Spruce Lake Campsite is a two-site camping area on the northwest side of remote Spruce Lake west of the Fern Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. The site offers great mountain views of Castle Rock and Gabletop Mountain to the south and is ideal for fishermen angling for trout in the lake. The campsites are in spruce and fir forest at 9,670 feet. A privy is between the campsites. Obtain water from the outlet below the lake and boil or treat water before drinking. The Spruce Lake sites are a mile west of Fern Lake Trail and over five miles from the Fern Lake Trailhead with an elevation gain of 1,520 feet. You can also access the sites from Bear Creek Trailhead on the Flattop Mountain and Fern-Odessa Trail. Allow four to six hours to reach the sites.
- The Spruce Lake campsites are reached from Fern Lake Trailhead on the west side of Moraine Park. Hike 4.4 miles up Fern Lake Trail to the lake area. Look for a trail junction about 500 feet north of Fern Lake and go right on the unmaintained trail. Pass the turnoff for the Fern Lake campsites and continue straight, passing through a talus field, spruce forest, and marshy areas to the north side of Spruce Lake. The sites are ahead in the forest. Look for a wood sign and red arrowheads on trees to lead the way.
- A backcountry permit is required for all overnight camping in Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry. Obtain a permit 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 all 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 you to park overnight at trailheads without being towed.
- Use a Leave No Trace ethic when using Odessa Lake Backcountry Campsite. Pitch your tent in a designated area and don’t dig a trench around it. Secure your 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; wind storms 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): Year-round.
—Stewart M. Green