Author: Emily@TMBtent

Lake Havasu Camping Guide

With 400 miles of shoreline and an average of 300 sunny days each year, Lake Havasu is a perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Technically a reservoir on the Colorado River,…

With 400 miles of shoreline and an average of 300 sunny days each year, Lake Havasu is a perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Technically a reservoir on the Colorado River, this desert oasis straddles the border between California and Arizona and is easily accessed from Phoenix or Las Vegas. There are endless ways to enjoy Lake Havasu, including boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, and golf. No matter how you choose to spend your days, camping at Lake Havasu is certainly the best way to spend your nights.

There are tons of great camping options on and near Lake Havasu, including developed campgrounds, boat camping, dispersed camping, and RV parks. Read more to find your perfect Lake Havasu campsite!

In This Post…

Kayak on the water with mountains in the background Lake Havasu

There are tons of great ways to enjoy the water on Lake Havasu.

 

Lake Havasu Camping Basics

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping on Lake Havasu. Before we dive in, there are a few important regulations to note:

  • From April-September, there is a two-night minimum for weekend reservations and a three-night minimum for holiday weekend reservations at any of the Arizona State Park campgrounds near Lake Havasu.
  • Only camp in designated campgrounds or backcountry areas.
  • Always store your food so that it cannot be accessed by wildlife.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

Detailed information on fires, pets, and more can be found in the sections below.

When to Camp at Lake Havasu

Spring: This can be a great time to camp at Lake Havasu. The weather in March is typically lovely, although there is definitely a party scene in late March and early April around spring break. By May, daytime temperatures average in the mid-90’s. The springtime wildflowers are spectacular.

Summer: It is extremely hot at Lake Havasu in the summer months. Expect daytime temperatures to soar above 100 degrees on most days between June-September, with nighttime lows in the 80’s. Camping can be difficult in this kind of heat, but it can be possible with proper cooling strategies and hydration. It’s also monsoon season, which brings with it afternoon clouds and occasional thunderstorms.

Fall: It remains quite hot at Lake Havasu until about mid-October, when daytime temperatures finally drop into the low 80’s. October and November are great times to enjoy all of the many activities that Lake Havasu has to offer.

Winter: Daytime highs in the winter tend to stay in the 60’s and 70’s, making this a wonderful time for hiking, biking, and birdwatching. Campers will need to be prepared for chilly nights in the low 40’s. Expect a bit more precipitation from January-March, although the desert climate still keeps most days dry and sunny.

What to Bring

Preparing for your Lake Havasu camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping at Lake Havasu:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners. Propane stoves are permitted at all camping areas, even the boat-in sites.
  • Portable water container – These portable water containers are a lifesaver, especially as some camping areas do not have water available.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is essential when camping, particularly in the hot temps that are common at Lake Havasu. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Shade Structure – The sun can be intense in Lake Havasu’s desert environment, and not all of the campsites have reliable shade. A pop-up canopy like this one is easy to pack and can be moved around to maximize shade at any time of day.
  • Lake Havasu Fish-N-Map: This waterproof map shows detailed underwater contours and habitats. It’s a perfect companion for fisherman and other water enthusiasts.
  • Waterproof phone case: Easily access your device for photos and texts while keeping it protected on the water!
Camp chair on the beach at Lake Havasu

Camp chairs are also great for relaxing on the beach!

 

Reservations and Permits

Permits are not required to camp along Lake Havasu, although you’ll need to purchase a pass to camp at the BLM and State Park shoreline boat camping sites. The one exception is dispersed camping on Arizona State Trust Lands; campers must purchase a permit to overnight in these areas. See the Dispersed Camping section for details.

It is possible to reserve your campsite in advance at all of the state park and private campgrounds near Lake Havasu. The shoreline boat camping sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay an entrance fee in addition to your camping fee to camp in any of the state parks.

In the busy seasons (spring, summer and holiday weekends), it is essential to reserve your campsite as far in advance as possible, as these sites fill up quickly.

Fires

Generally speaking, campfires are permitted at developed campgrounds and in designated fire pits or grills only. However, both Arizona and California are frequently under fire restrictions and may not allow campfires (only gas camping stoves). This website has updates and helpful tools for checking current fire restrictions. Alternatively, check with the ranger or campground host upon arrival.

Fires are never permitted at the Arizona State Park boat-in sites.

Pets

Pets are welcome at Lake Havasu, but keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Be mindful of the heat’s effects on animals and prepare accordingly.
  • Pets are not allowed on most developed beaches, including those at Lake Havasu, Cattail Cove, and River Island State Parks.

Where to Get Supplies

The most convenient place to stock up on camping supplies is the centrally-located Lake Havasu City, AZ. Here you’ll find grocery stores, restaurants, outdoor retailers, gas stations, a medical center, and more.

If camping on the southern end of Lake Havasu, the town of Parker, AZ is a nearby option where you’ll find grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.

Alternatively, Needles, CA is close to the northern edge of Lake Havasu, and it has restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores.

Many of the campgrounds along the shores of Lake Havasu have small shops that provide snacks, souvenirs, and basic goods. There are shops at Buckskin Mountain State Park and Lake Havasu State Park.

Palm trees on the beach at Lake Havasu

You might feel like you’re on a tropical island, but it’s easy to get supplies while you’re camping at Lake Havasu!

 

Developed Campgrounds on Lake Havasu

There are several developed campgrounds along the shoreline of Lake Havasu, nearly all of which are located on the Arizona side of the reservoir. Campers can choose from privately-run campgrounds and RV parks, as well as two Arizona State Parks. Keep reading to see all of the developed camping options and find your perfect site.

State Park Campgrounds

Keep in mind that at all of the state park campgrounds, there’s a two-night minimum stay on weekends from April-September, and a three-night minimum for holiday weekends during this period.

Cattail Cove State Park

Number of sites: 61
Fee: $30-35/night
Capacity: 6 adults, 10 individuals max per site. $15 fee for second vehicle.
Type: Tent and RV (30 and 50 amp hookups available)
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

Located about 15 miles south of Lake Havasu City, Cattail Cove State Park is an excellent place to enjoy the best of what Lake Havasu has to offer. The park boasts a lovely white sand beach, boat ramp, kayak and paddleboard rentals, hiking trails, and shaded picnic areas. The campground is well-equipped for tents or RVs, as some sites can accommodate rigs up to 60 feet long.

Each site includes a picnic table and BBQ/fire pit, and the campground has a bathroom with flush toilets, showers, a dump station, and a fish cleaning station.

In addition to the 61 sites available within the developed campground, there are also several first-come, first-served primitive boat-in sites located along the park’s shoreline. Each site has a picnic table, BBQ, and access to pit toilets. There is a camping fee of $20/night for primitive boat-in sites which can be paid at the ranger station or self-service pay kiosk (known as the “iron ranger”).

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Lake Havasu State Park

Number of sites: 47
Fee: $35/night, $40/night for beachfront sites
Capacity: 6 adults, 12 individuals max per site. $15 fee for second vehicle.
Type: Tent and RV (50 amp hookups available)
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

This popular campground is located in the heart of Lake Havasu City, providing easy access to nearby services as well as great outdoor recreation. Lake Havasu State Park is a great place for fishing, swimming, and boating. The Mohave Sunset Trail and the Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden both offer great opportunities for scenic strolls.

The Windsor Beach Campground has 47 sites arranged in a loop, with many sites located along the beach. Each site has a picnic table, BBQ/firepit, potable water access, and 50 amp electrical hookups. Most sites also have a shade structure. Showers and flush toilets are available at the campground, and there’s a dump station nearby.

Click here to view a map of the campground.

Sunset Paddle boarding Lake Havasu State Park

Sunset paddle boarding at Lake Havasu State Park.

 

Private Campgrounds

In addition to the two state park campgrounds described above, there are several more privately-run campgrounds that enjoy a waterfront location on Lake Havasu. This section covers all of the campgrounds that are directly on the lake. For more great options in the surrounding area, check out the Developed Campgrounds Near Lake Havasu section.

Campbell Cove RV Resort

Number of sites: 108
Fee: $43-52/night
Capacity: Fee for extra people
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed (max 2)

One of the best parts about this RV park is its central location. Campbell Cove is located just steps from the beach and boat ramp at Lake Havasu State Park, and also near restaurants, shops, and other services. In addition to its convenient placement, it also offers great amenities at a good value. The deluxe sites have full water views, while the standard sites are a bit tight and have less of a view.

Amenities at the Campbell Cove RV Resort include a clubhouse, restrooms with hot showers, laundry facilities, cable, WIFI, and a convenience store.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Crazy Horse Campgrounds

Number of sites: 812
Fee: $55-100/night
Capacity: Additional fee for more than two people
Type: Tent, RV, Cabins
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

This classic Lake Havasu campground has something for everyone. From deluxe waterfront sites with their own docks, to simple tent camping on grassy pitches, Crazy Horse Campgrounds can accommodate every style of camper. The campground’s location on the island near the London Bridge makes it easy to enjoy all of nearby activities in Lake Havasu City. The onsite beach, pool, and boat launch provide quick access to all sorts of water activities.

Amenities at the Crazy Horse Campgrounds include a pool, hot tub, recreation room, boat launch, bathrooms, showers, and convenience store. All sites have water and electric hookups, and all except for the waterfront sites have sewer hookups (a dump station is provided for waterfront sites).

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Sam’s Beachcomber RV Resort

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $100/night
Capacity: None stated
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Call 928-453-1550 to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

This is a great RV-only option, especially for those seeking plenty of amenities and comfort. The campground is located on the island, giving it easy proximity to Lake Havasu City and the London Bridge. The large waterfront property offers private beaches, boat launches, and docks.

Amenities include a pool, hot tub, billiards room, recreation room, restroom, showers, and laundry facilities.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Islander Resort Lake Havasu

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $52-95/night
Capacity: 6 people per site.
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed (2 max)

The Islander RV Resort boasts over 1.5 miles of spectacular shoreline on Lake Havasu’s island. It is a great place to unwind and enjoy the plentiful beautiful views and well-maintained amenities throughout the park. Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the adjacent course next door.  There are a variety of site types to choose from, including several with lake views, and all sites have 30/50 amp electrical, water, and sewer hookups.

Amenities at the Islander Resort Campground include a pool, marina, boat launch, swim beach, outdoor games, bathhouses, and laundry facilities. Free WIFI is available near the reception.

Click here to view a map of the campground.

Havasu Springs Resort

Number of sites: 136
Fee: $60/night (plus additional resort fee)
Capacity: None stated.
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

This attractive resort is located at the southern edge of Lake Havasu, just a couple miles from the Parker Dam. From the resort, you can drive to the town of Parker, AZ in less than twenty minutes or to Lake Havasu City in about thirty minutes. The location is perfect for boating, swimming, and fishing, as guests can utilize the numerous boat docks and beaches on the property. Each RV site features lake views, full hookups, and close proximity to all of the resort’s great activities.

Amenities at the RV resort include bathrooms, showers, beaches, laundry facilities, a pool, a restaurant/bar, outdoor games, and WIFI.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Black Meadow Landing

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $35/night (tents), $35-70/night (RVs)
Capacity: Extra fee for more than two people
Type: Tent, RV
Reservations: Recommended. Call (800) 742-8278 to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

Black Meadow Landing is located on the southern end of Lake Havasu, near the Parker Dam. This location gives the campground a quieter, more remote feel, although it’s still only a short drive from towns and services. Plus, the onsite water and land gas station, shop, diner, and propane sales make it even more convenient to set up camp on this end of the lake. The campground offers boat slips and a boat launch, making it easy to maximize your time on the water. There are a variety of full hookup RV sites, as well as several grassy tent sites to choose from. All sites have picnic tables. Keep in mind that the road to the campground is a bit rugged and could pose difficulties for certain vehicles.

Amenities at the Black Meadow Landing Campground include bathhouses, laundry facilities, a diner, gas station, marina, shop, boat storage, 5-hole golf course, fish cleaning station, and WIFI (extra charge).

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Havasu Landing Resort and Casino

Number of sites: 180
Fee: $20/night (tents), $45-65/night (RVs)
Capacity: None stated.
Type: Tent, RV
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve. 
Pets: Allowed

The only camping option on the California side of Lake Havasu, Havasu Landing offers tons of activities and campsites to suit every style. The adjacent casino and restaurant are a popular draw for campers here, as are the pool, beach, marina, and arcade. A ferry runs frequently between the campground and London Bridge, making it easy to explore other parts of Lake Havasu from your campsite. A variety of full hookup sites can accommodate RVs of all sizes, and there’s also dry RV and tent camping available on the waterfront.

Amenities include restrooms, showers, a pool, beach, casino, restaurant, grocery store, fuel station, ferry service, laundry facility, marina, and free WIFI.

Click here to view a map of the campground.

Jet ski on Lake Havasu

Camping on the waterfront provides easy access to all of the great activities Lake Havasu has to offer.

 

Boat Camping on Lake Havasu

Boat-in camping is a fantastic way to fully appreciate all of the beauty and recreation opportunities that Lake Havasu has to offer. Simply pack up your camping gear and explore the shoreline by boat until you find an open beach site. Park your vessel, set up your tent, and get ready to enjoy a perfect evening under the stars!

There are nearly 100 primitive beach campsites located along the Arizona shoreline of Lake Havasu. Most of these sites are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), but there are also a couple dozen shoreline sites managed by Arizona State Parks.  It’s important to pay attention to which type of campsite you’ve selected (BLM or state park) so that you can purchase the appropriate pass, as the two are not interchangeable. All sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and all include access to pit toilets, picnic tables, and BBQs.

Click here to view a map of all boat-in sites on Lake Havasu

 

BLM Boat-In Sites on Lake Havasu

Number of sites: 73
Fee: $10 for day use + additional $10 for overnight use
Capacity: 6 people ($2 for each additional person after that)
Type: Tent
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Pets: Allowed

Dotted along nearly twenty miles of shoreline on the Arizona side of Lake Havasu, there are plenty of great BLM sites for boat campers to choose from. If you’re visiting on a weekend or holiday, be sure to arrive early to ensure you can find an open site. You can pay for your campsite ahead of time online, or you can deposit cash into the iron ranger self-pay kiosk located near your campsite or at the Lake Havasu BLM field office. Campers can stay at their boat-in site for up to 14 days.

Each site has a picnic table, BBQ grill (check current fire restrictions before using), and trash can. Most sites also have a shade structure and toilet.

Click here to view a map of all BLM boat-in sites on Lake Havasu

Click here for GPS coordinates of all sites and for a .kml file of the area. 

Arizona State Park Boat-In Sites on Lake Havasu

Number of sites: 32
Fee: $20/night
Capacity: None stated
Type: Tent
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Pets: Allowed

In addition to the BLM sites described above, there are 32 shoreline sites located in Cattail Cove State Park. Just like the BLM sites, the state park boat-in sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Upon arriving at an unoccupied site, you can pay the fee by depositing cash or check into the “iron ranger” kiosk located at the campsite. All sites have picnic tables, BBQ grills, and access to pit toilets. Fires are not permitted at any time of year, but propane stoves are allowed. Plan to pack out all of your trash so that you can do your part in leaving no trace.

Click here for GPS coordinates of all sites and for a .kml file of the area. 

Boat camping on Lake Havasu

Boat-in camping is a fantastic way to experience Lake Havasu.

 

Developed Campgrounds Near Lake Havasu

If you’re willing to venture a bit further from the shores of Lake Havasu, there are tons of great camping opportunities in the surrounding area. Below are some of our favorites:

RV Parks Near Lake Havasu

Prospectors RV Resort

Number of sites: 87
Fee: $50/night
Capacity: 2 people (additional fee for extra people)
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Call 928-764-2000 to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

This RV park gets good reviews for being clean, quiet, and well-kept, with nice facilities. It’s located about 15 minutes north of Lake Havasu City, making it easy to get to shops, services, and recreation. Prospectors is especially popular with off-roading enthusiasts, and guests can access miles of trails directly from the campground.

Amenities include a pool, spa, laundry facility, game room, clubhouse, fitness room,  and WIFI. All sites have full hookups.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Havasu Falls RV Resort

Number of sites: 93
Fee: $55/night (winter), $45/night (summer)
Capacity: 2 people (additional fee for extra people)
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Call (928) 764-0050 to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

With beautiful mountain views, excellent facilities, and close proximity to Lake Havasu City and the waterfront, this is a great option for your RV vacation to Lake Havasu. There are lots of fun activities and events for guests, as well as plenty of nice places to unwind and relax throughout the campground.

Amenities include a pool, recreation hall, laundry facility, WIFI, and cable TV. All sites offer full hookups.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

River Lodge Resort

Number of sites: 400+
Fee: $65/night (riverfront), $45/night (all other sites)
Capacity: 4 people
Type: RV ONLY
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed with $25 refundable deposit

Those traveling to the southern end of Lake Havasu might consider heading a bit further down the Colorado River to stay at the lovely River Lodge Resort. The campground’s location provides easy access to the Parker Dam, as well as River Island and Buckskin Mountain State Parks. The resort prides itself on maintaining an old-school low key atmosphere, while still providing modern amenities. All of the RV sites offer full hookups, and many are right on the river.

Amenities include a general store, yoga studio, fitness center, clubhouse, 9-hole golf course, boat launches, storage, and WIFI.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

RV Campgrounds near Lake Havasu

There’s no shortage of awesome RV campgrounds near Lake Havasu!

 

State Park Camping Near Lake Havasu

River Island State Park

Number of sites: 37
Fee: $30/night + park entrance fee
Capacity: 6 adults, 10 individuals max per site. $15 fee for second vehicle.
Type: Tent, RV
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

Located on the banks of the Colorado River just south of Lake Havasu, this is an excellent option for campers seeking a peaceful waterfront setting. It’s especially great for tent campers and small trailers, as the eight grassy waterfront sites are not suited for larger RVs. While the remaining sites do not offer as good of views, they do provide water and 20, 30, and 50-amp electrical hookups. The park has a nice beach and connects to the large trail network in Buckskin Mountain State Park.

Amenities at the River Island State Park campground include restrooms, showers, water and electrical hookups, picnic tables, and BBQs.

Click here to view a map of the campground. 

Buckskin Mountain State Park

Number of sites: 80
Fee: $35-40/night + park entrance fee
Capacity:6 adults, 10 individuals max per site. $15 fee for second vehicle.
Type: Tent, RV
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

Buckskin Mountain State Park is located just down the Colorado River from River Island State Park, and about half an hour’s drive from Lake Havasu City. It offers tons of great campsites to accommodate tents, big rigs, and everyone in between. The are twenty riverfront sites that can accommodate tents or small RVs, while the remainder of the sites can accommodate larger RVs. All sites have water and 30 amp electrical hookups, and 15 sites also have sewer hookups. When choosing a site, keep in mind that a few sites are close to a wastewater treatment plant and may have a strong smell. This is noted in the site information on the online reservation system.

Amenities at Buckskin Mountain State Park Campground include a park store, dump station, restrooms, showers, water and electrical hookups, picnic tables, and BBQs. The park has great hiking, swimming, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Click here to view a map of the campground.

Dispersed Camping near Lake Havasu

Those seeking flexibility and solitude will enjoy dispersed camping near Lake Havasu.

 

Free Dispersed Camping Near Lake Havasu

Lone Tree BLM Campground

This a convenient and scenic dispersed camping area is located about twelve miles north of Lake Havasu City, just off Highway 95. The paved access road means that it can accommodate a variety of vehicle types. While it can get a bit busy in peak season, the area is quite scaious with plenty of flat sites, so it never feels too crowded. Shade is virtually nonexistent in the area, so bring your own shade structure. Water refills are available at the nearby Walmart.

Havasu Heights BLM 

Havasu Heights is a quiet BLM camping area located north of Lake Havasu City, off Highway 95. The road can be a bit rugged at points, although most rigs should be able to access the area if they use caution. The area is known for its flat pitches, great mountain views, and spectacular sunsets.

Craggy Wash BLM

This is one of the closest and most popular dispersed camping areas near Lake Havasu. To reach it, continue north on Highway 95 just past the airport. Turn off the highway onto a dirt road and continue for a few miles. There are tons of spots to choose from, some closer to the highway and busier, while private spots can be found further up the road. Many campers have reported that the area has quite a bit of trash around, but the canyon, desert, and mountain views are still beautiful. Cell service can be spotty.

Havasu Road BLM

Located about 10 miles south of Lake Havasu State Park, this is another good BLM option that provides easy access from Highway 95. Pull off the highway onto Havasu Road (dirt, but not too rugged) and you’ll soon see several good campsites, many with fire rings. The area is very flat and can accommodate rigs of all sizes.

Standard Wash BLM

This large dispersed camping area is located about 12 miles south of Lake Havasu State Park, just off Highway 95. It is popular with ATV’s and can get crowded and noisy during peak times. That being said, the area is quite scenic and there are plenty of private, peaceful sites to choose from. The road to access the camping area is pretty rugged, and therefore not suitable for all vehicles.

“The Steps” Camping Area, Arizona State Trust Land

This camping area near the southern end of Lake Havasu gets its name from the way the landscape is carved into steps or terraces, allowing for privacy and great views at nearly every campsite. It’s important to note that a permit is required to camp on State Trust Lands. Permits are $15 per individual or $20 per family and allow users to camp up to 14 days total in the permit year. You can purchase your permit here. Additionally, those looking for other dispersed camping opportunities near Lake Havasu can refer to this State Trust Lands Map. Due to its proximity to Highway 95, traffic noise can be a bit of an issue.

Hot air balloons over the desert near Lake Havasu

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Lake Havasu camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

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Guide to Camping in Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which encompasses over 1.5 million acres of beaches, mountains, canyons, and forests, is truly an oasis like no other. The western entrance is located just…

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which encompasses over 1.5 million acres of beaches, mountains, canyons, and forests, is truly an oasis like no other. The western entrance is located just minutes from the Las Vegas metropolitan area, but the vast open spaces and natural wonders make it feel worlds away. The National Recreation Area includes Lake Mead and its 750+ miles of shoreline, Lake Mohave to the south, and the Colorado River stretching all the way east to the edge of Grand Canyon National Park.

So what’s the best way to escape the daily grind and fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Lake Mead National Recreation Area? Spending a night (or many nights) under the stars in your tent or RV! Camping allows you to make the most of your visit to Lake Mead National Recreation Area. And with over 900 campsites within the park boundaries and even more in the surrounding area, there’s a perfect site for every style of camper.

In this guide we’ll break down all of your options, from the 14 developed campgrounds and backcountry camping areas in the park, to campgrounds and free camping in the nearby area.

Lake Mead with bluffs in the background under a blue sky.

Lake Mead Recreation Area Campgrounds

The first step in planning your perfect camping trip in Lake Mead National Recreation Area is to understand a bit about the geography of the park. Lake Mead and Lake Mohave straddle the border between Nevada and Arizona along the Colorado River.

The most popular way to access the recreation area is from the Las Vegas metro area, which is near the northwest edge of the park. The campgrounds in this part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area (Las Vegas Bay and Boulder Beach) tend to be the busiest, but also the most convenient to access.

Lake Mohave is located in the southern portion of Lake Mead NRA, and can be accessed from Bullhead, AZ. Those wishing to camp along Lake Mohave can choose from two different campgrounds and numerous backcountry sites.

The Overton Arm area encompasses the northern section of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It’s bordered by Valley of Fire State Park. It takes a bit effort to get to this part of the park, meaning the campgrounds tend to be less crowded. The Overton Arm area has camping for RVs and tents at Echo Bay, and there are plenty of backcountry options as well.

Finally, the eastern side of Lake Mead NRA feels quite remote and is a good option for those seeking peace and quiet. There’s a developed campground suitable for tents and smaller RVs, as well as many backcountry options.

Check out the map below to get a general sense of where the developed campgrounds in Lake Mead National Recreation Area are located.

Reservations & Permits

Advance reservations can be made for all of the RV parks in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. For the NPS-operated campsites that are first-come, first served, plan to arrive early, as they fill up quickly on weekends, holidays, and other peak times. Most campgrounds require that you pay in cash upon arrival. This table provides reservation information for every campground in Lake Mead NRA:

CampgroundReservations Possible?How to Reserve
Boulder Beach CampgroundOnly for group sites. First-come, first-served for all other sites.Recreation.gov
Lake Mead RV Village (Boulder Beach)Yes.Visit Lake Mead Mohave Adventures or call (702) 293-2540
Las Vegas Bay CampgroundNo. First-come, first-served for all sites.n/a
Callville Bay CampgroundYes.Recreation.gov
Callville Bay RV ParkYes (Only 5 sites available).Call Callville Bay Full-Service Marina: (702) 565-8958
Echo Bay CampgroundNo. First-come, first-served for all sites.n/a
Echo Bay RV VillageYes.Visit Lake Mead Mohave Adventures or call (702) 394-4000
Temple Bar CampgroundNo. First-come, first-served for all sites.n/a
Temple Bar Marina RV ParkYes.Call Temple Bar Resort Marina: (928) 767-3211
Cottonwood Cove CampgroundNo. First-come, first-served for all sites.n/a
Cottonwood Cove Resort RV ParkYes.Visit Cottonwood Cove Resort Marina or call (855) 918-5253
Katherine Landing Campground and RV ParkOnly for full-hookup RV sites. All other sites are first-come, first-served.Visit Katherine Landing or call (928) 754-3245
Willow Beach Campground and RV ParkYes.Visit Willow Beach or call (928) 767-4747

Permits are NOT required for camping in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, including for backcountry camping. However, you will need to pay an entrance fee ($25 for vehicles, $15 for walkers/bikers) and a nightly fee if you plan to camp at any of the campgrounds.

Sunset over Cottonwood Cove, Lake Mead
Sunset views from Cottonwood Cove. Photo courtesy of NPS.

What to Bring

Preparing for your Lake Mead camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Lake Mead NRA:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – These portable water containers are a lifesaver, especially as some camping areas do not have water available.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is essential when camping, particularly in the hot temps that are common at Lake Mead. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Shade Structure – The sun can be intense in Lake Mead NRA and not all of the campsites have reliable shade. A pop-up canopy like this one is easy to pack and can be moved around to maximize shade at any time of day.
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area Map – Essential for any trip, a good map is a must.
  • Books – This book provides a fascinating look at Lake Mead’s history, and this is a good guidebook of the area.
  • Cash: Be prepared to pay in cash for your campsite, as many of the fee stations do not accept credit/debit cards.

If you plan on backpacking in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, be sure to check out this great packing list.

Swimmers on Boulder Beach at Lake Mead
It’s a good idea to bring a shade structure for your campsite and it can also be handy for the beach! Photo courtesy of NPS.

When to Camp in Lake Mead National Recreation Area

All of the campgrounds in Lake Mead National Recreation Area are open year-round. However, the desert climate makes it so that camping is quite difficult in the summer months (July-September) when temperatures routinely climb above 100 degrees. Also, keep in mind that some popular hiking trails are closed in the summertime.

Spring (April-June) and fall (October-December) are the best months to camp in Lake Mead NRA. Expect warm, sunny days and cool nights with very little rain. Springtime brings out beautiful wildflowers, as well. These are also the most popular seasons for camping at Lake Mead, so plan to arrive early and/or make reservations, if possible.

Winter (January-March) can be a wonderful time to camp in Lake Mead NRA. There are typically fewer crowds than in the peak seasons, and the cooler weather is great for hiking and biking. Nighttime lows can dip into the 30’s, so campers should make sure to pack warm clothing and a good sleeping bag.

