Coast to Coast Walk | Maps & Routes

The Coast to Coast walk is one of the UK’s most iconic long-distance treks. Starting in St. Bees on the Irish Sea and finishing in Robin Hood’s Bay on the…

The Coast to Coast walk is one of the UK’s most iconic long-distance treks. Starting in St. Bees on the Irish Sea and finishing in Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea, this incredible journey takes walker’s across Britain. The Coast to Coast route is typically completed in 12 – 16 days, although countless opportunities exist to shorten or lengthen your walk.  This post will introduce you this magnificent trail and provide an overview of the Coast to Coast route as well as provide detailed maps, navigational resources, and much more so you can be sure you’re ready to tackle Wainwright’s most famous trail. 

What’s in this post?

Everything you need to to plan your Coast to Coast Walk – all in one place.

Whether you prefer bunkhouses or hotels, 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 Coast to Coast Walk adventure!

LEARN MORE

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

  • Stage-by-stage itineraries
  • Detailed maps for every stop
  • Complete and adaptable 12-day, 14-day, and 17-day Coast to Coast itineraries
  • Custom GPS data for the entire walk & all three itineraries
  • Offline map access for the entire route
  • Lodging recommendations
  • Getting to/from the trail
  • The ultimate packing list
  • A 15-week training plan

Get your digital guide today and start planning!

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Where is the Coast to Coast walk route?

The Coast to Coast walk traverses Northern England and connects the two seaside villages of St. Bees in the west and Robin Hood’s Bay in the east. In between start and end points, the Coast to Coast visits three National Parks (Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, & the North York Moors) and takes in some of England’s best scenery and friendliest towns. The nearest major city to the traditional start of the walk in St. Bees is Carlisle to the north and Manchester to the south. In Robin Hood’s Bays the nearest  large cities are Middlesbrough in the north and Leeds in the south.

Looking for more Coast to Coast resources? Check out our Ultimate Guide to the Coast to Coast Walk here.

Coast to Coast walk map

The Coast to Coast walk crosses England, connecting St. Bees and Robin Hood’s Bay.

 

The route visits countless small villages as well as a few larger towns such as Richmond and Kirkby Stephen. You’ll have no problem finding accommodation at any of the stops along the route as plentiful B&Bs, hotels, and campgrounds exist to serve all budgets. The walk is typically completed in 14 stages, although plenty of options exist to extend or reduce your time on the route. The stages of the traditional Coast to Coast walk are as follows:

  • Stage 1: St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge
  • Stage 2: Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite
  • Stage 3: Rosthwaite to Grasmere
  • Stage 4: Grasmere to Patterdale
  • Stage 5: Patterdale to Shap
  • Stage 6: Shap to Kirkby Stephen
  • Stage 7: Kirkby Stephen to Keld
  • Stage 8: Keld to Reeth
  • Stage 9: Reeth to Richmond
  • Stage 10: Richmond to Danby Wiske
  • Stage 11: Danby Wiske to Osmotherley
  • Stage 12: Osmotherley to The Lion Inn (Blakey Ridge)
  • Stage 13: The Lion Inn to Grosmont
  • Stage 14: Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay

For a complete C2C accommodation directory, be sure to check out our Accommodation Guide!

Coast to Coast walk map

 

As mentioned above, and as with many long-distance walks, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take alternate trails on the Coast to Coast. These variants are more abundant in the Lake District than other sections of the trail and will give walker’s the opportunity to shorten or lengthen their walk depending on their preferred level of difficulty and time allotted. The alternate routes can also be used to add challenge, avoid certain sections, or provide a low-level route in the case of bad weather. In addition, the section of trail between Kirkby Stephen and Keld has three route options that must be taken depending on the time of year. This has been implemented to reduce the environmental impact on this sensitive area and walker’s should be sure to follow the guidelines.

Below is a list of the common alternates on the Coast to Coast walk as well as the required routing between Kirkby Stephen and Keld. These alternates are also shown on the Coast to Coast map below.

  • 03A – Rosthwaite to Grasmere (Helm Crag) – Takes walker’s on a high-level route with spectacular views before descending into Grasmere. This option should be avoided in bad weather.
  • 04A – Grasmere to Patterdale (Sunday Crag) – Similar to 03A, this alternate route takes the high-level trail above the valley as you descend to Patterdale. This option should also be avoided in poor weather.
  • 07 – Kirkby Stephen to Keld – As mentioned above, the route between Kirkby Stephen and Keld requires walker’s to take a specific route depending on the time of year:
    • Red Route: May to July
    • Blue Route: August to November
    • Green Route: December to April
Coast to Coast walk map

 

Alternate routes on the Coast to Coast walk UK

Between Kirkby Stephen and Keld walkers are required to take different routes depending on the time of year.

 

Interactive Coast to Coast walk map

The interactive Coast to Coast walk map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route. The map also displays the common alternate routes that are a part of the Coast to Coast, as described above.

