Odessa Lake Backcountry Campsite is a two-site camping area just north of Odessa Lake and west of the Fern-Odessa Lakes Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. The site makes a great base camp if you’re climbing Little Matterhorn and the East Face of Notchtop Mountain. The campsites, north of the lake and west of Fern Creek, are in a spruce and fir forest at 10,020 feet. Go right below the lake on a marked primitive trail to the campsites and the west side of Odessa Lake. A privy is between the campsites. Obtain water from the outlet below the lake. Boil or treat all water before drinking. The Odessa Lake sites are 4.4 miles from the Fern Lake Trailhead with an elevation gain of 1,870 feet. You can also access the sites from Bear Creek Trailhead by hiking 4.1 miles with a 1,180-foot gain and 640-foot loss. Allow three to five hours of hiking to reach the sites. Only two tents are allowed at the east campsite.

Pro Tips

  • The Odessa Lake campsites are accessed from the Fern Lake Trailhead on the west side of Moraine Park. Hike 4.4 miles up Fern Lake Trail to the campsites. It’s also reached from Bear Lake Trailhead at the end of Bear Lake Road. Hike Flattop Mountain Trail for 0.8 miles, then the Fern-Odessa Lakes Trail for 3.1miles to Odessa Lake. The park’s website has a map of the campsites.
  • 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 or at Kawuneeche Visitor Center north of Grand Lake, and at the park website.
  • To obtain a permit you agree to obey all 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.
  • Use a Leave No Trace ethic when using Odessa Lake Backcountry Campsite. Pitch your tent in a designated area and don’t dig a trench around it. Secure your food and garbage. Black bears are in the park so bring your food in a bear-resistant canister, which is required May to October in all campsites below timberline. Keep all 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, otherwise 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. Fires are not permitted. 
  • Recommended season(s): Year-round.

    —Stewart M. Green


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