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Estes/RMNP camping options for the planning-impaired?


Original Post
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

Hey guys,

So I’m planning a trip to Boulder in early August and was hoping to hit Estes as well while I’m in the area.  I was thinking that camping in RMNP would be swell, but apparently it’s a popular place (who knew?!) and all of the reservation sites are taken (looking at 8/4-8/5).  So I’m wondering...

1) If anyone has a site and is interested in sharing it with 4 people (save some $!)
2) If there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of snagging a drive up site at Longs, etc
3) If there are any other options that would be scenic and/or get me fairly close to Lumpy Ridge.

Any ideas?  Hoping for some dirtbag beta...!

trailridge · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 20

There is some great camping near longs peak in the meeker estates area. Which is only a slow 15 minutes from the trailhead.
If climbing at lumpy mostly. It is better to camp at what I think is called parachute hill.  It is at the top of hill on 36 before dropping into Estes. There is a big sign for Raven crest chruch camp. Take a right and go to the top past all the residents. Eli helmuth posted good directions a few years ago on mp. Could probably search it. Good luck. 

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

Awesome, thanks!  Does it tend to fill up on weekends, or are spots usually open for drive up?

Tim Meehan · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 285

Hi Ted. Check out this map (follow link for northern Boulder Ranger District) for locations of dispersed camping around Larimer and Boulder counties: fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/maps…. Happy travels!

Danny Stirton · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 140

Okay here's the dirt on stealth camping in the park--you go in at 11 or 12 and any reservation site that's empty, they're not coming for the night. So you crash and get out before 7 AM when the host checks license plates and you have breakfast at the trailhead.

Or you can always just grab those free sites out by Estes.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

Awesome, thanks!

trailridge · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 20

The forest roads near the meeker longs peak area is called Johnny park road. A quick google search, should give you directions.  The camping along the road is pleasant and you should be able to find a campsite, even on a busy weekend.  A SUV is a good idea for the road.  The first road you come to is Johnny park, there is more camping about a mile past Johnny Park road.  As for parachute hill I have no idea how busy it is.  

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

update/bump:
In case this comes up for anyone in the future, we ended up finding a great spot on Pole Hill rd.  This was very helpful:
https://freecampsites.net/#!70951&query=sitedetails
One caveat, however, is that the GPS coordinates take you to the GATE which is where the private property begins where you can NOT camp.  We ended up heading through a lot of sketchy offroading to get there and passed a lot of good sites.  I would recommend using the GPS coordinates for reference and then grabbing the first site you see along the way.  Also, they were not kidding about 4x4 required; my Subaru handled it fine, but it was also pretty dry...would not want to do it in a downpour.  Still, it was perfect for our needs, nice and remote, and best of all - open and free!

Philip Magistro · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 0

How was your trip?

John Ryan · · Poncha Springs, CO · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 165

Good job getting the Subaru up there Ted. I was parked at the beginning of the forest road this weekend and it cracked me up that two Outbacks were parked there like me, cowering from that road. 

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

Heh.  I will say I bottomed out a few times in the dark until I learned my lesson and took it slow, but it wasn’t too bad.

Philip Magistro wrote: How was your trip?

Fantastic!  You guys have some really amazing rock out here.  Lumpy Ridge is a really special place.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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