In Part 1 I talked about how to go about planning a backpacking trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in 2020, you can read it here. Now I want to share our latest trip with you, so you can see just what an adventure it is and why it’s so worth it!
If you’d like to see more videos and photos from this trip you can find those here.
Time To Unplug….For Real
When you get into the backcountry of Colorado, you have no choice but to be completely unplugged. There is no cell service in most of the park. If you climb high enough, you may be able to get a bar, but it will be hard won! Being in the wilderness and so close to nature, will make you feel a part of the earth that we live on. You can’t help but feel a relaxation as well as a sense of adventure. Your mind will focus on totally different things when you’re that far away from civilization. It is truly therapeutic and if I could gift everyone with that experience I definitely would.
The Hike To Camp
Our trip was 6.5 miles of hiking each way. We started at the Colorado River Trailhead and ended up at Box Canyon. The 2nd half of the hike to the camp site was positively brutal. Straight uphill for miles and lots of downed trees in the paths that had to be climbed over or maneuvered around. I was exhausted and totally struggled the last 1/2 mile from fatigue.
On our way in we did get to see a large herd of elk , some deer, as well as some mountain goats very close to the trail.
Getting along with the Neighbors
We got to our camp site and there was still snow on the ground in patches. The weather was about 70 degrees and beautiful and sunny. We dropped our packs to set up camp and startled a moose who had been drinking in the river beside camp. She took off to the woodline and then after a minute, she charged back down, right through the river and then stood still as can be staring at us. Talk about a heart pounder, lol. Eventually, she trotted off into the woods in the opposite direction and we got our tent set up.
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Our Tent Setup
The newer tents are amazingly light weight, our 2 man tent weighs just over 3 lbs and we can easily have it set up in about 5 minutes.
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I was sore, exhausted and pretty proud of myself for that hike. We made some dinner, toasted with some wine we brought in a little flask and went to bed. We slept like the dead, lol!
Mornings in a remote wilderness area are my favorite. There is nothing like waking up on a crisp morning, getting out of your tent and making a good cup of coffee while you just sit back and take in your surroundings. The sun coming over the mountains, the river rushing, the crisp air with a scent of pine. These moments are truly some of the best in my life. It is hard to describe.
Soaking it All In
Our day was spent exploring the area and hiking to a high pass for some incredible views. It had started to rain in the late afternoon so we were in the tent when we heard a bull elk not 30 yards away bugling to signal to his herd that there was danger in the area. We quickly looked out of the tent to see 30 elk rushing by us and entering the meadow below our camp site. This was one of their regular routes and while heading down, the bull elk smelled us and sounded the alarm. Elk are massive and to have an entire herd thundering by your tent is an amazing thing to experience.
The rain didn’t last long, just the typical passing shower for this time of year in Rocky Mountain National Park. We were back out exploring. Once we got back to the camp, we were just being quiet and getting ready to start dinner when another moose wandered right into camp! She was on her normal route to the water, when she unexpectedly encountered us and our tent. She walked up SO CLOSE. She was just standing in the snow behind our tent staring at us, trying to figure out what we were and why we were there! It was crazy-scary. Moose are SO big! They can move like lightening, can be temper-mental and are very unpredictable. Luckily, her curiosity was satisfied and she moved off and went a different direction to get to the water.
That night, we went to sleep to the sounds of the water rushing by and thunder rolling for long, low rumbles through the clouds.
The Hike Back Out
The next morning, we ate a leisurely breakfast and had coffee by the river while we watched some mountain goats playing, high up on the mountain. We packed up camp and started hiking back out. We passed more deer and another moose on our way back out.
A Well Earned Beer to Celebrate
We got back to our car and headed into Grand Lake. We grabbed a few beers and some lunch at the little Worlds End Brew Pub before heading home. I’m here to tell you, the beer you have after a long hike will be the best you’ve had in your life! Highly recommend stopping by here in Grand Lake for a laid back family pub experience. They’ve got a great beer selection on tap as well as the best single malt whiskey selection in town! If you are from outside of Colorado I highly recommend staying in Grand Lake, Granby or Winter Park.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about our adventure backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park in 2020. I’ve saved loads more pics and videos in my highlights on IG. If you ever have any questions regarding these sorts of trips, you can DM me on Instagram or just leave a message here in the comments. We’ve been backpacking for 30 years and we’ve gone across the Swiss alps , many sections of the Appalachian Trail, the Scottish Highlands, the Fells in England and many more. We love sharing these trips, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions! You can see our packing list here and find our favorite outdoor retailers are listed at the end of this post. You can also pin this post for later reference.
Here are some of our favorite Outdoor retailers for great deals on gear: