Siskin Backcountry Campsite lies in a dense lodgepole pine forest at 9,600 feet in Wild Basin. The single-site camping area, located in southern Rocky Mountain National Park, is a quiet place with scenic views of the surrounding mountains. It’s a convenient campsite if you want to hike to Thunder, Ouzel, and Bluebird lakes or see area waterfalls. The campsite is 3.7 miles up Thunder Lake Trail alongside St. Vrain Creek and just past North St. Vrain campsite. Allow three or four hours to hike from car to camp. The trail gains 1,100 feet. There is no privy at the campsite so bring wag bags for human waste. Water is available from the creek. Treat or boil all water before use. The campsite is free of snow by June 1.
- Reach Wild Basin 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 to the end of the road and a parking area that’s two miles from the highway. Wild Basin Ranger Station is located at the trailhead. Hike 3.7 miles up Thunder Lake Trail to the campsite. Look for a sign on the right that points the way up a path to the site.
- 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 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.
- Practice a Leave No Trace ethic when camping at Siskin. 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 pit toilet at the campsite. It’s best to bring at least two RESTOP wag bags for human waste to avoid site contamination. Otherwise dig a six-inch deep hole and bury waste and toilet paper. Make sure your business is at least 200 feet from the campsite, water sources, and trails.
Recommended season(s): June to September.
—Stewart M. Green