Yellow Las Vegas Bearpoppies blooming at Lake Mead
Springtime brings an array of colorful wildflowers to Lake Mead NRA. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Developed Campgrounds on Lake Mead

There are nine unique developed campgrounds and RV Parks along the shore of Lake Mead . These campgrounds vary in their size and proximity to different areas of the park. Details for all nine campgrounds are below.

Boulder Beach Campground

Number of Sites: 148 sites
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes. No hookups
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Season: Open all year

A campsite at the Boulder Beach Campground in Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Most of the sites at Boulder Beach have great views and some shade. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir

The Boulder Beach campground is arranged into one large camping area flanked by four additional loops on one side. The campground has lots of lush vegetation, which provides shade and privacy for many sites. Nearly all sites have great views of Lake Mead and/or the River Mountains.

The campground is located near the mile-long Boulder Beach, a popular spot for swimming, boating, and fishing. There are several easy, family-friendly trails in the area, and the Hoover Dam is just a short drive away.

Every site at the Boulder Beach campground has a picnic table and firepit. Most sites can accommodate large RVs and there is a dump station, although there are no hookups. WIFI, bathrooms, and drinking water are available at the campground, but there are no showers.

There are five group sites at the Boulder Beach Campground. Each site accommodates 12-30 people and costs $80/night. Only tent camping is permitted at the group sites. You must reserve group sites in advance. Reservations can be made at recreation.gov

Boulder Beach Campground Map
Map of the Boulder Beach Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Lake Mead RV Village

Number of Sites: 115 sites
Fee: $45-60/night
RVs: Yes (no tents).
Reservations: Call (702) 293-2540
Season: Open all year

RV campers looking for full hookup accommodation in the Boulder Beach area will love Lake Mead RV Village. This friendly RV park is easy to get to, but it has a quiet and peaceful feel. It is situated near Boulder Beach and all of its great activities.

All sites offer full hookups, including cable and WIFI. There are back-in and pull-through sites available. Lakeside sites are more expensive, but many campers report that the views are worth the premium rate. Pets are welcome.

Amenities include restrooms, showers, outdoor games, laundry, propane for purchase, and a convenience store.

An RV Parked at Lake Mead RV Village, Boulder Beach
Lake Mead RV Village. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Las Vegas Bay Campground

Number of Sites: 84 sites
Fee: 
$20/night
RVs:
Yes. No hookups
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
Open all year

A tent under a large tree at the Las Vegas Bay Campground in Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Shade and views from a campsite at the Las Vegas Bay Campground. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

The best part about this campground is its close proximity to the shops, restaurants, amenities, and attractions in Las Vegas. It is located about 40 minutes from The Strip and just 15 minutes from the city of Henderson, which also offers great activities and nightlife. Despite the fact that it’s so close to the city, the Las Vegas Bay Campground feels quiet and close to nature.

The campground does not provide lake access, and it’s about a 20-minute drive to a boat launch, marinas, and other waterfront activities. Closer to Las Vegas Bay, you’ll find great birdwatching and hiking along the 3.9 mile Bluffs Trail. The Las Vegas Bay picnic area has covered picnic tables, potable water, restrooms, and grills. Nearly every site at the Las Vegas Bay campground is well-shaded, and the lush vegetation at the campground gives it the tranquil feel of an oasis.

Each of the campsites at the Las Vegas Bay campground have a picnic table, grill/fire pit, parking space, tent pad, and access to WIFI. There are restrooms (no showers), potable water, and a dump station on site. Most sites can accommodate large RVs, but there are no hookups.

Map of the Las Vegas Bay Campground, Lake Mead Camping
Map of the Las Vegas Bay Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Callville Bay Campground

Number of Sites: 52 sites
Fee: 
$20/night
RVs:
Yes. No hookups
Reservations: 
Can be made HERE
Season: 
Open all year

A picnic table and fire pit at a site at the Callville Bay Campground, Lake Mead
The Callville Bay Campground. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

This campground is perfectly situated for boating and water sport enthusiasts. It is walking distance from the marina, where you can rent a variety of watercraft or launch your own. The Callville Bay Campground is also walking distance from the Fountain Sight Lounge restaurant and nearby snack bar. Additionally, the Callville Summit hiking trail is easily accessed from the campground, and it is highly recommended for its panoramic views of the Lake Mead area.

The NPS-run Callville Bay Campground accommodates tents and RVs, but there are no hookups. RV campers looking for full hookups should consider staying at the nearby Callville Bay RV Park. Campers seeking greater solitude can find great backcountry spots and private coves near the Callville Bay area.

The 52 sites at the Callville Bay Campground are arranged in one large loop. Each site has a parking area, level tent space, picnic table, and firepit. There is WIFI and cell service available. The campground has restrooms, potable water, and a free dump station. Campers can use the pay showers and laundry facilities at the nearby Callville Bay RV Park.

Reservations can be made up to six months in advance. CLICK HERE to reserve your campsite.

Map of the Callville Bay Campground
Map of the Callville Bay Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Callville Bay RV Park

Number of Sites: 5 sites
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes (no tents).
Reservations: Call (702) 565-8958
Season: Open all year

This is a very small RV park with just five sites. It is located on the lake next to the Callville Bay Marina, where you can rent watercraft or launch your own. The marina area also has a restaurant and a small shop.

Each site is large enough for big rigs and provides full hookups, WIFI, a picnic table, and a grill. There are showers and laundry facilities on site. Campers can use the dump station and water refill station at the nearby Callville Bay Campground.

Open sites at the Callville Bay RV Park, Lake Mead.
The Callville Bay RV Park has five sites with full hookups. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Echo Bay Campground

Number of Sites: 37 sites (more in the overflow area)
Fee: 
$20/night
RVs:
Yes. No hookups
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
Open all year

A campsite overlooking Echo Bay, Lake Mead National Recreation Area camping
Great views from a campsite at Echo Bay. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Located on the shores of the northern Overton Arm of Lake Mead, the Echo Bay Campground is a great option for those wanting to venture further from civilization and enjoy the peace and solitude of this remote location. The campground is especially perfect for fishing, either from one of the great coves in the area or via the Echo Bay boat launch. Hikers will also enjoy exploring the Redstone Trail or the historic ghost town of St.Thomas.

The campground is divided between a lower and upper loop. The lower loop contains all 37 of the official campsites, open year round. The upper loop is used as overflow during busy periods, and remains closed in quieter seasons.

Each site has a parking space, picnic table, and grill/fire pit. There are flush toilets, sinks, and drinking water taps available throughout the campground (no showers). A fish cleaning station is located on site. The main office sells snacks and fuel. Cell service is unreliable at Echo Bay and there is no WIFI.

RVs are welcome at the Echo Bay campground, although not all sites can accommodate large rigs. There are no hookups, but there is a free dump station on site.

Map of the Echo Bay Campground, Lake Mead
Map of Echo Bay Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Echo Bay RV Village

Number of Sites: 58 sites
Fee: $30/night
RVs: Yes (no tents).
Reservations: Call (702) 394-4000
Season: Open all year

The Echo Bay RV Village offers spacious full hookup back-in sites to accommodate RVs of all types and sizes. It is organized into two loops, with sites on the outer loop priced a bit higher than those on the inner loop. With room for boat parking and a nearby launch, it is especially convenient for those looking to spend time on the water. In addition to nearby fishing opportunities, the location of the Echo Bay RV Village provides easy access to hiking trails and picnic areas.

Amenities include water, sewer, and electric hookups, restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. There is WIFI available on site, although it is a bit spotty. A gas station and small convenience store are located at the main office, and there’s a fish cleaning station nearby.

Vehicles parked at the Echo Bay RV Village at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
The Echo Bay RV Village. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Temple Bar Campground

Number of Sites: 71 sites
Fee: 
$20/night
RVs:
Yes. No hookups
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
Open all year

Campsites at the Temple Bar Campground in Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Campsites at the Temple Bar campground. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Located on the eastern side of Lake Mead, the Temple Bar area is a quiet oasis for hikers, boaters, and anglers. Its remote setting means that it has wide open views and excellent stargazing. The NPS-run Temple Bar Campground provides basic accommodation for tent campers and RVs (no hookups). While it is not situated directly on the lake, it is located near the Temple Bar Marina, which offers boat rentals and launching. The marina also has a restaurant, bar, and convenience shop

The Temple Bar campground is arranged in one large loop, with four roads cutting through the middle. Plentiful trees provide shade and privacy between sites. Each site has a picnic table and grill. Restrooms, sinks, and drinking water taps are located at the campground and there is a dump station on site for RVs. Cell service is unreliable at the Temple Bar campground and there is no WIFI.

In addition to the NPS campground, there are options for RV and backcountry camping in the Temple Bar area.

Temple Bar Campground Map
Map of the Temple Bar Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Temple Bar RV Park

Number of Sites: 10 sites
Fee: $30-35/night
RVs: Yes (no tents).
Reservations: Call (928) 767-3211
Season: Open all year

In addition to their lakeside cabins and motel, the Temple Bar Resort Marina also offers a small RV park with 10 full hookup sites. Sites can be rented on a nightly or monthly basis. The RV park is close to a boat launch, restaurant, trails, and many great coves that can be explored by land or water.

Amenities include full hookups, picnic tables, restrooms, coin-operated showers, laundry and WIFI.

An RV parked at Temple Bar RV Park, Lake Mead
RV sites at Temple Bar RV Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Developed Campgrounds on Lake Mohave

There are four developed campgrounds and RV parks on Lake Mohave. Each unique camping option provides access to great recreational activities, such as hiking, boating, fishing, and scuba diving. Keep reading to learn which campground is right for you.

Cottonwood Cove Campground

Number of Sites: 45 sites
Fee: 
$20/night
RVs:
Yes. No hookups
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
Open all year

Campsites at the Cottonwood Cove Campground, Lake Mohave.
Sites at the Cottonwood Cove Campground (upper loop). Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Beach enthusiasts will love this waterside campground! It is walking distance to a sandy swimming beach and a marina where you can rent a boat or launch your own. The surrounding area is perfect for leisurely strolls along the beaches and coves, or mellow hikes like the Desert Discovery Trail. There’s a café, fuel station, and shop near the campground.

The 45 sites are arranged into two loops, an upper and a lower. The lower loop is easier to access and it is closer to the beach, but it can get pretty noisy and crowded. The sites are quite narrow, and RVs may find this especially challenging. Some sites are shaded by trees, but not all.

Each campsite has a picnic table, fire pit, and parking area. The campground has flush toilets, sinks, drinking water, a fish cleaning station, and a picnic area. RVs are welcome, although spots are narrow and there are no hookups. RVs looking for more amenities should check out the Cottonwood Cove RV Park next door.

Map of Cottonwood Cove Campground, Lake Mohave
Map of Cottonwood Cove Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Cottonwood Cove RV Park

Number of Sites: 72 sites
Fee: 
$41-5$0/night
RVs:
Yes.
Reservations: 
Can be made HERE or by calling (855) 918-5253
Season: 
Open all year

This spacious RV Park is perfectly positioned for enjoying Lake Mohave to the fullest. Located close to the marina, a swimming beach, a café, and a convenience store, there is no shortage of activities and amenities in the area. Views of the lake and the surrounding mountains are gorgeous.

Each of the 72 RV sites at the campground includes a picnic table, grill, and full hookups. Restrooms, showers, and laundry are available on site. Bring a shade structure, as there’s not much shade at the campground.

Cottonwood Cove RV Park Lake Mohave Camping
Cottonwood Cove RV Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Katherine Landing Campground & RV Park

Number of Sites: 157 Tent/RV sites, 25 RV-only sites
Fee: 
$20/night (basic site), $40/night (RV w/hookups)
RVs:
Yes.
Reservations: 
Can be made HERE
Season: 
Open all year

A campsite at Katherine Landing, Lake Mohave
A basic tent/RV site at the Katherine Landing Campground. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Katherine Landing is a lovely destination for RV and tent campers alike. The area is home to a marina, swimming beaches, boat rentals, and plenty of great fishing spots. There are good hiking trails nearby, including the Lake View Trail and the Fisherman’s Trail. Both the tent and RV sites are within walking distance of the marina, swim beach, restaurant, and convenience store.

Amenities at all sites include a picnic table, parking space, and access to restroom, shower, and laundry facilities. Basic campground sites have grills and and are suitable for tents or RVs, but they do not have hookups. These sites have lots of nice vegetation, which provides shade and privacy. The RV sites have full hookups, but offer less shade from trees and shrubs. WIFI and cell phone service are available at the campground.

RV sites at the Katherine Landing RV Park, Lake Mohave
Full hookup sites at the Katherine Landing RV Park. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Willow Beach Campground & RV Park

Number of Sites: 9 Tent sites, 28 RV sites
Fee: 
$35/night (tent site), $60/night (RV w/hookups)
RVs:
Yes.
Reservations: 
Can be made HERE
Season: 
Open all year

The Willow Beach Campground and RV Park enjoys a unique location along the Black Canyon Water Trail and has river, mountain, and desert views throughout. This is a great place to take a paddle tour of some of Lake Mohave’s best sites, or to explore on your own by renting a boat or kayak from the marina. There’s also a nice fishing pier close to the campground. The dramatic Arizona Hot Spring Trail is just a short drive away.

The campground has 28 RV sites with full hookups. There are also 9 tent-only sites, but it is important to note that the tent sites cannot be accessed by vehicle. You’ll need to walk a short distance to reach your campsite.

All sites have a picnic table, fire ring, and access to restroom, shower, and laundry facilities. The RV sites offer water, sewer, and electric hookups. WIFI is available at the campground.

An overhead view of the Willow Beach RV Park and Campground on Lake Mohave
An overhead view of the Willow Beach RV Park and Campground. The walk-in tent sites are in the foreground. Photo courtesy of NPS/Andrew Cattoir.

Backcountry & Dispersed Camping in Lake Mead National Recreation Area

There are endless options for backpacking and dispersed car camping in Lake Mead National Recreation Area for those looking to get off the grid. Whether you want to hike to a secluded spot, overnight with your boat in a private cove, or camp with your vehicle along a quiet backcountry road, you’ll have tons of great places to explore along the shores of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave.

Dispersed camping Echo Bay Lake Mead
Dispersed camping in a cove near Echo Bay. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Dispersed Car Camping

The most popular way style of backcountry camping in Lake Mead NRA is dispersed car camping. There are numerous backroads that give you access to off-the-beaten track campsites. There is no fee or permit required for dispersed vehicle camping, but it is important to choose a campsite in an area where camping is permitted.

Additionally, the following guidelines must be followed when car camping in the backcountry:

  • You may only stay at a backcountry campsite for 15 days at a time, and you can camp in Lake Mead NRA for up to 90 days every year.
  • Adhere to seasonal fire bans.
  • Pack out all waste (including human and pet waste).
  • Pets are generally permitted, but pay attention to area signage.
  • Check the weather in advance and prepare for extreme conditions, especially in the summer heat.
  • Vehicles must stay on designated roads. Off-roading is not permitted anywhere in Lake Mead NRA.

The following maps show where dispersed car camping is allowed in Lake Mead NRA.

Hoover Dam Area

The Hoover Dam Area encompasses much of the western side of Lake Mead and extends down to the boundary with Lake Mohave. This is a popular and easy to access area for dispersed car camping.

Lake Mead dispersed camping Hoover Dam area map
(Click to enlarge)

This map shows all of the roads where you can camp for free in the backcountry. Recommended dispersed camping areas in the Hoover Dam area include Crawdad Cove (Road #90) and Government Wash (Road #87).

Lake Mohave Area

The Lake Mohave Area encompasses the entire shoreline of Lake Mohave and reaches down to the southern tip of Lake Mead NRA near Bullhead City, NV. Some of the best backcountry camping in this area can be found in the many secluded coves along the shore of Lake Mohave. Several coves are accessible by dirt road, and backcountry toilets are available at Nine Mile Cove and Cottonwood Cove East.

Map of Lake Mohave dispersed camping areas.
(Click to enlarge)

This map shows all of the roads where you can camp for free in the backcountry. Recommended dispersed camping areas in the Lake Mohave area include 6 Mile Cove (Road #31 is a good option for 2WD vehicles) and Nellis Cove (Road #24). Keep in mind that camping is NOT allowed at Telephone Cove, Placer Cove, Cabinside Point, and Princess Cove.

Overton Arm Area

The Overton Arm area encompasses the northern branch of Lake Mohave and is bordered on the west by Valley of Fire State Park. Some parts of the Overton Arm area are quite remote, so make sure you prepare accordingly. Remember to bring plenty of drinking water, as refill points are scarce.

Map of dispersed camping areas in Overton Arm area, Lake Mead
(Click to enlarge)

This map shows all of the roads where you can camp for free in the Overton Arm area backcountry. The most highly recommended dispersed car camping location in this area is Stewart’s Point (Road #103 and Road #108). This is the only camping spot remaining on Overton Arm that provides lake access, due to low water levels.

Temple Bar Area

The Temple Bar area encompasses the eastern section of Lake Mead, and it is bordered on its eastern edge by Grand Canyon National Park.

Map of dispersed camping areas in Temple Bar area of Lake Mead
(Click to enlarge)

This map shows all of the roads where you can camp for free in the backcountry. The most highly recommended dispersed car camping locations in the Temple Bar Area are Bonelli Bay (Road #69) and Pearce Ferry. Keep in mind that many of the roads in this area, particularly north of the lake, are very rugged and should not be attempted without a good 4WD vehicle.

A cove in the Temple Bar area of Lake Mead NRA
A cove in the Temple Bar area. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Backpacking in Lake Mead NRA

If you prefer to travel by foot, there are limitless hike-in backcountry options in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Although there are no official multi-day hiking routes in Lake Mead NRA, you can start your backpacking adventure on one of the park’s great day hikes. From the trail, you can find a secluded cove or scenic canyon and pitch your tent.

Arizona Hot Springs is one of the most popular backpacking destinations in Lake Mead NRA, but keep in mind the hot springs are closed in the summer months.

Backcountry camping is generally permitted anywhere in the park, provided you adhere to the guidelines below.

  • NO camping within 1/2 mile of a road (unless car camping on approved roads).
  • You must camp at least 100 feet away from springs and watering holes
  • If you are camping within 1/4 mile of the shoreline or hot springs, you must use a bag or container to pack out all solid human waste (and TP!)
  • Pay attention to seasonal fire restrictions

Make sure to take the proper precautions to stay safe in the backcountry. In addition to the appropriate backpacking gear, bring plenty of water (1 gallon per person, per day), sun protection, a topographic map, and a GPS device.

Arizona Hot Springs Backpacking Lake Mead
The Arizona Hot Springs Trail. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Before we dive in, there are a few important regulations to note:

  • Camping is allowed for up to 90 days out of every consecutive 12 months.
  • You cannot camp for more than 30 days in any developed campground.
  • You cannot stay in any backcountry site for more than 15 days at a time.
  • No more than eight people per campsite.
  • Always store your food so that it cannot be accessed by wildlife.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

Detailed information on fires, pets, wildlife, and more can be found in the sections below.

Fires

Outside of seasonal fire restrictions (which are typically May-September), fires are permitted at campgrounds and in the backcountry at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Below we’ve outline the most important considerations for fires in both the developed campgrounds and in the backcountry.

Fires at Developed Campgrounds

  • Fires must be less than 3 feet in diameter.
  • Fires are only permitted in designated grills, fire rings, or portable fireplaces.
  • Do not cut wood from nearby trees or bushes for fires.
  • Completely extinguish all fires with water. Do not cover with sand.

Fires in the Backcountry

  • Fires must be less than 3 feet in diameter.
  • Fires must be above ground. Clear all rock rings, charcoal, and ash before you leave.
  • Do not cut wood from nearby trees or bushes for fires.
  • Do not make a fire within 10 feet of the nearest beach logs or vegetation (100 feet when fire restrictions are in place).
  • Completely extinguish all fires with water. Do not cover with sand.
Silhouettes of people around a campfire on the beach at Lake Mead
Backcountry campers enjoying a fire on the beach.

Pets

Pets are generally welcome in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, including on all hiking trails, and in developed areas and campgrounds. You can also bring your pet on beaches and into the backcountry, unless otherwise stated (check area signage or ask a ranger).

If you bring your furry friend along on your Lake Mead camping trip, please remember these regulations:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times.
  • Do not leave your pet unattended in your vehicle.
  • Always properly dispose of pet waste.

Where to Get Supplies

Many areas in Lake Mead NRA provide easy access to food, water, and fuel. In addition to the park’s many restaurants, fuel stations and convenience stores are located at all of the major marinas, including Callville Bay, Las Vegas Bay, Boulder Beach, Willow Beach, Temple Bar, and Echo Bay.

Outside of the park, there are plenty of services available regardless of which direction you’re traveling from.

On the west side of Lake Mead NRA, you can find tons of restaurants, lodging, entertainment, and shopping in either Henderson, NV or Boulder City, NV.

Bullhead City, AZ is the closest town on the southern edge of the park, just south of the Davis Dam. Here you’ll find lodging, grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.

To the north of Lake Mead NRA, the closest place to resupply is Overton, NV. The town has options for dining, lodging, groceries, fuel, and outdoor retailers.

Hikers on the Railroad Trail Lake Mead
The Historic Railroad Trail is one of many great pet-friendly hikes in Lake Mead NRA. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Camping Near Lake Mead National Recreation Area

With so many great camping options within Lake Mead National Recreation Area, you may never feel the need to venture beyond its boundaries in search of a campsite. However, if the campgrounds are full or you want to be closer to town, there are plenty of great campsites just outside Lake Mead NRA.

Check out your best options for RV camping and tent camping, and free dispersed camping near Lake Mead National Recreation Area below:

Kayakers enjoying the Black Canyon Water Trail, Lake Mead.
Kayakers enjoying the Black Canyon Water Trail. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Campgrounds Near Lake Mead NRA

Those camping in an RV or tent will have plenty of options just outside of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The best option for you will depend on which side of the park you’re planning to explore. We’ve provided RV and car campgrounds near the west, south, and north sides of Lake Mead NRA. Pay attention to the details provided for each campground, as some do not allow tents.

Campgrounds on the West Side of Lake Mead NRA

Las Vegas KOA Journey at Sam’s Town

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30-60/night
Capacity: None stated.
Type: RV, full hookups available. NO TENTS.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Not only does this RV park offer all of the great amenities you’d expect from a KOA, but its location makes it the perfect basecamp for exploring both Las Vegas and Lake Mead. It is just steps from Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino, where you can enjoy the hotel’s facilities or catch a shuttle to the Las Vegas Strip. It’s also just 30 minutes from the Lake Mead Visitor Center.

Amenities include WIFI, a pool, and a dog park.

Canyon Trail RV Park

Number of sites: 145
Fee: $48/night (RV sites), $20/night (tent sites)
Capacity: 2 people (extra fee for additional people)
Type: RV, full hookups available. Tents.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Located just ten minutes from the Lake Mead Visitor Center, this friendly RV park is a quiet and convenient option for those looking to enjoy the surrounding area. It is also situated close to the shops, restaurants, and services in Boulder City. The campground welcomes everyone from tent campers to big rigs and the facilities are clean and well-kept.

Amenities include showers, laundry, a pool, and free WIFI.

Campgrounds on the South Side of Lake Mead NRA

Davis Camp

Number of sites: 170
Fee: $40/night (RV sites), $20/night (tent or dry RV sites)
Capacity: 4 people (extra fee for additional people)
Type: RV, full hookups available. Tents.
Reservations: Recommended for RVs. Tent sites are first-come, first-served. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

This Mohave Country Parks Campground enjoys a lovely setting along the banks of the Colorado River. It’s just a ten-minute drive from gas stations and restaurants in the small town of Laughlin, NV, and it is also about ten minutes from the Katherine Landing Marina on Lake Mohave. Many campsites are right on the beach, making it easy to cool off with a dip in the river! The area can get very crowded in the summer, so get there early to score a first-come, first-served tent site.

Amenities include restrooms, showers, picnic areas, laundry, a dump station, a fishing pier, and a boat launch. Cell phone reception is typically strong in the area.

There are full and partial hookup sites available for RVs. Click here to view a map of the campground.

Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort RV Park

Number of sites: 740
Fee: $28/night
Capacity: Not stated.
Type: RV, full hookups. NO TENTS.
Reservations: Recommended. Call 1-800-227-3849 or Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

This massive RV park is attached to Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort and Casino. This means that RV campers get access to the many amenities at the hotel, including the pool, fitness center, and business center. Additionally, there’s a shuttle that will take you to nearby casinos. The location gives you easy proximity to Lake Mohave, as the Katherine Landing Marina is less than 10 minutes away.

Amenities at the RV park include restrooms, showers, laundry, propane sales, and a dump station. Click here to view a map of the RV park.

Campgrounds on the North Side of Lake Mead NRA

Valley of Fire State Park

Number of sites: 72
Fee: $20/night (NV residents) or $25/night (non-NV residents) +$15 park entrance fee
Capacity: Not stated.
Type: RV with hookups, tent.
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

This is a great option for campers looking to enjoy both Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead NRA. There are campgrounds in the park. They are close to one another and both can be accessed just off Highway 169 and about 30 minutes from Lake Mead NRA. Valley of Fire is a very popular destination and the campgrounds fill up quickly, so get there early to snag a site.

Each campsite has a shaded picnic table and grill. There are showers, restrooms, water taps, and a dump station on site. Click here to view a map of the park.

A rock formation at Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park.

Free Dispersed Camping Near Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Muddy Mountains Wilderness

This BLM land is adjacent to Lake Mead NRA on its northwest side. Because it is a designated wilderness area, you’ll need to hike at least half a mile from the road in order to camp. One exception to this rule is along the Bitter Springs Backcountry Byway, a rugged unpaved road that runs through the foothills of the Muddy Mountains. Adventure seekers and nature lovers will appreciate the pristine beauty, lack of crowds, and dramatic rock formations that characterize this landscape. Come prepared with plenty of water, and don’t attempt it in the summer heat. Make sure to check out the renowned Bowl of Fire while you’re there.

Mohave Trails National Monument

Located close to the southwestern edge of Lake Mohave, this large BLM monument offers plenty of dispersed desert camping. Balancing Rock is a is a good place to camp if you plan on visiting Lake Mead NRA, as you can get from your campsite to the Katherine Landing Marina in less than an hour. Keep in mind that many of the roads are rugged and sandy and should only be attempted with a 4WD vehicle.

Christmas Tree Pass, Spirit Mountain Wilderness

Christmas Tree Road runs through the Newberry Mountains on the Spirit Mountain Wilderness BLM land, just west of Lake Mohave. There are a handful of good campsites near the top of the pass, although they are only suited for tent campers or small RVs. It is located about 45 minutes from the Katherine Landing Marina on Lake Mohave, and the road is typically passable for all vehicle types. The views are spectacular and the atmosphere is peaceful.

Snowbird Mesa-Poverty Flats

This is a convenient and scenic option near the town of Overton on the northern edge of Lake Mead NRA. The large area can accommodate plenty of campers without feeling too cramped. From the camping area, you can reach Stewart’s Point (Lake Mead) in less than twenty minutes and Valley of Fire State Park in less than 10 minutes. The gravel access road is typically passable for all vehicle types and there is decent cell reception. RV campers can use the free dump station at the Echo Bay Campground.

