The Andrews Creek Backcountry Campsite is a single site along Andrews Creek above The Loch in Rocky Mountain National Park. The site allows you to easily explore Andrews Tarn, a meltwater lake below Andrews Glacier and the Continental Divide. The campsite, that sits at 10,560 feet, lies in a spruce and fir forest next to avalanche debris field 0.2 miles above the junction of the Andrews Creek Trail and Loch Vale Trail. A wooden sign points right to the campsite on the east side of Andrews Creek. No privy is at the site so the park requires you to pack in and out two RESTOP wag bags for human waste. Water is available from Andrews Creek. Boil or treat all water before drinking. A maximum of two four-person tents are allowed at the site. The campsite, along with nearby Glacier Gorge campsite, is very popular so make early reservations, especially for weekends.
- The campsite is located off the Andrews Creek Trail 0.2 miles above the Loch Vale Trail or 3.6 miles from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. Elevation gain from trailhead to campsite is 1,320 feet. Allow three to four hours hiking time to the site. To find the site, hike up pretty Andrews Creek Trail to a wooden sign and go right to the campsite. Park close to a silver arrowhead. Avoid setting up your tent beneath dead trees or snags. The park’s website has a map of the campsite.
- Andrews Tarn and Glacier at the end of the cirque are both beautiful and easily accessed from the campsite. Don’t attempt to climb the low-angle glacier without proper climbing equipment, including crampons and an ice axe. A fall can result in hitting rocks or plunging into the lake.
- A backcountry permit is required for all overnight camping in Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry. Obtain a permit at the Park Headquarters Backcountry Office next to Beaver Meadows Visitor Center west of Estes Park or at Kawuneeche Visitor Center north of Grand Lake, and at the park website.
- To obtain a permit, you agree to obey all National Park regulations for backcountry camping. The Backcountry Use Permit must be with you at all times and a tent tag must be displayed on your pack while hiking and on your tent. You must follow your planned itinerary so campsites aren’t overused or crowded. You also receive a tag to place on the dashboard of your vehicle, allowing you to park overnight at trailheads without being towed.
- Use a Leave No Trace ethic when using Fern Lake Backcountry Campsite. Pitch your tent in a designated area and don’t dig a trench around it. Secure your food and garbage. Black bears are in the park so bring your food in a bear-resistant canister, which is required May to October in all campsites below timberline. Keep all food, trash, and scented items in the container and store it 200 feet from the campsite. Don’t camp below dead trees; wind storms blow branches off them. Use the pit toilet at the campsite, otherwise dig a six-inch deep hole and bury your waste and toilet paper. Make sure you’re at least 200 feet from the campsite, water sources, and trails. Fires are not permitted.
Recommended season(s): Year-round. Summer and autumn are best.
—Stewart M. Green