Chapin Creek Backcountry Campsite is a single-group site on a wooded knoll near the confluence of the Cache la Poudre River and Chapin Creek. The site overlooks a wide glaciated valley floored with meadows and the meandering creek. Watch for moose. The site lies about halfway between Trail Ridge Road at Milner Pass and Corral Creek Trailhead to the north. It’s easiest to reach the campsite by hiking 6.1 miles down the river valley on Poudre River Trail from the Poudre River Trailhead on Milner Pass. Alternatively, hike 5.5 miles up the valley from Corral Creek Trailhead. Allow five or six hours to backpack to the site. The campsite has a privy and water is available from Chapin Creek. Treat or boil all water before use. The 10,240-foot site is snow-free by early July.

Pro Tips

  • Find the Poudre River Trailhead at Milner Pass by driving 27 miles on Trail Ridge Road/U.S. 34 from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on the east side of the park or by driving 16.6 miles up Trail Ridge Road from Kawuneeche Visitor Center. Corral Creek Trailhead is reached from Colorado Highway 14 and Long Draw Road to the north. Hike the Poudre River Trail to a wooden sign that marks a trail to the campsite, which lies a half-mile up Chapin Creek from a footbridge over the Cache la Poudre River.
  • 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 get 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 Chapin Creek. Pitch tents in designated areas near a silver arrowhead. Secure food and garbage. Store food in a bear-resistant canister, which is required from May to October at all campsites below timberline. Keep food, trash, and scented items in the container and stash it 200 feet from your site. Don’t camp below dead trees; wind storms blow branches off them.
  • Recommended season(s): July through September.

    —Stewart M. Green


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