Footsteps in the sand along the Fisherman's Trail in Lake Mead NRA

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Lake Mead National Recreation Area camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

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Walker’s Haute Route Accommodation and Refuge Guide

Trekking the Walker’s Haute Route is an unforgettable adventure. Of course, the alpine beauty along this rugged trail from Chamonix to Zermatt is an obvious highlight, but the charming villages…

Trekking the Walker’s Haute Route is an unforgettable adventure. Of course, the alpine beauty along this rugged trail from Chamonix to Zermatt is an obvious highlight, but the charming villages and mountain refuges you’ll experience on your trek are equally as wonderful. From luxurious hotels in posh mountain towns to rustic refuges perched in remote locales, there are so many incredible ways to experience the rich culture and camaraderie found along the Walker’s Haute Route.

If you want to make the most of your self-guided Walker’s Haute Route experience, it is essential to do a little advance planning when it comes to accommodation. Many places book up early in the season, and some options are much better than others.

In this guide, we’ll cover the need-to-know information on Haute Route refuges and other accommodations. We’ve also included an excellent directory of the best accommodation and refuges for every style, budget, and itinerary.

In This Post

Looking for an all-in-one Haute Route planning resource? Check out our awesome guide!

LEARN MORE

Types of Haute Route Accommodation

There are accommodation options along the Walker’s Haute Route to suit every budget and travel style. While not all of these options are available at every stage of the route, you can certainly customize your itinerary to fit your needs.

We’ve provided a brief explanation of each of the options below:

Hotels

Typically small and independently owned, the hotels along the Haute Route provide a welcome dose of luxury to weary hikers. Unless otherwise noted by the hotel, expect all of the usual amenities (hot shower, private bathroom, breakfast offered, linens and towels provided, etc). Hotels typically cost upwards of €60 per person (with an extra supplement for singles). For an additional fee, many hotels offer half-pension (AKA half-board or demi-pension) which includes dinner and breakfast. A few hotels along the route have dortoirs in addition to private rooms. Dortoirs are dormitories that offer a good budget option.

Gites d’Etape and Auberges

These are simple guest houses offering basic, dorm-style accommodation. Half-pension (dinner and breakfast) is typically included in the price. There are shared bathroom facilities with hot showers. Bed linens are usually provided. These are a good option for those who want to stick to a smaller budget, but don’t want to carry camping gear. Expect to pay around €50 per person for half-pension. 

Cabane du Mont Fort on a sunny day along the Walker's Haute Route

Mountain Refuges

We consider a stay in a mountain refuge (aka mountain huts or rifugios) to be a highlight of any Walker’s Haute Route trek. Set in stunning and remote locations, the ambiance at the refuges can’t be beat. Half-pension gets you a bed in a dorm (linens not provided), a delicious communal dinner, and a basic breakfast. Some refuges also offer private rooms (with shared bathrooms). Expect to pay around €45 per person for half-board in a dorm. 

A campground along the Walker's Haute Route

Campgrounds

Although they are the cheapest accommodation option along the route, WHR campgrounds can still be quite luxurious. All provide sinks and toilets, and many offer hot showers and even WiFi! Expect to pay around €12 per person to camp. Note: you cannot camp on every stage of the Walker’s Haute Route

Want to know more about camping on the WHR? Check out this in-depth post!

Approaching the Trient Glacier while hiking up the Fenetre d'Arpette trail along the Walker's Haute Route
Fantastic views of the Trient Glacier from the Fenêtre d’Arpette segment.

Should I Reserve My Walker’s Haute Route Accommodation in Advance?

This is a question that creates stress and anxiety for many hikers as they are planning for their Haute Route adventure. The short answer is, yes, you should try to book your accommodation as early as possible. However, the longer answer is a bit more nuancedWe’ve broken it down for you here, so you can plan with more confidence and less worry.

When is your trek?

If you plan to complete your trek in peak season (July-August), it’s likely that most of the refuges and guesthouses will fill up in advance. Book 3-6 months in advance.

If you’re hiking in June or September, things will probably be sold out on the weekends, but you might be okay without advance reservations during the week. However, keep in mind that some refuges are closed in June and/or September.

Where do you plan on staying?

Mountain refuges are the most important to book ahead of time. Many of these huts are quite small, so they fill up quickly. Several refuges accept reservations year-round, typically allowing you to book up to 12 months in advance. Some, however, do not respond to reservation requests during the winter months (September-March, typically). You should still try to email or call the refuge to reserve your spot as soon as you know your itinerary, even if it’s prior to March. When they finally get around to responding in the springtime, they often fill requests in the order in which they received them.

Gites, auberges, and guesthouses should be your next priority when it comes to advance bookings. This is especially true in the smaller villages where accommodation options are limited, and/or if you have specific preferences for your lodging (ex; private room, linens provided, etc). In terms of when you should make your bookings, the rules are similar to refuges. As soon as you’ve made your travel plans, reach out to the gite/guesthouse (or book online). For peak summer months, it’s optimal to have these bookings made by the end of March.

For larger hotels, you have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to making reservations. You should definitely still try to do it as early as possible, but they have more rooms and are often located in places with greater availability of lodging options.

You do not need to make advance reservations for any of the campgrounds on the Walker’s Haute Route. In fact, we recommend that you don’t. This will allow you to maximize the freedom and flexibility that camping provides, and it will make it much less complicated to check-in at the campgrounds.

I waited until the last minute…Am I doomed?

Certainly not! You can still have an amazing Haute Route trek, but you may need to be a bit more flexible and creative when it comes to finding places to stay. The first thing you should do is contact all of the places you would like to stay to check if they still have availability. If some key stops are sold out, it’s always possible to make some tweaks to your itinerary.

I’m more of the spontaneous type…Can I do the Walker’s Haute Route without booking ahead?

Yes you can, and we admire your free spirit! The easiest way to hike the WHR without a set itinerary is to camp. For those who prefer to stay indoors, if you plan your trek for mid-week in June or September and you arrive at your accommodation early in the day, you will likely be just fine. If you’re hiking during peak times, get familiar with the transportation options and nearby villages so you have back-ups if your first choice of accommodation is full.

Cascades spill into Lac Bleu on the Walker's Haute Route
Lac Bleu.

Walker’s Haute Route Accommodation Cost

Prices vary greatly from place to place, but generally speaking, here’s what you can expect to pay for accommodation along the Walker’s Haute Route.

  • B&B/Guesthouse/Hotel: €65+ (per person/per night)
  • Gite d’Etape/Auberge: €50 (per person/per night w/half pension)
  • Mountain Refuge: €45 (per person/per night w/half pension)
  • Camping: €12 (per person/per night)

In our accommodation directory, we’ve provided our recommendations for high-end, mid-range, and budget options at all of the typical Walker’s Haute Route stops. We’ve defined those categories as follows:

  • High-End: €85+ (per person/per night)
  • Mid-Range: €40-85(per person/per night)
  • Budget: <€40 (per person/per night)

Read more: How Much it Cost Us to Hike the Walker’s Haute Route

Cooking a meal on a camp stove outside Cabane de Moiry on the Walker's Haute Route
Self-catering is a great way to keep your accommodation costs low on the Walker’s Haute Route.

Walker’s Haute Route Refuges: What You Need to Know

What to Expect

Mountain refuges on the Walker’s Haute Route are rustic and communal at heart. Many are set in remote locations that can only be reached by foot or pack mule, making resupply an impressive endeavor.

Due to their off-the-grid nature, they are relatively basic. Luxuries like hot water and electronics charging are limited and will likely come at an additional cost. Wifi and cell service are virtually non-existent at mountain refuges. Most refuges are cash-only, so make sure you bring enough!

While a few refuges have a small number of private rooms available, by and large you will be sleeping in a dormitory with anywhere from 4-16 beds (mostly bunk beds stacked two or three high). You’ll be provided with a mattress, pillow, and blanket, but you will need you bring or rent your own sleep sheet.

Unfortunately, bed bugs have been an issue at some of the Haute Route refuges in the past few years. It’s a good idea to check ahead for outbreaks and/or closures and pack some bed bug spray.

Bathrooms are also shared and typically (but not always) separated by gender. You can’t drink the water at some refuges, so check to see if you’ll need to purchase or filter your drinking water.

Staying in a mountain refuge is a magical and memorable experience. There is nothing like swapping stories with fellow hikers over a shared meal and watching a sunset in some of the world’s most stunning mountain scenery. Mountain refuges truly are one of the very best parts of the Walker’s Haute Route!

What’s Included

Most WHR refuges provide half-pension (AKA demi-pension or half board). This includes your bed for the night, as well as dinner and breakfast. Dinner is often a lavish, multi-course affair. They can typically cater to vegetarians (notify them in advance), although other special diets might not fare as well. Breakfast is very simple and typically consists of cold cereal, bread, jam, and tea/coffee.

Alcohol and snacks can be purchased a-la-carte, and a packed lunch can usually be ordered for the next day (additional fee applies).

Expect to pay extra for a hot shower and if you’d like to rent a sleep sheet. Some refuges ask a small fee for electronics charging.

What to Pack

All refuges on the Haute Route require you to use a sleeping bag, sleep sheet, or sleeping bag liner. While you can rent them in some places, if you plan on staying in several refuges, it is a good idea to bring your own. Additionally, if you want to shower, you will need to bring your own towel.

In our opinion, good earplugs and an eye mask are essential for dormitory sleeping. There’s nothing more frustrating than being kept up by a loud snorer when you’re exhausted from a big day on the trail!

Boots are not allowed inside the refuges, so many provide slippers for you to wear while indoors. If you’d prefer to wear your own pair, make sure to pack them.

For a complete list of refuge-specific gear, be sure to check out our Walker’s Haute Route Packing List.

The terrace at Cabane de Moiry.
The terrace at Cabane de Moiry.

Walker’s Haute Route Accommodation Directory

This directory is organized to follow the typical west-east route from Chamonix to Zermatt. For each place, we’ve provided our most highly recommended options, sorted by budget category. We’ve also included key details and linked to contact information.

Our budget categories are as follows:

  • High-End: €85+ (per person/per night)
  • Mid-Range: €40-85(per person/per night)
  • Budget: <€40 (per person/per night)

The directory includes recommendations for these places:

A busy street with outdoor cafes in Chamonix
A sunny afternoon in Chamonix.

Chamonix

High-End: Hotel le Morgane

Just minutes from shops, restaurants, and the bus terminal, Hotel le Morgane’s location is perfect for those starting the Walker’s Haute Route. Furthermore, the rooms are spacious and well-equipped, the staff is friendly, and they have great amenities like free luggage storage and a heated pool and spa.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: None, breakfast for an additional fee

Mid-Range: Chamonix Lodge

This hotel isn’t fancy, but it is an excellent value for your money. There are a variety of room types available, many with ensuite bathrooms. A good breakfast, luggage storage, and access to the communal kitchen and hot tub are all included with your stay. The hotel is located about a mile from the city center, but they loan bikes for you to use during your stay.

Room type(s): Private, some ensuite, dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Budget: Le Chamoniard Volent

Le Chamoniard is the best place to find a cheap bed in pricey Chamonix. It’s not luxurious, but this well-run hostel is consistently clean and they are friendly to Haute Route walkers. Guests have access to a communal kitchen and lounge area, plenty of bathrooms and showers, and free wifi. The hostel is located a little over a mile from the city center, but it is also conveniently near a bus stop.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: None. Breakfast, packed lunch, and/or evening meal available for an extra fee. 

Argentiere

High-End: Les Grands Montets

Start your Haute Route adventure in style at this cozy chalet. Pamper yourself in the pool, jacuzzi, and spa, or take in the views while relaxing on the wonderful terrace. This is a great way to ease into the demands of your trek, especially as you’re still adjusting to long days on the trail.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast available for an extra fee

Mid-Range: Gite le Belvedere

This is a friendly and affordable option in the center of Argentiere. There are a variety of rooms types to suit every budget and preference. The gite has a cozy sitting area, lovely terrace, and good wifi. The on-site restaurant serves up delicious meals and snacks.

Room type(s): Private,some ensuite, dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast available for an extra fee

Budget: Hotel les Randonneurs

This traditional hotel is conveniently located just steps off the Walker’s Haute Route trail. The rooms are a bit dated, but the hosts are friendly and the hotel caters specifically to hikers. There are a variety of room options, all of which are quite affordable. Guests can order breakfast and/or an evening meal for an additional fee. The nearby road can be a bit noisy, so make sure you pack your earplugs!

Room type(s): Dorm, Private,some ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner available for an extra fee

Trient/Le Peuty

High-End/Mid-Range: Auberge du Mont Blanc

Located near Trient’s iconic pink church, the Auberge du Mont Blanc is a great value. There are private rooms and dorm beds available, and many of the rooms have lovely views. The auberge also offers a spacious sauna and cozy lounge for guests to enjoy. The bus stop is just steps away, convenient for those who may need to detour or exit the trail early.

Room type(s): Private w/shared bathrooms, Dormitory, studio apartments
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast or Half-Board available (extra fee may apply)

Mid-Range: La Grande Ourse

This friendly family-run establishment offers a variety of room types, including dorms, private rooms, and even studio apartments. Though the rooms are basic, they have been recently renovated to feel clean and fresh. The top floor apartments have great views of the surrounding area. Breakfast, dinner, and/or picnic lunches can be purchased for an additional fee.

Room type(s): Private w/shared bathrooms, Dormitory, studio apartments
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast or half-board available 

Budget: Refuge du Le Peuty

The low-maintenance types will love this rustic bunkhouse with bohemian vibes. The refuge is located directly on the WHR route and offers a good, affordable option with plenty of opportunities to get to know fellow hikers. There are shared unisex bathrooms and snacks and drinks can be purchased in the yurt lounge next door.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board
The pink church in Trient, Switzerland, on the Walker's Haute Route
The lovely village of Trient.

Champex

High-End: Hotel Splendide

Hotel Splendide has a lot going for it, like the rich breakfast spread and gorgeous vintage furnishings, but all of that pales in comparison to its million-dollar views! Soak in the phenomenal Alpine vistas from the sweeping terrace or from the comfort of your own room (book a south-facing room for the best views).

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: Hotel Ptarmigan

This lovely B&B is a scenic and relaxing option for Haute Route walkers. There are just three rooms, two of which have balconies and lake views. All of the rooms share a bathroom. There’s a spacious terrace that makes the most of the B&B’s superb lakefront location.

Room type(s): Private, shared bathroom
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Budget: Pension en Plein Air

Champex, like most Swiss resort towns, is very expensive. Budget accommodation in Champex is very limited, and Pension en Plein Air is your best bet for cheap lodging. Don’t expect anything beyond the basics and you won’t be disappointed.

Room type(s): Private, Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-Board

Le Chable

High-End: B&B Les Acacias

This lovely bed and breakfast is located about a mile outside of the village of Le Chable, but it’s worth the extra walk. The service is excellent, the rooms are well-appointed, and the breakfast is ridiculously good. Pets are welcome, and you can expect to be greeted by the resident cat during your stay. The large terrace is a great place to savor the peaceful atmosphere and mountain views.

Room type(s): Private w/ private bathrooms
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: B&B de la Poste

If you are looking for a convenient location, friendly service, and an overall great value, look no further than B&B de la Poste. This little gem is located in the center of the village, very close to the train station and cable car (which is a great option for those looking to reduce the climbing to reach Mont Fort). The rooms are basic, but they are clean and functional. Guests enjoy the generous breakfast spread.

Room type(s): Private, some ensuite 
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast (extra fee)

Budget: B&B Claudy and Elizabeth Michellod-Duthiel

Staying in this cozy B&B feels like staying with family-you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome and the chalet is traditional and homey. The rooms are small and basic with shared bathrooms, but there are thoughtful touches throughout (like the tea/coffee station in each room). Breakfast is simple, although the homemade bread and local ingredients make it feel special. This is a unique and charming option for budget travelers.

Room type(s): Private w/shared bathrooms
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast and option for half-board (extra fee)

Cabane du Mont Fort

Mid-Range: Cabane du Mont Fort

Upon reaching Mont Fort, you’ll have your first opportunity to experience a night in an alpine mountain hut. You’re in for a treat! Due to its remote location, Cabane du Mont Fort enjoys spectacular mountain views in every direction. The traditional building is bursting with cozy charm, and the food is tasty. Hot showers are available (5 CHF for 5 minutes) and there is free wifi in the common areas. If you want to save money, skip the half board option and self-cater in the well-stocked communal kitchenette.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-Board
Views from Cabane du Mont Fort on the Walker's Haute Route
Views from Cabane du Mont Fort.

Cabane de Louvie

Mid-Range: Cabane de Louvie

Being located midway between typical Haute Route stops, Cabane de Louvie won’t make sense for most WHR itineraries. That being said, it presents a lovely option for those wishing to push on past Cabane du Mont Fort (which is very possible if you take the Ruinettes cable car at the start of your day). There’s a steep climb to reach the Cabane, which as a result enjoys spectacular views of Lac de Louvie and the surrounding mountains. In addition to the large dorms, there are two private rooms available.

Room type(s): Private w/shared bathroom, Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-Board

Cabane de Prafleuri (and nearby options)

NOTE: Cabane de Prafleuri is the typical stop on this stage of the Walker’s Haute Route, and it will likely be the most convenient for the majority of walkers. However, the refuge tends to get poor reviews for cleanliness and service, so some hikers may want to consider alternatives. Additionally, there are many great accommodation options spread between Mont Fort and Arolla, making it easy to customize your itinerary to fit your interests and needs. This section describes all of the possible options so you can decide what will work best for you.

High-End/Mid-Range: Hotel du Barrage

Those seeking a slightly more comfort and privacy than can be found at any of the mountain refuges in the area should continue about an hour downhill past Cabane de Prafleuri to reach the Hotel du Barrage. This large, rather unattractive building stands on its own near the Dix Barrage and offers great views of the surrounding area. The accommodation is simple, but friendly and functional. Depending on your timing, there may be the option of taking the cable car to and from the main Haute Route trail.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast, option for half-board

Mid-Range: Cabane de Prafleuri

This is the typical stop along the traditional Walker’s Haute Route. Cabane de Prafleuri has a pretty dismal reputation amongst WHR walkers, due to claims of unfriendly service, bed bugs, and poor facilities. Despite all of that, given the right expectations, you can enjoy your stay at this mountain refuge. It is basic, but the location is ideal for most walkers, and the mountain scenery is wonderful. Keep in mind that there is no drinking water available at the refuge, so you’ll need to filter or purchase it. It can be difficult to get in touch with the refuge to make reservations, so be prepared to try calling and emailing them a few times in order to receive a response.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-Board

Mid-Range: Refuge des Ecoulais

This very basic mountain refuge has 22 beds and is located about an hour past Cabane de Prafleuri. The refuge is owned by the Ski Club des Pyramides, and it is typically only manned on the weekends. It’s a good idea to call ahead and reserve a bed before arriving. There are no services here, so be prepared to self-cater and plan ahead for your water supply.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: None

Mid-Range: Refuge de la Barma

Refuge de la Barma is another rustic option located between Cabane de Prafleuri and Arolla. The buildings, renovated from an old dairy farm, enjoy beautiful views from their perch above Lac des Dix. To reach the refuge, you’ll need to continue another two hours past Cabane de Prafleuri. We don’t recommend trying to make it all the way from Cabane du Mont Fort to Refuge de la Barma in one day, but stopping here allows for more flexible itinerary options overall. The refuge is always open, but it is only manned during certain days and times. Be prepared to bring your own stove to self-cater. Call ahead for reservations and more information.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: None

Mid-Range: Cabane des Dix

Reaching Cabane des Dix requires a pretty significant and adventurous detour, which many hikers find to be a very worthwhile endeavor. The journey up to the cabane is filled with marvelous scenery, but the views at the destination are undoubtedly the best. Upon descending to rejoin the main WHR, you’ll need to cross the Glacier de Cheilon. This crossing doesn’t require any special mountaineering gear, but make sure to use care and follow the marked route. Cabane des Dix is a lively and atmospheric place to spend an evening, and the food is delicious and plentiful. It’s one of the most popular refuges on the Haute Route, so make sure to reserve your bed well in advance. There is no drinking water available at Cabane des Dix, so be prepared to purchase or filter what you need.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Credit Card or Cash
Meals included: Half-board

Read More: Walker’s Haute Route Logistics

A hotel terrace with flower boxes overlooking the Arolla valley along the Walker's Haute Route.
Views from a terrace in the village of Arolla.

Arolla

High-End: Grand Hotel & Kurhaus

If by this point in your trip you’re looking for a bit of luxury, the Grand Hotel & Kurhaus is your best bet. This beautiful historic gem offers the perfect blend of old-world charm and modern comfort. All of the rooms have attached bathrooms and amazing views. A continental breakfast is included, and you can even arrange for an on-site massage to soothe tired muscles.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: Hotel Aiguille de la Tza

This friendly hotel is located a bit further downhill from Arolla, meaning you’ll need to walk about 15-20 minutes past the village to reach it. There’s a nice path located behind the Hotel du Glacier that leads down to Hotel Aiguille de la Tza. The hotel offers a good mix of rooms, ranging from suites to dormitories, making it a good option for hikers of every budget. The attached restaurant serves up regional cuisine and good pizza. If needed, there’s a bus stop located just outside the hotel. Rooms are a bit dated, but clean and functional.

Room type(s): Private, some rooms w/shared bathrooms, dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast, option for half-board

Budget: Camping Arolla

Even if traditional camping isn’t your thing, this unique accommodation might be worth consideration. Typical budget options usually involve sharing a dorm with several other people, but Camping Arolla’s glamorous cocoon tents offer comfort and privacy at a reasonable price. Each tent has a real bed with linens provided, wood stove, cooking stove, and outdoor terrace. Showers are available for an additional fee and you can purchase fresh bread for the morning. There’s also a small shop on site that sells beer and snacks.

Room type(s): Private tent
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: None

Les Hauderes/La Sage

High-End: Hotel Dents de Veisivi

Hotel dents de Veisvi strikes the perfect balance between traditional chalet charm and modern luxury. It is located in the center of Les Hauderes, making it easy to access shops, restaurants, and public transportation. The cozy building boasts great views of the surrounding valley, particularly from the rooms on the top floor. All rooms are beautifully furnished and include plenty of thoughtful touches. The terrace makes a great place to unwind after a long day on your feet, and the restaurant is top-notch.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast available for an extra fee

High-End: Hotel de la Sage

This is the best option for those looking to stay in La Sage instead of Les Hauderes. La Sage is a smaller village with no services, and it is located uphill past Les Hauderes. Its location affords it a tranquil atmosphere and close proximity to nature, and Hotel de la Sage makes the most of those features. This excellent hotel offers cozy and well-appointed guest rooms with beautiful views. Plus, with free wifi and breakfast included, it’s a great value.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast 

Mid-Range: Hotel des Hauderes

While there’s nothing luxurious about this hotel, it is a practical and convenient stop for WHR hikers. The service is very friendly, the breakfast is good, and most rooms have balconies. The hotel is located on the main square, just steps from cafes, a bakery, and a bus stop. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms, which is a rare find at this price point.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Budget: Restaurant Gite L’Ecureuil

It can be challenging to find affordable lodging in many of the pricey Swiss villages along the Haute Route, but fortunately this friendly gite in La Sage offers a decent budget option. Accommodation at L’Ecureuil is simple: dormitories with a mixed-gender shared bathroom and a very sparse breakfast. However, the dinner is quite good and the rooms have just 4-6 beds, unlike some of the larger dormitories along the route. The location is ideal for Haute Route walkers.

Room type(s): Dormitory, shared bathroom
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast 
A wooden cafe building in Les Hauderes along the Walker's Haute Route
The main square of Les Hauderes has shops, cafes, services, and a handful of hotels.

Cabane de Moiry

Mid-Range: Cabane de Moiry

While there are a couple of alternate options on this stage of the Haute Route trek, we highly recommend spending a night at Cabane de Moiry, weather and availability permitting. This is one of the most unique and atmospheric accommodations on the entire route. Cabane de Moiry enjoys dramatic views of the nearby glacier, and the classic old refuge building blends wonderfully with the sleek new addition. If you are on a tight budget, you can save money by self-catering (although you’ll need to cook outside and bring your own stove). Those looking for slightly nicer dorm accommodations should book a bed in the new building.

Room type(s): Dormitory, shared bathroom
Payment: Cash
Meals included: Option for half-board

Grimentz & Barrage de Moiry

NOTE: Hikers must detour from the main WHR route to reach the town of Grimentz. Upon reaching Barrage de Moiry, you can take the postbus or follow a trail to the town of Grimentz. To continue onwards the next day, you can take the bus back to Barrage de Moiry, hike to Zinal to rejoin the main WHR, or take the alternate trail to Hotel Weisshorn.

High-End: Hotel Meleze

The only downside to staying at Hotel Meleze is that you won’t want to leave! This charming chalet has just five rooms, meaning that the friendly hosts are very attentive and available to help. Each of the spacious rooms has a balcony and mountain views. The on-site sauna is the perfect remedy for sore muscles, and the breakfast is excellent.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card or cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: Hotel Cristal

This hotel’s amenities, location, and cleanliness make it an excellent value. Haute Route hikers will appreciate the lovely sauna, generous breakfast, and in-room tea/coffee. Additionally, the hotel is next to the bus stop and grocery store, making it a convenient place to resupply before rejoining the main Haute Route trail.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card or cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: Gite de Moiry

Besides Cabane de Moiry, this is the only other accommodation option for this stage that is situated directly on the WHR trail. Located at the Barrage de Moiry, hikers will have access to multiple route options and public transport. The gite offers simple, dorm-style accommodations, but they are a step up from a typical mountain hut. Advance reservations are required.

Room type(s): Dormitory, shared bathroom
Payment: Cash
Meals included: Half-Board
Lac de Moiry and its dam
Lac de Moiry.

Zinal

High-End: Pension de la Poste

This recently-renovated hotel offers clean, modern rooms and excellent service. It’s centrally located near shops and restaurants. The beds are incredibly comfortable, the showers have great water pressure, and the breakfast features homemade and regional specialties. You’ll leave here feeling energized and rejuvenated!

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: Hotel-Restaurant Le Trift

This is an excellent option for those looking for a clean, convenient, and friendly accommodation at a great price. The rooms are quite basic, but they are bright and welcoming. All of the rooms share a bathroom, which can be a bit tight at times. Guests rave about the exceptional croissants provided as part of the continental breakfast, and the restaurant is very good as well.

Room type(s): Private, shared bathroom
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Budget: Auberge Alpina

Other than camping, this is the cheapest accommodation available in Zinal. The 12-bed dormitory will be most appealing for budget hikers, although there are also private rooms available. The auberge is located on the edge of town, so you’ll need to walk about 20 minutes to reach the shops and services in the center. The friendly hosts make Auberge Alpina a wonderful choice. There is also a small chalet apartment available for rent on the property.

Room type(s): Apartment, private room w/ shared bathroom, dormitory
Payment: Cash
Meals included: Breakfast, option for half-board

Hotel Weisshorn & Cabane Bella Tola

NOTE: Reaching either of these accommodations requires a full day detour from the main Walker’s Haute Route trail. However, both are spectacular and iconic destinations that are well worth the journey, if you’ve got some extra time in your itinerary. The next day, it’s just an easy half-day walk to reach Gruben and rejoin the main WHR.

High-End: Hotel Weisshorn

Experience a true taste of Alpine history when you spend a night at this classic hotel. The Hotel Weisshorn was constructed in the late 1800’s and maintains all of its original charm, while still providing comfortable amenities. Although you won’t get a private bathroom or elevator, luxury abounds in the service, food, and fixtures. Of course, the hotel’s location is what really makes it unforgettable. Enjoy spectacular sunsets from the terrace and take in the incredible mountain vistas in every direction.

