Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. With only five campgrounds located within the park boundary, all those visitors have to compete for a place to stay. Needless to say, it's a good idea to take advantage of booking early for those campsites that can be reserved. Reservations at Aspenglen, Moraine Park, and Glacier Basin campgrounds can be made six months in advance. Longs Peak and Timber Creek campgrounds, however, do not take reservations and are only available on a first-come, first-served basis. In July and August, the campgrounds generally are full every day of the week, while in June and September, visitation numbers drop. By mid-week you are more likely to find an available campsite at any given location without a prior reservation.
All campgrounds in the park are $26 per night, and visitors are limited to camping a total of seven nights in the park per visit.
Moraine Park Campground is open year-round (the only year-round campground in the park), takes reservations in the summer months, and is first-come, first-served in the winter. In the summer it has 244 spots, dropping to 77 spots in the winter, and it allows RVs up to 40 feet. The campground is close to many popular trailheads.
Aspenglen Campground is open from June through September and it takes reservations. It has 53 sites, some of which will accommodate RVs up to 30 feet, and all of which can be very difficult to reserve.
Glacier Basin Campground has 150 single-occupancy campsites and 13 group sites. RVs up to 14 feet are allowed except in the group sites, which are tent-only. The group sites are available for $4 per person per night. Glacier Basin Campground is situated at 8,500 feet (2,591 meters), offers some incredible views of the surrounding national park, and is open from June 9 until September 11.
Longs Peak Campground is operated entirely on a first-come, first-served basis. Its 26 sites fill up fast, and are all tent-only sites. Located at 9,500 feet (2,896 meters), the campground is only open from June 30 to September 6. It is near the trailhead for the popular hike to the summit of Longs Peak, the only 14er in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Timber Creek Campground is the only campground on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is also operated on a first-come, first-served basis, and has 98 sites, and is accessible by RVs up to 30 feet. It is open from late May to early November.
Meeker Park Overflow Campground, located just outside of the park's eastern edge, is a first-come, first-served campground with 29 car camping spots. There is no potable water in the campground, and few other amenities. However, it is a beautiful place to camp, with large sites and nice views of the surrounding mountains.
Olive Ridge Campground, a few miles from Meeker Park Overflow Campground, has 56 sites that can accommodate RVs up to 30 feet. The campground is open from the end of May through September, and it operates as a good sleeping spot for those intent on summitting Longs Peak but who are unable to find a campsite at the Longs Peak Campground.
A better option for many is to park at a trailhead and head out backpacking to one of the many backpacker camps in Rocky Mountain National Park. There are 120 backcountry campsites in Rocky Mountain National Park, so with a little research you are sure to find an ideal spot for your extended trips.
All overnight trips on trails or in the backcountry require permits that are available in person at either the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center. Bears are commonplace in the park, so bear-resistant food containers are common sense in all seasons and required between May 1 and October 31. Call 970.586.1242 or visit the Rocky Mountain National Park website for more information.
If you'll be hiking, backpacking or climbing within the park, it is extremely critical to note that summer weather brings strong rain and lightning storms nearly every afternoon, making it necessary to be off the trail by at least 1 p.m. daily to ensure a safe return. Mornings may have clear skies, but afternoon storms may still develop.