The Mill Creek Basin Backcountry Campsite is a one-site camping area sitting among spruce and aspen trees near the basin’s southern end in Rocky Mountain National Park. The site, located 1.8 miles from the Hollowell Park Trailhead, lies north of Mill Creek. It’s a good overnight stop if you’re backpacking from the Fern Lake Trailhead to Bear Lake. The basin’s meadows fill with wildflowers in summer, including cinquefoil, penstemon, sego lilies, chiming bells, and strawberries. The 9,000-foot site has a latrine but peat must be added after use. Get water from Mill Creek. Boil or treat water before using.

 Pro Tips

  • Mill Creek Basin Campsite lies between Hallowell Park Trailhead and Bear Lake. Park at a small lot at the trailhead west of Bear Lake Road. Hike 1.8 miles and gain 800 feet of elevation on Hallowell Park Trail to the site. Look for a wooden sign pointing to the site on the trail’s right side. The campsite is also reached from Bear Lake Trailhead by hiking northeast for 2.5 miles. Allow a couple hours to hike to the site.
  • A backcountry permit is required for all overnight camping in Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry. Obtain a permit 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.
  • 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 you to park overnight at trailheads without being towed.
  • Practice a Leave No Trace ethic at Mills Creek Basin Campsite. Pitch your tent in a designated area. Secure all food and garbage. Black bears are in the park so store food in a bear-resistant canister, which is required May to October in 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. Use the pit toilet at the campsite. Fires are not permitted.
  • Recommended season(s): Year-round.

    —Stewart M. Green

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