Best Winter Bivy/Camping Spot in RMNP


Original Post
DEF · Dec 17, 2015 · Boston, MA · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 5
I'll be spending a few days in Boulder in February, and rather than fight the weekend crowds at the major ski mountains in February, we were thinking about hiking out into RMNP to camp overnight. Not concerned about gear, we'll rent/borrow what we need for conditions.

So the question is, if you could spend a winter night anywhere in RMNP, where would it be? Best views, location, etc etc. Long approach is ok, but no really technical approaches (something we could do ropeless with a mountaineering axe and snowshoes/crampons ideally)

Don Ferris · Dec 17, 2015 · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 0
You can't beat the views at chasm lake, sky pond or green lake. Approach is about the same for all. Also, you could get away with a tarp and sleeping bag at those locations as there are already some pretty sweet bivy spots.

Jay Eggleston · Dec 17, 2015 · Denver · Joined Feb 2003 · Points: 13,760
You need a permit to bivy anywhere in RMNP.

Blowhard McDouche · Dec 17, 2015 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0
Those are ok, but wild basin is good fun too, and less popular/ regulated.
You need a permit for anywhere in the park.

Forest service land or BLM is always easier.

jcm537 · Dec 17, 2015 · Broomfield, Co. · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 0
Ive camped at sky pond & the base of spearhead. Both had caves to bivy in & both required a backcountry camping permit. Check with the backcountry permit office for camping restrictions (no tents). Both are very scenic with a fairly long approach. Sky pond has a slightly technical section at the waterfall. Maybe a little spicy if its iced over.
Have fun.

James Kersey · Dec 17, 2015 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 18
In the winter, I believe camping permits are self-issue. Also I think I read at one point that in winter they do allow tents at the climber bivy spots (but you still have to be doing a "technical climb" to secure said bivy spots). That said, people seem to throw a lot of those rules out the window in winter in RMNP I've noticed.

In terms of views:
-I second Sky Pond area.
-The "bowl" up in the Gash framed by Sharkstooth and the headwall to Andrew's tarn and glacier is inspiring in winter.
-Black Lake is interesting because of the high snowy/icy walls rising all around...but it gets dark earlier because of it and it can be quite windy there.
-Just about any area way up in Wild Basin...Bluebird Lake, Junco Lake, the Lion Lake and/or Snowbank Lake, etc., all seem to have nice views in winter.
-If you can get there, I suspect Spectacle Lakes near Mt. Ypsilon would also be quite pretty.

DEF · Dec 17, 2015 · Boston, MA · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 5
Thanks for the advice, we wouldn't be opposed to a Bivy but a small tent is always a plus, and we would definitely get a permit for any area that requires one.

Sky pond looks great, I've hiked out past black lake towards the spearhead before and to Chasm lake as well, but I'll keep looking at the options you guys are throwing out - much appreciated!

Rigggs24 · Dec 17, 2015 · Denver, CO · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 5
DEF wrote:Thanks for the advice, we wouldn't be opposed to a Bivy but a small tent is always a plus, and we would definitely get a permit for any area that requires one. Sky pond looks great, I've hiked out past black lake towards the spearhead before and to Chasm lake as well, but I'll keep looking at the options you guys are throwing out - much appreciated!
If you get a permit for a bivy in RMNP, you are not allowed to put up any structure including tents. And if my memory serves me right, i believe you also need to tell them the route you are doing in the park that requires the bivy. There is a backcountry permit which is more for a backpacking/camping type trip. There are phones numbers and information on the websites below.

http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/bivy_sites.htm

James Kersey · Dec 17, 2015 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 18
Rigggs24 wrote: If you get a permit for a bivy in RMNP, you are not allowed to put up any structure including tents.
FYI, it contradicts other portions of the website, but this link says specifically that tents are allowed in winter:
http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/climbing.htm

I have not asked anyone at RMNP which part is right.

Rigggs24 · Dec 17, 2015 · Denver, CO · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 5
James Kersey wrote: FYI, it contradicts other portions of the website, but this link says specifically that tents are allowed in winter: nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/... I have not asked anyone at RMNP which part is right.
Yeah that would make sense. I have actually only gotten bivy permits in summer months so I dont know about the winter.

Jeremy Bauman · Dec 17, 2015 · Lakewood, CO · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 645
James Kersey wrote: FYI, it contradicts other portions of the website, but this link says specifically that tents are allowed in winter: nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/... I have not asked anyone at RMNP which part is right.
Tents are allowed in the winter! Also, you can pretty much camp wherever you want. Camping in the park in the snowy months is far less of a headache than in the summer.

James Kersey · Dec 17, 2015 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 18
Jeremy Bauman wrote: Tents are allowed in the winter! Also, you can pretty much camp wherever you want. Camping in the park in the snowy months is far less of a headache than in the summer.
I've seen people camping wherever they want...but is it actually "allowed" or are people just getting away with it because it's so much less policed in the winter?

Jim6565 Brassell · Dec 17, 2015 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 0
Wild basin at Sand beach lake is nice with a great view of Meeker

csproul · Dec 17, 2015 · Davis, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 25
James Kersey wrote: I've seen people camping wherever they want...but is it actually "allowed" or are people just getting away with it because it's so much less policed in the winter?
My recollection is that in winter you still need to bivy in regulated bivy zones, but tents are allowed on snow and permits can be self issued. But it's been a few years since I've checked on the RMNP rules.

Francisco Di Poi · Dec 17, 2015 · Boulder, CO · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 20
Dude,

We'll just build a snow cave brah

DEF · Dec 17, 2015 · Boston, MA · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 5
^ Deal

Thomas H · Dec 18, 2015 · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 0
James Kersey wrote: I've seen people camping wherever they want...but is it actually "allowed" or are people just getting away with it because it's so much less policed in the winter?
I don't believe you can camp just wherever you want because it is winter.

In the designated bivy 'areas' from NPS there are not specific sites you have to camp at just within the encircled areas, although there are usually spots people have fortified.

http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/bivy_sites.htm

The Gash and Sky Pond for example.

Ted Eliason · Dec 18, 2015 · Westminster, CO · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 330
I camp at least once a year up at Black Lake. It's 5 1/2 miles up. You do need a back country permit. But in the winter you do not have to stick to designated bivy sites or campgrounds. A second choice would be the Notchtop/Odessa lake area which is 2 1/2 miles up but less popular so sometimes the trail is not packed down.

DEF · Dec 18, 2015 · Boston, MA · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 5
Sky pond looks awesome, but now also looking at maybe heading up towards Chasm lake and maybe throwing in something like Mount Lady Washington and Storm peak conditions permitting.

I meant that we will have snowshoes and crampons, just didn't want to have to rope up (which I realize is a big gray area depending on comfort level)

The snow cave suggestion was my friend I'm going to visit, and its hard to argue with an ideal like that!

Bill M · Dec 18, 2015 · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 101
Bottom line is you are going to have to wait until you get here and see what the weather is doing - mostly the wind.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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