 

How long is the Coast to Coast walk?

Famously, the Coast to Coast walk is purported to be 192 miles from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay. While this is certainly a close estimate, we measure (via GPS) the Coast to Coast to be 186 miles long for those who stick to the traditional route. For those on the metric system that’s a whopping 300 km!

Of course, measuring the exact distance of the Coast to Coast has little practical value, as walkers will certainly end up walking further than the specific measured distance. The taking of alternate routes, detours, and the occasional jaunt off the trail to visit the local pub will assuredly make the distance actually walked vary from person to person.

Even so, it is helpful to have an idea of the distances of each section of the Coast to Coast, which is exactly what the maps below show. Each map shows the approximate distance of each stage in both miles and kilometres. Note that none of these distances include alternates or variants, and should only be used to get a general idea of distance.

How long is the coast to coast walk?

Distances of the various stages of the Coast to Coast walk in miles.

 

Coast to Coast walk distance km

Distances of the various stages of the Coast to Coast walk in kilometres.

 

What is the elevation profile of the Coast to Coast?

Over the entirety of the Coast to Coast’s 186 (or 192!) miles the trail has approximately 29,000 feet or 8,850 meters of elevation gain! Averaged across the traditional 14 stages this equates to around 2,000 feet of elevation gain each day. That’s nothing to sneeze at!

However, much of that elevation gain is concentrated in the earlier stages of the walk, especially in the Lake District. The high point of the Coast to Coast is Kidsty Pike at 2,559 feet above sea level, located on the eastern edge of the Lake District. Given that the Coast to Coast starts and finished at the sea you’ll at least have the solace in knowing that for every uphill section you’ll have an equally downhill section at some point!

Kidsty Pike on the Coast to Coast.

Kidsty Pike is the high point on the Coast to Coast walk.

 

The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, will give you an overview of what each stage of the Coast to Coast Route is like in terms of total elevation change and distance. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 14-stage walk, with the stop name shown at the top.

The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the stage. So for instance you can see that the stage from Osmotherley to the Lion Inn is rather long in distance, while the stage from Patterdale to Shap has a lot of elevation gain.

When thinking about how many days or stages you’ll take to complete the Coast to Coast be sure to reference these elevation profiles. They’ll give you a sense of how hard each day is and will let you see which stages may make sense to combine or split up on your walk.

Coast to Coast walk elevation

Elevation profile for the Coast to Coast walk in miles and feet.

 

Elevation of the Coast to Coast walk meters

Elevation profile for the Coast to Coast walk in kilometers and meters.

 

Which maps should I carry on the Coast to Coast walk?

Given that the Coast to Coast is not a National Trail in the UK, you won’t find the usual trail signs giving clear direction at every turn. Rather, the Coast to Coast is often very poorly marked and can be difficult to navigate on. For that reason we highly recommend that every walker have some sort of map (digital or paper, preferably both) that they bring with them on their Coast to Coast trek.

When we walked Wainwright’s Coast to Coast we did not utilize paper maps, other than those included in our guidebook. Instead we utilized downloadable GPS maps on our phones to ensure we knew where the trail was as well as where our next stop was. Given that cell phone service can be spotty along the route, especially in the Lake District, it is critical to have a good offline mapping app, such as Gaia GPS, to ensure you’ll be able to access your location.

If you’re interested in utilizing this method of navigating as well you can purchase the GPS files needed for the Coast to Coast walk in the section below.

Even with the convenience of GPS navigation, we still recommend carrying a paper map, or map booklet for the Coast to Coast. This will provide a bit of insurance should that trusty phone of yours get dropped in a puddle or soaked in one of the many downpours you’ll surely encounter.

Given the long distance of the Coast to Coast walk we highly recommend bringing a compact map booklet that contains the entire route. We highly recommend the version created by Cicerone which contains Ordnance Survey (the UK’s national mapping service) maps for the entire Coast to Coast route at 1:25,000 scale.

You can purchase this map booklet here.

If instead you’d like to carry full size Ordnance Survey maps for the entire Coast to Coast you’ll need the following OS maps:

  • Ordnance Survey OL4
  • Ordnance Survey OL5
  • Ordnance Survey OL19
  • Ordnance Survey OL26
  • Ordnance Survey OL27
  • Ordnance Survey OL30
  • Ordnance Survey 302
  • Ordnance Survey 303
  • Ordnance Survey 304

Lucky for you, the complete set of the maps above is available for purchase in a set here.

If you do plan to carry paper maps, a weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

Coast to Coast walk GPS/GPX

If you’re interested in getting access to the GPS data used to create all of the maps in this post, we are happy to offer our Coast to Coast walk GPX files for only $4.99. When you download the GPX file, you’ll get route data for each of the traditional stages of the Coast to Coast route as well as all of the common alternate route, plus way-points for each stop along the way.