Room type(s): Private rooms w/ shared bathrooms
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Half-board

Mid-Range: Cabane Bella Tola

Those willing to hike the additional 2.5 hours past Hotel Weisshorn to reach Cabane Bella Tola will be rewarded with some of the best views of the entire trek. The refuge is set on pastureland and looks out across the Rhone Valley all the way to the Bernese Alps. Given its off-the-beaten-path location, it is typically much less crowded than other Haute Route refuges. Guests will enjoy simple facilities, free wifi, and hearty meals.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Half-board

Gruben

Budget/Mid-Range: Hotel Schwarzhorn

Hikers following the main Walker’s Haute Route trail will only have one option for accommodation at this stage of the trek. Fortunately, the Hotel Schwarzhorn offers both private rooms and dormitory beds to suit a variety of budgets. The facilities are pretty basic, but the hotel is clean and well-kept. The outdoor beer garden is a perfect place to unwind after a day of hiking. Breakfast is included and generous dinners and/or packed lunches are available for purchase. Given that this is the only place in town, it’s important to make reservatuions well in advance.

Room type(s): Private rooms w/shared bathroom, dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast, option for half-board and picnic lunch
Views from Hotel Schwarzhorn in Gruben, along the Walker's Haute Route
Views from the Hotel Schwarzhorn in Gruben.

Gasenried/Grachen

NOTE: If you plan to continue on to Zermatt via the Europaweg Trail, you should plan on stopping in either St. Niklaus, Gasenried, or Grachen before starting the Europaweg. Many hikers choose to take the bus from St. Niklaus to Gasenried and spend the night in Gasenried in order to skip a two-hour uphill walk to start the next day. From Gasenried, there is also the option of taking the detour to the resort village of Grachen. If you plan on taking the valley route to Zermatt, you can stay in St. Niklaus, Randa, or Tasch on this stage (see next section).

High-End: Hotel Gadi

While the breakfast is superb and the rooms are spotless, the excellent service is what really makes Hotel Gadi stand out. The friendly staff go out of their way to make your visit as smooth and comfortable as possible. The hotel is conveniently located in the center of Grachen, near shops, restaurants, a bus stop, and the cable car. Hikers seeking some pampering will enjoy the luxurious spa treatments and amenities.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: Hotel Alpenrosli (027 956 17 81)

With the exception of a few AirBnB’s, this is the only accommodation available in Gasenried. The hotel offers private rooms and dormitory beds, all at a very reasonable price. That being said, expect basic rooms and amenities. Since the hotel doesn’t have a website, you’ll need to call ahead to verify that they’ll be open and to make your reservation. The demi-pension is a good option since there are few other places to get a meal nearby.

Room type(s): Private rooms w/ shared bathroom, dormitory
Payment: Cash
Meals included: Breakfast, option for half-board 

Budget: Ferienhaus Allalin

Budget travelers will appreciate this no-frills hostel in the heart of Grachen. There are a variety of room types to suit many different group sizes and styles. The hostel has a lovely patio and great mountain views. The shared kitchen provides an additional layer of cost-saving opportunities. Be advised that you’ll either need to pay extra to rent bedding or provide your own.

Room type(s): Private rooms w/ shared bathroom, dormitory
Payment: Credit card or cash
Meals included: None 

St.Niklaus/Randa/Tasch

NOTE: St. Niklaus is a practical overnight stop for hikers taking both the the Europaweg Trail and the valley route option. Those taking the valley trail to Zermatt can also stay in Randa or Tasch, which are further down the valley past St. Niklaus. We recommend taking public transit to reach Randa and Tasch, as the alternative requires a very long day of walking.

High-End: Hotel La Reserve (St. Niklaus)

This hotel gets rave reviews for its beautifully-appointed rooms, delicious food, and excellent service. Every guest room has a recently-renovated ensuite bathroom and spacious balcony with mountain views. The restaurant serves up fantastic pizzas, pastas, and regional wines. The hotel is located near the train station, providing easy access to Zermatt and other towns in the area, should detours or shortcuts be desired.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite 
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast 

Mid-Range: B&B Matterhorn Golf (Randa)

The village of Randa is located about midway down the valley between St.Niklaus and Zermatt, and it is a practical stop for many Haute Route hikers. Not only does it have a train station and a grocery store, but there’s also trail access to the Europaweg. If you are looking to stay in Randa, this B&B is a comfortable and convenient option. The friendly accommodation offers functional ensuite rooms with mini-fridges, kettles, and coffee machines. The generous and delicious breakfast is the perfect way to fuel your final day on the WHR.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite 
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast 

Budget: Easy Room St. Niklaus

Budget travelers love this affordable and convenient option in St. Niklaus. The Easy Room can sleep up to four people in two single beds and one large double bed. There’s a shared bathroom, a mini-fridge, an electric kettle, and free wifi in the room, making it a great value. The friendly host provides helpful information and thoughtful touches to ensure your stay is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Book early, as this popular accommodation fills up fast.

Room type(s): Private 
Payment: Cash
Meals included: None
Looking down the Mattertal Valley towards Zermatt along the Walker's Haute Route.
Looking down the Mattertal Valley towards St. Niklaus, Randa, Tasch, and eventually to Zermatt far in the distance.

Europa Hut

Mid-Range: Europa Hut

If you intend to follow the entire Europaweg section of the WHR, you’ll need to spend a night at the Europa Hut. Fortunately, this comfortable and cozy accommodation is a perfect place to celebrate your final evening on the trail. Most of the rooms at the Europa Hut contain just four or six beds, and they feel a bit more spacious than others along the route. Views from the large terrace are magnificent. Dinner is a hearty affair, although you can expect the typical continental breakfast. As this is the primary option for not only Haute Route hikers, but others as well, it is imperative to reserve your bed well in advance.

Room type(s): Dormitory 
Payment: Cash
Meals included: Option for breakfast or half-board

Zermatt

High-End: Hotel Walliserhof Zermatt 1896

If you are ready to treat yourself after roughing it on the trail, Hotel Walliserhof is the place to do it. This hotel boasts a convenient central location and traditional Alpine charm. The spacious guest rooms are cozy, yet luxurious, and the breakfast is top-notch. The beautiful sauna and hot tub are welcome indulgences for sore muscles!

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: Hotel Alpina

This clean, comfortable hotel is an excellent value in pricey Zermatt. It is located just minutes from the town center, yet it enjoys a peaceful, quiet setting. There are a variety of room sizes and types available, making it a good option for groups, couples, and solo travelers. A tasty breakfast is included with your stay.The lovely indoor and outdoor common spaces offer plenty of great places to relax.

Room type(s): Private, some with shared bathrooms
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Budget: Zermatt Youth Hostel

When it comes to budget accommodation, this hostel is an excellent option. Dorms and private rooms are available, all of which are clean and comfortable. Your rate includes a very good breakfast buffet. As an added bonus, there is laundry available onsite. The hostel is located on the edge of town, about ten minutes from the center.

Room type(s): Private, some with shared bathrooms, Dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast
A cyclist on a street in Zermatt
Zermatt is the perfect place to celebrate the completion of your Walker’s Haute Route adventure!

Everything you need to to plan your Haute Route trek – all in one place.

Whether you prefer mountain huts or tents, fastpacking or meandering, luxury, dirtbag or something in between, we’ve got you covered.

From custom itineraries and GPS maps created specifically for you we can help you plan your perfect Walker’s Haute Route adventure!

Our downloadable Guide to the Walker’s Haute Route is ultimate resource to help you plan your perfect trip.

Walker's Haute Route

LEARN MORE

Our 50+ page downloadable guide has everything you need to know to plan your Walker’s Haute Route adventure. From three unique itineraries with custom GPS data to a full training plan, our guide is the quintessential handbook for trekking this incredible trail. Each section provides in-depth information and resources, including:

  • Stage-by-stage itineraries
  • Detailed maps for every stop
  • Complete 11-day, 13-day, and 14-day Haute Route itineraries
  • Custom GPS data for the entire route & all three itineraries
  • Offline map access for the entire route
  • Lodging recommendations
  • Getting to/from the Haute Route
  • The ultimate packing list
  • A 15-week training plan

Get your digital guide today and start planning!

Additional Resources

Cicerone Guidebook: This guidebook is an indispensable resource that we recommend to all Haute Route hikers. It has detailed notes on accommodation options, as well as practical information for all aspects of the hike. Lightweight trekkers can download an e-book version on their phone or tablet.

Chamonix.net: This site has a helpful list of WHR huts and contact information.

Keep Reading

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Guide to Camping in Colorado National Monument

From the top of its sheer cliff faces to the depths of its red rock canyons, Colorado National Monument is breathtaking on so many levels. This national treasure protects many…

From the top of its sheer cliff faces to the depths of its red rock canyons, Colorado National Monument is breathtaking on so many levels. This national treasure protects many thousands of acres of quintessential southwestern landscapes, including sweeping plateaus and towering sandstone monoliths. You can take in the scenery while cruising along the famous Rim Rock Drive, exploring one of the monument’s many great hiking trails, climbing its unique rock formations, or simply enjoying a picnic.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your days in Colorado National Monument, the very best way to spend your nights is camped out under the stars in your tent or RV.

Colorado National Monument and the surrounding areas have plenty of options for camping. From the developed Saddlehorn Campground located inside the national monument to its many backcountry options, you’ll have tons of great campsites to choose from. Beyond the borders of Colorado National Monument, there are several great campgrounds and dispersed camping areas nearby.

Birds eye view of Fruita Canyon taken from Rim Rock Drive in Colorado National Monument
Views from the famous Rim Rock Drive. Photo courtesy of NPS.

In This Post

Misty clouds in a canyon in Colorado National Monument
Colorado Monument is beautiful in any weather. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Colorado National Monument Campgrounds

Campers looking to spend the night inside Colorado National Monument have two great options. Those looking for convenience and comfort will enjoy the established Saddlehorn Campground, while those seeking adventure and solitude should consider pitching a tent in the backcountry. We’ve covered everything you need to know about both options in this section.

Saddlehorn Campground

Number of Sites: 79 sites
Fee: $22/night ($11.00 for seniors and access pass holders)
RVs: Yes, max size 40′
Reservations: Available for A and B Loop sites. Click here to reserve.
Season: A Loop sites are open all year. B and C Loop sites are open late-March through Mid-October.

The Saddlehorn Campground is conveniently located just four miles past the West Entrance of Colorado National Monument, near the town of Fruita. The 79 sites are arranged in three loops.

Click here to see a map of the Saddlehorn Campground

The A Loop is open year-round. It can be reserved six months in advance for the summer season, and is open on a first-come, first-served basis in the winter months (no services available during that time). The B Loop is open during the summer months (typically late March through mid-October) and sites can be reserved up to six months in advance. If not reserved in advance, sites in the A and B loops are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but may be used for one night only. The C Loop can be reserved for group camping, or used on a first-come, first served basis for individuals.

RVs are welcome at the Saddlehorn Campground, and there are some pull through sites in the A and B loops. There are no hookups at the campground.

During the summer months, flush toilets and drinking water are available at the Saddlehorn Campground. Each site offers a picnic table and charcoal grill. Sites #5 and #70 are accessible for people with disabilities. Nearly all of the sites offer spectacular views of the surrounding red rock scenery.

Campers sit at a picnic table at the Saddlehorn Campground in Colorado National Monument
Campers enjoying the beautiful surroundings at the Saddlehorn Campground. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Backcountry Camping in Colorado National Monument

If you would prefer to get away from the bustle of the campgrounds and enjoy more solitude in the wilderness, Colorado National Monument offers plenty of great options for backcountry campingExperienced and adventurous campers can sleep out under the stars in the spot of their choosing, provided they follow a few important rules and regulations. This option allows campers to hike on or off trail and pitch their tent nearly anywhere in the monument.

Most backcountry campers will choose to explore one of these incredible backcountry trails.

If you’re considering Backcountry Camping in Colorado National Monument, it’s imperative you know some key information.

You CANNOT Camp in the following areas:

  • Within .25 mile of developed areas and roads
  • Within 150 feet of any trail
  • Inside any streambed

Also, keep in mind:

  • Water sources are virtually nonexistent in the backcountry. You should plan on carrying at least a gallon per person per day in the summer months. Never drink from any natural water source without filtering first.
  • You are camping in bear country. Use proper techniques for securing food and other scented items that might attract bears.
  • Campfires are not permitted in the backcountry. Gas or alcohol camp stoves may be used for cooking.
  • Groups may not exceed 7 people.
  • Individual trips are limited to seven nights, and you can’t camp more than 14 nights total per calendar year.
  • Always abide by Leave No Trace Principles

Permits are required for Backcountry Camping in Colorado National Monument. Permits are free and can be picked up from the Saddlehorn Visitor Center upon arrival. Click here for visitor center opening hours.

A wooden trail sign in front of a dirt trail in Colorado National Monument
There’s a wealth of great backcountry trails and camping options in Colorado National Monument. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Colorado National Monument Camping Basics

Reservations, Permits, and Fees

It is a very good idea to reserve your spot at the Saddlehorn Campground ahead of time, as it can get quite busy during the summer months, especially weekends and holidays. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance for sites in the A and B Loops. Visit recreation.gov to reserve your campsite.

Permits are required for backcountry camping in Colorado National Monument. Permits are free and can be picked up from the Saddlehorn Visitor Center upon arrival. Click here for visitor center opening hours.

All visitors must pay an entrance fee when visiting Colorado National Monument. Campers staying at the Saddlehorn Campground will pay an additional fee per night. Backcountry camping is free in Colorado National Monument.

What to Bring

Preparing for your Colorado National Monument camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There’s also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Colorado National Monument:

Fires

Wood fires are not permitted anywhere in Colorado National Monument. Visitors staying at the Saddlehorn Campground or using one of the monument’s designated picnic areas can use the charcoal grills provided. Gas and alcohol camp stoves are allowed throughout the monument. If camping outside the monument, be sure to check local regulations and seasonal fire bans for more information before you go.

Wildlife

Colorado National Monument’s diverse landscapes host a multitude of unique ecosystems. The semi-desert ecosystem is home to a wonderful range of species. Some notable fauna include desert bighorn sheep, and several dozen species of birds, including red-tailed hawks and golden eagles. While the chance to see wildlife in their native habitat is certainly an unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to witness it, there are some precautions to keep in mind when spending time in Colorado National Monument.

Rattlesnakes: Watch your step when exploring the trails in Colorado National Monument, as it is a habitat for the midget-faced rattlesnake, which is poisonous. These snakes, like most snakes, are not particularly aggressive, so keep your distance and they’ll leave you alone.

Mountain Lions: Mountain lions occasionally pass through Colorado National Monument, although it is incredibly rare to encounter this elusive big cat. That being said, they can be dangerous to humans and it’s important to know what to do if you cross paths with a mountain lion. Learn more about mountain lion safety here.

A bighorn sheep stands on a rock in Colorado National Monument
Desert bighorn sheep are on of the monument’s most majestic animals. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Pets

If you bring your pet to Colorado National Monument, you must follow these regulations:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times.
  • Pets are allowed within campgrounds, on park roads, and in picnic areas.
  • Pets are not allowed in park buildings, on trails, or in the backcountry.
  • Do not leave your pet unattended in your vehicle. Temperatures can get extremely hot in Colorado National Monument.
  • Always properly dispose of pet waste.
  • Properly documented and trained service animals are permitted to accompany individuals with disabilities anywhere members of the public may normally go within the park.

Where to Get Supplies

Colorado National Monument is a vast area with no supplies or services available within the park (with the exception of a few snack items at the visitor center). This means it is extremely important that you enter the monument well-stocked on food, water (if there’s none available at your destination), gas, and any other necessities you may need while camping.

Visitors entering Colorado National Monument through the West Entrance can get supplies in the nearby town of Fruita. The most convenient place to get food and other supplies is the City Market, located just a five-minute drive from the West Entrance of the monument. There are a handful of gas stations off Highway 340 on the way into Colorado National Monument.

Visitors entering Colorado National Monument via the East Entrance should stock up in Grand Junction. The Alta Convenience is the closest option for snacks and gas, but there are several grocery stores, gas stations, and other services a bit further in town.

Close up of a person lighting a blue camp stove
Make sure you bring your camp stove, since there are no fires allowed in Colorado National Monument!

Campgrounds Near Colorado National Monument

If you’re seeking an established campground with modern amenities, there’s a plethora of great options within a 30-minute drive of Colorado National Monument. Another perk of these campgrounds is that many of them are close to the shops and services in one of the areas charming towns.

Fruita is a small, outdoorsy town that is just minutes from the monument’s West Entrance. Grand Junction is the region’s biggest metropolis and has a lovely downtown and plenty of services. Finally, Palisade is a bit further from Colorado National Monument, but its wine and agricultural scene make it an attractive place to set up camp. We’ve also included a couple of out-of-town campgrounds for those seeking a more rugged experience.

If you’re looking to check out any of the other Colorado National Parks or National Monuments, but sure to take a look at our other camping guides below:

Low clouds in Monument Canyon
Monument Canyon is easily accessed from the West Entrance. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Campgrounds in Fruita, CO

Bookcliff Campground (Highline Lake State Park)

Number of Sites: 32 sites
Fee: $28/night (3/1-10/31) or $14/night (11/1-2/28) + park entrance fee
Site Type(s): RVs (Site lengths vary, but some can accommodate big rigs. No hookups) Tents
Reservations: Required. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open all year.

Located about twenty minutes driving from the monument’s West Entrance, the Bookcliff Campground is a great place to camp and enjoy Highline Lake State Park. The 32 sites offer plenty of shade and nice views of the surrounding area. Most of the sites can accommodate RVs, with pull-through and back-in options available. There are also three tent-only walk-in sites that provide a bit more privacy. Campground amenities include bathrooms, hot showers (extra fee), fire pits, picnic tables, laundry facilities, and a dump station. Leashed pets are welcome.

Monument RV Resort and Campground

Number of Sites: Varies
Fee:
 $35-52/night (RV), $29/night (tent)
Site Type(s):
RVs, Tents, Cabins
Reservations: 
Recommended for peak season.
Season: 
Open all year.

While this RV park may not be the most scenic, its proximity to Colorado National Monument can’t be beat. Located less than five minutes from the West Entrance of the monument, this campground is a great basecamp for all of your outdoor adventures. Keep in mind there is an extra fee for groups larger than two. Amenities include restrooms, picnic tables, wifi, propane, dump station, laundry, a playground, pool, and an exercise room.

James M. Robb Colorado River State Park, Fruita Section

Number of Sites: 57
Fee:
 $36-41/night (RV w/hookups), $22/night (tent)+park entrance fee
Site Type(s):
RVs, Tents, Walk-in Tents
Reservations: 
Required. Click here to reserve.
Season: 
Open all year, but some services closed from 11/1-4/1

This campground offers a beautiful riverside setting that feels close to nature, while also being walking distance from the shops and restaurants in town. Full hookup sites can accommodate RVs up to 50′ long. This is a popular campground that books up quickly, so make your reservation as far in advance as possible! Amenities include flush toilets, coin-operated showers, picnic tables, fire rings, drinking water, laundry, and a dump station. Leashed pets are permitted.

Click here for a map of the campground.

A close up of orange and yellow flowers on prickly pear cacti in Colorado National Monument.
The Old Gordon Trail is easily accessed from the monument’s East Entrance, and has beautiful seasonal blossoms. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Campgrounds in Grand Junction, CO

Junction West RV Park

Number of Sites: 70 sites.
Fee:
 $45-55/night (RV), $35/night (tent)
Site Type(s):
RVs, Tents, Cabins
Reservations: 
Recommended for peak season.
Season: 
Open all year.

This is another clean and convenient option, located just 15 minutes from the West Entrance of Colorado National Monument. While it doesn’t necessarily provide a “close to nature” kind of experience, it does offer plenty of great amenities for the whole family. These include restrooms, wifi, laundry, a playground, and a convenience store.

Moondance RV and Campground

Number of Sites: 49 sites
Fee: $20/night (Tent), $40-50/night (RV)
Site Type(s): RVs, Tents
Reservations: Not required, but can be made by calling 970-245-0769.
Season: Open all year.

This no-frills campground is conveniently located halfway between the East and West entrances to Colorado National Monument, meaning you can access either entrance within a 15-minute drive. There are 27 large RV sites with full hookups, as well as space to accommodate 22 tents. Amenities include bathrooms, showers, wifi, a pet area, and laundry facilities.

Grand Junction KOA

Number of Sites: 80 sites
Fee: $32-35/night (Tent), $50-65/night (RV)
Site Type(s): RVs, Tents
Reservations: Recommended.
Season: Open all year.

Campers love the clean facilities, shady pitches, and plentiful amenities at this reliable KOA. The campground is just a few miles from downtown Grand Junction and less than 15 minutes from the West Entrance of Colorado National Monument. Amenities include restrooms, wifi, laundry, a pool, dog walk, game room, and a snack bar.

RV Ranch at Grand Junction

Number of Sites: 146 sites
Fee: $40-55/night (RV), $65/night (Cabins)
Site Type(s): RVs, Cabins
Reservations: Recommended for peak season.
Season: Open all year.

This is a clean, well-maintained RV park that is located about twenty minutes from either entrance of Colorado National Monument. 50 amp, 30 amp, and water/electric only sites are available, as are a selection of cozy cabins that can sleep 2-4 people. Unfortunately, they do not accommodate tent campers. Amenities include restrooms, laundry, fire pits, a swimming pool, and propane sales.

People picnicing at  the Devil's Kitchen area in Colorado National Monument
The Devil’s Kitchen Picnic Area and hiking trails are just minutes from Grand Junction. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Campgrounds in Palisade, CO

Palisade Basecamp RV Resort

Number of Sites: 71 sites
Fee:
 $40-84/night (RV), $22-48/night (tent)
Site Type(s):
RVs, Tents, Cabins
Reservations: 
Recommended for peak season.
Season: 
Open all year, although some services not available in winter

Some campers will find it worthwhile to travel a bit further from the monument to enjoy a stay at this deluxe campground. Palisade Basecamp is a sprawling accommodation that offers a variety of sites with views of the river and surrounding vineyards. The campground is about a half hour’s drive from either entrance of Colorado National Monument, although there are a handful of nice biking and hiking trails within a couple miles of Palisade Basecamp. Prices vary depending on your travel dates, and extended stay discounts are available. Amenities include restrooms, wifi, laundry, a pet area, a pool, and a general store.

A close up of peaches at a market
If you’re visiting during harvest season, you can’t miss Palisade’s famous peaches!

Further Afield

Mud Springs Campground

Number of Sites: 14 sites
Fee:
 $10/night
Site Type(s):
RVs (no hookups, max length 30′), Tents
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
May-October

Those looking to have a more rugged camping experience while still enjoying some creature comforts will certainly enjoy the Mud Springs Campground. The campground is located southwest of Colorado National Monument, and you’ll actually drive through the monument to reach it (approximately 40 minutes from the East Entrance). The road to Mud Springs Campground is quite steep and can be a bit rough at times, but the elevation gained makes this an excellent (and much cooler) option for summertime camping. Amenities include vault toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, and fire rings. The Glade Park Store is about 20 minutes away and sells some basic supplies and snacks. Pets are welcome.

North Fruita Desert Campground

Number of Sites: 35 sites
Fee:
 $20/night
Site Type(s):
RVs (no hookups, max length 30′), Tents
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
May-October

This very rustic campground is located about 35 minutes from Colorado National Monument in a peaceful desert setting. The primary draw to the North Fruita Desert BLM area is the great mountain biking trails, many of which can be accessed directly from your campsite. Keep in mind that there’s no water or shade available at this campground, and the road to get here is very rough. Amenities include vault toilets, picnic tables, and fire pits. Leashed pets are permitted.

Silhouette of a mountain biker in the desert
The North Fruita Desert Campground is a mountain biker’s paradise!

Dispersed Camping Near Colorado National Monument

BLM- Rabbit Valley

Number of Sites: Varies
Fee:
 Free
Site Type(s):
RVs, Tents
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
Open all year

Rabbit Valley is a popular and convenient place for dispersed camping near Fruita. It is located within the BLM-managed McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, which offers plenty of great hiking, mountain biking, and motorcycle/ATV riding. It’s about 30 minutes from the West Entrance of Colorado National Monument. When you turn off I-70, you’ll first see a large gravel parking lot. This is typically used for larger RVs. If you continue along the road, you’ll see several marked and numbered dispersed campsites. There are no amenities at the sites, but there are toilets near the entrance and the nearby Fruita Visitor Center has water, a dump station, and trash/recycling facilities. Keep in mind that you may only camp in designated dispersed sites (marked by signs), and you are required to bring a portable toilet and fire pan.

Those looking for a developed campground can stay at one of Rabbit Valley’s three free options: The Jouflas Campground, the Knowles Overlook Campground, or the High North Campground.

BLM-18 Road

Number of Sites: Varies
Fee:
 Free
Site Type(s):
RVs, Tents
Reservations: 
First-come, first-served
Season: 
Open all year

The North Fruita Desert BLM area is known for being a mountain biker’s paradise, but it’s also a great dispersed camping option for anyone wanting proximity to Colorado National Monument and the surrounding area. There is a developed campground within the mountain biking trail system, but those looking for dispersed camping should look for signage indicating the free camping area along the dirt road just south of the main mountain biking trailhead. Be advised that the first mile along the road is very rough and may prove difficult for low-clearance vehicles and RVs. As you continue along the road, you’ll see numerous dispersed sites for a few more miles. While there are no amenities in the dispersed camping area, there are toilets at the mountain bike trailhead nearby. Pets are permitted in the 18 Road camping area.

View from inside of a tent looking out towards a desert landscape

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope you’ve found all of the information in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure in Colorado National Monument! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and tell us about your trip!

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Guide to Camping in Mesa Verde National Park

Even in a state brimming with incredible sites and scenery, Mesa Verde National Park stands out as one of Colorado’s best places to visit. Located in the southwest corner of…

Even in a state brimming with incredible sites and scenery, Mesa Verde National Park stands out as one of Colorado’s best places to visit. Located in the southwest corner of the state, Mesa Verde hosts a collection of diverse ecosystems, from semiarid desert environments to high elevation pine forests.

Of course, the most compelling reason to visit this beautiful national park is to see the centuries-old ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings. The Pueblo people of the four-corners region built rich, thriving, and complex communities, and the cliff dwellings are just one lens into their incredible culture and society. Mesa Verde National Park is home to a jaw-dropping 600 cliff-dwellings, and nearly 5,000 archaeological sites!

A soft winter sunset in Mesa Verde National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Sandy Groves.

Nature lovers will agree that wild places like Mesa Verde National Park are best experienced on a camping trip. There’s no better way to cap off day in the outdoors than to spend a night under the stars. Since camping options are limited, it can be difficult to find good information on camping. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide so you can spend less time planning and more time in the great outdoors. Enjoy!

Mesa Verde is home to a rich collection of archaeological sites, including these petroglyphs seen along the Petroglyph Point Trail. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Mesa Verde National Park Basics

When to Visit

The weather in Mesa Verde National Park is quite variable and it can change quickly. You can get warm, sunny days in January and snowstorms in May! While Mesa Verde is beautiful year-round, most campers will want to visit between April and October. These months typically have the best weather for camping and many campgrounds are only open during the summer season.

Check out this great webpage for more details on weather in Mesa Verde.

Pets

Pets are allowed at the Morefield Campground in Mesa Verde National Park, provided that they are kept on a leash. You can also walk your dog along any paved road in the park.

