The Neva Backcountry Zone is one of several designated zones within Indian Peaks Wilderness. The area’s skyline is dominated by Mount Neva and Mount Jasper to the west, which provide a beautiful backdrop to wooded areas, alpine views, and the North Fork Middle Boulder Creek. With an easy yet busy trail in and out, and more secluded mountain views away from the main trail, this makes for an excellent wilderness camping area.
Like for any other backcountry camping or overnight stays at Indian Peaks Wilderness during summer months (June 1 to September 15), backcountry permits are required to camp at the Neva Backcountry Zone. Permits are just $5 per group, but they require an advanced application within the same calendar year of the trip. Keep in mind that permits are limited, so apply early. The good news is that limited permits mean fewer people once you step away from the main trail. Note that permits are not required other than in summer months, but regulations apply year round.
The hike begins at the Fourth of July Trailhead (39.995204, -105.634256). This trail provides access to some very popular spots, thus it is very busy on summer weekends. It is highly recommended to arrive early, as parking is limited. The trail ascends some 700 feet through a wooded area. As you ascend, look left (west) for a waterfall formed by the drainage from Diamond Lake. At around 2 miles from the trailhead you will arrive at the remnants of the Fourth of July Mine and the Arapaho Glacier Trail. That is a good spot to search for a campsite.
Unlike nearby Diamond Lake Backcountry Zone, there are no designated camp areas in Neva Zone. Instead, you can wonder into the wilderness and select any spot while observing all regulations. From the Fourth of July mine you can head west toward the North Fork Middle Boulder Creek to find wonderful spots to set up camp. There are small lakes and streams that provide a wonderful foreground to the rugged peaks in the background. Note that there are not many tall trees in that area, so it is highly recommended to bring a bear canister to store food and trash. Alternately, there are good spots just north of the old mine or in the large valley between the mine and Lake Dorothy. Keep in mind that the higher you camp, the more exposure there is wind and potential thunderstorms. There is plenty of water in the area surrounding the creek, thus it is not necessary to pack too much water if you have a good filter and/or water purification tablets.
From a good base camp you can explore the area with day hikes to Lake Dorothy, Caribou Lake, South Arapaho Peak and other wonderful spots in the area. As an added bonus, the skies are remarkably dark at night, especially looking west and north, so make sure to watch the Milky Way move across the sky in summer months.