Sulphur Springs Resort. We sample more than a dozen 98°–112° natural, spring-fed hot mineral water pools. This is the life!

At our campsite, we discuss packing for backpacking and get fitted with packs. Then, beneath a star-filled night, we fuel up on a meal of spinach salmon salad and indulge in Bad Adventures’ not-so-modestly named “world’s greatest hot chocolate.”

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

To the Trail! Day 3

After fueling up with a yummy breakfast, we break down camp and guides assist with the loading of gear into packs.

Today, we trek up the valley, along a mountain creek and past a cascading waterfall to camp. Our camp for the final two nights of the trip is on a beautiful, wooded, gravel-beach island. It’s absolutely serene!

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Alpine Lakes Galore! Day 4

Today we leave camp set up to dayhike with light packs. Wildflowers surround the trail as we hike to a series of alpine lakes. After returning to camp, we enjoy the best stars of our trip!

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

It's Over?! Day 5

Tears are shed. The consequences of actually not returning to our daily lives are contemplated. But in the end, we pull ourselves together and hike out of the backcountry. We keep our eyes peeled for moose dining in the grassy meadows.

Once we load up the van, we eat a celebratory lunch at the Grand Lake Lodge, then begin to make our way back to Denver. What a trip!

Meals Included: Breakfast

How intense is this?

Overall, this is a moderately challenging trip.

Day 1

Paddle to Camp on the Lake

On days with ideal weather conditions, the calm, glassy water makes for an easy paddle. Potential significant wind and choppy water can make this paddle more challenging.

Easy to Moderately Challenging


2¾ to 3 miles

Day 2

Paddle to Boat Ramp from Camp

On days with ideal weather conditions, the calm, glassy water makes for an easy paddle. Potential significant wind and choppy water can make this paddle more challenging.

Easy to Moderately Challenging


2¾ to 3 miles

Day 3

Backpacking to Camp

The consistent elevation gain, fully loaded backpacks, and hiking at a high elevation makes this hike challenging for most. Heavy personal gear and the potential for hot weather can make this hike slightly more challenging.



5¾ miles

Elevation Gain

1,400 feet

Elevation Loss

150 feet

Starting Elevation

8,400 feet

Day 4

Hike From Camp to Alpine Lakes

This hike has a gradual but sustained elevation gain and loss. Hiking at high elevation makes this hike more challenging.



5⅛ miles

Route Type


Elevation Gain

400 feet

Elevation Loss

400 feet

Starting Elevation

9,800 feet

Day 5

Backpacking from Camp to the Trailhead

The hike back to the trailhead is downhill, though heavy packs can still make this hike moderately challenging. Heavy personal gear and the potential for hot weather can make this hike slightly more challenging.

Moderately Challenging


5¾ miles

Elevation Gain

150 feet

Elevation Loss

1,400 feet

Starting Elevation

9,800 feet

What’s included?

Guided Lake Kayaking

Explore a beautiful lake nestled in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains

Kayak & Paddling Gear

We bring a single-person sit-on-top touring kayak, paddle, lifejacket, and dry bag for you to use.

3-Day, 2-Night Guided Backpacking Trip

Get off the tourist path and explore one of the most beautiful valleys in Rocky Mountain National Park!

Backpacking Gear

Backpacks, tents, comfy self-inflating mattresses, camp cookware, and bear canisters are all included.

4 Nights of Tent Camping

Our backcountry site for the final 2 nights is absolutely stunning!

Services of a Guide or Two

Friendly, accommodating, fully credentialed, and always professional.

4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, and 4 Dinners

We’re talking about meticulously planned yummy provisions.

National Park Admission and All Permits

Sit back and relax! We've got the red tape covered.

Transportation in Colorado

Ride in style in a comfortable Ford Transit passenger van.

Group Gear

Medical kit, satellite phone, navigation supplies, and more.

Not Included:

Airfare and other travel expenses to get to and from the trip, hotel accommodations before and after the trip, hot springs admission ($26), lunch on day 5 at the Grand Lake Lodge, travel insurance, and guide gratuity.

What should I pack?

We put together a recommended packing list with all the clothing and gear you need for the trip.