Pets are not allowed in any of the park buildings, at archaeological sites, and on most trails in Mesa Verde (although leashed pets are permitted on the Long House Loop and some other trails at Wetherill Mesa).

There are a few pet boarding options in the area near Mesa Verde National Park, including the kennel at the Morefield Campground. You can find more information about pet boarding here.

Fires

Fires are permitted in designated fire rings at the Morefield Campground. Fires are prohibited everywhere else in Mesa Verde National Park. If camping in the park, check with the Morefield warden upon arrival, as seasonal fire bans may be in place.

Wildlife

Nature lovers will appreciate the great diversity of wildlife in Mesa Verde National Park. The park is of particular significance for several unique bird species, including the threatened Mexican Owl.

Campers should keep in mind that bears are active in Mesa Verde National Park. It’s important to store food and other strong-smelling items (sunscreen, toothpaste, etc) in your vehicle, a bear locker, or other secure location.

What to Bring

Preparing for your Mesa Verde National Park camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Mesa Verde National Park:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This camping classic is perfect for whipping up al fresco dinners.
  • Pop-up canopy – The sun in this part of Colorado can get intense! You may not be able to find a shady spot where you’re camping, so we recommend bringing a portable shade structure to create your own!
  • Portable water container – Save yourself the hassle of constant trips to the water tap and bring one of these.
  • Cooler – The hot summer temperatures make a good cooler an essential. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Background Reading: There’s nothing better than relaxing at your campsite with this great book about the history of Mesa Verde.
Bears are active in and near Mesa Verde National Park, so campers need to properly secure their food items. Photo courtesy of NPS/Joshua Petersen.

Camping Inside Mesa Verde National Park

When it comes to camping in Mesa Verde National Park, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that backcountry and dispersed camping are not permitted anywhere within the park. The good news? It’s still possible to enjoy camping in the lovely and convenient Morefield Campground, and those looking for more remote dispersed camping have a few good options nearby.

Morefield Campground

  • # of sites: 267
  • Type: Tent, RV, Group
  • Fees, per night: $35 (Standard tent or RV w/o hookups), $50 (RV w/hookups)
  • Pets: Allowed
  • Fires: Allowed in designated fire pits

The Morefield Campground is located about four miles past the main entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. This large campground is run by the concessionaire company, Aramark, and therefore offers amenities more commonly seen in deluxe private campgrounds than in your typical NPS facilities. Keep in mind the base fee only covers groups of two, and you’ll need to pay a fee for every additional person in your group, plus a park entrance fee.

Amenities

  • Flush toilets
  • Hot showers
  • Dump station
  • Kennel
  • Campground store and cafe
  • Trash and recycling
  • Bear lockers

Reservations

Reservations are strongly recommended for the 15 RV sites in the campground, as these fill quickly throughout the season. Advance bookings are typically not essential for the tent/dry RV sites, although it’s a good idea to reserve a spot for holiday weekends.

Morefield Campground is open with full services from early May through mid-October. Off-season camping (no services) is available for a few weeks before and after the campground’s official opening and closing dates. See the campground website for details.

Reservations can be made HERE

A bird's-eye view of the Morefield Campground in Mesa Verde National Park.
A bird’s-eye view of the Morefield Campground. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Campgrounds Near Mesa Verde National Park

Despite the limited options for camping within the boundaries of Mesa Verde National Park, there are plenty of good campgrounds in the surrounding area. All of the campgrounds covered in this section are within 30-minute’s drive of the park entrance. Those wanting to prioritize proximity can camp just down the road from the park entrance, while campers looking for more services will find those in the towns of Mancos and Cortez.

If you’re looking to check out any of the other Colorado National Parks or National Monuments, but sure to take a look at our other camping guides below:

Below we’ve shared our top picks and tips for the best campgrounds near Mesa Verde National Park:

Campgrounds near the entrance of Mesa Verde National Park

Ancient Cedars Mesa Verde RV Park

  • # of sites: 80+
  • Type: Tent, RV, Group, Cabins
  • Fees, per night: $30-$33 (Standard or deluxe tent), $38-$55 (RV w/hookups)
  • Pets: Allowed
  • Fires: Allowed in designated fire pits
  • Reservations: Recommended

This comfortable campground is conveniently located just across the road from the entrance of Mesa Verde National Park. The plentiful amenities make this a great option for RVs and tent campers alike. Reservations are recommended in the peak summer season. There is a $3.50 charge per person for groups larger than two.

Amenities include free wifi, hot showers, laundry facilities, mini golf, dump station, dog park, playground, and swimming pool.

Mesa Verde RV Resort

  • # of sites: 57
  • Type: Tent, RV, Cabin
  • Fees, per night: $31 (standard tent), $39 (RV w/ partial hookups), $42-$49 (RV w/full hookups)
  • Pets: Allowed
  • Fires: Allowed in designated fire pits
  • Reservations: Recommended

The Mesa Verde RV Resort is just minutes from the entrance of the park. This friendly campground can accommodate big rigs, tiny tents, and everyone in between! The convenient shop sells grocery items and snacks on site. There’s a $3.50 extra-person charge for groups of three or more. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 970-533-7421 or emailing info@mesaverdervresort.com.

Amenities include bathrooms, hot showers, wifi, convenience store, pool, dog walking area, and playground.

Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center in front of a blue sky.
The Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center is just minutes from the campgrounds described above. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Campgrounds in Cortez, Colorado

Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA

  • # of sites: 115
  • Type: Tent, RV, Cabin
  • Fees, per night: $43 (standard tent w/electric), $42 (RV w/ partial hookups), $53-$70 (RV w/full hookups)
  • Pets: Allowed
  • Fires: Allowed in designated fire pits
  • Reservations: Recommended

This excellent campground has all of the amenities you’d expect from a KOA, plus easy access to a large dog park, walking trails, and in-town services. It’s a fifteen-minute drive to the entrance of Mesa Verde National Park. Campers love the quiet and scenic setting near Denny Lake.

Amenities include bathrooms, hot showers, dishwashing station, wifi, convenience store, snack bar, pool, dog walking area, and playground.

La Mesa RV Park

  • # of sites: 38
  • Type: Tent, RV
  • Fees, per night: $25 (standard tent, 1 person), $44-$46 (RV w/full hookups)
  • Pets: Allowed
  • Fires: Not permitted. Only gas grills are allowed in the park.
  • Reservations: Recommended

This family-friendly RV Park is a simple, no-frills option that offers a convenient location and reasonable prices. La Mesa RV Park is less than 10 miles from the entrance of Mesa Verde National Park, and very close to shops and services in Cortez. Keep in mind there are extra-person charges for tent campers.

Amenities include bathrooms, hot showers, wifi, and laundry.

Sundance RV Park

  • # of sites: 63
  • Type: RV only
  • Fees, per night: $48 (RV w/full hookups)
  • Pets: Allowed
  • Fires: Not permitted.
  • Reservations: Recommended

While they do not accommodate tent campers, Sundance RV Park makes a great in-town option for the RV crowd. The park is conveniently located within walking distance to grocery stores and restaurants, and it’s just 10 miles from the entrance of Mesa Verde National Park. Keep in mind that there is a $4 per person, per day extra-person charge for all additional guests over age 16.

Amenities include bathrooms, hot showers, wifi, convenience store, dog walking area, laundry, and vehicle wash.

A back SUV pulls an RV in front of a mountain near Mesa Verde National Park.
RV Campers will find plenty of great options in Cortez.

Campgrounds in Mancos, Colorado

Mancos State Park

  • # of sites: 32
  • Type: Tent, RV (no hookups), Yurt
  • Fees, per night: $22 (Tent and RV, June-September), $18 (Tent and RV, October-May) + $9/day park pass
  • Pets: Allowed
  • Fires: Permitted in designated areas (purchase local firewood and check ahead for seasonal bans)
  • Reservations: Required

This is one of the best camping options for those looking to get closer to nature, while still having easy access to Mesa Verde National Park. Camping options in Mancos State Park consist of the Main Campground with spaces that can accommodate most small and mid-size RVs or tents, as well as an auxiliary tent-only West Campground. Both camping areas are on the edge of the Jackson Gulch Reservoir, making for a scenic and tranquil place to spend the night. Keep in mind that reservations are required for all campers and can be made HERE or by calling 1-800-244-5613.

Amenities include vault toilets, drinking water (available at the Main Campground only), picnic tables, fire pits, and a dump station.

Riverwood RV Resort

  • # of sites: 68
  • Type: RV only
  • Fees, per night: $44 (RV w/full hookups)
  • Pets: Allowed
  • Fires: Not allowed.
  • Reservations: Recommended

Guests love the friendly service and well-kept facilities at this convenient RV park. The Riverwood RV Resort is walking distance to the local coffee shop and just a 10-minute drive from the entrance of Mesa Verde National Park. Unfortunately, they only accommodate RV’s, so tent campers will need to head to Mancos State Park if they want to camp in the area.

Amenities include bathrooms, hot showers, wifi, dog walking area, laundry, and a lending library.

Echo Basin RV Park

  • # of sites: 65
  • Type: RV, Cabins
  • Fees, per night: $45-$55 (RV w/full hookups May-October)
  • Pets: Allowed
  • Fires: Not allowed.
  • Reservations: Recommended

This RV park is a bit further afield, but guests enjoy the peaceful, wooded setting that comes with the location. Echo Basin offers competitive rates and a variety of sites for RVs of all sizes. There are also cabins available for rent on the property. Unfortunately, they they do not accommodate tent campers; they’ll need to head to Mancos State Park if they want to stay in the area.

Amenities include bathrooms, hot showers, wifi, and laundry.

Looking out at mountains and scrubland from Park Point in Mesa Verde National Park.
Camping in Mancos gives you quick and easy to some of Mesa Verde’s most beautiful viewpoints, like this one at Park Point. Photo courtesy of NPS/Jacob W. Frank.

Dispersed Camping Near Mesa Verde National Park

For those seeking a less developed and more affordable (ie; free) place to pitch a tent or park an RV, dispersed camping near Mesa Verde is a fantastic option. Keep in mind that it takes a little legwork to find a good dispersed camping spot, and you’ll need to bring your own water and of course, leave no trace. Your efforts will be rewarded with the kind of deep satisfaction that only comes from spending a night tucked in the trees and under the stars.

County Road 34 BLM Land

This is by far the closest dispersed camping option to Mesa Verde National Park. These thirteen dispersed camping spots can be reached by driving for a short ways along County Road 34, which is accessed from US 160 (East Mancos Road). While there are a few potential drawbacks about this area, such as crowds and trash, the fact that it’s less than 10 minutes from the entrance of Mesa Verde National Park makes up for any downsides. It is important to note that County Road 34 is not paved and can get quite rutted. When dry, it’s typically passable for most vehicles and smaller RVs, but it becomes a muddy nightmare when wet.

San Juan National Forest

The San Juan National Forest is a huge and beautiful expanse of wilderness that sits just northeast of Mesa Verde National Park. Below, we’ve shared the best dispersed camping options for those wanting easy proximity to MVNP. Be sure to check the current fire restrictions before heading out.

Madden Peak Road

This is a favorite dispersed camping area for those visiting Mesa Verde National Park. It can be reached by driving a mile or two along a dirt road (Road 316), just off US 160 near Mancos (about 15 miles from the entrance of the park). The road is typically in pretty good shape, and the sections closer to the highway are definitely passable for RVs and larger rigs. There are about 15 spacious spots dotted along the closer stretch of road, although there are more options further back. Those seeking greater seclusion should continue uphill and camp further back along Road 316.

Road 561

There are plenty of dispersed camping areas in San Juan National National Forest that provide good proximity to MVNP, but this is one of the better options. It is located roughly twenty minutes from the entrance of Mesa Verde National Park, and the road is more accessible than most of the other dispersed camping areas nearby (brave souls with good 4WD can also check out Cherry Creek Road). There is a large open area on one side of the road, and then a few more secluded spots further up. Spots are marked with fire rings and many can accommodate RVs. The views of the surrounding mountains are lovely.

Road 566

This is another great option for both tents and RV’s in San Juan National Forest. Also known as Echo Basin Road, Road 566 is typically accessible for all vehicle types, although extreme caution should be used in wet or muddy conditions. It is located about 25 minutes from the park entrance. The spots along the lower portion of the road are located right beside the creek, while the areas further up offer splendid views and seasonal wildflowers.

Close up of the Mesa Verde National Park Cliff Dwellings

Conclusion

There’s no shortage of activities to enjoy in Mesa Verde National Park. You can explore the fabulous network of hiking trails, watch for a myriad of fascinating bird species, and, of course, wonder at the incredible Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings. Your next adventure is waiting, and it all starts with the perfect basecamp. Happy camping!

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Abel Tasman Coast Track Packing List

Over the course of its 60 glorious kilometers, the Abel Tasman Coast Track passes through verdant hillsides, pristine beaches, coastal bush, and rich forest. It’s easy to see why this…

Over the course of its 60 glorious kilometers, the Abel Tasman Coast Track passes through verdant hillsides, pristine beaches, coastal bush, and rich forest. It’s easy to see why this is one of New Zealand’s most beloved Great Walks. While the diversity of sights and landscapes certainly adds to the richness of the experience, it can make packing pretty challenging!

You’ll need to be prepared for all sorts of weather, and well as some challenging hills and muddy conditions on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. At the same time, carrying too big a rucksack will undoubtedly take away from the enjoyment of your trek.

So how does one strike that elusive balance between having all of the necessities without feeling like they have a baby elephant on their back? Read on for our best advice and detailed kit lists to learn everything you need (and what you don’t need) to have your best possible Abel Tasman walking adventure!

In this post:

View of cliffs and shoreline on the Abel Tasman Coast Track
The Abel Tasman Coast Track crosses a variety of rugged and beautiful coastal landscapes.

Packing Basics for the Abel Tasman Track

There are so many variables when it comes to packing for the Abel Tasman Coast Track, such as your accommodation type, hiking style, trip length, baggage transfers, time of year, and many more. Every hiker will have a unique kit to best serve their individual needs. Despite all of those factors, there are some universal rules that all hikers should follow when putting together their kit for the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

How Much Should My Pack Weigh?

This isn’t easy to answer, since there are a ton of factors that influence how much is too much for any individual hiker. Some things to think about…

  • How fast are you hoping to hike? Generally speaking, lighter=faster
  • Have you completed a multi-day through hike with this specific backpack and this amount of weight before? 
  • Are you injury-prone or do you have any chronic knee, hip, or back issues? 

As a very general rule, campers should keep their pack weight below 13kg, including food and water. Those staying indoors should carry no more than 9kg. If having your luggage transferred along the trail, most transfer services will limit you to 20kg, and your daypack shouldn’t exceed 4kg. If you are backpacking for the first time or have a chronic injury, the weight of your pack should be significantly less than these guidelines.

Generally speaking, less is more. Here’s a few tips for lightening your load:

  1. You only need a couple of shirts. Same goes for underwear and socks. Bring quick-dry items that you can rinse out in the sink or shower.
  2. Plan out when/where you’ll restock food provisions and don’t carry more food than you need.
  3. Consider leaving your bulky camera equipment at home. Unless photography is your passion, most smartphones take great photos and save a ton of space and weight.
Backpacking backpack
The type of pack you’ll need for the Abel Tasman Coast Track will depend on your individual itinerary.

Choosing a backpack for the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Just like with footwear, a properly fitting backpack is crucial on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Also similar to your boots, your pack needs to be broken in for optimal comfort. We recommend carrying a weighted pack on your training walks to get used to the extra weight and ensure it fits well.

If you plan on staying in the Department of Conservation (DoC) huts along the route, you’ll to carry a sleeping bag and cooking gear. A 30-50L pack will be more than enough space for everything you need.

If you plan on camping, you’ll need a larger pack to fit your tent and sleeping pad in addition to your basic supplies. A 45-60L pack will be suitable for most campers.

Last but not least, don’t forget to bring a pack cover to protect against rain! Many newer packs come with one built-in.

Read More: The Complete Guide to the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Coast to Coast Walk hiking boots
Footwear on the Abel Tasman Coast Track comes down to personal preference and fit, but always break in new boots ahead of time!

Footwear on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

The Abel Coast Track covers a variety of terrain, but it’s not too technical or rugged. Hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes will all work for the Abel Coast Track, provided that they will work for your unique needs. The most important thing is that they’re adequately broken in and that you’ve tested them on multiple walks to ensure they are comfortable. You’ll likely need to go up half a size to account for thicker socks and/or swollen feet. Some people may prefer the ankle support of traditional hiking boots, while others may seek out the cushion and breathability of trail shoes. Again, it’s all about trying a variety of options and finding the best one for you.

Waterproof boots or shoes can be a good idea, considering you’ll likely face rainy, wet, and muddy conditions at some point on the trail.

Good socks are also a game-changer on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. We love merino wool socks like these for their comfort, breathability, and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister-prone, consider trying toe sockssock liners, and/or body glide.

If you need more underfoot padding, try using socks with extra cushioning or even some custom insoles.

Finally, make sure you also bring sandals or water shoes for beach walks and tidal crossings.

Boat on the Awaroa Inlet
You’ll have to wait until low-tide to cross the Awaroa Inlet.

Good Waterproofs

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear! Even if you’re hiking in the drier summer months, it is likely that you’ll experience wet weather at some point along your journey. Having the appropriate gear will make all the difference when it comes to enjoying your trip to the fullest. Bonus: waterproof outer layers will also serve as great protection against the infamous westerly winds that can blow along the Kiwi coast.

At the very minimum, make sure you have a lightweight rain jacket and a pack cover. Some hikers pack their clothing and other items inside trash bags or waterproof packing cubes as an extra precaution. A hat can be nice to keep the rain (or sun) out of your face. And a waterproof carrying case for your map and/or phone isn’t a bad idea either.

Cloudy day in Abel Tasman National Park
With the right waterproofs, you don’t need to worry about wet weather on the horizon!

Read More: Abel Tasman Coast Track | Maps & Routes

Personal Gear

Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for your Abel Tasman Coast Track packing list. While we’ve included some toiletries that are absolutely essential for this trek, we’ve left it up to you to determine your own list of additional self-care items (comb, toothbrush, prescription medication, etc). 

Most Valuable Personal Item: Platypus Big Zip Hydration Bladder

With its variable temperatures and high humidity, it is imperative to stay well-hydrated while trekking the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Traditional water bottles can be bulky and inconvenient, which is why we love hydration bladders like this one! Fill it up once in the morning and you won’t have to worry about finding water for the remainder of the day. The bladder distributes weight evenly against your back and the design is leak-proof and easy to clean.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Multi-ToolGerber Dime Multi-ToolPerfect for cutting cheese or opening cans when you need some trail-side snacks!
First Aid KitAdventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight KitA good backpacking first aid kit is essential. You hope to never have to use it, but will be glad you have it when you need it. We like the labeled compartments and waterproof case on this one.
Hydration BladderPlatypus Big ZipWay easier than a water bottle! We suggest carrying a 3-liter version.
Pack CoverSea to Summit Ultra-Sil Rain CoverThis is a truly essential piece of gear given how hard it can rain on the Abel Tasman Coast Track! This one has an extra strap that keeps it in place on windy days.
Men’s BackpackOsprey Atmos AG 65While backpacks are a very personal item, we think Osprey makes the most comfortable packs on the market. This 65L model will work for both campers or those staying indoors.
Women’s BackpackOsprey Aura AG 65One of our favorite features of Osprey packs is the ‘anti-gravity’ mesh. So comfortable!
Trekking PolesBlack Diamond Alpine FlzThese can help take the load off your knees and they’re great on steep sections.
Travel TowelSea to Summit Airlite Travel TowelGreat to have for the beach or washing up.
Headlamp/ Head torchBlack Diamond SpotGreat headtorch with long battery life and adjustable brightness.
Dry BagsOsprey UL Packing Cube SetKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour! These are also great for keeping your kit organized and packed efficiently.
Hiking GaitersOutdoor Research Ankle GaitersOptional. These will help keep your boots dry when walking on muddy or boggy trails and they’ll keep out stones, dirt, and gravel.
SunscreenWe recommend a waterproof sport version with SPF 30 or higher.
Bug SprayBen’s Insect RepellentYou’ll be glad you brought this when the mozzies or midges come out.
Toilet Paper and TrowelThe TentLab Ultralight TrowelAs any hiker will tell you, it’s always better to be prepared and Leave No Trace!
Booking ConfirmationsIt’s a good idea to have printed copies of all of your reservations.
A section of trail on the Coast Track.
You can expect well maintained trails and easy walking on the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

Miscellaneous Gear

These odds and ends are the unsung heroes of any Abel Tasman Coast Track packing list. From getting your stinky shirt clean to keeping your phone charged, these items help your trek run smoothly. Make sure to use this list in addition to the other categories to complete your Abel Tasman kit. 

Most valuable miscellaneous gear: Anker Powercore 10000.

Chances are, you’re getting out on the trail to get a break from the constant demands of screens and that’s wonderful. However, don’t underestimate the importance of having a charged cell phone on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Your phone can be your navigational device, your camera, your guidebook, and your notepad all in one. The route can be a bit unclear at times, and charging opportunities are virtually nonexistent so a battery backup can be an absolute lifesaver. This one is dependable, relatively small, and can fully charge your phone 1.5-2 times between charges. Check it out here:

ItemOur ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Ear PlugsMack’s Ear PlugsEssential for a good night’s sleep! We find the silicone ones to stay in place and block out noise best.
Sleeping MaskAlaska BearPerfect to block out light while sleeping in huts or campgrounds on the Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Travel AdapterMintong All in One USB Travel AdapterIf you’re coming from abroad, this is going to be necessary. This one is super compact and the two USB ports are very handy!
Digital WatchCasio Classic Sport WatchWe recommend a simple digital watch to keep track of hiking times. This one is a great value and nearly indestructible.
CameraSony Alpha a6000Optional, but this compact camera takes beautiful photos and is easy to use.
Battery BackupAnker Powercore 10,000Great for charging electronics when you don’t have access to an outlet.
Biodegradable SoapCampsuds Biodegradable SoapPerfect for doing the dishes or washing a few clothing items.
Plastic Bags- quart, gallon, and garbage bags.We used these constantly for everything from storing trail mix to keeping our sleeping bags dry. A must-have for backpacking. They can be repurposed many times to minimize plastic waste.
FoodYou won’t be able to purchase any food along the trail, so it is essential that you pack everything you’ll need (plus a little extra).
A woman walks along the beach on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Women’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for several days straight in various weather conditions and while doing some serious walking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials for your Abel Tasman Coast Track Walk.

Emily’s most valuable clothing item: Icebreaker Tech Lite Merino Wool T-Shirt

It’s easy to pack light when you have anti-stink, quick-drying, and endlessly comfortable gear like this merino wool tee. In the humid conditions on the Abel Tasman, you’ll appreciate how this shirt wicks moisture and stays comfy all day long. Check it out here:

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go SportThese are worth every penny when it comes to staying comfortable on the trail. They are quick-drying and antimicrobial meaning you can just bring a few pairs and wash them in the sink as you go.
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Micro Crew SocksIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Sports Bra (1)Under Armour Mid Crossback This is a good example of something breathable and comfortable that you can wear all day.
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Smartwool 150 Base LayerA great merino wool base layer for chilly mornings or whenever the sand flies come out.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Leggings or hiking pants (1)PrAna Halle PantStylish, lightweight, and great to hike in.
Shorts (1)The North Face Paramount ShortThese shorts are super versatile and durable! The fabric has just the right amount of stretch and the pockets are really handy.
Rain JacketMarmot PreCip Eco JacketA high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.
Hiking BootsKeen Targhee Mid Height Hiking BootEmily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!
SunglassesSuncloud Polarised SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re outside all day. And these are stylish too!
Underwire/Standard BraAfter a long day of hiking in a sweaty sports bra this can be a welcome relief to change into.
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.

Sandals/Camp ShoesCrocs Classic ClogGreat to change into after a long day of walking!
BandanaLevi BandanaI used this for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Kayakers in Abel Tasman National Park

Men’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for several days in various weather conditions and while doing some serious trekking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials for your Abel Tasman adventure.

Ian’s most valuable clothing item: Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks

The conditions on the Abel Tasman Coast Track are such that hikers are at a particularly high risk of getting blisters at some point on their walk. The wet environments and stony paths conspire to create the perfect environment for blisters to sabotage your walk. Fortunately, a good pair of socks can greatly reduce your chance of foot issues. This is one of those times where you really do get what you pay for. We love Darn Tough socks because they keep our feet dry and comfortable in a variety of conditions. They have just the right amount of cushion without being too bulky in boots. Plus, the Merino wool keeps them smelling fresh for days. Check them out here:

ItemOur ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Boxer BriefHighly recommended! You can bring just 2-3 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Hiking Socks In our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Columbia Thistletown Park Long SleeveThis is a very versatile baselayer that works great under an outer layer or on its own.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Hiking Pants (1 pair)The North Face Paramount Convertible TrousersThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking Shorts (1 pair)Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo ShortsYou can skip these if you’re using our recommended convertible trousers, but it can be nice to have an extra set of bottoms. These are so packable that you really can’t go wrong!
Rain JacketMarmot Precip JacketUnlike many lightweight rain jackets. this one will actually keep you dry during long days on the trail.
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.
Sandals/Camp ShoesCrocs Classic ClogSuper nice to change into after walking in boots all day! These are also good for sand and water crossings.
Hiking BootsSalomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTXVery comfortable and super waterproof!
SunglassesSuncloud Polarized SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re in outdoors all day. And these are stylish too!
BandanaLevi’s BandanaThis can be used for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Abel Tasman Coast Track packing list
Campers will need to bring a bit more on the Coast Track.

Camping Gear

Camping on the Abel Tasman Coast Track is definitely worth carrying the bigger backpack. Campgrounds are plentiful (although you do need to book ahead), and there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the great outdoors than sleeping under the stars. With the right gear and a manageable pack size, you are guaranteed to have an amazing experience conquering the Abel Tasman with your own tent.

Most valuable camping gear: Nemo Tensor Ultralite Sleeping Pad

We all know how important a good night’s sleep is, especially when you’re putting your body through the demands of a multi-day trek. However, it can be so hard to get comfortable when you’re sleeping in a tent. Thankfully, this Nemo sleeping pad changes all of that. It’s nice and thick, meaning it even works for side sleepers! Plus, it is very lightweight, packable, and easy to inflate. It’s a total game-changer.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
TentMSR Hubba Hubba NX Backpacking TentThis is the best designed tent on the market. The genius freestanding rain cover allows you to pack up all of your gear and tent while still being sheltered- perfect for rainy mornings!
Sleeping BagMarmot Trestles 30 Sleeping BagSuper compact, light, and cozy, this bag is a great value. If you’re walking in the summer months, you should only need the 30-degree version.
Sleeping PadNemo Tensor Ultralight Camping PadIf you are a side sleeper this is a must! Even if you’re not, this is one of the most lightweight and comfortable sleeping pads out there. The pump sack makes inflating it a breeze, too!
PillowTherm-a-Rest Compressible PillowNot 100% necessary, but a small luxury that is definitely worth carrying in your pack.
Stove+FuelMSR Pocket RocketIan has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking PotGSI Outdoors Halulite BoilerThis versatile and high-quality pot is the perfect size for anything from boiling water to making porridge.
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR 2-Person Mess KitWe find this bowl and mug combo to be light, durable, and perfect for camp dinners.
UtensilHumangear SporkThe only utensil you’ll need!
Advance reservations are required for all huts and campsites along the Coast Track.

