Lake Verna Backcountry Campsite is a single-site in rocky terrain on wooded benches above the north shore of Lake Verna in western Rocky Mountain National Park. The long lake, the largest in the East Inlet cirque, reflects surrounding high mountains, including Isolation Peak and Aiguille de Fleur, a towering cliff to the south. The lake offers good fishing and has a sandy beach on its east side. Reach the 10,280-foot campsite by hiking 6.9 miles up East Inlet Trail from East Inlet Trailhead on the east side of Grand Lake. The trail gains 1,890 feet of elevation, much on several steep sections. Allow up to seven hours to hike from car to camp. No privy is here so bring wag bags for proper sanitation. Get water from the outlet creek at the west end of the lake. Boil or treat water before use. Lake Verna Campsite is snow-free by July 9.
- 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 6.9 miles on East Inlet Trail to Lake Verna. Look for a wooden sign on the left and follow a short path north to the campsite above the 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 get 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 Lake Verna Campsite. Pitch tents in designated areas near a silver arrowhead. Secure food and garbage. Black bears live 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 outhouse at the campsite. Bring at least two RESTOP wag bags per camper for human waste to avoid site contamination. In an emergency, dig a six-inch deep hole and bury waste and toilet paper. Make sure you’re at least 200 feet from the campsite, water sources, and trails.
Recommended season(s): July to September.
—Stewart M. Green