Camping in the Rockies
During our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, we were lucky enough to camp in one of the five drive-in campgrounds in the park thanks to the reservation we had made several months prior to our trip. Three of the campgrounds, Moraine Park, Glacier Basin and Aspenglen operate on the reservation system. Longs Peak and Timber Creek campgrounds do not accept reservations but operate on a first-come, first served basis. In addition, backpackers may choose from more than 200 backcountry campsites by applying for a backcountry camping permit.
We had reserved a site in Glacier Basin Campground as it seemed to be centrally located. We were a bit disappointed, however, upon arriving at our site. While it was listed as either or a tent or camper site, and had a beautiful tent pad that would have thrilled us when we were tent camping, the spot for our camper amounted to a bit of gravel just alongside the road. We were prevented from driving further into the site by large rocks that had been placed there to prevent such an occurrence. Had we known this was a possibility, we would probably have called to book our site. We were located in site D124; the site next to us (D126) would have been perfect as it allowed much more extensive camper access.
Further, while we usually like to camp higher up and look down, it did not occur to us that a campground named “Glacier Basin” would sit low in a valley surrounded by mountains. Though it was not our preferred camping situation, the mountains surrounded the campground and provided beautiful views in every direction. Additionally, group campsites are available; during our stay they were occupied by a large group of well-behaved young people.
While no hookups are available, as is customarily the case in national park campgrounds, the restrooms were plentiful. All newly constructed, they were large and well maintained which was a delightful surprise. Further, park staff provided entertaining programs nearly every evening during the summer at one campground or another. The park contains a number of beautiful and unique visitor’s centers in which some of these programs are also located and contain a great deal of information about the park topography, wildlife and vegetation.
Another helpful service provided by RMNP is text messages relaying information about road construction or delays, evening programs in the park and the best areas to locate wildlife and wildflowers blooming in the park. I subscribed to this service in anticipation of our trip and did not discontinue it upon our return because in a small way, receiving these messages about the sights and places we have just visited helps me to feel I am still on vacation!
For more information about where to camp in Colorado, browse Woodall’s listings of Colorado Campgrounds.