Hut Gear

Even if you choose to sleep indoors on your Abel Tasman trek, there are some essential items you’ll need to make sure you pack. The huts are typically quite basic, and most do not have lighting nor cooking stoves. At a minimum, hikers staying in huts should bring a sleeping bag, cookset, headlamp, and all of their own food.

Most valuable camping gear: MSR 2-Person Mess Kit

One of the benefits of sleeping in huts is that you can carry a smaller rucksack. However, it’s a little trickier to pack light on the Abel Tasman when you need to carry your own cooking gear. This MSR Kit is super lightweight, easy to pack, and convenient for all of those al fresco dinners and trailside coffee breaks.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Sleeping BagMarmot Trestles 30 Sleeping BagSuper compact, light, and cozy, this bag is a great value. If you’re walking in the summer months, you should only need the 30-degree version.
PillowTherm-a-Rest Compressible PillowNot 100% necessary, but a small luxury that is definitely worth carrying in your pack.
Stove+FuelMSR Pocket RocketIan has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking PotGSI Outdoors Halulite BoilerThis versatile and high-quality pot is the perfect size for anything from boiling water to making porridge.
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR 2-Person Mess KitWe find this bowl and mug combo to be light, durable, and perfect for camp dinners.
UtensilHumangear SporkThe only utensil you’ll need!
Eye MaskAlaska BearPerfect to block out light while sleeping in dormitories.
EarplugsMack’s Ear PlugsThe best defense for that snorer next door!
Sunset on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Conclusion

The Abel Tasman Coast Track, with its rugged shoreline, spectacular beaches, and unique scenery, is certainly one of New Zealand’s most memorable walks. While it’s definitely manageable for walkers of all ability levels, it’s not without its challenges. By putting together a smart kit, you’ll get to focus your energy on the good kinds of challenges (like climbing a steep hill or covering vast distances), and avoid the less fun types of challenges (getting soaked in a downpour or dealing with blisters). The gear choose to pack (and leave behind) will be essential in ensuring that you have everything you need to stay comfortable, prepared, and injury-free without carrying a bigger rucksack than needed. Happy trails!

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The Best Hikes in Badlands National Park

If you’ve never been to Badlands National Park before, you are in for an experience like no other. The 240,000 acres of protected land are home to some of the…

If you’ve never been to Badlands National Park before, you are in for an experience like no other. The 240,000 acres of protected land are home to some of the country’s most stunning rock formations, sweeping grassland prairies, and the kind of wide-open spaces that can really put everything in perspective. Additionally, Badlands National Park is home to more than 300 archeological sites dating back thousands of years, and more recent sites from the regions’ current inhabitants, the Arikara and the Oglala Lakota tribes. From fascinating fossils to dramatic rock spires to wildlife viewing, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Badlands National Park.

One of the best ways to enjoy all that Badlands National Park has to offer by exploring it on your own two feet. There are many incredible hikes in Badlands, ranging from beginner and family-friendly to longer, more strenuous outings. We’re confident that there’s a trail for everyone in Badlands National Park, and that hiking it will be a highlight of your visit.

In this post, we’ll share the best trails and everything you need to know to have your best possible adventure hiking in Badlands National Park.

In This Post:

A hiker sits and enjoys the views in Badlands National Park
Hiking in Badlands National Park provides endless ways to enjoy the magnificent scenery. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Badlands National Park Basics

Before any trip to Badlands, it is a good idea to get familiar with some important information about the national park so you know what to expect when you visit. The next two sections will provide some essential background that you’ll need for planning your Badlands National Park hiking adventure.

Permits, Entrance Fees, and Opening Times

Permits are not required for any hikes in Badlands National Park, including overnight backpacking and off-trail hiking.

Entrance fees must be paid to access any part of the national park, including all of the hikes described in this post. There are a variety of passes available, depending on the length of your visit and your mode of entry. Details can be found on the NPS website.

Badlands National Park is open 24/7, although fee stations and visitor centers have limited hours. Opening times for the park’s visitor centers can be found here.

Additionally, some roads may be closed in wintery or other hazardous conditions. If traveling in the park during inclement weather, be sure to check current road conditions.

Entrance sign for Badlands National Park
One of the quieter entrances to Badlands National Park.

Badlands National Park Weather

Badlands is a land of extremes, and that certainly holds true when it comes to the weather. Temperatures can peak in the triple digits in the summer months and they can get down to -40 in the winter!

Be prepared for sudden and dramatic changes in the weather, as conditions can be variable and unpredictable. Dress in layers, pack sunscreen, and carry plenty of water. It’s always a good idea to check current conditions and talk to the ranger before setting out.

June is typically the rainiest month in Badlands National Park, while December and January are the driest. For monthly averages, including temperatures and precipitation, check out this webpage.

A stormy sky over rocks in Badlands National Park.
The weather can change quickly in Badlands National Park. Photo Courtesy of NPS/Shaina Niehans.

Hiking Trails in Badlands National Park

Trails in the Cedar Pass Area of Badlands National Park (North Unit)

The vast majority of hikers will spend their time in the NPS-operated North Unit of Badlands National Park, specifically in the Cedar Pass Area. This area has easy access from I-90 and includes the park headquarters, the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Most of the park’s best hikes are in the Cedar Pass Area, and the well-marked trail network has something for every ability level. Since many of these hikes are quite short and close together, you can easily knock out a few in one day. Keep reading to find the perfect hike in the Cedar Pass Area.

Map of Cedar Pass area
Detailed Map of the Cedar Pass section of Badlands National Park. NPS Map.

Door Trail

Distance: 0.75 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Easy
Trailhead: Door and Window Parking Area

This easy walk follows a boardwalk for the first 0.25 miles, making it a great option for wheelchairs, strollers, and anyone who enjoys less rugged surfaces. Despite its short distance, you’ll gain access to spectacular views through the Badlands Wall and to the unique badlands landscape beyond. This is a great place to watch the sunrise!

The Door Trail following a boardwalk that leads between two parts of the Badlands Wall.
The Door Trail. An easy boardwalk leads visitors through a natural “door” in the Badlands Wall. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Window Trail

Distance: 0.25 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Easy
Trailhead: Door and Window Parking Area

This family-friendly trail takes hikers to a spectacular natural window that has eroded into the Badlands Wall. The window provides a unique vantage point to view some of the Badlands’ most dramatic scenery, and it’s a photographer’s dream!

Views of rock formations from the Window Trail in Badlands National Park.
Views from the Window Trail. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Notch Trail

Distance: 1.5 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous
Trailhead: Door and Window Parking Area

This hike begins as a mellow canyon walk, but ends with a dramatic flourish. After traversing within the canyon, hikers will climb a ladder out of its depths. The trail then follows an exposed ledge to reach “the Notch,” an incredible viewpoint overlooking the White River Valley. Keep in mind that this hike involves some very exposed and steep sections, and it is dangerous during periods of heavy rain.

The Notch Trail traverses an exposed ledge on the side of the canyon in Badlands National Park.
The Notch Trail traverses an exposed ledge on the side of the canyon. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Castle Trail

Distance: 10 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Trailhead: Door and Window Parking Area

Hikers looking for a longer outing will enjoy the Castle Trail. Not only does this 5-mile out-and-back trail boast great views of Badlands rock formations, but it ends at the Fossil Exhibit Trail, allowing hikers to explore the informative exhibits and replicas in that area. There are many options for customizing your hike on the Castle Trail. Those only wanting to hike one way can shuttle a vehicle to the Fossil Exhibit Trailhead. Additionally, there are options for making a loop by connecting with the Medicine Root Trail or the Saddle Pass Trail.

The eastern trailhead of the Castle Trail in Badlands National Park with green grassland in the foreground and rock formations in the background.
The Castle Trail begins by winding through prairie grasslands on its eastern end. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Cliff Shelf Trail

Distance: 0.5 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: Cliff Shelf Parking Area

Don’t be fooled by the short distance of this hike- it is quite a workout! The trail follows a series of boardwalks and stairs up along the Badlands Wall. The Cliff Shelf hike allows walkers to experience a rare oasis in the heart of the Badlands. The trail weaves through a Juniper forest and past a seasonal pond. This area is a great place to see wildlife, such as bighorn sheep.

The Cliff Shelf Trail passes through juniper trees in Badlands National Park.
The Cliff Shelf Trail is unique because it passes through juniper forests. Trees are a rare sight in the Badlands. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Saddle Pass Trail

Distance: 0.25 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Trailhead: Saddle Pass Trailhead

This is another hike that packs a lot of climbing into a short distance. The Saddle Pass Trail steeply winds its way up the Badlands Wall before reaching a viewpoint overlooking the White River Valley. It ends at a junction with the Castle and Medicine Root Trails, providing lots of options for extending your hike. Use caution coming down the Saddle Pass Trail, as some sections are very steep and loose.

A steep section of trail along the Saddle Pass Trail in Badlands National Park.
The Saddle Pass Trail is very steep the entire way! Photo courtesy of NPS.

Medicine Root Trail

Distance: 4 miles (does not inlcude the distance required to access the trail)
Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: Saddle Pass Trailhead

This lovely trail can only be accessed via one of the other trails in the Cedar Pass network. The most direct (and also most strenuous) way to reach the Medicine Root Trail is by climbing up the Saddle Pass Trail, although it can also be accessed by starting on either end of the Castle Trail. Once you’re on the Medicine Root Trail, the terrain is mostly flat, winding its way through prairie grasslands. A nice loop can be made by connecting with the Castle Trail. There are some gorgeous wide-open views of the surrounding rock formations.

The Medicine Root Trail extends through dry grasslands towards the horizon under a blue sky in Badlands National Park.
Wide open views on the Medicine Root Trail. Photo courtesy of NPS/Ed Welsh.

Fossil Exhibit Trail

Distance: 0.25 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Easy
Trailhead: Fossil Exhibit Parking Area

It is a bit of a stretch to call this a “hike,” as the trail follows a level boardwalk for its entirety. That being said, it is worth a visit to see the fascinating exhibits and replicas of the prehistoric creatures that once roamed the area. Additionally, the trail can be a nice starting point for accessing the Castle Trail and the rest of the Cedar Pass trail network.

A parking lot and a trailhead sign at the Fossil Exhibit Trail in Badlands National Park.
The trailhead for the informative and interactive Fossil Exhibit Trail. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Popular Back Roads Hikes (dog-friendly)

Sheep Mountain Table Hike

Distance: 5 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Easy
Trailhead: Sheep Mountain Table Overlook

This hike offers a great way to explore this scenic area without having to navigate the very rugged road in your vehicle. Park at the Sheep Mountain Table Overlook and walk along the dirt road for about 2.5 miles. This is an easy, scenic walk that makes for a great pet-friendly option. It also provides a unique opportunity to explore the remote middle section of the Badlands, straddling the North and South Units of the park.

The dirt road stretches ahead towards Sheep Mountain Table in Badlands National Park.
Sheep Mountain Table makes for a great back roads hike. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Old Northeast Road

Distance: Varies
Difficulty:Easy
Trailhead: Parking area located 0.25 miles along the road after turning off Badlands Loop Road. 

This quiet gravel road is a great option for hiking with your four-legged friend or for anyone seeking a mellow excursion. Old Northeast road is easily accessed from the Badlands Loop Road and you can customize the length of your trip to fit your preferences. The road passes through active ranchland, so keep in mind that you may encounter cattle grazing nearby. Hikers will enjoy sweeping Badlands scenery and some fascinating rock formations.

Rock formations seen while hiking along Old Northeast Road in Badlands National Park.
There are plenty of interesting rock formations to see while hiking on Old Northeast Road. Photo courtesy of NPS/Cathy Bell.

Open Hiking (Unofficial Trails)

Badlands is an “open hike” National Park, meaning that hikers are permitted to venture practically anywhere into the backcountry, regardless of if they’re on one of the designated trails. Beyond the well-marked paths, there are quite a few unofficial “social trials” in Badlands National Park. These vary from being frequently-trafficked and relatively easy to follow to being vague tracks that require advanced navigation skills. Given that these trails can lead to remote areas with little or no waymarking, it is essential that you come prepared with a navigational device and some backcountry experience. It’s a good idea to download gpx data for the trails into your phone or other device and bring a paper map as a backup.

More information about Badlands National Parks Maps is provided in this post.

Here are our two favorite unofficial trails in Badlands National Park:

Deer Haven Trail

Distance: 6-7 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Trailhead: Conata Picnic Area

This out-and-back hike is popular with backpackers, but it also makes a great day trip. The trail begins at the Conata Picnic Area, which is easily accessed from the Badlands Loop Road and the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Hikers will follow a well worn social trail through quintessential Badlands scenery. Upon rounding a corner a couple of miles in, the grassy oasis of Deer Haven will come into view. This is a dramatic swath of green set amid endless miles of rocky, barren Badlands. The trail is generally easy to follow but becomes vague or nonexistent at points so it’s important to bring a map and GPS.

A trail sign next to the start of the Deer Haven Trail in Badlands National Park.
The beginning of the Deer Haven Trail is very well defined as it leads away from the Conata Picnic Area. Photo courtesy of NPS/Ed Welsh.

Sage Creek Loop

Distance: 23 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Very Strenuous
Trailhead: Conata Picnic Area

This adventurous hike should only be attempted by hardy, experienced walkers who are confident in their navigational abilities. Most hikers complete the Sage Creek Loop in three days, allowing for a challenging but manageable pace. In addition to the somewhat strenuous physical exertion required to complete the Sage Creek Loop, hikers must also contend with route-finding (which is very unclear in places) and volatile weather conditions. It is essential that you bring enough water, as there is none available along the trail. In the summer heat, that means carrying a gallon per person, per day. The payoff for all of your hard work? Solitude, dynamic and beautiful landscapes, and abundant wildlife viewings, such as bison and pronghorn.

A rocky butte beneath blue sky with green prairie in the foreground in the Sage Creek Wilderness area in Badlands National Park.
The colorful Sage Creek Wilderness Area. Photo courtesy of NPS/Larry McAfee.

Hiking in Badlands National Park: Need to Know

What to Bring

There are a ton of variables that need to be taken into account when packing for a hike in Badlands National Park. You’ll need to consider the weather conditions (and forecast), length of your hike, and availability of nearby services.

That being said, there are a few universal items that are essential for all Badlands hikers:

  • Water: 1 quart per person per hour is recommended. We like carrying water in a hydration bladder for better weight distribution and easy access.
  • Sturdy Boots: The Badlands are very rugged, and it’s important to have supportive footwear that is up to the task and protects your feet and ankles. The terrain can also get extremely muddy, so waterproof footwear is a good idea.
  • Layers & Sunscreen: The weather changes quickly in the Badlands. It’s important to dress in layers so you can quickly adapt to the elements. Additionally, the sun is strong in the Badlands, even in the winter, making it a good idea to pack sunscreen.
  • Backpack: Most hikers will need a comfortable backpack for their outing in Badlands National Park. This is especially important for hikes like the Notch Trail and Saddle Pass Trail, where hikers will need their hands free to climb ladders and navigate steep terrain.

If you plan on backpacking in Badlands National Park, this gear list is a great starting point.

Hikers walk in the snow on the Door Trail in Badlands National Park.
You can hike year-round in Badlands National Park, provided you pack the appropriate gear. Photo courtesy of NPS/Dudley Edmondson.

Safety

  • As with any hike, notify someone of where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
  • Be prepared with extra food, water, and layers.
  • Talk to the ranger and check the weather forecast before you set out.
  • Carry and map and GPS device with you.
  • Don’t approach wildlife.
  • Wear proper footwear to protect against rocks and cacti.
  • Watch for rattlesnakes.
A bison stands in green grasslands in Badlands National Park.
There are many incredible animals that call Badlands National Park home, but it’s important to view them from a safe distance. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Time

For safety and convenience, it’s important to be able to accurately estimate how long a given hike will take you. Everyone hikes at a different pace, and your pace can be greatly affected by the terrain, weather, your hiking companions, and navigational challenges. It’s a good idea to be generous in your time estimates so you can be properly prepared. Additionally, if you want to hike at sunrise or sunset, keep in mind that you’ll travel significantly slower in the dark.

Sunset over rock formations in Badlands National Park.
Hiking at sunrise or sunset can be very rewarding, but keep in mind that you’ll cover ground more slowly in low light conditions. Photo courtesy of NPS/Mackenzie Reed.

Navigation

Even some of the official hikes in Badlands National Park can be a little tricky to follow at times. The landscape lends itself to navigational challenges because trails can easily blend into the rocky, scrubby terrain, and the canyons and washes can feel like labyrinths. It’s a good idea to use your phone or another navigational device and carry a compass and a map.

This article provides more information about Badlands National Park maps.

An aerial view of rock formations in Badlands National Park.
Navigating in Badlands National Park can be very difficult so it’s important that hikers bring a map and/or GPS.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for a quick family-friendly walk or a multi-day backcountry adventure, Badlands National Park has plenty of great options. The dramatic scenery, varied landscapes, and unique wildlife can be enjoyed from any of the trails in the park and there’s no better way to experience the magic of the Badlands than to get out for a hike.

Got questions or experiences you want to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Happy Trails!

Rainbow over the Badlands Wall.
Have a great trip! Photo courtesy of NPS/Larry McAfee.

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument is a place where diverging paths come together. The monument itself straddles the border of Colorado and Utah, and it contains the confluence of the Green and…

Dinosaur National Monument is a place where diverging paths come together. The monument itself straddles the border of Colorado and Utah, and it contains the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers. It is also a place where nature, history, and culture all meet in captivating ways.

Named after the famous Dinosaur Quarry, it is the home of over 800 paleontological sites and numerous fossils of a variety of prehistoric species. Dinosaur National Monument also contains beautiful and well-preserved petroglyphs created by the Fremont People. And of course, the monument has endless recreational opportunities, such as hiking, rafting, and fishing. It is an official International Dark Sky Park, meaning that the stargazing there is top-notch.

Given all that, we think the best way to experience all that Dinosaur National Monument has to offer is by spending the night in your tent or RV where you’ll experience this incredible landscape firsthand.

Dinosaur National Monument and the surrounding areas have plenty of options for camping. From the six developed campgrounds located within the national monument to the primitive riverside sites, to the infinite backcountry options, you’re sure to find the perfect campsite in Dinosaur National Monument.

In addition to the campgrounds within the national monument, you’ll also find great options for RV and car camping just outside the park boundary.  Needless to say, you’ll be spoiled for options.

Keeping reading and get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Dinosaur National Monument.

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Dinosaur National Monument Campgrounds

There are six developed campgrounds located with Dinosaur National Monument. Three of these are located on the Utah side of the park (Green River, Split Mountain, and Rainbow Park), and three are located on the Colorado side (Echo Park, Deerlodge Park, and Gates of Lodore).

In addition to these six campgrounds, Dinosaur National Monument also features nearly two dozen primitive riverside sites and an endless array of at large backcountry options for those really wanting to get off the beaten track. All of the campgrounds are well located throughout the park, giving visitors plenty of campsites to choose from regardless of which section of Dinosaur National Monument they want to explore.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of the developed campgrounds are located in Dinosaur National Monument as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Dinosaur National Monument

Pay close attention to when each campground is open, as many are closed or difficult to access in the winter months. Additionally, the price for camping varies with the season; it is more expensive to camp during the summer months when water is available.

Generally speaking, April through October are the best months to visit Dinosaur National Monument. The weather is most agreeable and all of the campgrounds are typically open and accessible during this period.

Reservations and Permits

The following sites can be reserved on recreation.gov:

There are two backcountry sites located at the confluence of Jones Hole Creek and Ely Creek, along the Jones Hole Trail that require reservations. Call (435) 781-7700 to reserve these sites.

Reservations can be made up to six months in advance of your trip, but are not accepted less than 48 hours prior to arrival.

All other campground sites and backcountry sites in Dinosaur National Monument are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

To secure a first-come, first-served campground during peak season, you will want to be sure to arrive early!

If you want to camp anywhere outside of the developed campgrounds (whether in a designated backcountry site or at large), you’ll need to obtain a free backcountry permit before heading out. You can get your permit by contacting either the Quarry Visitor’s Center: (435) 781-7700 or the Canyon Visitor’s Center: (970) 374-3000.

Deerlodge Park Camping Dinosaur National Monument
Deerlodge Park is a peaceful and scenic riverside campground. Photo courtesy of NPS.

What to bring on your Dinosaur National Monument Camping trip

Preparing for your Dinosaur National Monument camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Dinosaur National Monument:

Developed Campgrounds in Dinosaur National Monument

There are six developed campgrounds located in Dinosaur National Monument. These campgrounds vary in size and services and give plenty of options for those looking to explore all that Dinosaur has to offer. Details for all six campgrounds are below.

Green River Campground

Number of Sites: 80 sites
Fee: $18/night ($9.00 for seniors and access pass holders)
RVs: Yes, max size of 30′ RV or 20′ trailer.
Reservations: Available for B Loop sites (27 sites). Click here to reserve.
Season: Mid April through Mid October
More Information

Green River Campground, Dinosaur National Monument
Many sites have beautiful views of Green River and the surrounding peaks. Photo courtesy of NPS.

The Green River Campground is set in a tranquil cottonwood grove on the banks of the Green River. Located just five miles from Dinosaur Quarry, it’s the closest lodging option to this popular destination. The Green River Campground also provides good proximity to the Split Mountain boat ramp, a common endpoint for rafting trips in the area.

The Green River Campground contains 80 campsites. Site #41 and the adjacent bathroom are accessible for wheelchair users. The campground is organized into several loops with potable water and restrooms available throughout. There are flush toilets, but no showers. 27 out of the 80 total campsites are reservable in advance on Recreation.gov, while the remaining sites are always available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground typically only fills up on weekends near holidays.

RV’s are welcome at the Green River Campground, although there are no hookups or dump station available. RV’s longer than 30′ and trailers longer than 20′ are not recommended at the campground due to the narrow roads.

Green River Campground Map, Dinosaur National Monument
Map of the Green River Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Split Mountain Campground

Number of Sites: 4 group sites
Fee: $40/night during peak season, $6/night during the off season
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Available for group sites in peak season. Click here to reserve.
Season: Peak Season is early April through Mid/late October
More Information

Split Mountain Campground, Dinosaur National Monument
The Split Mountain Campground consists of four large group sites on the banks of the Green River. Photo courtesy of NPS/Dan Johnson

The Split Mountain Campground is conveniently located adjacent to the Split Mountain Boat Ramp and just a few miles from the popular Dinosaur Quarry. Its riverside location allows campers to enjoy great views of Green River and the iconic Split Mountain towering above.

During the peak season (typically early April through mid to late October), the Split Mountain Campground functions as a group campsite only, with four large sites accommodating 8-25 people and up to six vehicles. In peak season, reservations can be made for group sites on recreation.gov. Throughout the remainder of the year, the group sites are split up into several individual sites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Potable water and flush toilets are available from early April through early October. Vault toilets are available for the off season, but there is no running water during this time.

The Split Mountain Campground can accommodate RVs, but there are no hookups or dump stations. Generator use is allowed from 7 am-9 pm.

Split Mountain Campground Map, Dinosaur National Monument
Map of Split Mountain Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Rainbow Park Campground

Number of Sites: 4 sites
Fee: $6/night ($3.00 for seniors and access pass holders)
RVs: No
Reservations: N/A
Season: Open all year, but the road to the campground is impassible when wet and not serviced in the winter.
More Information

Rainbow Park Campground, Dinosaur National Monument
Views from the head of Split Canyon, near the Rainbow Park Campground. Photo courtesy of NPS/Dan Johnson.

This small, primitive campground is located on the Utah side of Dinosaur National Monument and is 28 miles from the Quarry Visitor Center. It is located next to the boat ramp at the head of Split Mountain Canyon, a popular launch point for single-day rafting trips. The Rainbow Park area is packed with historical and natural attractions, including petroglyph panels from the Fremont People at McKee Springs, the Ruple Ranch, and several hiking trails and picnicking spots.

The Rainbow Park campground is located on the banks of the Green River. It consists of just four walk-in sites that can accommodate up to eight people each. Sites have picnic tables and campfire rings, and vault toilets and trash/recycling are available at the campground. It is important to note, however, that there is no potable water available at the Rainbow Park Campground. Water will need to be brought in or filtered from the river.

RV’s are not permitted at the Rainbow Park Campground, due to the rugged nature of the access road and sites.

The Rainbow Park Campground is open all year, although the road may be impassible in wet or winter conditions. All sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Rainbow Park Campground Map, Dinosaur National Monument
Map of Rainbow Park Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Echo Park Campground

Number of Sites: 22 sites
Fee: $10/night for individual sites and $15 for the group site during peak season when water is available. $6.00/night when water is not available.
RVs: No
Reservations: The group site can be reserved at recreation.gov. All other sites are first-come, first-served.
Season: Open all year, but the road to the campground is impassible when wet and not serviced in the winter.
More Information

Tent in front of Steamboat Rock at the Echo Park Campground in Dinosaur National Monument
Great views from the Echo Park Campground. Photo courtesy of NPS.

For those campers willing to have a more rugged experience, Echo Park provides an incredible chance to sleep in one of Dinosaur National Monument’s most spectacular places. Situated in the shadow of the impressive Steamboat Rock and surrounding cliffs, nearly every site in this campground has uninterrupted views. The campground provides access to several trails that lead to the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers, the acclaimed Mitten Park trail, and more. Camping at Echo Park also gives you good proximity to unique sites like Whispering Cave and the Pool Creek Petroglyphs.

The Echo Park Campground consists of 22 sites, 17 of which are arranged around a loop road and accessible for cars and camper-top trucks. One of the sites on this loop is handicapped-accessible. There are also four walk-in tent sites, which are reached by following a short trail at the far end of the loop road. One group site is available at Echo Park Campground, which can accommodate 9-25 people. Vault toilets, picnic tables, and campfire rings with grills are provided. Water is available seasonally.

Due to the rugged road used to reach the Echo Park Campground, RV’s and trailers are strongly discouraged from attempting to access this area. Additionally, high-clearance vehicles are advised, due to the steep grades, sharp turns, and generally rough road conditions.

The Echo Park Campground is open all year, although the road is impassable in wet and winter conditions. Water is available at the campground only from late May through Mid-September.

Reservations for the group site can be made up to 12 months in advance at recreation.gov. All other sites at the Echo Park Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground typically only fills up during holiday weekends in the summer.

Echo Park Campground Map, Dinosaur National Monument
Map of Echo Park Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Deerlodge Park Campground

Number of Sites: 7 sites
Fee: $10/night during peak rafting season when water is available. $6.00/night when water is not available. (50% discount for seniors and access pass holders)
RVs: No
Reservations: N/A
Season: Open all year, but the road to the campground is impassible when wet and not serviced in the winter. The campground typically floods in late Spring.
More Information

Deerlodge Park Campground, Dinosaur National Monument
Deerlodge Park Campground has seven shady walk-in sites on the banks of the Yampa River. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Deerlodge Park is a small, tent-only campground located on the eastern edge of Dinosaur National Monument. Set on the banks of the Yampa River, the campground enjoys plenty of shade and lovely views. It is located next to the boat ramp at the head of the Yampa Canyon. The campground is commonly used for boaters prior to beginning their raft trips.

The Deerlodge Park Campground has seven walk-in sites, each with a fire pit and picnic table. Each site can accommodate up to 25 people. There are vault toilets, and running water is typically available from mid-May through Mid-July. All trash must be packed out, as there is no garbage service at this campground.

