East Meadow Backcountry Campsite is a single site on East Inlet Trail just east of Grand Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The site, located at 8,550 feet, is in thick forest just south of the trail near meandering East Inlet Creek. East Meadows, a montane meadow, sprawls along the bottomland by the campsite. Watch for moose and elk in the evening. Reach the campsite from the East Inlet Trailhead by hiking 1.5 miles on the trail, gaining 160 feet of elevation. Allow an hour to hike from trailhead to camp. No privy is at the site so bring wag bags for proper sanitation. Get water from the creek but boil or treat before use. The campsite is snow-free by May 22.
- Find East Inlet Trailhead from the town of Grand Lake by turning east off U.S. 34 onto West Portal Road. Follow the road for two miles on the north side of the lake to the trailhead at the end of the road. Hike east for 1.5 miles on East Inlet Trail. Look for a wooden sign on the right and follow a short path south to the campsite.
- A backcountry permit is required for all overnight camping in Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry. Get permits at the Park Headquarters Backcountry Office next to Beaver Meadows Visitor Center west of Estes Park, at Kawuneeche Visitor Center north of Grand Lake, or at the park website.
- You agree to obey National Park backcountry camping regulations when you obtain a Backcountry Use Permit. Keep the permit with you at all times and display your tent tag 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 overnight parking at trailheads without being towed.
- Practice a Leave No Trace ethic when camping at East Meadow Campsite. Pitch tents in designated areas near a silver arrowhead. Secure food and garbage. Black bears are here so stash food in a bear-resistant canister, which is required May to October at all campsites below timberline. Keep 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.
- There is no privy at the site so the park requires that you bring at least two RESTOP wag bags for human waste. In an emergency, 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.
Recommended season(s): May to September.
—Stewart M. Green