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Beta for RMNP trip - permits, camping, bivy, etc.

Original Post
Judith Brown · · Fayetteville, AR · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 598

Hi there! My husband and I are planning to hit a few of the classic RMNP climbs (Petit Grepon, Culp-Bossier, etc.) the first week of September. The last time I climbed in the RMNP was August 2020 if you don't count climbing at Lumpy. I know that there have been changes to access issues like permits. 

My question is - what do I need to be aware of? For example, do I need a backcountry camping permit if we want to camp at Sky Pond or Emerald Lake? Are there parking considerations or is it first come first serve? Anything else to plan for?  I might be making this too complicated, but since we live in Arkansas I don't want to get surprised by anything!

Cheers, Judith

Zachary Henry · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2022 · Points: 23

Look at the bivy zone maps: nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/…

You are allowed to camp in them without a bear can (but be careful, those marmots can and will eat all of your food and anything you've ever sweat on).

The only way to get a permit is to show up at the wilderness office in-person and ask for one on the first day of your trip. Make sure that all of your climbs are >=4 pitches or they won't let you bivy.

No tents allowed, so be prepared to either wrap up in a tarp or use a bivy bag. Unless your bivy bag breathes super well, take a synthetic sleeping bag if you're going to be there for >1 night or you won't have a significant amount of time to dry out your sleeping bag every day. 

Parking shouldn't be an issue if you have a permit to be back there. If you're going up to Emerald Lake, you may want to consider taking the Bear Lake Road shuttle, but you can usually hang out in the upper parking lot and catch someone leaving. Just expect a buttload of traffic. 

And just to be clear, Emerald Lake is not a designated bivouac zone so you cannot legally bivy there. Sky Pond, however, is.

nbrown · · The Radbro · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 7,693

Just picked up a permit yesterday, so here's my recommendation:

Regarding bivy permits, start here for info:

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

You'll have to go here to actually purchase one:

https://www.recreation.gov/permits/4675320

However, they purposefully (for whatever reason) show no vacancies in most of the sites when they are actually available. I just went through this for Glacier Gorge. 

Steps:

Call the Wilderness office and tell them what you want. They'll send you an email with a link which takes you to the Rec.gov to pay. You'll then have to go by the Wilderness Office to pick it up in person. This is so they can reiterate the rules all over again. FFS... Their hrs are very short, so make sure they're open when you go. FYI, they have been known to leave the pass for people if they absolutely can't make it by in time.

You don't have to obtain your permit the day of. As far as I know you can do it as far ahead of time as you'd like.

BTW, another thing not advertised is that with a climbing bivy permit you can enter anytime (no need for timed entry). Nut good luck finding parking, that place is a shit show. Best to get there (well) before 5 am the day of your climb.

Personally, I think it's easiest to just do big day trips rather than camp. Even the longest approaches are pretty doable in a day.

Good luck!

Judith Brown · · Fayetteville, AR · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 598
nbrown wrote:

Just picked up a permit yesterday, so here's my recommendation:

Regarding bivy permits, start here for info:

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

You'll have to go here to actually purchase one:

https://www.recreation.gov/permits/4675320

However, they purposefully (for whatever reason) show no vacancies in most of the sites when they are actually available. I just went through this for Glacier Gorge. 

Steps:

Call the Wilderness office and tell them what you want. They'll send you an email with a link which takes you to the Rec.gov to pay. You'll then have to go by the Wilderness Office to pick it up in person. This is so they can reiterate the rules all over again. FFS... Their hrs are very short, so make sure they're open when you go. FYI, they have been known to leave the pass for people if they absolutely can't make it by in time.

You don't have to obtain your permit the day of. As far as I know you can do it as far ahead of time as you'd like.

BTW, another thing not advertised is that with a climbing bivy permit you can enter anytime (no need for timed entry). Nut good luck finding parking, that place is a shit show. Best to get there (well) before 5 am the day of your climb.

Personally, I think it's easiest to just do big day trips rather than camp. Even the longest approaches are pretty doable in a day.

Good luck!

I'm definitely considering a long day trip, that's how I did the diamond, 2AM on the trail & at the car by 8PM... BUT it wrecked me and made climbing anything else for the next 2 days impossible ha! Thank you for all of the great beta though, hopefully it works out!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Colorado
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