Rocky Mountain Women's Backpacking

Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 10
Activity level
Starting from
$1,299 for REI Members
$1,419 for non-members
Departures Jun 2022-Aug 2023

Find yourself engaged, challenged and renewed from this four-day immersive adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Perfect for women looking to hone their backpacking skills or for those trying it out for the first time. We take care of all the permitting, planning and meal preparation while you soak in the beauty of the Rockies. Guided by highly experienced, knowledgeable and charismatic women, we start our journey with a night at a front-country campground close to our backpacking trailhead. This first night sets the stage for the backcountry adventure to come!

Embarking into the backcountry, we encounter postcard-perfect mountain views, cool rushing streams and waterfalls as we make our way to our high alpine home away from home. We rest in the shadows of glaciers, search for wildlife, and discover high alpine lakes during our mountain exploration. We spend our days hiking, swimming in alpine lakes, and eating well-earned meals prepared by our guides. At night we enjoy crisp, clear skies rich with stars, and if we’re lucky, even the Milky Way. We leave with new friends and a hearts full of lifelong memories.

Moose are browsers and prefer leaves, buds, stems and particularly enjoy aquatic plants that are high in the protein and sodium they need.

Trip Highlights

  • Backpack into one of the most iconic areas of Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Set up camp near the shores of a high alpine lake
  • Hone your backcountry skills as expert women teach and guide you
  • Learn about the rich history, ecosystem and geology of Rocky Mountain National Park
  • An REI Women’s Adventure—designed for women, guided by women

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate Plus [3-4]. Participants should be capable of hiking 5–10 miles (5–7 hours) daily carrying a backpack that weighs 35–50 pounds. The elevation change is moderate, varying from 1,000’ to 2,200’ of change per day. We will be traveling at high altitude (between 8,500 ‘ and 11,500’ on average) where the thinner air can be challenging in terms of performance.

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking

What's Included

Professional instruction and guiding; all meals as noted in the daily itinerary; snacks; group cooking gear; group first aid kit; water filter; transportation from store to group camp/trailheads; campsite and permit fees.

Accommodations

Group Camp 1 night, Backcountry Camping, 2 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Rocky Mountain Women's Backpacking
Day 1

Welcome orientation and camping in Rocky Mountain National Park

Our adventure begins today at REI Co-op’s flagship store in Denver, where similarly minded intrepid travelers gather to begin the expedition of a lifetime. After an orientation by our experienced trip leaders, we have an opportunity to put their advice to good use and pick up any last-minute items. We then travel as a group from the heart of Denver to the scenic basins and wild cliffs of Rocky Mountain National Park. Our front-country campground tonight helps us bridge the transition from urban to wilderness, providing ample opportunity to experiment with our gear as we eagerly anticipate the miles we’re about to share. Tonight’s dinner, prepared by our guides under the stars of the Milky Way, feeds body and soul alike. We then cap off our evening with a sunset hike to breathtaking Sprague Lake before turning in for a cozy night’s sleep in our nylon cocoons. Lunch and dinner included.

Hiking: 1.8 miles, Elevation gain/loss: Minimal; Van transfer: 2 hours

Day 2

Backpacking to Thunder Lake

After a warm and nourishing breakfast, we leave civilization behind and begin our trek into the craggy heart of one of the nation’s highest national parks. Carrying everything we need on our backs, our guides lead the way to our first steps on the Wild Basin Trail. Today we ease into the weight of our packs with a steady and rewarding climb along the North St. Vrain River, from 8,500’ to our camp at 10,600’ of elevation. Fern-lined meandering paths, blue skies, ponderosa pine and the stunning Copeland Falls help keep our minds off our burning legs and lungs. This gratitude for a place that offers equal parts challenge and reward will carry us through each mile to Thunder Lake, our home away from home for the next two nights. Our guides serve up a hearty dinner as we settle in for the night. All meals included.

Hiking: 5.4 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +2,188’ / -90’; Van transfer: 1 hour

Day 3

High alpine lakes in the shadow of the Continental Divide

We awake to the sun breaching our tents, the smell of freshly brewed coffee or tea, and the knowledge that we have nothing to do today except explore nature. After breakfast, we pack our daypacks, leaving camp and our heaviest gear behind—we’ll sleep here again tonight. We hike toward the Continental Divide, a natural boundary that separates North America’s river sheds to the east and west, where they flow into the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans respectively. As we hike, our guides will impart their knowledge of this verdant ecosystem and its native wildlife: pika, marmot, black bear, bighorn sheep, bobcat, mountain lion and everyone’s favorite: moose. As we search for these local residents, we approach the rocky shores of high alpine lakes, where the brave can take a chilly dip in deep blue waters. Today we explore a part of the national park where trails end and few venture further. We return to our cozy camp for dinner and the incredible sight of sunset fading to twilight as a deep black, star-filled night emerges. All meals included.

Hiking: Up to 8.4 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +2,267' / -2,267'

Day 4

A trio of waterfalls, then back to Denver

Sunrise in the backcountry just can’t be beat. We rise from our tents, cradle our hot beverages and breakfasts, and join our fellow backpackers in welcoming the day. As we pack up camp, we reflect on all we’ve done and all we’ve learned. For some, this has been their first expedition, while for others it’s part of long obsession with Earth’s most serene and silent places. We’ve all added an unforgettable page to the scrapbook of our lives, learning new things and making new friends along the way. While pondering all this we follow our guides on a new route that takes us past towering Ouzel Falls and roaring Calypso Cascade. When we return to our starting trailhead we enjoy a picnic lunch while reliving some of our favorite moments from the trip. We then make our way back to Denver, arriving at REI Co-op’s flagship store between 4 - 5pm. Outgoing flights should be booked no earlier than 8pm. Breakfast and lunch included.

Hiking: 6.1 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +325’ / -2,414’; Van transfer: 1.5 hours

Itinerary map for Rocky Mountain Women's Backpacking

Gear List

This gear list has been created to help you choose the best equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff. The weather and other conditions at the time of your arrival will dictate what clothing and equipment you will be required to use each day and what (if anything) can be left behind. It may be a necessary precaution that you bring certain items on the list, even if it is uncertain whether or not they will be needed.

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.