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Welcome to Mountain Side Gear Rental’s three-part blog series devoted to camping in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). This edition of the series unpacks the essentials for a memorable backpacking excursion across one of Colorado’s most beloved outdoor playgrounds.

Rocky Mountain National Park Backpacking Zen

When car camping simply won’t do, lace up your hiking boots and stock your pack with the essentials. RMNP’s 265,828 acres dotted with Technical Orienteering Cross-country and Technical Climbing Bivouac Zones await you. Before you go, you’ll need to secure a Wilderness Permit for overnight camping; it’s your contract and promise with the National Park Service to treat the wilderness with respect and care. Wilderness campsite reservation requests can be submitted online or in person beginning March 1 of each calendar year, if you plan to camp May 1 through Oct. 31. If cold-weather camping is more your speed, reservation request submissions are accepted Oct. 1 of each calendar year for camping dates Nov. 1 through April 30. Visit for mountains more useful information when planning your trip, obtaining a permit and more.

At Mountain Side, one of our favorite Rocky Mountain National Park backpacking spots is Sandbeach Lake Trail. It’s a moderately-difficult, yet beautiful hike, finishing with lakeside camping as the reward. Mill Creek Basin and Cub Creek Lake Trails are backcountry spots located within proximity to another – we suggest a night-two stay to enjoy both – and offer a friendly introduction to camping in RMNP’s backcountry. You’ll hike along a stream (most of the way) surrounded by plenty of trees and shade before pitching your light-weight tent or hammock. And finally, the most difficult, Spruce Lake. With an elevation gain of more than 1,500 ft from start to finish, this 9 mile hike finishes with high altitude camping at its finest – worth every step.

Planning Your Backpacking Trip At Mountain Side, we’ve taken the uncertainty out of backpacking and created a checklist to aid in planning your trip. The list isn’t intended to be all-inclusive, but rather a thorough baseline of everything you’ll need on your backpacking adventure through RMNP. These items are available for rent and/or purchase from Mountain Side Gear Rental.

About Mountain Side Gear Rental

Mountain Side Gear Rental makes it easy for people to spend time in the great outdoors. Rent camping gear and backpacking equipment from our location in Golden. We provide trip planning and assistance to our domestic and international visitors. More information about Mountain Side is available at