Sandbeach Lake Backcountry Campsite on the lake’s east bank offers four individual campsites and one group site. The soft sand beach along the lake is perfect for relaxing and enjoying the spacious views, including Longs Peak and Mount Meeker to the north. Find the campsites on the northeast side of the lake and just south of the trail’s end point. The group site is on the lake’s north side and west of a hitch rack behind a boulder. A wooden sign points the way to the campsites. The camping area is at 10,280 feet so it isn’t snow free until mid-June. Reach the lake and campsite by hiking 4.2 miles up Sandbeach Trail, gaining 1,970 feet from car to camp. Allow four to five hours to hike to the lake. A privy is north of the sites. Get water from inlet streams on the west side of the lake. Boil or purify water before use.

Pro Tips

  • Reach Sandbeach Lake 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. The trailhead is beside the station. Hike up the trail for 4.2 miles to Sandbeach Lake. The campsites are on the lake’s east side.
  • A backcountry permit is required for all 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 at 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 Sandbeach Lake. Pitch tents in designated areas near a silver arrowhead. Secure food and garbage. Black bears are here 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): Mid-June to September.

    —Stewart M. Green


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