Onahu Bridge Backcountry Campsite is the easternmost of three sites along Onahu Creek in western Rocky Mountain National Park. The single campsite hides in a pine and spruce forest north of Onahu Creek just before Onahu Creek Trail crosses a foot bridge over the stream. The quiet site is a great stopover if you’re backpacking or fishing in Onahu Creek. Onahu Bridge, located at 9,650 feet, is 2.9 miles from Onahu Creek Trailhead on U.S. 34. The trail gains 830 feet from car to camp. Allow two to three hours to hike up Onahu Creek Trail. There is no privy at the site so practice good sanitation by using wag bags for waste disposal. Get water from Onahu Creek but boil or treat before use. The campsite usually is snow-free by June 17.

Pro Tips

  • Find Onahu Creek Trailhead by driving north from Kawuneeche Visitor Center on U.S. 34/Trail Ridge Road for 3.7 miles to the Onahu Creek Trailhead on the right or east side of the highway. Hike up Onahu Creek Trail for 2.9 miles to the campsite. Look for a wooden sign on the left just before a foot bridge that marks a short path to the site.
  • 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 get 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 Onahu Bridge. Pitch tents in designated areas near a silver arrowhead. Secure food and garbage. Store food in a bear-resistant canister, which is required from May to October at all campsites below timberline. Keep food, trash, and scented items in the container and stash it 200 feet from your site. Don’t camp below dead trees; wind storms blow branches off them.
  • There’s no privy at the campsite. Pack in at least two RESTOP wag bags for human waste to avoid site contamination. In an emergency, dig a six-inch deep hole and bury waste and toilet paper. Make sure you’re at least 200 feet from the campsite, water sources, and trails.
  • Recommended season(s): July through September.

    —Stewart M. Green


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