Finch Lake Backcountry Campsite lies in a dense lodgepole pine forest on the north side of Finch Lake, the lowest-elevation lake in Wild Basin. The campsite offers two individual sites and one group or stock site. Access the campsite by hiking 4.6 miles on the Finch Lake Trail, which begins at the Finch Lake Trailhead about 0.2 miles before the Wild Basin Trailhead. The hike, gaining 1,440 feet from car to camp, takes four or five hours. The two individual sites are directly north of Finch Lake and are reached by different paths marked by wooden signs. The group/stock site is northwest of the lake behind the hitch rack and pit toilet. Get water from Cony Creek west of the group site. Be sure to boil or treat water before use. The campsite is free of snow by the second week of June.
- Reach Finch Lake Trailhead by driving south from Estes Park on Colorado Highway 7 to Wild Basin Road. Turn right or west on Wild Basin Road to the park entrance station. Continue for 1.8 miles to a parking area that’s 0.2 miles before the Wild Basin Trailhead and Ranger Station. Hike 4.6 miles up Finch Lake Trail to the campsite. The trail continues another two miles to Pear Lake and Pear Lake Backcountry Campsite.
- A backcountry permit is required for all overnight camping in Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry. Obtain permits at the Park Headquarters Backcountry Office next to Beaver Meadows Visitor Center west of Estes Park, at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center north of Grand Lake, or at the park website.
- To obtain a permit you agree to obey 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 overnight parking at trailheads without being towed.
- Use a Leave No Trace ethic when camping at Finch Lake. 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.
Recommended season(s): June to September.
—Stewart M. Green