Due to the rugged road used to reach the Deerlodge Campground, RV’s and trailers are strongly discouraged from attempting to access this area. Additionally, high-clearance vehicles are advised, due to the steep grades, sharp turns, and generally rough road conditions.

While the campground is open all year, the road is not accessible in wet or wintery conditions. Water is only available during the peak boating season for the Yampa River, which is typically mid-May through Mid-July. All sites at the campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Gates of Lodore Campground

Number of Sites: 19 sites
Fee: $10/night during peak season when water is available. $6.00/night when water is not available. (50% discount for seniors and access pass holders)
RVs: Yes
Reservations: N/A
Season: Open all year, but the campground may be difficult to access in winter due to snow.
More Information

Gates of Lodore Campground, Dinosaur National Monument
A shady site at the Gates of Lodore Campground. Photo courtesy of NPS.

The Gates of Lodore Campground is located on the northern edge of Dinosaur National Monument. It is adjacent to a boat ramp that serves as a popular launch point for rafters heading down the Green River. The campground provides easy access to the Gates of Lodore Trail, as well as many other hiking options in the backcountry within this remote part of the Monument. The campground is also near other regional attractions, including the Brown’s Park National Wildlife Refuge and the John Jarvie Ranch.

The 19 sites in the Gates of Lodore Campground sit side-by-side along an unpaved dirt road. Vault toilets and bear-safe lockers are located throughout the campground, and picnic tables and fire pits are provided at each site. Drinking water is available during the peak summer season, typically late April through late October. There is no trash service at Gates of Lodore Campground, so all waste must be packed out.

RV’s and trailers are welcome at the Gates of Lodore Campground, but there are no hookups or dump stations available. All of the sites are quite flat and can easily fit a 25′ RV, while some sites can accommodate even larger vehicles.

The Gates of Lodore Campground is open all year, although it may be hard to access during winter months. Water is only available during the summer season. Reservations are not accepted for this campground; all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Gates of Lodore Campground Map, Dinosaur National Monument
Map of Gates of Lodore Campground, courtesy of NPS.

Designated Backcountry Sites

If you would prefer to get away from the bustle of the campgrounds and enjoy more solitude in the wilderness, Dinosaur National Monument offers plenty of great options for backcountry camping. The sites described in this section are only reachable by foot or boat, but they have basic facilities, including picnic tables and vault toilets. The majority of the designated backcountry sites are located along the river and are primarily used by boaters. There are two additional sites that are located along the Jones Hole trail.

River Campsites

Designated backcountry sites are located along each of the three major river-running routes in Dinosaur National Monument: Lodore Canyon, Yampa Canyon, and Whirlpool and Split Mountain Canyons. Campsites are generally spaced every couple of miles along the route. This map provides an overview of river camping options:

Backcountry River Sites Map, Dinosaur National Monument
Map of river sites in Dinosaur National Monument, courtesy of NPS.

A complete list of river sites, distances between sites, and camping regulations can be found on this page.

There are vault toilets provided at each site, but campers must filter their own water. The use of soap on the banks of the river is forbidden, and campers must pack out their own trash.

The high-use river-running season is from the second Monday in May through the second Friday in September. During this time, river sites may only be used by boaters. Outside of the high-use season, backpackers may also use the river sites. Sites are open all year and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Permits are required for backcountry camping at any of the river sites. Permits are free, although you’ll still need to pay the Dinosaur National Monument entrance fee. Boaters will also be required to pay River Recreation fees, detailed on page 11 of this booklet.

Jones Hole Trail Backcountry Sites

In addition to the backcountry sites for boaters located along the Green River, there are two campsites near the confluence of Jones Hole Creek and Ely Creek. To reach these sites, campers will start at the trailhead parking area at the Jones Hole Fish Hatchery, and hike about two miles along the Jones Hole Trail.

There are picnic tables and a vault toilet available at the sites. Each site can accommodate up to eight people. Fires are not permitted, and all trash must be packed out. There is no potable water provided at these sites, so campers should plan on filtering water from the creek. Sites are open all year, but must be reserved by calling (435) 781-7700.

Jones Hole Backcountry Campsites, Dinosaur National Monument
One of the two backcountry sites located along Ely Creek and the Jones Hole Trail. Photo courtesy of NPS.

At Large Backcountry Camping in Dinosaur National Monument

Beyond the campgrounds and designated backcountry sites, there’s yet another option for camping in Dinosaur National Monument. Experienced and adventurous campers can sleep out under the stars in the spot of their choosing, provided they follow a few important rules and regulations. This option, referred to as “At Large” backcountry camping, allows campers to hike on or off trail and pitch their tent anywhere in the Monument.

If you’re considering At Large Backcountry Camping in Dinosaur National Monument, it’s imperative you know some key information.

You CANNOT Camp in the following areas:

  • Within 1 mile of developed areas
  • Within half a mile from roads
  • Within 100 feet of any water source (river, stream, pond, etc)
  • Within 100 yards of any cultural, paleontological, or historic site
  • With 1/8 of a mile from any river
  • Along any of the following trails: Desert Voices, Sound of Silence, Box Canyon or Hog Canyon.

Also, keep in mind:

  • Water sources are scarce. Have a plan (and a backup plan) for where and how you’ll obtain all of the water you need for drinking and cooking.
  • You are camping in bear country. Use proper techniques for securing food and other scented items that might attract bears.
  • Campfires are only permitted in certain areas of the Monument. See this page for details.

Permits are required for At Large Camping. See this section for more information on permits.

Contact a ranger at (435) 781-7700 if you have questions about At Large camping in the backcountry.

Quarry Visitors Center, Dinosaur National Monument
The Quarry Visitor Center is one of the two places where you can obtain a backcountry camping permit. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Dinosaur National Monument Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Dinosaur National Monument. Before we dive in, there are a few important regulations to note:

  • Water is not widely available, especially during the winter offseason. Check if your campsite will have access to potable water when you plan to camp and prepare accordingly.
  • Only camp in designated sites or areas that abide by the At Large Backcountry regulations.
  • No more than eight people per individual campsite and 25 people per group campsite.
  • Always store your food using the provided food storage locker, in your car or in an animal-proof container.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

Detailed information on fires, pets, wildlife, and more can be found in the sections below.

Fires

Fires are permitted at all designated campsites and picnic areas, but only in the fire rings and grills provided. Always check with the ranger or visitor center upon arrival, as seasonal fire bans may be in effect. Additionally, it is important to note that wood gathering is prohibited in all developed and riverside areas of the monument. Visitors must bring in their own locally-sourced firewood.

Fires are typically permitted in the backcountry, EXCEPT:

  • Jones Hole Creek Canyon (including the designated backcountry sites along the Jones Hole Trail)
  • Upper Pool Creek Canyon
  • Lower Sand Canyon
  • Pats Draw
  • Green and Yampa Rivers Canyons (with the exception of designated river campsites)
  • Within 1 mile of developed areas and campgrounds.

If you plan to make a fire in the backcountry, you must exercise extreme caution to ensure that the fire and sparks are properly contained and monitored, and fully extinguished before departure.

Campfires in Dinosaur National Monument

Fires are ONLY permitted in backcountry at large and river campsites IF:

  • A fire pan is used and all fire debris is removed from the backcountry.
  • The fire pan must be at least 3 inches above the ground and be placed on a fireproof tarp or blanket to catch all debris from the area around the pan.

Wildlife

Dinosaur National Monument’s diverse landscapes host a multitude of unique ecosystems. The deserts, canyons, rivers, and mountains are home to a wonderful range of species. Some notable fauna include the peregrine falcon, the greater sage grouse, and several species of endangered fish. While the chance to see wildlife in their native habitat is certainly an unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to witness it, there are some precautions to keep in mind when spending time in Dinosaur National Monument.

Black Bears: Even though it may not seem like it, Dinosaur National Monument is bear country. Black bears are not typically aggressive, but they are curious and they can be dangerous when they feel threatened. The most common encounters with bears happen when they are seeking food. Be sure to read these safety guidelines before camping in Dinosaur.

Mountain Lions: Dinosaur National Monument is home to mountain lions, although it is incredibly rare to encounter this elusive big cat. That being said, they can be dangerous to humans and it’s important to know what to do if you cross paths with a mountain lion. Learn more about mountain lion safety here.

A Great Blue Heron catches a fish on the banks of the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument.
A Great Blue Heron catches a fish on the banks of the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument. Photo courtesy of NPS/Dan Johnson.

Pets

Pets are allowed in Dinosaur National Monument, but only in specific areas and under specific rules. Pets are not allowed in the backcountry, on certain trails, or on river trips.

They are permitted in the developed campgrounds, adjacent to park infrastructure, and on the main park roads. They are also allowed on the following trails:  Plug Hat Butte and other trails at the Plug Hat Picnic Area, Canyon Overlook, Echo Park Overlook, Iron Springs Bench Overlook, Swelter Shelter Petroglyphs Trail, and the River Trail.

If you bring your pet to Dinosaur National Monument, you must follow these regulations:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times.
  • Pets are allowed within campgrounds, on park roads, and in picnic areas.
  • Pets are not allowed in park buildings, on trails (except the ones noted above), or in the backcountry.
  • Do not leave your pet unattended in your vehicle. Temperatures can get extremely hot in Dinosaur.
  • Always properly dispose of pet waste.
  • Properly documented and trained service animals are permitted to accompany individuals with disabilities anywhere members of the public may normally go within the park.

For a complete list of regulations related to pets check out the Dinosaur National Monument website here.

Dogs happily exploring one of the pet-friendly trails in Dinosaur National Monument.
Dogs happily exploring one of the pet-friendly trails in Dinosaur National Monument. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Where to Get Supplies

Dinosaur National Monument is a vast area with no supplies or services available within the park (with the exception of a few snack items at the Visitor centers). This means it is extremely important that you enter the monument well-stocked on food, water (if there’s none available at your destination), gas, and any other necessities you may need while camping.

Map of Services near Dinosaur National Monument
This map provides a sense of the available services near Dinosaur National Monument. Courtesy of NPS.

The available services and their proximity to the Monument vary depending on which direction you’ll be coming from. Your options are outlined below:

Vernal, UT: Located just twenty minutes from the Quarry Visitor Center, this is the major portal to Dinosaur National Monument on the Utah side of the park. In Vernal and the surrounding area, you’ll find grocery stores, outdoor retailers, gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and a medical center.

Dinosaur, CO: Less than 10 minutes from the southern entrance to the Monument and the Canyon Visitor Center, the town of Dinosaur has a gas station, convenience store, restaurant, and a liquor store. However, if you’re looking for lodging, several restaurant options, and a full grocery store, you’ll need to head about 18 miles southeast to the town of Rangely, CO.

Maybell, CO: If you plan on camping at Deerlodge Park and exploring the eastern side of the Monument, the tiny town of Maybell is located just 30 minutes driving from the Deerlodge Park Campground and is the closest place for supplies and services. Maybell has a gas station, post office, small general store, and one hotel. If you’re needing more services, the town of Craig, CO is 37 miles east of Maybell and has several dining and lodging options, supermarkets, gas stations, and a hospital.

Camping Near Dinosaur National Monument

While camping within the confines of Dinosaur National Monument is a remarkable and unrivaled experience, there are many reasons why you might seek out one of the developed campgrounds in the nearby area. Considering there are no hookups nor dump stations at any of the campgrounds inside the Monument, RV’s may prefer to set up camp in one of the more accommodating sites nearby. Additionally, the campgrounds listed in this section provide a great place to stay before or after your trip to Dinosaur National Monument, as they give you more convenient access to services, supplies, and major roadways.

If you’re looking to check out any of the other Colorado National Parks or National Monuments, but sure to take a look at our other camping guides below:

Vernal, Utah Camping
Camping in Vernal, Utah gives you easy access to the famous Dinosaur Quarry.

Camping Near Vernal, UT

Ashley National Forest

Number of sites: Varies
Fee: $12-25/night for tents, $25-50/night for RVs (plus entry fee and optional additional dump station fees)
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended for RV sites and cabins. Call 1-877-444-6777 or visit recreation.gov
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Located about 40 minutes north of Vernal, Ashley National Forest has a wide range of options to suit all types of campers. RV’s are welcome at many of the numerous campgrounds in Ashley National Forest, although the Lodgepole Campground is the best option given it’s the only one with a dump station that gives easy proximity to Dinosaur. Beyond traditional developed campgrounds, there are also options for cabin rentals and dispersed camping.

Vernal/Dinosaurland KOA

Number of sites: 86
Fee: $39-44/night for tents, $47-85/night for RVs, $75-250/night for cabins
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended for RV sites and cabins.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

With a convenient location in the center of Vernal and plenty of great amenities, this is a fantastic option for RVs and families. Extra-large sites and well-equipped hookups make this a welcoming place for even the biggest rigs.

Amenities include a swimming pool, small shop, laundry, wifi, and pet park.

Fossil Valley RV Park

Number of sites: 70
Fee: $41-49/night for RV’s and tents
Capacity: 6 people per standard site
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended
Pets: Allowed (max 2)
More Information

This Good Sam park is within walking distance to shops and restaurants in central Vernal, making it a convenient choice. It is well suited for RVs of all sizes, with full hookups, large flat pitches, and a dump station. Both tents and RVs will appreciate the plentiful shade trees and grassy areas.

Amenities include laundry, wifi, picnic tables, and bathrooms with showers.

Outlaw Trail RV Park

Number of sites: 29
Fee: $35-38/night for RV’s, $15-20/night for tents, $30-95/night for cabins
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Situated in the town of Jensen and just seven miles from the entrance of Dinosaur National Monument, this RV park is the closest option on this side of the Monument. While you won’t be quite as close to restaurants and services as you would be in Vernal, you’ll be well-positioned for endless adventures. Outlaw Trail offers pull-through and back-in gravel sites with full hookups, grassy tent pitches, and two rustic cabins.

Amenities include laundry, coin-operated showers, and a playground.

Red Fleet State Park Campground

Number of sites: 29
Fee: $25-28/night for RV’s, $15/night for tents, $35/night for teepees
Capacity: 8 people per site
RVs: Yes (sites #18-22 have hookups)
Reservations: Recommended for peak season (May 15th-October 1st)
Pets: Allowed
More Information

This beautiful campground is situated on the edge of the Red Fleet Reservoir and surrounded by the dramatic scenery of Red Fleet State Park. The 29 sites all welcome tents and RVs, although only sites #18-22 have hookups. The campground is about 10 miles north of Vernal and 40 minutes’ drive from the entrance of Dinosaur National Monument.

Amenities include picnic tables, firepits, flush toilets, trash collection, and boat rentals.

Car camping near Dinosaur National Monument
Car camping is a fun way to explore Dinosaur National Monument.

Camping Near Moffat County, CO

Craig KOA

Number of sites: 103
Fee: $39-64/night for RV’s, $30/night for tents, $63-72/night for cabins
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended
Pets: Allowed
More Information

This popular KOA is one of the best options for those entering Dinosaur National Monument from its eastern side. It is set on the edge of the town of Craig, providing easy access to shops and dining. The campground offers a variety of full hookup RV sites, plus tent camping and cabin rentals.

Amenities include a small shop, laundry, playground, and dog park.

Elkhead Reservoir State Park

Number of sites: 46 (30 electric at the Pronghorn Campground & 16 nonelectric at the Bears Ears Campground)
Fee: $22/night for a basic site (Bears Ears), $30/night for an electric site (Pronghorn)
Capacity: 6 people per site
RVs: Yes, electricity available at the Pronghorn Campground only
Reservations: Required. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-800-244-5613.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Elkhead Reservoir State Park offers two great campgrounds located just under an hour from the east entrance of Dinosaur National Monument. RVs and tents are welcome at both campgrounds, but electric hookups are only provided at the Pronghorn Campground. All sites have picnic tables, firepits, parking pads and access to nearby restrooms. Many sites enjoy shoreline locations on the edge of the reservoir. Keep in mind that reservations are required to camp in Elkhead Reservoir State Park.

Many of the campgrounds near Dinosaur National Monument can accommodate RVs of all shapes and sizes.

Camping Near Dinosaur, CO

Rangely Camper Park

Number of sites: 26
Fee: $15/night
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes,
Reservations: Recommended in peak season
Pets: Allowed
More Information

This friendly, city-run campground is conveniently located in the center of Rangely, and within walking distance to shops and restaurants. It’s about a 25-minute drive from the southern entrance of Dinosaur National Monument. The paved sites, 30 amp hookups, dump station, and shady, grassy pitches make this a welcoming place for both tents and RVs. Amenities include bathrooms, hot showers, and a kids’ fishing pond.

Buck ‘N’ Bull RV Park

Number of sites: 29
Fee: $15/night for tents, $35/night for RVs
Capacity: None stated, but additional fee for more than 2 people
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended in peak season
Pets: Allowed
More Information

This is a no-frills campground that provides well-equipped sites for both tents and RVs. It is located just a few miles outside of the town of Rangely, meaning its just a short drive from shops and restaurants and about 30 minutes from Dinosaur National Monument.

Amenities include laundry, wifi, and restrooms.

Kenney Reservoir

Number of sites: Varies
Fee: $8/night
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes
Reservations: N/A
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Seasonal camping (April-October) is allowed in designated sites along the edge of the reservoir. RVs are welcome, but there are no hookups and some spots can be tight. There are bathrooms, picnic tables, and swimming areas available for campers to use. Kenney Reservoir is just six miles from the town of Rangely and 30 minutes from Dinosaur National Monument.

River campsites Green River Dinosaur National Monument
A peaceful backcountry site along the Green River. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope you’ve found all of the information in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure in Dinosaur National Monument! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

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Cleveland Way Packing List

If we could choose just one word to describe the Cleveland Way it would be this: variety. Over the course of its 110 glorious miles, the Cleveland Way crosses forests,…

If we could choose just one word to describe the Cleveland Way it would be this: variety.

Over the course of its 110 glorious miles, the Cleveland Way crosses forests, hills, moorland, coastal cliffs, historical landmarks, and charming villages. While the diversity of sights and landscapes certainly adds to the richness of the experience, it can make packing pretty challenging!

You’ll need to be prepared for all sorts of weather, and well as some challenging hills and tough underfoot conditions on the Cleveland Way. At the same time, carrying too big a rucksack will undoubtedly take away from the enjoyment of your trek.

So how does one strike that elusive balance between having all of the necessities without feeling like they have a baby elephant on their back? Read on for our best advice and detailed kit lists to learn everything you need (and what you don’t need) to have your best possible Cleveland Way Walk!

In this post:

Hiker on Urra Moor, Cleveland Way
Approaching Round Hill on Urra Moor, the high point on the Cleveland Way.

Packing Basics for the Cleveland Way

There are so many variables when it comes to packing for the Cleveland Way, such as your accommodation type, hiking style, trip length, baggage transfers, time of year, and many more. Every hiker will have a unique kit to best serve their individual needs. Despite all of those factors, there are some universal rules that all hikers should follow when putting together their kit for the Cleveland Way.

How Much Should My Pack Weigh?

This isn’t easy to answer, since there are a ton of factors that influence how much is too much for any individual hiker. Some things to think about…

  • How fast are you hoping to hike? Generally speaking, lighter=faster
  • Have you completed a multi-day through hike with this specific backpack and this amount of weight before? 
  • Are you injury-prone or do you have any chronic knee, hip, or back issues? 

As a very general rule, campers should keep their pack weight below 13kg, including food and water. Those staying indoors should carry no more than 9kg. If having your luggage transferred along the trail, most transfer services will limit you to 20kg, and your daypack shouldn’t exceed 4kg. If you are backpacking for the first time or have a chronic injury, the weight of your pack should be significantly less than these guidelines.

Generally speaking, less is more. Here’s a few tips for lightening your load:

  1. You only need a couple of shirts. Same goes for underwear and socks. Bring quick-dry items that you can rinse out in the sink or shower.
  2. Plan out when/where you’ll restock food provisions and don’t carry more food than you need.
  3. Consider leaving your bulky camera equipment at home. Unless photography is your passion, most smartphones take great photos and save a ton of space and weight.
Backpacking backpack
The type of pack you’ll need for the Cleveland Way will depend on your individual itinerary.

Choosing a backpack for the Cleveland Way

Just like with footwear, a properly fitting backpack is crucial on the Cleveland Way. Also similar to your boots, your pack needs to be broken in for optimal comfort. We recommend carrying a weighted pack on your training walks to get used to the extra weight and ensure it fits well.

If you plan on staying in B&B’s along the route, you won’t need a very large rucksack. A 25-liter pack should be enough to hold a few clothing items, food, water, and toiletries.

Those staying in dorms and bunkhouses will most likely need to carry a sleeping bag and towel. A 30-40L pack will be more than enough space for everything you need.

If you plan on camping, you’ll need a larger pack to fit your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and cooking equipment in addition to your basic supplies. A 45-60L pack will be suitable for most campers.

Last but not least, don’t forget to bring a pack cover to protect against rain! Many newer packs come with one built-in.

Read More: Cleveland Way Maps and Routes

Coast to Coast Walk hiking boots
Footwear on the Cleveland Way comes down to personal preference and fit, but always break in new boots ahead of time!

Footwear on the Cleveland Way

One of the most challenging aspects of the Cleveland Way is the strain it puts on your feet. The many miles on rocky tracks and over undulating terrain will leave your feet feeling sore and tired. Add in some moisture, and you’ve got a real recipe for trouble. While some soreness is inevitable with longs days of walking, blisters, bruising, and extreme discomfort don’t have to be. Therefore, it is imperative that you test out your footwear ahead of time and make sure you break it in!

Hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes will all work for the Cleveland Way, provided that they will work for your unique needs. The most important thing is that they’re adequately broken in and that you’ve tested them on multiple walks to ensure they are comfortable. You’ll likely need to go up half a size to account for thicker socks and/or swollen feet. Some people may prefer the ankle support of traditional hiking boots, while others may seek out the cushion and breathability of trail shoes. Again, it’s all about trying a variety of options and finding the best one for you.

In terms of waterproofing, there are two opposing schools of thought about this. It is inevitable that your feet will get wet at multiple points along your walk, from driving rains, flooded paths, and so on. Many hikers prefer to use sturdy boots with a thick layer of waterproofing to keep the moisture out as much as possible. This is a good strategy, but keep in mind that when these heavier shoes get wet they can take a long time to dry.

Others prefer to use breathable trail shoes. These will get wet right away, but they’ll also be dry again within a couple of hours and allow your feet to get some air in the meantime. It’s totally a matter of personal preference, but it’s a good idea to try a few options out prior to setting off on your Cleveland Way journey.

Good socks are also a game-changer on the Cleveland Way. We love merino wool socks like these for their comfort, breathability, and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister-prone, consider trying toe sockssock liners, and/or body glide.

If you need more underfoot padding, try using socks with extra cushioning or even some custom insoles.

A view of Whitby from the water
The trail passes through many lovely seaside villages, including Whitby.

Good Waterproofs

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear! No matter what time of year you choose to walk, it is nearly gaurunteed that you’ll experience some wet weather at some point along your journey. Having the appropriate gear will make all the difference when it comes to enjoying your trip to the fullest. Bonus: waterproof outer layers will also serve as great protection against the infamous winds that can blow on sections of the Cleveland Way.

At the very minimum, make sure you have a lightweight rain jacketrain pants, and a pack cover. Some hikers pack their clothing and other items inside trash bags or waterproof packing cubes as an extra precaution. A hat can be nice to keep the rain out of your face. And a waterproof carrying case for your map and/or phone isn’t a bad idea either.

Man standing in red rain jacket on the South Downs Way
Good waterproofs will keep you smiling throughout your walk!

Personal Gear

Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for your Cleveland Way packing list. While we’ve included some toiletries that are absolutely essential for this trek, we’ve left it up to you to determine your own list of additional self-care items (comb, toothbrush, prescription medication, etc). 

Most Valuable Personal Item: Black Diamond Alpine Flz Trekking Poles

The Cleveland Way has quite a few hills and all that up and down can really wreak havoc on knees and hips after awhile. Trekking poles make a huge difference in relieving the impact on your joints, not to mention they also make climbing hills feel much easier. They’re also great for saving ankles and helping with stability on loose, rocky trails (which there are plenty of on the Cleveland Way). We love this Black Diamond pair because they are sturdy, lightweight, easily packable, and the cork handles fend off sweat and blisters much better than the other styles.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Multi-ToolBibury 21-in-1 Multi-ToolPerfect for cutting cheese or opening cans when you need some trail-side snacks!
First Aid KitSurviveware Small First Aid KitA good backpacking first aid kit is essential. You hope to never have to use it, but will be glad you have it when you need it. We like the labeled compartments and waterproof case on this one.
Hydration BladderPlatypus Big ZipWay easier than a water bottle! We suggest carrying a 3-liter version.
Small DaypackDeuter Speed Light 20An optional item that is great for walking around town. Deuter makes one that is versatile and good quality.
Pack CoverSea to Summit Ultra-Sil Rain CoverThis is a truly essential piece of gear given how hard it can rain on the Cleveland Way! This one has an extra strap that keeps it in place on windy days.
Men’s BackpackOsprey Atmos AG 50While backpacks are a very personal item, we find Osprey to make by far the most comfortable packs on the market. This 50L model will work for minimalist campers or those staying indoors.
Women’s BackpackOsprey Aura AG 50One of our favorite features of Osprey packs is the ‘anti-gravity’ mesh. So comfortable!
Trekking PolesBlack Diamond Alpine FlzThese can help take the load off your knees and they’re great on steep sections.
Travel TowelEono Microfiber TowelGreat to have in hostels and campsite showers.
Headlamp/ Head torchBlack Diamond StormGreat headtorch with long battery life and adjustable brightness.
Dry BagsEarth Pak 10L or 20LKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour! These are also great for keeping your kit organized and packed efficiently.
Hiking GaitersPeter Storm Ankle GaitersOptional. These will help keep your boots dry when walking on muddy or boggy trails and they’ll keep out stones, dirt, and gravel.
SunscreenWe recommend a waterproof sport version with SPF 30 or higher.
Bug SprayBen’s Insect RepellentYou’ll be glad you brought this when the mozzies or midges come out.
Toilet Paper and TrowelThe TentLab Ultralight TrowelAs any hiker will tell you, it’s always better to be prepared and Leave No Trace!
Purple heather alongside a dirt trail on the Cleveland Way
Hike in late August or September to experience breathtaking seas of purple heather in full bloom!

Miscellaneous Gear

These odds and ends are the unsung heroes of any Cleveland Way packing list. From getting your stinky shirt clean to keeping your phone charged, these items help your trek run smoothly. Make sure to use this list in addition to the other categories to complete your Cleveland Way kit. 

Most valuable miscellaneous gear: Anker Powercore 10000.