Where do we meet?

Where does the trip end?

We can drop you off at any of our recommended Denver Airport Gateway hotels between 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM. If you are flying out the night the trip concludes, we can drop you off at Denver International Airport by 7:00 pm. We do not recommend booking a flight before 9:00 PM.


Absolutely! We had new adventurers in mind when we designed this itinerary. We’ll make sure the backpack we issue you fits well and that you’re ready for the trail! We won’t be racing to get to camp and our group dynamic will leave you feeling encouraged!

No problem! Just please let us know what you’re packing that's beyond the scope of the packing list, so we can load for the trip accordingly.

If you bring your own backpack, please make sure you can fit an 8.5-inch circumference by 13-inch tall bear canister that we provide.

We tent camp all four nights of the trip. Our first night is spent at a backcountry camp on a gorgeous lake. The next night is spent at a comfortable frontcountry basecamp as we prepare for backpacking. The final two nights are spent at a backcountry site in Rocky Mountain National Park!

Dome-style backpacking tents and self-inflating camping mattresses are provided. You’ll have a tent all to yourself, unless you specifically request to share with someone. You’re also free to bring your own tent if you’d prefer.

We camp at 8,350-feet on nights 1 and 2. We camp at 9,800-feet on nights 3 and 4.

Seriously good. Expect a “Blue Apron for backpacking” sort of arrangement for all backcountry parts of the trip. We 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 adventurers to cook together.

Food is provisioned at more than 4,000 calories per person per day. Nobody’s going hungry!

Meals at our frontcountry camp will be prepared by your guide and feature fresh local ingredients.

We can accommodate many common food allergies, sensitivities, and dietary requirements. It’s best to contact us to determine if we’ll be able to accommodate your needs.

$26 bucks.

There are showers available at the hot springs on the second day of the trip.

Consider packing bathing wipes for some personal hygiene touch up. We head directly from our exit trailhead to a restaurant for lunch on the last day. We tend to receive better service if we’re less smelly.

On our first night backcountry kayak camping, we provide a portable river toilet. This helps us pack out all our waste, following Leave No Trace principles. These are very easy to use, especially with a little bit of instruction from our experienced guides. At our backcountry backpacking camp for nights 3 and 4, we have our very own privy. It is set away from camp, allowing for privacy from fellow campers and hikers. No cat holes for us!

The areas we hike and camp in have a small black bear population. These bears are known for being quite shy and skittish. They tend to keep their distance from humans.

We spend most of this trip between 8,000 and 9,000 feet of elevation. We have specifically designed the itinerary to account for this. The more difficult physical activities are at the end of our adventure, allowing for acclimation those first couple days. Coming from sea-level and extra worried about the altitude? We recommend flying into Denver a day earlier to have some more time to adjust to the thinner air.

You can reserve your spot today by paying a $299 deposit. The balance is due 60 days before the trip. Be sure to read the complete Trip and Course Policies.

We only advertise trips we plan to operate. Since our founding in 2013, Bad Adventures has never canceled a multi-day trip. However, we must reserve the right to do so. Be sure to review our Trip and Course Policies and purchase Travel Insurance.

We recommend taking out a travel insurance policy. Bad Adventures reserves the right to cancel trips and a travel insurance policy keeps you protected. See the Travel Insurance Page for more information.

There's no cancellation fee if you decide to cancel 90 days or more before the trip and we'll even refund your deposit! However, if you cancel less than 90-days before the trip, your deposit is nonrefundable. Additionally, there are significant cancellation fees if you decide to cancel your registration 59 days or less before the trip. Be sure to read the complete Trip and Course Policies.

Weather varies, but we expect daytime highs in the high 70's to low 80's and nighttime lows in the 40's. Expect the weather to be just slightly colder if your itinerary is in June. In anticipation for your trip, we recommend checking the weather forecast for Grand Lake, CO. We camp at an elevation that is 1,000 feet higher than Grand Lake the last 2 nights, so expect temperatures to be approximately 10 degrees colder.

Let’s do this!

$299 to reserve your spot today

Balance due 60 days before the trip.

Possible change of plans? You can cancel for a full refund until 90 days before the trip.

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