Box Canyon Backcountry Campsite lies in a remote valley in the far northwest corner of Rocky Mountain National Park below 12,951-foot Mount Richthofen. The single site, located at 10,480 feet, sits among trees by Box Canyon Creek on the edge of a wide meadow. The Stage Road, an old mining track, passed through here in the 1880s, connecting the towns of Lulu City and Teller City. The remote campsite is reached by hiking 5.5 miles on Colorado River Trail and Thunder Pass Trail from the Colorado River Trailhead on U.S. 34. The hike, gaining 1,480 feet of elevation, takes four to six hours. No privy is at the campsite so bring wag bags for human waste. Find water from the nearby creek. Treat or boil all water before use. The campsite is snow-free by early July.

Pro Tips

  • Find the Colorado River Trailhead by driving 10.2 miles north from the Kawuneeche Visitor Center on U.S. Highway 34. Turn left or west into the large trailhead parking lot on the west side of the highway. Hike north on the Colorado River Trail for 3.6 miles to a junction. Go left on Thunder Pass Trail and hike 1.2 miles to the Grand Ditch. Cross the Ditch on a bridge and hike 0.7 miles to the campsite.
  • 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 obtain 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 Box Canyon 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 site so the park requires that you bring at least two RESTOP wag bags for human waste. In an emergency, 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.
  • Recommended season(s): July to September.

    —Stewart M. Green


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