North Inlet Falls Backcountry Campsite is a single site near the North Inlet Junction campsite in western Rocky Mountain National Park. The campsite is on the right or west side of the Lake Nanita Trail just south of its junction with North Inlet Trail. The 9,540-foot campsite is ideal for hikers heading up to Lake Nanita and Lake Nokoni, two gorgeous alpine tarns, or hiking over the Continental Divide to Bear Lake. Reach the campsite by hiking 7.6 miles up North Inlet Trail from its trailhead by Grand Lake. The trail gains 1,000 feet and takes about eight hours to hike from car to camp. There’s no privy at the site so bring wag bags for proper sanitation or walk over to the privy at North Inlet Junction campsite. Get water from North Inlet Creek. Boil or chemically treat water before use. The campsite is usually snow-free by late June.

Pro Tips

  • North Inlet Trailhead is on the northeast edge of Grand Lake. From U.S. 34, head east on West Portal Road for about two miles to a left turn marked North Inlet Trailhead on gravel road #663. Follow the steep road to parking areas at its end. Head east on North Inlet Trail for 6.8 miles to the campsite on the south side of the trail and creek.
  • 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 the North Inlet Falls 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): Late June to September.

    —Stewart M. Green

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