You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!

Coast to Coast walk map

BUY NOW

Apps and offline mapping

As mentioned above we utilized offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while walking the Coast to Coast. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also doesn’t require a cell phone signal (which you likely won’t have) to display the map. Our Coast to Coast Offline Mapping post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your map. This step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device.

Everything you need to to plan your Coast to Coast Walk – all in one place.

Whether you prefer bunkhouses or hotels, 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 Coast to Coast Walk adventure!

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

  • Stage-by-stage itineraries
  • Detailed maps for every stop
  • Complete and adaptable 12-day, 14-day, and 17-day Coast to Coast itineraries
  • Custom GPS data for the entire walk & all three itineraries
  • Offline map access for the entire route
  • Lodging recommendations
  • Getting to/from the trail
  • The ultimate packing list
  • A 15-week training plan

Get your digital guide today and start planning!

BUY NOW

 

What’s Next?

Check out our other great Coast to Coast Walk Resources:

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Guide to Camping on the Walker’s Haute Route

Some people say that camping on the Walker’s Haute Route is a more challenging version of the Tour du Mont Blanc. While there are arguably many similarities (including the fact…

Some people say that camping on the Walker’s Haute Route is a more challenging version of the Tour du Mont Blanc. While there are arguably many similarities (including the fact that the routes overlap for a couple of stages), to make that characterization would be to oversimplify and unfairly represent the Haute Route.

The Walker’s Haute Route (WHR) is resolutely and beautifully unique, a rugged, varied, and challenging adventure, sure to bring unforgettable rewards to all that traverse it. One major difference between the Walker’s Haute Route and the TMB is that while the TMB makes a loop across three different countries, the WHR is a point-to-point route that takes walkers from Chamonix to Zermatt, with the lion’s share of the trail residing within Switzerland.

There are many wonderful aspects of spending most of the roughly two weeks inside Swiss borders, but anyone who is remotely aware of their budget will quickly realize that Switzerland is expensive! If you are wanting to do the Haute Route on a smaller budget, or if you simply want to experience the joys of maximizing your time outdoors in the most spectacular Alpine settings, camping along the Walker’s Haute Route is your best bet.

As we began our research on camping along the Walker’s Haute Route, we realized that there are many options, but not a ton of clear, straightforward information about how to make it happen. With this guide, we hope to share what we learned through lots of planning, research, and experience to help our fellow tent-dwellers have their best possible Walker’s Haute Route Adventure.

Chamonix Train Station, the start of the Haute Route.

Starting at the Chamonix train station, the Walker’s Haute Route winds its way all the way to Zermatt.

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

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

Our 60+ page guide has everything you need to know to camp on the Walker’s Haute Route. From campground locations to detailed maps, our guide is the quintessential handbook for Haute Route campers. Each section provides in-depth information and resources, including:

  • Stage-by-stage hiking and accommodation descriptions
  • Detailed maps for every stop
  • Complete 10-day, 12-day, and 13-day Haute Route itineraries for campers
  • Custom GPS data for the entire route
  • Detailed instructions on using your phone as a GPS device
  • Lodging recommendations
  • Getting to/from the Haute Route
  • The ultimate camping packing list
  • A 15-week training plan

BUY NOW

 

What’s in This Guide?

About the Walker’s Haute Route

The Haute Route is a quintessential Alpine adventure. The classic route begins in Chamonix at the foot of the majestic Mont Blanc and ends in Zermatt at the base of the iconic Matterhorn. The hike is typically broken into fourteen stages which include strenuous high-level traverses and mellower valley walks.  There are several possible variants throughout the trek, so the exact distance covered will vary based on your individual route choices.

The Haute Route passes through two countries and crosses eleven mountain passes. It presents some serious physical challenges, but your exertions are guaranteed to be rewarded royally with some of the world’s most beautiful and varied scenery. Unlike its hundred-year old brother the High Level Route, the Walker’s Haute Route does not require skiing or mountaineering experience. Anyone with good physical fitness, some trekking experience, and an adventurous spirit is destined to fall in love with the Walker’s Haute Route.

Overlooking a chalet and mountain views on the Walker's Haute Route

 

How long is the Walker’s Haute Route?

Distance: 225 kilometers (140 miles)

Elevation Gain: 14,000 meters (45,932 feet)

How long does it take to hike the Walker’s Haute Route?

It typically takes walkers between 10-14 days to complete the Walker’s Haute Route. One of the great things about the hike is that there’s a lot of room for customization when it comes to creating your itinerary. Camping will allow you a lot more flexibility in terms of not needing advance reservations, but you will be a bit more restricted in other ways since camping is not permitted on every stage of the WHR. We’ve structured this camping guide for a 12-stage version of the trek, but we’ve noted places where you can adapt your itinerary to combine stages or choose other variants.

