Pine Ridge Backcountry Campsite is a two-site primitive campground north of Wild Basin Trail and North St. Vrain Creek. The campsite is perfect for exploring nearby Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls, two of Rocky Mountain National Park’s most beautiful waterfalls. The campsite, located at 8,880 feet, is easy to reach from Wild Basin Trailhead with a 1.4-mile hike that gains 380 feet. Allow one or two hours to hike from car to camp. Pine Ridge sits in a lodgepole pine forest northeast of a bridge over the creek. The site has a privy. Get water from the nearby creek but boil or treat it before use. Pine Ridge is a popular site so make early reservations to camp. The campsite is usually clear of snow in late May.

Pro Tips

  • Find Wild Basin Trailhead by driving south from Estes Park on Colorado Highway 7 to Wild Basin Road. Turn right or west on Wild Basin Road and drive to the park entrance station. Continue to the road’s end and a parking area that’s two miles from the highway. The Wild Basin Ranger Station is by the trailhead. Hike 1.4 miles up Thunder Lake Trail to the campsite. Look for a wooden sign on the right that points the way to the sites.
  • A backcountry permit is required for all overnight camping in Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry. Obtain 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 on the park website.
  • To obtain a permit you agree to obey 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 overnight parking at trailheads without being towed.
  • Practice a Leave No Trace ethic when camping at Pine Ridge. Pitch tents in designated areas near a silver arrowhead. Secure food and garbage. Black bears are around so store 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 stash it 200 feet from the campsite. Don’t camp below dead trees; wind storms blow branches off them.
  • Recommended season(s): Late May to September.

    —Stewart M. Green


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