Chances are, you’re getting out on the trail to get a break from the constant demands of screens and technology and that’s wonderful. However, don’t underestimate the importance of having a charged cell phone on the Cleveland Way Walk. Your phone can be your navigational device, your camera, your guidebook, and your notepad all in one. The route can be a bit unclear at times, and charging opportunities are inconsistent, so a battery backup can be an absolute lifesaver. This one is dependable, relatively small, and can fully charge your phone 1.5-2 times between charges. Check it out here:

ItemOur ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Guide BookTrailblazer: The Cleveland WayThis comprehensive and up-to-date guide has tons of useful information about lodging, food, logistics, and sites of interest along the route. Plus, the detailed area maps are very handy.
Ear PlugsMack’s Ear PlugsEssential for a good night’s sleep! We find the silicone ones to stay in place and block out noise best.
Sleeping MaskAlaska BearPerfect to block out light while sleeping in hostels or campgrounds on the Cleveland Way.
Travel AdapterLYSEDa All in One USB Travel AdapterIf you’re coming from abroad, this is going to be necessary. This one is super compact and the two USB ports are very handy!
Digital WatchCasio Classic Sport WatchWe recommend a simple digital watch to keep track of hiking times. This one is a great value and nearly indestructible.
CameraSony Alpha 6000Optional, but this compact camera takes beautiful photos and is easy to use.
Battery BackupAnker Powercore 10,000Great for charging electronics when you don’t have access to an outlet.
Biodegradable SoapCoghlan’s Camp SoapPerfect for doing the dishes or washing a few clothing items.
Plastic Bags- quart, gallon, and garbage bags.We used these constantly for everything from storing trail mix to keeping our sleeping bags dry. A must-have for backpacking. They can be repurposed many times to minimize plastic waste.
Coast to Coast Walk women's packing list

Women’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for over a week in various weather conditions and while doing some serious walking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials for your Cleveland Way Walk. Plus, if you’re anything like us, you have no idea how many pairs of socks to bring.

Emily’s most valuable clothing item: Berghaus Deluge Rain Trousers 

English weather is temperamental. While walking the Cleveland Way, you’ll get to experience a wide range of elements (rain, sun, wind, etc), often all in the same day! For the times when the weather turns, you’ll want to be able to quickly and effortlessly adapt your clothing to stay dry and comfortable. These Berghaus rain pants are simple, effective, comfortable, and easy to get on and off over boots. Check them out here:

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go SportThese are worth every penny when it comes to staying comfortable on the trail. They are quick-drying and antimicrobial meaning you can just bring a few pairs and wash them in the sink as you go.
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Micro Crew SocksIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Sports Bra (1)Under Armour Mid Crossback This is a good example of something breathable and comfortable that you can wear all day.
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Smartwool NTS 250 Base LayerA great merino wool base layer for chilly mornings.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Leggings or hiking pants (1)Berghaus Amlia Walking TrousersStylish, lightweight, and great to hike in.
Shorts (1)The North Face Aphrodite 2.0These shorts are super versatile and durable! The soft, wide waistband works great underneath a rucksack’s hip belt.
Down JacketRab Microlight AlpineLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain JacketMarmot PreCip Eco JacketA high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.
Rain PantsBerghaus DelugeFor those heavy English downpours!
Hiking BootsKeen Targhee Mid Height Hiking BootEmily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!
SunglassesSinner Polarised SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re outside all day. And these are stylish too!
Underwire/Standard BraAfter a long day of hiking in a sweaty sports bra this can be a welcome relief to change into.
GlovesSmartwool liner glovesOptional in the summertime, but can be nice to have in tempermental weather.
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.

Sandals/Camp ShoesCrocs Classic ClogGreat to change into after a long day of walking!
BandanaRobelli BandanaI used this for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Coast to Coast Walk Men's Clothing
Another perk of hiking socks-really cool tan lines!

Men’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for eight days in various weather conditions and while doing some serious trekking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials for your Cleveland Way adventure.

Ian’s most valuable clothing item: Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks

The conditions on the Cleveland Way are such that hikers are at a particularly high risk of getting blisters at some point on their walk. The wet environments, long mileage, and stony paths conspire to create the perfect environment for blisters to sabotage your walk. Fortunately, a good pair of socks can greatly reduce your chance of foot issues. This is one of those times where you really do get what you pay for. We love Darn Tough socks because they keep our feet dry and comfortable in a variety of conditions. They have just the right amount of cushion without being too bulky in boots. Plus, the Merino wool keeps them smelling fresh for days. Check them out here:


ItemOur ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Boxer BriefHighly recommended! You can bring just 2-3 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Boot Socks In our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Icebreaker 200 OasisThis is a very versatile baselayer that works great under an outer layer or on its own.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Hiking Pants (1 pair)The North Face Exploration Convertible TrousersThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking Shorts (1 pair)Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo ShortsYou can skip these if you’re using our recommended convertible trousers, but it can be nice to have an extra set of bottoms. These are so packable that you really can’t go wrong!
Down JacketRab Cirrus Flex HoodyLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain JacketMarmot Precip Eco JacketUnlike many lightweight rain jackets. this one will actually keep you dry during long days on the trail.
Rain PantsThe North Face Venture 2 Waterproof Overtrousers Essential for those heavy English downpours!
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.
Sandals/Camp ShoesCrocs Classic ClogSuper nice to change into after walking in boots all day!
Hiking BootsSalomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTXVery comfortable and super waterproof!
SunglassesSinner Thunder Crystal Revo SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re in outdoors all day. And these are stylish too!
BandanaRobelli BandanaThis can be used for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Camping on the Cleveland Way

Camping Gear

Camping on the Cleveland Way is definitely worth carrying the bigger backpack. For the most part, campgrounds along the trail are convenient, and generally quite comfortable. Camping allows you to keep a more flexible schedule, save money, and fully immerse yourself in the great outdoors. With the right gear and a manageable pack size, you are guaranteed to have an amazing experience conquering the Cleveland Way with your own tent.

Most valuable camping gear: MSR 2-Person Mess Kit

Many people choose to camp along the Cleveland Way because of the tremendous money they can save on their accommodation. The budgetary benefits go beyond your sleeping arrangements, though. Camping allows you to self-cater your meals, saving you from spending tons on overpriced pub food every day. This MSR Kit is super lightweight, easy to pack, and convenient for all of those al fresco dinners and trailside coffee breaks.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
TentMSR Hubba Hubba NX Backpacking TentThis is the best designed tent on the market. The genius freestanding rain cover allows you to pack up all of your gear and tent while still being sheltered- perfect for rainy mornings!
Sleeping BagVango Treklite Lightweight Sleeping BagSuper compact, light, and cozy, this bag is a great value. If you’re walking in the summer months, you should only need the Ultra 600 version.
Sleeping PadTherm-a-Rest Ultralight Camping PadIf you are a side sleeper this is a must! Even if you’re not, this is one of the most lightweight and comfortable sleeping pads out there. The pump sack makes inflating it a breeze, too!
PillowTherm-a-Rest Compressible PillowIf you’re camping more than a few nights you will be glad you packed this!
Stove+FuelMSR Pocket Rocket 2Ian has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking PotGSI Outdoors Halulite BoilerThis versatile and high-quality pot is the perfect size for anything from boiling water to making porridge.
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR 2-Person Mess KitWe find this bowl and mug combo to be light, durable, and perfect for camp dinners.
UtensilHumangear SporkThe only utensil you’ll need!
Person outside a stone cottage

Hostel/Bunkhouse Gear

If you are sticking strictly to hotels, B&B’s, and guesthouses, you shouldn’t need to worry about the items on this list. However, for those staying in communal/dorm-style accommodations, there are some essential items you need to pack. Keep in mind that most hostels provide bedding, but you should check with individual places in advance to be sure. On the other hand, you will be responsible for providing your own towel (although some places will rent you one for an additional fee).

Most valuable item for bunkhouses & hostels: Mac’s Earplugs

Hiking is infinitely less fun when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep. There are many wonderful hostels along the Cleveland Way, but Olympic-level snorers and other noisy neighbors seem to hang out in all of them. These earplugs do an excellent job of blocking out sleep-sabotaging sounds. We find that they work better, stay in longer, and are more comfortable than those cheap foam earplugs.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
EarplusMack’s Silicone EarplugsThe best defense for that snorer next door!
Eye MaskAlaska Bear Silk Sleep MaskPerfect to block out light while sleeping in dormitories.
Sleep SheetScottish Silkworm Sleeping Bag LinerA nice item to have for nights in bunkhouses and hostels.
Travel TowelSea to Summit Drylite TowelNot all of the bunkhouses along the Cleveland Way provide towels, so it’s nice to have a backup.
Sandals/SlippersCrocs Classic ClogLightweight and super comfortable!
A quiet street in Robin Hood's Bay, along the Cleveland Way

Conclusion

The Cleveland Way, with its colorful moors, magnificent coastal vistas, and quaint seaside villages is one of the UK’s most memorable walks. While it’s definitely managable for walkers of all ability levels, it’s not without its challenges. By putting together a smart kit, you’ll get to focus your energy on the good kinds of challenges (like climbing a steep hill or covering vast distances), and avoid the less fun types of challenges (getting soaked in a downpour or dealing with blisters). The gear choose to pack (and leave behind) will be essential in ensuring that you have everything you need to stay comfortable, prepared, and injury-free without carrying a bigger rucksack than needed. Happy trails!

Also be sure to check out our Cleveland Way Maps & Routes post!

Check out our Cleveland Way Accommodation Guide here for a list of where to stay.

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Cotswold Way Packing List

Whether you’re looking for quaint villages, ancient ruins, or spectacular natural scenery, the Cotswold Way will not disappoint. This 102-mile (164 km) route connects the charming town of Chipping Camden…

Whether you’re looking for quaint villages, ancient ruins, or spectacular natural scenery, the Cotswold Way will not disappoint. This 102-mile (164 km) route connects the charming town of Chipping Camden to the historic Roman city of bath. Along the way, walkers will enjoy some of the UK’s most picturesque countryside, woodlands, and villages.

Given the plentiful accommodation and services located along the Cotswold Way, you won’t need to carry a very large rucksack. That being said, you’ll want to be prepared for a wide range of landscapes and weather conditions. So how does pack smarter not heavier for this incredible adventure?

Read on for our best advice and detailed kit lists to see everything you need (and everything you don’t) to have your best possible Cotswold Way Walk!

In this post:

A street scene in Bath, UK, at the end of the Cotswold Way
The historic city of Bath, the traditional endpoint of the Cotswold Way.

Packing Basics for the Cotswold Way

There are so many variables when it comes to packing for the Cotswold Way, such as your accommodation type, hiking style, trip length, baggage transfers, time of year, and many more. Every hiker will have a unique kit to best serve their individual needs. Despite all of those factors, there are some universal rules that all hikers should follow when putting together their kit for the Cotswold Way.

How Much Should My Pack Weigh?

This isn’t easy to answer, since there are a ton of factors that influence how much is too much for any individual hiker. Some things to think about…

  • How fast are you hoping to hike? Generally speaking, lighter=faster
  • Have you completed a multi-day through hike with this specific backpack and this amount of weight before? 
  • Are you injury-prone or do you have any chronic knee, hip, or back issues? 

As a very general rule, campers should keep their pack weight below 13kg, including food and water. Those staying indoors should carry no more than 9kg. If having your luggage transferred along the trail, most transfer services will limit you to 20kg, and your daypack shouldn’t exceed 4kg. If you are backpacking for the first time or have a chronic injury, the weight of your pack should be significantly less than these guidelines.

Generally speaking, less is more. Here’s a few tips for lightening your load:

  1. You only need a couple of shirts. Same goes for underwear and socks. Bring quick-dry items that you can rinse out in the sink or shower.
  2. Plan out when/where you’ll restock food provisions and don’t carry more food than you need.
  3. Consider leaving your bulky camera equipment at home. Unless photography is your passion, most smartphones take great photos and save a ton of space and weight.
Backpacking backpack
The type of pack you’ll need for the Cotswold Way will depend on your individual itinerary.

Choosing a backpack for the Cotswold Way

Just like with footwear, a properly fitting backpack is crucial on the Cotswold Way. Also similar to your boots, your pack needs to be broken in for optimal comfort. We recommend carrying a weighted pack on your training walks to get used to the extra weight and ensure it fits well.

If you plan on staying in B&B’s along the route, you won’t need a very large rucksack. A 25-liter pack should be enough to hold a few clothing items, food, water, and toiletries.

Those staying in dorms and bunkhouses will most likely need to carry a sleeping bag and towel. A 30-40L pack will be more than enough space for everything you need. Keep in mind, these types of accommodations are quite limited along the route.

If you plan on camping, you’ll need a larger pack to fit your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and cooking equipment in addition to your basic supplies. A 45-60L pack will be suitable for most campers. Most of the camping along the way will likely consist of informally pitching your tent with the permission of local landowners, so you’ll need to be prepared to be quite self-sufficient.

Last but not least, don’t forget to bring a pack cover to protect against rain! Many newer packs come with one built-in.

Read more: Cotswold Way Maps and Routes

Coast to Coast Walk hiking boots
Footwear on the Cotswold Way comes down to personal preference and fit, but always break in new boots ahead of time!

Footwear on the Cotswold Way

One of the most challenging aspects of the CotswoldWay is the strain it puts on your feet. While it’s not an especially difficult trail, there are plenty of ups and downs across a variety of surfaces, lumpy, wet grass being one of the most common (and most tiresome!) terrains. While some soreness is inevitable with longs days of walking, blisters, bruising, and extreme discomfort don’t have to be. Therefore, it is imperative that you test out your footwear ahead of time and make sure you break it in!

Hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes will all work for the Cotswold Way, provided that they will work for your unique needs. The most important thing is that they’re adequately broken in and that you’ve tested them on multiple walks to ensure they are comfortable. You’ll likely need to go up half a size to account for thicker socks and/or swollen feet. Some people may prefer the ankle support of traditional hiking boots, while others may seek out the cushion and breathability of trail shoes. Again, it’s all about trying a variety of options and finding the best one for you.

In terms of waterproofing, there are two opposing schools of thought about this. It is inevitable that your feet will get wet at multiple points along your walk, from driving rains, flooded paths, and so on. Many hikers prefer to use sturdy boots with a thick layer of waterproofing to keep the moisture out as much as possible. This is a good strategy, but keep in mind that when these heavier shoes get wet they can take a long time to dry.

Others prefer to use breathable trail shoes. These will get wet right away, but they’ll also be dry again within a couple of hours and allow your feet to get some air in the meantime. It’s totally a matter of personal preference, but it’s a good idea to try a few options out prior to setting off on your Cotswold Way journey.

Good socks are also a game-changer on the Cotswold Way. We love merino wool socks like these for their comfort, breathability, and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister-prone, consider trying toe sockssock liners, and/or body glide.

If you need more underfoot padding, try using socks with extra cushioning or even some custom insoles.

Farm on the Cotswold Way
Even though pastureland provides a nice soft surface for walking, its uneven nature can create problems if you’re not careful.

Good Waterproofs

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear! Even though the Cotswold Way passes through one of the drier, sunnier parts of England, let’s face it you’re still in England, and you should expect rain at some point on your trek.

At the very minimum, make sure you have a lightweight rain jacketrain pants, and a pack cover. Some hikers pack their clothing and other items inside trash bags or waterproof packing cubes as an extra precaution. A hat can be nice to keep the rain out of your face. A waterproof carrying case for your map and/or phone isn’t a bad idea either.

Man standing in red rain jacket on the South Downs Way
Good waterproofs will keep you smiling throughout your walk!

Personal Gear

Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for your Cotswold Way packing list. While we’ve included some toiletries that are absolutely essential for this trek, we’ve left it up to you to determine your own list of additional self-care items (comb, toothbrush, prescription medication, etc). 

Most Valuable Personal Item: Black Diamond Alpine Flz Trekking Poles

The Cotswold Way has the reputation for being one of the “easier” of the U.K.’s National Trails, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it will be a walk in the park. There are a LOT of hills on this route (particularly the northern section), and the constant up and down can really wreak havoc on knees and hips after awhile. Trekking poles make a huge difference in relieving the impact on your joints, not to mention they also make climbing hills feel much easier. We love this Black Diamond pair because they are sturdy, lightweight, easily packable, and the cork handles fend off sweat and blisters much better than the other styles.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Multi-ToolBibury 21-in-1 Multi-ToolPerfect for cutting cheese or opening cans when you need some trail-side snacks!
First Aid KitSurviveware Small First Aid KitA good backpacking first aid kit is essential. You hope to never have to use it, but will be glad you have it when you need it. We like the labeled compartments and waterproof case on this one.
Hydration BladderPlatypus Big ZipWay easier than a water bottle! We suggest carrying a 3-liter version.
Small DaypackDeuter Speed Light 20An optional item that is great for walking around town. Deuter makes one that is versatile and good quality.
Pack CoverSea to Summit Ultra-Sil Rain CoverThis is a truly essential piece of gear given how hard it can rain on the Cotswold Way!
Men’s BackpackOsprey Atmos AG 50While backpacks are a very personal item, we find Osprey to make by far the most comfortable packs on the market. This 50L model will work for minimalist campers or those staying indoors.
Women’s BackpackOsprey Aura AG 50One of our favorite features of Osprey packs is the ‘anti-gravity’ mesh. So comfortable!
Trekking PolesBlack Diamond Alpine FlzThese can help take the load off your knees and they’re great on steep sections.
Travel TowelEono Microfiber TowelGreat to have in hostels and campsite showers.
Headlamp/ Head torchBlack Diamond StormGreat headtorch with long battery life and adjustable brightness.
Dry BagsEarth Pak 10L or 20LKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour! These are also great for keeping your kit organized and packed efficiently.
Hiking GaitersPeter Storm Ankle GaitersOptional. These will help keep your boots dry when walking on muddy or boggy trails and they’ll keep out stones, dirt, and gravel.
SunscreenWe recommend a waterproof sport version with SPF 30 or higher.
Bug SprayBen’s Insect RepellentYou’ll be glad you brought this when the mozzies or midges come out.
Toilet Paper and TrowelThe TentLab Ultralight TrowelAs any hiker will tell you, it’s always better to be prepared and Leave No Trace!
Gloucester Cathedral under a blue sky on the Cotswold Way.
Gloucester Cathedral is just off the Cotswold Way path and is a highlight for many walkers.

Miscellaneous Gear

These odds and ends are the unsung heroes of any Cotswold Way packing list. From getting your stinky shirt clean to keeping your phone charged, these items help your trek run smoothly. Make sure to use this list in addition to the other categories to complete your Cotswold Way kit. 

Most valuable miscellaneous gear: Anker Powercore 10000.

Chances are, you’re getting out on the trail to get a break from the constant demands of screens and technology and that’s wonderful. However, don’t underestimate the importance of having a charged cell phone on the Cotswold Way Walk. Your phone can be your navigational device, your camera, your guidebook, and your notepad all in one. Charging opportunities can be unreliable along the route, so a battery backup can be an absolute lifesaver. This one is dependable, relatively small, and can fully charge your phone 1.5-2 times between charges. Check it out here:

ItemOur ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Guide BookCiccerone: Walking the Cotswold Way
OR
Trailblazer: Cotswold Way
We love Cicerone guides for their informative, yet straightforward advice and Kev Reynold’s is one of the best guidebook authors around. We find the Trailblazer guides to be a bit less user-friendly, but they have great features and this is the more up-to-date option.
Ear PlugsMack’s Ear PlugsEssential for a good night’s sleep! We find the silicone ones to stay in place and block out noise best.
Sleeping MaskAlaska BearPerfect to block out light while sleeping in hostels or campgrounds on the CotswoldWay.
Travel AdapterLYSEDa All in One USB Travel AdapterIf you’re coming from abroad, this is going to be necessary. This one is super compact and the two USB ports are very handy!
Digital WatchCasio Classic Sport WatchWe recommend a simple digital watch to keep track of hiking times. This one is a great value and nearly indestructible.
CameraSony Alpha 6000Optional, but this compact camera takes beautiful photos and is easy to use.
Battery BackupAnker Powercore 10,000Great for charging electronics when you don’t have access to an outlet.
Biodegradable SoapCoghlan’s Camp SoapPerfect for doing the dishes or washing a few clothing items.
Plastic Bags- quart, gallon, and garbage bags.We used these constantly for everything from storing trail mix to keeping our sleeping bags dry. A must-have for backpacking. They can be repurposed many times to minimize plastic waste.
Coast to Coast Walk women's packing list

Women’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for over a week in various weather conditions and while doing some serious walking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials for your Cotswold Way Walk. Plus, if you’re anything like us, you have no idea how many pairs of socks to bring.

Emily’s most valuable clothing item: Berghaus Deluge Rain Trousers 

English weather is temperamental. You’ll get to experience a wide range of elements (rain, sun, wind, etc), often all in one day! For the times when the weather turns, you’ll want to be able to quickly and effortlessly adapt your clothing to stay dry and comfortable. These Berghaus rain pants are simple, effective, comfortable, and easy to get on and off over boots. Check them out here:

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go SportThese are worth every penny when it comes to staying comfortable on the trail. They are quick-drying and antimicrobial meaning you can just bring a few pairs and wash them in the sink as you go.
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Micro Crew SocksIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Sports Bra (1)Under Armour Mid Crossback This is a good example of something breathable and comfortable that you can wear all day.
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Smartwool NTS 250 Base LayerA great merino wool base layer for chilly mornings.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Leggings or hiking pants (1)Berghaus Amlia Walking TrousersStylish, lightweight, and great to hike in.
Shorts (1)The North Face Aphrodite 2.0These shorts are super versatile and durable! The soft, wide waistband works great underneath a rucksack’s hip belt.
Down JacketRab Microlight AlpineLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain JacketMarmot PreCip Eco JacketA high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.
Rain PantsBerghaus DelugeFor those heavy English downpours!
Hiking BootsKeen Targhee Mid Height Hiking BootEmily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!
SunglassesSinner Polarised SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re outside all day. And these are stylish too!
Underwire/Standard BraAfter a long day of hiking in a sweaty sports bra this can be a welcome relief to change into.
GlovesSmartwool liner glovesOptional in the summertime, but can be nice to have in tempermental weather.
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.

Sandals/Camp ShoesCrocs Classic ClogGreat to change into after a long day of walking!
BandanaRobelli BandanaI used this for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Coast to Coast Walk Men's Clothing
Another perk of hiking socks-really cool tan lines!

Men’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for eight days in various weather conditions and while doing some serious trekking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality.  Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials.

Ian’s most valuable clothing item: Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks

The conditions on the Cotswold Way are such that hikers are at a particularly high risk of getting blisters at some point on their walk. The wet environments, long mileage, and uneven paths conspire to create the perfect environment for blisters to sabotage your walk. Fortunately, a good pair of socks can greatly reduce your chance of foot issues. This is one of those times where you really do get what you pay for. We love Darn Tough socks because they keep our feet dry and comfortable in a variety of conditions. They have just the right amount of cushion without being too bulky in boots. Plus, the Merino wool keeps them smelling fresh for days. Check them out here:


ItemOur ReccommendationWhy We Love It
Underwear (2-3 pairs)ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Boxer BriefHighly recommended! You can bring just 2-3 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!
Socks (2-3 pairs)Darn Tough Boot Socks In our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)Icebreaker 200 OasisThis is a very versatile baselayer that works great under an outer layer or on its own.

Short Sleeve Hiking Shirts (1-2)Icebreaker Tech Lite T-ShirtMerino wool is perfect for backpacking. Lightweight, quick-drying, and odor resistant.
Hiking Pants (1 pair)The North Face Exploration Convertible TrousersThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking Shorts (1 pair)Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo ShortsYou can skip these if you’re using our recommended convertible trousers, but it can be nice to have an extra set of bottoms and these are so packable that you really can’t go wrong!
Down JacketRab Cirrus Flex HoodyLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain JacketMarmot Precip Eco JacketUnlike many lightweight rain jackets. this one will actually keep you dry during long days on the trail.
Rain PantsThe North Face Venture 2 Waterproof Overtrousers Essential for those heavy English downpours!
HatColumbia Bora Bora Booney HatHelps keep both the sun and rain off your face.
Sandals/Camp ShoesCrocs Classic ClogSuper comfortable to change into after walking in boots all day!
Hiking BootsSalomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTXVery comfortable and super waterproof!
SunglassesSinner Thunder Crystal Revo SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you’re in outdoors all day. And these are stylish too!
BandanaRobelli BandanaThis can be used for everything from a towel to extra sun protection.
Tent in the dark while camping on the South Downs Way

Camping Gear

Realistically speaking, it is not easy to camp on the Cotswold Way. There are very few official campsites along the route, meaning you’ll have to detour quite a bit or wild camp on private property if you want to sleep in your tent most nights. That said, it is certainly possible, given you do some advance planning. For the hearty souls who want to sleep out under the stars, we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive kit list.

Most valuable camping gear: MSR 2-Person Mess Kit

Many people choose to camp along the Cotswold Way because of the tremendous money they can save on their accommodation. The budgetary benefits go beyond your sleeping arrangements, though. Camping allows you to self-cater your meals, saving you from spending tons on overpriced pub food every day. Even if you choose not to camp every night, this is a great piece of gear that gives you more freedom when it comes to your sleeping and eating options. This MSR Kit is super lightweight, easy to pack, and convenient for all of those al fresco dinners and trailside coffee breaks.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
TentMSR Hubba Hubba NX Backpacking TentThis is the best-designed tent on the market. The genius freestanding rain cover allows you to pack up all of your gear and tent while still being sheltered- perfect for rainy mornings!
Sleeping BagVango Treklite Lightweight Sleeping BagSuper compact, light, and cozy, this bag is a great value. If you’re walking in the summer months, you should only need the Ultra 600 version.
Sleeping PadTherm-a-Rest Ultralight Camping PadIf you are a side sleeper this is a must! Even if you’re not, this is one of the most lightweight and comfortable sleeping pads out there. The pump sack makes inflating it a breeze, too!
PillowTherm-a-Rest Compressible PillowIf you’re camping more than a few nights you will be glad you packed this!
Stove+FuelMSR Pocket Rocket 2Ian has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking PotGSI Outdoors Halulite BoilerThis versatile and high-quality pot is the perfect size for anything from boiling water to making porridge.
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR 2-Person Mess KitWe find this bowl and mug combo to be light, durable, and perfect for camp dinners.
UtensilHumangear SporkThe only utensil you’ll need!
Broadway Tower, on the Cotswold Way
Looking out towards the magical Broadway Tower and the Cotswold hills beyond.

Hostel/Bunkhouse Gear

Just like with camping, hostels and bunkhouses are quite limited along the Cotswold Way. If you are sticking strictly to hotels, B&B’s, and guesthouses, you shouldn’t need to worry about the items on this list. However, for those staying in communal/dorm-style accommodations, there are some essential items you need to pack. Keep in mind that most hostels provide bedding, but you should check with individual places in advance to be sure. On the other hand, you will be responsible for providing your own towel (although some places will rent you one for an additional fee).

Most valuable item for bunkhouses & hostels: Mac’s Earplugs

Hiking is infinitely less fun when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep. These earplugs do an excellent job of blocking out sleep-sabotaging sounds. We find that they work better, stay in longer, and are more comfortable than those cheap foam earplugs.

ItemOur RecommendationWhy We Love It
EarplusMack’s Silicone EarplugsThe best defense for that snorer next door!
Eye MaskAlaska Bear Silk Sleep MaskPerfect to block out light while sleeping in dormitories.
Sleep SheetScottish Silkworm Sleeping Bag LinerA nice item to have for nights in bunkhouses and hostels.
Travel TowelSea to Summit Drylite TowelNot all of the bunkhouses along the Cotswold Way provide towels, so it’s nice to have a backup.
Sandals/SlippersCrocs Classic ClogLightweight and super comfortable!
Green fields on the Cotswold Way

Conclusion

The Cotswold Way is a challenging, yet approachable walk for hikers of all ability levels. The dramatic natural beauty and many places of historical interest will *almost* completely take your mind off your tired feet. The gear you choose to pack (and leave behind) will be essential in ensuring that you have everything you need to stay comfortable, prepared, and injury-free without carrying a bigger rucksack than needed. Happy trails!

Also be sure to check out our Cotswold Way Maps and Routes post!

Looking for accommodation on the Cotswold Way? Check out our guide here!

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