A few other considerations to keep in mind when deciding how many days you need to hike the Haute Route:

  • If you plan on camping, you’ll need to carry a heavier pack and therefore may hike slower than usual.
  • Do you enjoy spending 8+ hours on steep trails every day? If not, you shouldn’t double-up on stages.
  • Fastpacking the Haute Route is possible in 7 days or less, but you’ll need to be very fit and experienced.
  • Do you want to take a rest day? If so, don’t forget to factor that into your itinerary.
  • Are you determined to exclusively camp along the trail? If so, you’ll need to adjust your itinerary to avoid stopping in places without camping options. See our stage-by-stage guide for more details on this.
  • Are you interested in taking shortcuts or cutting out sections of the trail? This can be a good option for those who don’t have enough time to realistically complete the entire route or want to tailor it for their ability level.
Lac Bleu on the Walker's Haute Route

The aptly named Lac Blue, a highlight for many on the Walker’s Haute Route.

 

When to hike

The general season for hiking the Walker’s Haute Route lasts from mid-June through mid-September, although this window is subject to great variability due to snow conditions on the higher passes.

June can be lovely, but you will likely have to negotiate large sections of the trail that are covered in snow. In some cases, you may need to reroute to avoid unsafe areas. Those hiking in June should bring crampons. Campgrounds and mountain huts typically don’t open until the later part of June.

July and August are typically the best times to be on the trail, but these are also the most busy months on the Haute Route. Be sure to check when the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc is happening. This trail-race typically occurs at the end of August and brings out thousands of spectators. The first few stages largely overlap with the UTMB course, so try to avoid being on those segments during the race.  You can expect an explosion of wildflowers in June and July.

Expect increasingly cooler weather and fewer crowds in September; this can be a wonderful time to hike. However, it’s important to note that many campgrounds, mountain huts, and other services along the route may already be closed for the season.

The best time to hike is mid-August through mid-September, but anytime you go there’ll be a real chance that you’ll need to reroute to avoid snow-covered sections or adverse weather conditions. If that happens, don’t despair. Chalk it up to being part of the Haute Route experience and make sure to give the mountains the respect they deserve.

A large patch of snow below Refuge Col de Balme.

A large patch of snow lingers below Refuge Col de Balme in mid-July.

 

How difficult is the Walker’s Haute Route?

The Haute Route does not require advanced mountaineering experience, but its challenges certainly should not be taken lightly. For one thing, it is a very strenuous endeavor. Expect to cover around 15km and 1,000m of elevation gain each day. Much of the hike requires walking on steep, loose, and rocky terrain.

In addition to the basic physical challenges, there are also some sections that are technically difficult. Parts of the trail along the Europaweg and on the approach to Pas des Chevres are very exposed and come with a small risk of falling rocks.  There are ladders and chains to negotiate at a few points along the trail as well, with the toughest being near Pas des Chevres. Additionally, some hikers opt to take a variant that involves a short glacier crossing, but that can be easily avoided.

One final consideration involves the health of your knees and overall leg strength. There are very long, steep descents on nearly every stage of the Haute Route, and these can create problems and irritate chronic injuries for those with sensitive knees.

If you have a high level of physical fitness and some trekking experience, you should be well suited for the Haute Route. There’s no need to be too intimidated by this trek, but it’s a very good idea to train ahead of time, be realistic about your abilities and expectations, and use good judgement in the mountains.

Climbing a ladder to reach the Pas des Chevres on Stage 7 of the Walker's Haute Route

The ladders are actually the easiest part of the ascent to the Pas des Chevres!

 

Which direction?

Unlike many other long-distance hikes, the Haute Route is almost exclusively walked in the Chamonix to Zermatt direction. You can certainly walk the other direction (from the Matterhorn to Mont Blanc) but most information you’ll find will assume you’re walking from Chamonix to Zermatt. Generally speaking, the difficulty is the same in either direction. However, some of the best views come on the final stretches of the walk (if heading in the traditional west-to-east direction), as the Matterhorn comes sharply into sight for the first time. There is something truly unforgettable about completing your trek with this dramatic peak towering above the deep, green valley. It will literally take your breath away, and it makes for the perfect conclusion to such a rewarding and spectacular experience.

Weather

Mountain weather is always volatile, and the Walker’s Haute Route is no exception. Conditions can change very rapidly in the Alps, meaning that you can find yourself in the middle of a whiteout blizzard or on an exposed ridge during a thunderstorm without much warning. For the most part, the weather during the hiking season is ridiculously lovely. Expect warm, sunny days, cool evenings, and relatively little rain. However, you also need to be prepared for very hot temperatures, very cold temperatures, rain, and storms (and you could even see all of these in the same day!)  Getting caught high up in the mountains during a storm or without the right gear is extremely dangerous, but you can greatly minimize your risk by taking a few important precautions:

  1. The Meteoblue App is arguably the best resource for predicting the weather. It allows you to see the forecast for specific peaks or coordinates, plus it has excellent radar displays and wind predictions. Check it every time you have cell service.
  2. Start hiking early in the day! Not only will you enjoy gorgeous sunrises, get to the campground before the crowds, and avoid the heat, but you’ll also greatly reduce your risk of getting caught in afternoon thunderstorms.
Dark clouds gathering above the Moiry Glacier.

