Onahu Creek Backcountry Campsite, one of three campsites along Onahu Creek, lies in a lush hanging valley west of the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park. The single site, located at 9,480 feet, is on the south side of Onahu Creek beside a broad meadow. Look for moose and elk in the willowy bottomlands along the creek near the site. The campsite is usually used by backpackers on a loop hike along Onahu Creek and Green Mountain trails. The site is 2.4 miles from Onahu Creek Trailhead on U.S. 34. Onahu Creek Trail gains 660 feet of elevation. Allow a couple hours to hike from car to camp. No privy is found at the site, so bring wag bags and practice safe sanitation. Get water from Onahu Creek. Treat or boil all water before use. The campsite is snow-free by mid-June.

Pro Tips

  • Find the 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 2.4 miles to the campsite. Look for a wooden sign on the right 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 Creek. 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): Mid-June through September.

    —Stewart M. Green

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