McGregor Mountain Backcountry Campsite is a two-site camping area along Black Canyon Creek on the north side of 10,486-foot McGregor Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. The sites lie in an open pine forest on the south side of the creek. The 9,040-foot-high campsite is used by backpackers heading from the east side of the park into the Mummy Range. It can be reached from the east on either the Black Canyon Trail or the Cow Creek Trail. The campsite has a vault toilet and water is available from the creek. Treat or boil all water before use. Cook with stoves only and fires are prohibited. McGregor Mountain campsite is 4.6 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead and 4.7 miles from Lumpy Ridge Trailhead. Elevation gain is 1,200 feet. Allow four to five hours to hike to the campsite.

Pro Tips

  • Reach the Cow Creek Trailhead from Estes Park by driving north on MacGregor Avenue/Devils Gulch Road to McGraw Ranch Road. Go left and follow the dirt road for 2.5 miles to the trailhead near McGraw Ranch. For the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead, drive north from Estes Park on MacGregor Avenue/Devils Gulch Road to a sign for Lumpy Ridge. Turn left and drive 0.3 miles to the trailhead. Hike either the Cow Creek Trail or Black Canyon Trail to the campsite.
  • 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.
  • Use a Leave No Trace ethic when staying at McGregor Mountain campsite. Pitch tents in designated areas near a silver arrowhead. Secure food and garbage. Black bears are around 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 because windstorms can blow branches off them.
  • Recommended season(s): June to October.

    —Stewart M. Green


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