The Sprague Lake Accessible Campsite (#A1) is a single handicapped-accessible camping area in an aspen and pine forest at 8,730 feet just southwest of Sprague Lake, a popular lake on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The site is reached by a half-mile hike from the Sprague Lake Trailhead, with an elevation gain of 20 feet. All camping equipment must be carried from the parking area. The site has a privy, two storage boxes, two picnic tables, charcoal grill, and a fire ring. Water is available at the lake’s outlet and inlet creeks. Boil or treat all water before using. The toilet and storage boxes are shut with combination locks, with the number combination given when the permit is obtained. Service dogs are allowed on the trail and at the site. Camping is limited to three nights and up to 12 people may use the site.
- Find the campsite from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center by driving west for 1.3 miles on U.S. 36 to a junction. Go left on Bear Lake Road and drive 5.7 miles to Sprague Lake Road. Turn left and drive 0.3 miles to a large parking area and the Sprague Lake Trailhead. Follow the accessible Sprague Lake Trail, going right at the junction, to the southwest side of the lake. Go right on a signed and hike 500 feet to the 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 or at Kawuneeche Visitor Center north of Grand Lake, and 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 Sprague Lake Backcountry Campsite. Pitch tents in designated areas. Secure food and garbage. Black bears are in the park so bring your food in a bear-resistant canister, which is required May to October in all campsites below timberline. Keep all food, trash, and scented items in the container and store it 200 feet from the campsite. Don’t camp below dead trees because windstorms can blow branches off them. Use the pit toilet at the campsite, otherwise 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. Fires are not permitted.
Recommended season(s): June to October.
—Stewart M. Green