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. Interested in a more challenging variation? Check out our Colorado Kayaking & Thunder Lake Backpacking trip.
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 me this summer and register today!
Matt Stan, Bad Adventures founder
You must have received your final COVID-19 vaccination dose at least 14 days before your adventure. See the Vaccinated and ready for adventure! page for details.
We keep it to no more than 10 amazing adventurers plus a guide or two.
We spend the first 2 nights of the trip 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 day. The physical activity is mild and all kayaking gear is provided!
We backpack just under 5 miles on days 3 and 5, gaining and loosing 800 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!
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!
We pick you up from any of the designated gateway hotels near Denver International Airport between 7:00 and 7:30 AM. We meet our adventure companions, load the van, and head to the mountains!
Our scenic drive takes us past waterfalls and through a Continental Divide pass. And to think, the adventure hasn’t even begun yet!
We start to feel the altitude when we get to our put-in at a scenic Colorado mountain lake. We have an easy half-day of kayaking planned to help us get used to the elevation. Depending on conditions, we paddle about 6 miles on flat water.
In the late afternoon, we set up our frontcountry base camp for the first two nights of the trip. The day closes with a delicious meal together at camp.
We begin the day with a hot breakfast, then head off to begin to stretch our legs with a mild hike to a mining ghost town! With lightweight day packs, we travel 7-miles round trip at a leisurely pace, gaining 350 feet of elevation.
After lunch on trail and returning to the trailhead in the mid-afternoon, we head to Hot Sulphur Springs for a couple hours of relaxation. This is the life!
The day concludes with dinner together back at camp and a discussion of packing for the backpacking portion of our adventure.
After fueling up with a yummy breakfast, we break down camp and load our backpacks (included).
Today, we trek 5 miles along a mountain creek and past a cascading waterfall, gaining 800 feet of elevation. Our camp for the final two nights of the trip is on a beautiful, wooded, gravel-beach island. It’s absolutely serene!
Today we leave camp set up to dayhike with light packs. We venture to a series of alpine lakes, and may practice some off-trail travel. After returning to camp, we enjoy the best stars 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 begin to make our way back to Denver. We return to our gateway hotels by 5:00 PM. If you’re flying out the night the trip concludes, we can drop you at Denver International Airport by 5:30 PM.
Explore a beautiful lake nestled in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains
We bring a single-person sit-on-top touring kayak, paddle, lifejacket, and dry bag for you to use.
Get off the tourist path and explore one of the most beautiful valleys in Rocky Mountain National Park!
Backpacks, tents, comfy self-inflating mattresses, camp cookware, and bear canisters are all included.
Our backcountry site for the final 2 nights is absolutely stunning!
Friendly, accommodating, fully credentialed, and always professional.
We’re talking about meticulously planned yummy provisions.
Sit back and relax! We've got the red tape covered.
Ride in style in a comfortable Ford Transit passenger van.
Medical kit, satellite phone, navigation supplies, and more.
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 day 5 at the Grand Lake Lodge, travel insurance, and guide gratuity.
You need to be able to safely complete 5 miles of travel per day over rocky terrain with a loaded backpack. Depending on your personal gear, pack weights are likely to be under 30 pounds fully loaded. You need a base level of fitness, but you don’t need to be professional athlete!
The word “mild” is likely too mild of a description. “Moderate” feels like it’s more correct. We tackle 800 feet of elevation gain and hike at Rocky Mountain altitudes! However, the trip is organized to accommodate folks who may feel challenged by what we have planned. We won’t leave you behind and you won’t feel like you’re holding up the group. We keep things moving at a low-intensity pace.
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!
It is. Learn more on the Vaccinated and ready for adventure! page.
We’re still putting the finishing touches on the packing list. The “big-ticket” items you need to plan to bring are a pair of backpacking boots, a sleeping bag, and outdoor clothing layers. We provide tents, inflatable camping mattresses, all camp cookware, and all kayaking gear.
Try to avoid overpacking. Bringing too much stuff will just slow you down!
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 can pick you up and drop you off from any of these 8 hotels in Gateway Park near Denver International Airport:
If you’re coming from outside Colorado, we 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 night, we’ll be happy to drive you to Denver International Airport after dropping the other travelers at their hotels.
We tent camp all four nights of the trip. Our first two are spent at a comfortable frontcountry basecamp. 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 9,650-feet on nights 3 and 4.
Seriously good. Expect a “Blue Apron for backpacking” sort of arrangement for the final three days 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 on the first two days 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.
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.
Subscribe to emails and learn about new trips and courses first. No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.