Old Forest Inn Backcountry Campsite is a two-site camping area at 8,400 feet off Fern Lake Trail near The Pool west of Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park. The area is in a spruce and fir forest on the site of the old Forest Inn, a hotel built in 1917 and torn down in 1959. A privy is between the two sites. Obtain water from Fern Creek; boil or treat water before drinking. The Old Forest Inn Campsite is 1.7 miles west of the Fern Lake Trailhead with an elevation gain of 250 feet. Allow one to two hours to hike there. The campsites are great for hikers who want a base camp to hike to lakes or climb peaks as well as fishermen. Deer, elk, moose, and black bear are seen in the river valley.

Pro Tips

  • The Old Forest Inn Campsite is reached from Fern Lake Trailhead on the west side of Moraine Park. Hike 1.7 miles up Fern Lake Trail past Arch Rocks to The Pool. Continue past The Pool toward Fern Lake, and look for a trail junction on the right or north marked with a wood sign. Set up camp near a silver arrowhead and don’t camp below dead trees. The park’s website has a map of the campsite.
  • 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 trailhead, 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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