Tahosa Backcountry Campsite lies north of Thunder Lake Trail and North St. Vrain Creek in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park. The private campsite is a great overnight spot if you’re hiking up to Ouzel Falls and Calypso Cascades. The single-campsite, located at 9,040 feet, is in a lodgepole pine and spruce forest on a bluff overlooking the creek. Reach the site, just past Pine Ridge Campsite, by following a 0.3-mile path from a wooden sign on the main trail. Tahosa is 1.7 miles from the Wild Basin Trailhead. Allow one to two hours to hike to the site. There is no privy at the campsite so bring wag bags for human waste or walk over to the pit toilet at Pine Ridge Campsite. Water is available from the creek. Treat or boil water before use. The campsite is free of snow by late May.
- Find 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. The Wild Basin Ranger Station is located at the trailhead. Hike 1.7 miles up Thunder Lake Trail to the campsite. Look for a sign on the right that points the way to the sites. The trail gains 540 feet of elevation from car to camp.
- 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.
- Practice a Leave No Trace ethic when camping at Tahosa Campsite. 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 privy 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 you’re at least 200 feet from the campsite, water sources, and trails.
Recommended season(s): Late May to September.
—Stewart M. Green