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Arch Rock Campsite. Photo Credit: bsebek - OutThere Colorado.
Arch Rock Campsite. Photo Credit: bsebek - OutThere Colorado.

Arch Rock Campsite

Things to do

BackpackingCampingHiking

Arch Rock Backcountry Campsite is a one-site camping area on the north side of Fern Lake Trail west of Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park. The site is a quick primitive getaway for backpackers, climbers, and fishermen. The campsite sits in a lodge pole pine forest at 8,240 feet. There is no privy here so practice proper sanitation by burying your waste and toilet paper. Obtain water from the Big Thompson River; boil or treat water before drinking. The Arch Rock site is 1.6 miles west of the Fern Lake Trailhead with an elevation gain of 90 feet. Allow an hour to reach the site. Arch Rocks, just east of the site, is a couple huge boulders that tumbled down the rocky slope above the trail, which passes between the two blocks.

Pro Tips

  • The Arch Rock campsite is reached from Fern Lake Trailhead on the west side of Moraine Park. Hike 1.6 miles up Fern Lake Trail to Arch Rocks. Look for a trail junction just past the rocks and go right or north on a trail marked with a wood sign. Set up camp near a silver arrowhead. Old Forest Inn campsite is about a half-mile farther west.
  • 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 Odessa 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 trailhead, 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.

Stewart M. Green

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