Dark clouds gathering above the Moiry Glacier.

 

Food and Drink

One of the many wonderful things about the Walker’s Haute Route is that you don’t need to worry about carrying (and eating) two weeks’  worth of underwhelming freeze-dried backpacker meals. Due to the fact that the trail passes through many towns and villages, you will be able to resupply every few days. We’ve noted the availability of shops and restaurants at every stop along the route in our stage-by-stage camping guide below. Make sure you plan accordingly, as there are not shops at every stage. Keep in mind that shops often close for a midday break and almost always close on Sundays.

For budget travelers, it is possible to self-cater and keep your food and drink costs quite reasonable. You’ll need to bring your own camp stove and cooking equipment if you plan on fixing most of your own meals along the Haute Route. There are several outdoors stores that sell stove fuel in Chamonix and Zermatt.

Additionally (for those with deeper pockets), many of the hotels, gites, and refuges sell meals and offer the option of purchasing meals. You can just show up for lunch, but you’ll need to order ahead of time for dinner.

Whichever way you approach your food and drink strategy, we think you’ll find that trekking in the Alps is every bit as much a culinary delight as a natural one! 

Dietary Restrictions

The restaurants and accommodation providers along the Walker’s Haute Route are generally quite willing to provide a vegetarian option. Those who are vegan, gluten-free, or have a specialized diet will have a harder time finding suitable meals. While certain places will be able to accommodate your needs, that will be the exception and not the norm. We’d recommend bringing plenty of your own food as insurance.

Water

All of the hotels, gites, and campgrounds provide potable water. You will pass through many villages with public drinking fountains, but make sure to plan ahead and carry 1-2 liters of water each day. Due to the presence of agricultural activity near large swaths of the trail, we do not recommend drinking any water from natural streams without filtering it first.

Pastries on a balcony in Les Houches, France.

Fueling up on pastries in Les Houches before beginning our trek.

 

Getting to and From the Walker’s Haute Route

Since the Walker’s Haute Route starts and finishes in different places, it’s a good idea to have a plan for how you’ll get to the trailhead and make your onwards when you complete your trek. Most international travelers will travel through the Geneva Airport. To get from Geneva to Chamonix, you can take a bus or use a private shuttle service. On the other end, Zermatt is easily accessed by train from Geneva and many other Swiss cities.

We wrote an entire article dedicated to giving you the best, most in-depth information on everything concerning Haute Route logistics. Check it out here. 

Wayfinding

For the most part, the Walker’s Haute Route is an extremely well-marked trail. The route is usually marked with red and white paint flashes at frequent intervals.  If you go more than twenty minutes without seeing a trail marker, you’ve probably wandered off the trail. Despite the helpful paint flashes and signage, it is still surprisingly easy to get lost on the Haute Route if you’re not careful. The scenery is so darn pretty that it will often draw your eyes away from the path and cause you to miss a turn. That’s why carrying a map and (preferably) a GPS device is of the utmost importance. This is even more true if you plan on camping, as many of the campgrounds require you to leave the trail to access them.

Trail sign with mountains in the background on the Walker's Haute Route.

Trail signs and markers are plentiful along the Haute Route.

 

Budgeting and Money

Cash or Credit?

While an increasing number of accommodation providers, shops, and other services are beginning to accept credit cards, cash is still the primary payment method used along the Walker’s Haute Route. It is important to carry enough cash to cover all of your expenses for several days, as  ATMs are infrequent along the trail. Check out our stage-by-stage guide (later in this post) for availability of ATMs on specific stages.

Currency

The Haute Route crosses international borders, meaning that you’ll need to switch from using Euros in France to Swiss Francs in Switzerland. While most places in Switzerland will accept Euros, you’ll be better off using Francs if you can. You’ll only spend about a day of your trek in France, so you won’t need many Euros.

Typical Costs

Although Switzerland has a reputation for being extraordinarily expensive, it is still very possible to hike the Walker’s Haute Route on a tight budget (camping helps tremendously with this!) Furthermore, you can even eat delicious foods and drink some tasty beverages without breaking the bank.

The two keys to saving money on the Haute Route? Lodging and food.

Since you’ve found this camping guide, you’re well on your way to having the first one covered. Camping will save you boatloads of money, and you’ll have a better experience too!

In terms of food, the best thing you can do is to avoid eating meals at restaurants and refuges. Sure, stop for a coffee and a pastry, enjoy a post-hike beer, and definitely pick up some local cheese, but if you cook your own meals you will greatly, greatly reduce your overall spending.

