Backpacking Tips and Locations in Colorado

July 20, 2023

Spending time in Colorado’s beautiful wilderness is done best with a backpack strapped to your back. The outdoors is for everybody, and with a few simple hacks, you can spend time backpacking in jaw-dropping locations. If you are new to Colorado or looking to refresh your camping preparation skills, here are some tips to optimize your next wilderness experience, in addition to some ideal camping spots: 

Camping Tips

Plan Your Trip

Research the area in which you want to backpack, and determine the length and difficulty level of the trail. Consider factors such as elevation gain, distance, and weather conditions so you can pack and plan accordingly.

Check Permits and Regulations 

Some areas in Colorado require permits for overnight backpacking. Be sure to check whether any permits or reservations are needed for the specific trail you plan to hike. Familiarize yourself with the local regulations and Leave No Trace principles. If you can, plan some trips for the next backpacking season and apply for permits ahead of time so you can tackle bucket list trails. 

Pack Appropriate Gear

Colorado’s weather can be very unpredictable, so pack layers to accommodate temperature changes. Bring a good-quality backpack, a lightweight tent, a sleeping bag suitable for the season, a sleeping pad, cooking equipment, and essential supplies such as a first aid kit, water filter, and navigation tools.

Be prepared for varying temperatures and conditions, as Colorado’s weather can change rapidly, especially in the summertime. Bring rain gear, warm clothing, and a waterproof pack cover to protect your gear from rain or snow. Check the weather forecast before you head out and be prepared for sudden temperature drops.

Hydrate and Acclimate

Stay hydrated by carrying enough water or by using a water filter or purifier to treat water retrieved from natural sources. Research the availability of water sources along your route and plan accordingly.

Colorado’s high altitude can pose a challenge, especially if you’re not accustomed to it. Give yourself time to acclimate before starting a strenuous hike to prevent altitude sickness. Start with easier hikes and gradually increase the difficulty.

Practice Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles 

Respect the natural environment by minimizing your impact. Pack out all trash, avoid damaging vegetation, stay on designated trails, and camp in designated areas. Leave nature as you found it for others to enjoy. Additionally, LNT asks that hikers respect wildlife and natural features so the area and its critters stay healthy and vibrant. 

Camping Destinations  

Rocky Mountain National Park 

This iconic national park features awe-inspiring landscapes, alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife. It offers numerous trails for backpacking, including the popular Longs Peak and Continental Divide routes. Permits are required, so check ahead of time for available options! 

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

Located near Aspen, Colorado, this wilderness area is known for its picturesque Maroon Bells, towering peaks, and pristine lakes. Trails like the Four Pass Loop and Conundrum Hot Springs offer challenging and rewarding backpacking experiences.

Indian Peaks Wilderness

Situated near Boulder, the Indian Peaks Wilderness showcases breathtaking alpine scenery, wildflowers, and alpine lakes. Backpackers can explore trails like the High Lonesome Loop and Isabelle Glacier for a memorable adventure.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

This unique park features the tallest sand dunes in North America, nestled against the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Backpackers can explore the dunes and nearby trails, such as the Mosca Pass Loop or the Sand Ramp Trail. Lay your pad out right on the sand and sleep under a blanket of stars. 

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Located in the stunning Sawatch Range, this wilderness area is known for its rugged peaks and stunning vistas. The Colorado Trail passes through the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, offering backpackers an opportunity for a long-distance trek on this noteworthy long-distance trail.

Weminuche Wilderness

As Colorado’s largest wilderness area, Weminuche offers vast expanses of pristine wilderness. It boasts stunning peaks, alpine meadows, and numerous lakes. The Chicago Basin, Vestal Basin, and Animas River Trail are popular backpacking routes here.

The Independence community knows how important it is to cultivate a connection between humans and the environment. Our neighborhood incorporates plenty of open space, trails, and parks to do just that. Plan a trip from our convenient location and escape to the mountains for a little rest and relaxation. Contact us to learn more.