July Backcountry Campsite offers two individual sites and one group site on slopes above Hallett Creek and North Inlet Trail in western Rocky Mountain National Park. The rugged campsites are good stopovers for backpackers trekking between the North Inlet Creek area and Bear Lake Trailhead. The 10,760-foot camping area is just below timberline. The Park Service describes the sites as “small, rocky, sloping, and may collect water.” Reach the campsites by hiking 9.7 miles from North Inlet Trailhead by Grand Lake or seven miles from Bear Lake Trailhead. Allow nine to ten hours to hike from North Inlet to the site and six or seven hours from Bear Lake. The site has a pit toilet. Get water from Hallett Creek, but boil or treat before use. A group camping permit is necessary to use the group site. The campsite is usually snow-free by mid-July.
- North Inlet Trailhead is on the northeast edge of Grand Lake. From U.S. 34, head east on West Portal Road for about two miles to a left turn marked North Inlet Trailhead on gravel road #663. Follow the steep road to parking areas at its end. Head east on North Inlet Trail for 9.7 miles to the campsite on the north side of the trail and creek. Alternatively, hike seven miles from Bear Lake Trailhead on Flattop Mountain Trail and North Inlet Trail.
- 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 regulations for backcountry camping when you obtain a Backcountry Use Permit. The 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.
- Practice a Leave No Trace ethic when camping at the July campsites. 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): Mid-July to September.
—Stewart M. Green