Check out this thorough post in which we break down exactly what you can expect to pay for food, accommodation, transportation, and more. 

Zermatt Campground, Walker's Haute Route

Camping along the Walker’s Haute Route is one of the best ways to keep your costs down!

 

What to Pack for the Walker’s Haute Route

Packing for the Walker’s Haute Route is balancing act between ensuring you have everything you need and ensuring you don’t feel like you’re giving a piggyback ride to a small elephant for 100+ miles. This is especially true for campers, as you’ll have a more extensive packing list and the stakes are a bit higher if you neglect to bring something essential.

For a complete packing list, check out this article.

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? If not, you should really try to keep it below 25lbs (including water!) 
  • Are you injury-prone or do you have any chronic knee, hip, or back issues? If so, you need to make sure that backpack is below 20lbs!

Generally speaking, less is more. Here’s a few tips for preventing baby-elephant piggyback syndrome:

  1. You only need a couple of shirts. Same goes for underwear and socks. Before you write us off as total dirtbags, hear us out. First, you’ll have plenty of time and sunshine to wash and dry laundry (and we actually find it to be quite a fun camp chore). Second, clothes are heavy, so cutting out everything but the absolute essentials will make a huge difference.
  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.

If you have other travel destinations before or after the Walker’s Haute Route, you can store or transfer your extra luggage. See our logistics article for more on this. 

Hiking boots

Your trusty boots are one of your most important pieces of gear.

Walker’s Haute Route MVG (Most Valuable Gear)

Footwear on the Walker’s Haute Route

Traditional hiking boots, hiking shoes, or trail runners will all work for the trail conditions on the Haute Route, but you need to make sure they will work for you too. This means that you should bring a pair of boots or shoes that you know from experience don’t cause problems for your feet. Ideally, you should put at least 30 miles on them in various terrain and weather conditions to reduce the chance of running into issues on the trail. A nasty blister can be catastrophic on a multi-day trek like the Haute Route! That being said, you also don’t want your boots/shoes to be too broken in, as you need them to hold up faithfully for many miles of gnarly terrain. I know we’re asking you to work some Goldilocks magic here, but it’s definitely worth it!

In terms of other specifications, we feel that the only other must-have is a good, grippy vibrum (or similar material) sole for steep descents and loose paths. Otherwise it’s up to personal preference when it comes to how much ankle support you need, waterproof versus quick-dry, sturdy versus lightweight, and so on.

You’ll probably need to cross some snow at some points along your hike. Gaiters and waterproof boots can be helpful for these situations, but certainly aren’t essential.

You’ll also want to make sure you have some good socks. Socks are one of those rare things in life where you really do get what you pay for, and high quality socks can be a game changer. Once again, try to do some hiking in a few different types to figure out how what you like in terms of thickness, cushion, and height. We love merino wool for its quick-drying and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister prone, consider trying sock liners. Many hikers swear by them. Other tried-and-true blister prevention tactics include putting bodyglide on potential hotspots or wearing toesocks.

Trekking Poles

BRING THEM. Enough said. Seriously, these are a total game-changer on a tough trek like the Walker’s Haute Route. You (and your knees) will be so glad to have them on steep sections, and this is especially true for campers who are carrying heavier loads.

Hiker with trekking poles on the Walker's Haute Route

Thank goodness for trekking poles (and improvised sun protection)!

 

Backpack

The same rule for shoes applies to backpacks: make sure you complete several hikes with your bag packed the same way (and same weight) you’ll carry on the Haute Route. Also similar to shoes, backpacks need to be broken in through use, and your body needs to get used to the feeling of wearing it for extended periods of time. In terms of size, most campers will need between 45 and 65 liters. If you’re purchasing a new one, most good outdoors stores have experienced staff that will help you find the right fit and style for your needs.

Don’t forget to bring a pack cover (included with many newer backpacks) to protect against rain. This is an absolute must-have.

Backpacking backpack

The type of pack you’ll need for the Haute Route will depend on your individual itinerary.

 

Battery Backup

If you plan on using your phone as a GPS to navigate along the Walker’s Haute Route (which we highly recommend!), it’s imperative that it stays charged. Many campgrounds will allow you to charge electronics, but this isn’t a guarantee everywhere. Carrying a small battery backup or one of these nifty portable solar panels will give you a little more freedom and peace of mind. In our guide, we’ve noted the availability of electronics charging along every stage.

A few other MVG honorable mentions…

Puffy down jacket: Lightweight, warm, packable and all you need (it’s not necessary to bring a heavy fleece, too).

Kev Reynolds’ Ciccerone Guide to the Walker’s Haute Route: An excellent resource. It’s also available as an e-book, which is a great way to keep your pack weight down!

