Rocky Mountains Backpacking – North Inlet

Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 4-10

Starting from


for REI Members

$1,099 for non-members


Jul 2019-Sep 2019

Spend four days backpacking amongst the majestic Rocky Mountains.

A backpacking trip through the Rocky Mountains is the perfect way to relax and recharge the soul. Our journey takes us from cascading creeks to towering peaks, instilling us with a sense of amazement and rejuvenation. As each step carries us deeper into the wilderness, we take time to drink in our surroundings and discover the natural wonders of the Rockies.

Our backcountry adventure begins on Rocky Mountain National Park's quiet western border outside Grand Lake, CO. Follow the well-designed and maintained Continental Divide Trail, passing idyllic flower and wildlife studded meadows, rushing creeks teeming with trout, tumbling waterfalls, and clear alpine lakes—all while surrounded by a sea of craggy summits reaching heights of over 14,000 feet. We make camp seven miles from civilization beneath snow-capped mountains. Along the journey, our guide's comprehensive knowledge of the Park's natural and human history, trails, and little-known secrets round out the perfect weekend wilderness adventure.

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Trip highlights

  • Backpack through the Colorado Rocky Mountains on a 4-day trip
  • Explore the wonders of the Rockies, from cascading creeks to towering peaks
  • Follow expert guides who impart knowledge of local flora, fauna, and history


This trip is rated Moderate Plus [3–4]. Participants should be capable of hiking 7-10 miles (5-7 hours) daily carrying a backpack that weighs 35-40 pounds; total weight is dependent on personal gear choices. The elevation change is moderate, varying from 800' to 2600' of change per day. We will be traveling at high altitude and the thinner air can be challenging in terms of performance.

  • Backpacking

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 trailheads; campsite and permit fees.


Group Camp 1 night, Backcountry Camping, 2 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Meet at Denver REI for orientation before heading to the national park.

Our trip begins today at 1pm at REI's Denver store. Here we meet our guides and fellow travelers, have a chance to go over the gear list and pick up any last minute items. Be sure to bring your pack and gear, as we will depart in our van from here. Following a scenic drive up and over the Continental Divide to our site in the Rockies we pitch our camp. After the tents are erected, we will gather for a rundown of the trip itinerary, distribution of group items, gear check, as well as packing tips and demonstration. While the guides prepare dinner we get to know each other in eager anticipation of our adventure. Camp dinner and all camping fees are included tonight.

Day 2

Backpack to a remote, wooded site near North Inlet where our campsite awaits.

We depart our camp after breakfast for a short drive to our starting point on the shores of Grand Lake on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Beginning at an elevation approximately 8500', we make our way into the park's backcountry where lush meadows lead to soaring peaks. Civilization is just a few miles away, but we might as well have stepped back in time and fallen in stride with the explorers of yesteryear. We stride along the rocky trails that follow the course of this glacial valley, stopping often to soak in the views of our new home. As you walk, be sure to visually inspect every meadow and rocky out cropping as this area abounds with moose, elk, and the comical and entertaining marmot. Our destination today are the pines near a lively stream where the jagged peaks and pine ridges frame the sky where the clean air and soft, natural sounds welcome us to our home for the next two nights. All meals Included.

Backpacking: 7 miles; elevation gain: 800'.

Day 3

Hike up the side of the valley to stunning overlooks and two alpine lakes.

Today, wearing only light day packs, we explore the Park's array of natural destinations. Fantastic manifestations of geological history and current processes of nature await us around every bend or rise in the trail, impressive treasures we enjoy mostly alone; we can relish not having to fight tourists fumbling with cameras to capture the stunning beauty. We'll explore beautiful alpine lakes nestled in mountain cirques, delighting in taking a less-traveled path. Despite the grandeur of your surroundings, take time to examine the intricate details of this harsh alpine environment, from the colorful lichen, wildflowers and cute pika seeking out a life here, to the evidence of powerful winter avalanches. Tonight we return to the same camp for another great meal and evening under the stars. Those with an interest in fishing can try their luck next to camp in a creek teeming with cutthroat trout (licenses and equipment not provided). All meals included.

Hiking: 8 to 10 miles with multiple options; elevation gain: 2,000 to 2,600'.

Day 4

Backpack through a glacial valley and drive Trail Ridge Road.

Wake up to the quietness our mountain hideaway offers, and savor a few moments over a steaming cup of coffee as the dew dries and steams in the morning sun. After breaking camp, we once again tread through the ancient glacial valley following the free flowing water that will eventually find its way into homes throughout the western United States—we have been camping and exploring in the literal birthplace of the mighty Colorado River. Arriving at the trailhead does not mean the trip is over as we take a different route back to Denver across the Rockies on Trail Ridge Road. Stunning vistas of glacier valleys, Longs Peak, and immense alpine tundra fields open up as we savor every bend in this famous highway. Herds of elk, distant lakes, and endless views unfold along the way. The glory of Rocky Mountain National Park unfolds for us, beckoning to us for further exploration. We arrive back to Denver around 6pm where we bid our farewells to our newfound friends. If flying out tonight, flights out of Denver shouldn't be made earlier than 8pm. Breakfast and lunch included.

Backpacking: 7 miles; elevation loss: 800'.

Rocky Mountains Backpacking – North Inlet Departures 2019

  • Prices are per person, based on double occupancy
  • All dates are tentative and based on permit availability.
  • Don't see the trip you're looking for?
    Book a private departure
  • Prices are per person, based on double occupancy
  • All dates are tentative and based on permit availability.
  • Don't see the trip you're looking for?
    Book a private departure
  • Prices are per person, based on double occupancy
  • All dates are tentative and based on permit availability.
  • Don't see the trip you're looking for?
    Book a private departure

Gear list

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.

What to pack

Packed by REI

  • All Group Cooking Gear
  • Bear Canister
  • Group First Aid Kit
  • Stoves and Fuel
  • Tent(s)
  • Water Filter

Packed by you (Required)


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Travel Documents

  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)

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.

Meet your guides

Sam F.

Growing up outside Chicago, Sam traveled and camped all over the country with his family. Today he's a graduate of the NOLS Outdoor Educator Mountaineering and Rock Climbing course, Wilderness First Responder, ACA canoe instructor, and REI guide since 2015.

Meet your guides

Tim D.

This REI Top Guide award winner spent years in Taos as a rafting guide, ski instructor and sous chef. He's a certified Wilderness First Responder and Swift Water Rescue Technician, and when not guiding likes exploring cliff dwellings or reading a good book.

Adventure Expert


Rocky Mountain National Park is the stuff backpackers dreams are made of. It's an idyllic escape into an alpine wilderness filled with jagged peaks, sparkling lakes and a precious solitude that revives the spirit.


Great experience

The group dynamic was awesome and the whole experience was amazing. First of all, the guides were great. They were knowledgeable, fun, and helpful. Secondly, the food was amazing (no, really!). There was plenty of foo...

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