The Ditch Camp Backcountry Campsite sits by a meadow surrounded by a spruce and fir forest between Lulu Creek and Sawmill Creek in upper Kawuneeche Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park. The campsite offers one individual site and one group/stock site at 10,160 feet. The campsite area was a construction camp used by Chinese laborers that built the Grand Ditch in 1900. Reach the site by hiking 4.6 miles on Colorado River Trail from a trailhead on U.S. 34. The trail gains 1,160 feet from car to camp and takes almost five hours to hike to the site. A privy is at the site. Find water in nearby Lulu Creek. Treat or boil water before use. The campsite is snow-free by late June.

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, and then up Red Mountain Trail to Grand Ditch. Go left and hike 0.2 miles on a road by Grand Ditch to a wooden sign. Cross the Ditch and follow a short path 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 Ditch Camp 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.
  •  Recommended season(s): June to September.

    —Stewart M. Green


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