Don’t forget to check out our complete packing list for the Walker’s Haute Route here.  Additionally, if you’re on a tight budget, be sure to take a look at this article for backpacking gear hacks to save you money.

Electronics

Charging

Many campgrounds and other accommodation along the route will allow you to charge your devices for free, although there is some variation in terms of availability from place to place. See our stage-by-stage guide for specific information on each stage. We recommend using a multi-port USB adapter, as outlets can be in high demand. If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll need a travel adapter. Thankfully, you’ll use the same adapter in all three countries along the route.

Cell Service

Cell phone service is pretty widespread along the Walker’s Haute Route, but it isn’t always reliable or predictable. Expect to get service in all of the larger towns, but less so as you go further from civilization. You might be able to pick up a few bars at high points and unobstructed areas (like the top of a mountain pass), but definitely don’t count on it.

Wifi

For better or worse, many of the campgrounds along the WHR now offer Wifi. It’s typically free to use, although some places may require an additional fee. You’ll usually have to move close to the reception building in order to connect to it. The mountain refuges (and most gites) along the Haute Route do not offer wifi, but it is commonplace at all hotels.

 

A view of the high alpine scenery near Pas des Chevres

Don’t expect to find any cell phone service in places like this (just outstanding views).

 

Reservations

Advance bookings are not necessary for any of the campgrounds along the Haute Route. If you’re worried about getting a good pitch, try to get to the campground before 5:00pm and you should be just fine. On the other hand, it is a very good idea to reserve beds at mountain refuges, gites, and hotels ahead of time.

A hotel with flowerboxes in Arolla, Switzerland.

You don’t need to make advance bookings for camping, but you’ll definitely want to reserve your bed at places like this!

 

Wild Camping on the Walker’s Haute Route

Wild camping along the Haute Route is complicated and discouraged (and often illegal). The trail passes through two countries and several local municipalities, each with their own specific rules and regulations. Generally speaking, wild camping may be allowed in France at high altitudes between sunset and sunrise, but it is strictly forbidden in Switzerland. This website has helpful information on the specific legal codes for each country.

The good news is that there are many official campsites that are easily accessible along the Walker’s Haute Route. While not entirely cheap, we feel it is important to use these facilities whenever they are available in order to give respect to the local communities and the fragile natural environment. As you’ll see in our guide, we opted to camp wild at just one stage along the Haute Route, as there were few alternatives. If you choose to wild camp outside of sanctioned areas, set up after dusk, pack up at dawn, and utilize leave no trace practices.

 

A Stage-by-Stage Guide for Camping on the Walker’s Haute Route

The Matterhorn near Zermatt.

The Matterhorn, your final destination on the Haute Route.

 

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

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

Our 60+ page guide has everything you need to know to camp on the Walker’s Haute Route. From campground locations to detailed maps, our guide is the quintessential handbook for Haute Route campers. Each section provides in-depth information and resources, including:

  • Stage-by-stage hiking and accommodation descriptions
  • Detailed maps for every stop
  • Complete 10-day, 12-day, and 13-day Haute Route itineraries for campers
  • Custom GPS data for the entire route
  • Detailed instructions on using your phone as a GPS device
  • Lodging recommendations
  • Getting to/from the Haute Route
  • The ultimate camping packing list
  • A 15-week training plan

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Stages One and Two: Chamonix to Le Peuty

Camping Availability: Le Peuty Campsite

While many walkers choose to stay in nearby Trient, Le Peuty lies more directly on the WHR trail and offers a simple, pretty option for camping. This campground is located next to a small Gite and consists of a grassy field with basic facilities. It’s easy to miss if there aren’t any tents set up yet. There is no registration; instead someone will stop by in the evening to collect payment. You can pay in either Swiss Francs (CHF) or Euros.

Services: Potable water (cold), Toilets (no TP or soap), sinks, sheltered cooking area with picnic tables, trash and recycling, one outlet, portable showers (hot water wasn’t working when we were there), clothesline.

Nearby: There is a restaurant at the Gite next to the campsite, as well as a few other restaurant offerings in Trient. There are no grocery stores or ATM’s in the area, so stock up before leaving Chamonix or Argentiere.

Price: 6 CHF per person (cash only)

Tent at the Le Peuty campsite on the Haute Route.

Nice views from the tent at Le Peuty.

 

Alternative Option #1: Chamonix to Argentiere

Camping Availability: Camping du Glaciers

We combined the first two stages of the Haute Route into one longer day. If you don’t want to do that, you could stop at the end of Stage One and camp in Argentiere.

Services: Toilets, hot showers, potable water, laundry, wifi, a restaurant (which serves breakfast), and a place to purchase snacks and stove fuel.

Nearby: Grocery store, ATM, restaurants, a Tourist Office, and bus services.

