North Inlet Group Backcountry Campsite is a group and stock site south of the North Inlet Creek Trail and Creek in western Rocky Mountain National Park. The quiet site, located at 9,290 feet on valley floor, is reached by hiking 6.5 miles from North Inlet Trailhead by Grand Lake. The campsite lies in thick spruce and fir forest 10.2 miles west of Bear Lake Trailhead on the east side of the park. Allow six to seven hours to hike from car to camp. Parties with stock animals need to cross the creek at a path a half-mile west of the site that’s marked with a sign. Use extreme caution when crossing at high water in spring and early summer. Hikers can cross the creek on a bridge north of the site. The site has a privy. Get water from the creek. Boil or treat all water before use. Campers must have a stock or a group permit to stay here. The campsite is snow-free by mid-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 6.5 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 group 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): Mid-June to September.

    —Stewart M. Green


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