Price: 6.10€ per person + 3.10€ per tent + 0,20 € per person tourist tax (includes transit card)

Alternative Option #2: Chamonix (or Argentiere) to Hotel de la Forclaz

Camping Availability: Hotel de la Forclaz

If you decide to opt out of the challenging  Fenêtre d’Arpette route for Stage Three and instead choose to take the Bovine Route, you could get a head start by continuing past Le Peuty for about 45 minutes uphill to Hotel de la Forclaz (and along the Bovine Route). If you’re completing the  Fenêtre d’Arpette, you would not want to do this, as it would add an unnecessary detour. Camping at Hotel de la Forclaz is a bit more luxurious than at Le Peuty, as you’ll have access to hot meals, a small shop, and real showers.

Services: Toilets, showers, potable water, option to purchase breakfast and/or dinner from the hotel restaurant, and a small shop selling snacks and ice cream.

Nearby: There are no other shops or services near the hotel.

Price: 8 CHF per person + 6 CHF per tent

 

Stage Three: Le Peuty to Champex

Camping Availability: Camping Les Rocailles

Camping Les Rocailles is one of the first things you’ll pass as you enter Champex, about a 10-minute walk from the town center.  This lovely little campground offers three terraces with mostly flat spots to pitch your tent, but not much shade to be found.   Check in at the registration office before setting up camp.

Services: Toilets, sinks (with potable water), hot showers, a dishwashing/laundry room (3 CHF for wash, 1 CHF per 10 minutes for the dryer), outlets, microwave, electric kettle, covered cooking areas, and an area for drying wet clothes.  The office sells beer, wine, soda, and chips.

Nearby: Champex has a grocery store, cafes, bars, restaurants, outdoor retailers, and an ATM. The lake offers several tranquil spots along its shore for relaxing after a long day on your feet.

Price: 16 CHF per person (cash or most credit cards accepted)

The Trient Glacier.

Fantastic views await those who hike the Fenêtre d’Arpette

 

Stage Four: Champex to Le Châble

Camping Availability: Camping Champsec

While there isn’t a campground in Le Châble (the official stop of this stage of the WHR), there is a campground a short bus ride away (or a one-hour walk) in the small town of Champsec. To get to the campground, catch the #253 Postbus from outside of the convenience store at the gondola station in Le Châble. The ride takes about 10 minutes and costs 3.50 CHF per person. From the bus stop in Champsec, follow the signs and walk about 10 minutes to the campground. The campground is located in a lovely pastoral setting next to the river.

Tip: the tourist tax you’ll pay at the campground will make you eligible for a free transit card for the following day. The next morning when you take the bus back to Le Châble to continue your hike, simply tell the driver that you stayed at the campground and you shouldn’t have to pay the bus fare (you can then obtain your actual transit card from the tourist office in Le Châble if you also want to access the gondola for free).

Services: Toilets (TP but no hand soap), covered sinks for washing up, warm shower, indoor space with tables and chairs, outdoor seating, and outlets inside the reception and in the bathrooms.

Nearby: There aren’t any services in Champsec, but there is a grocery store (closed on Sundays), bakery, restaurants, bus/train/gondola connections, and an ATM in Le Châble. You could also use your transit card and ride the gondola or bus up to Verbier for more grocery stores, outdoors shops, and restaurants.

Price: 8 CHF per person+ 6 CHF per tent + 1.5 CHF tourist tax per person (includes transit card access) (cash only)

Stage Five: Le Châble to Cabane du Mont Fort

Camping Availability: None

On stage five, the traditional Walker’s Haute Route route climbs steadily upwards to the mountain hut at Cabane du Mont Fort and stays at high elevation throughout stage six. You won’t find any official camping areas again until you’re back down at lower elevations in Arolla, at the end of stage seven. If the weather conditions are really good, you could conceivably wild camp between stages five and seven. Our plan was to stay at the Cabane du Mont Fort at the end of stage five, then hike past the typical end of stage six the following day and reach the Refuge de La Barma, which is unmanned on weekdays. However, bad weather forced us to reroute after spending the night at Cabane du Mont Fort. We ended up taking the train and bus to reach Arolla, then hiking up to Pas de Chèvres from the Arolla the following day. Below we’ve provided an overview of Cabane du Mont Fort, plus other alternative options for these stages.

Cabane du Mont Fort

We camped nearly every night on the Haute Route, but we made exceptions on three occasions. Two of these exceptions were to stay at mountain huts (the other was to stay in a cozy Airbnb on our rest day). We reserved beds ahead of time at Cabane du Mont Fort and Cabane du Moiry, due to the difficulty of camping on these stages and the rave reviews about these huts. If you can, we recommend staying in at least one good mountain hut (known as cabanes) along your hike. It is a unique experience in which you’ll meet fellow hikers and enjoy a fun evening in an incredibly atmospheric setting. Tip #1: Both of the huts that we stayed at along the Walker’s Haute Route allowed us to opt out of purchasing meals and self-cater instead. We paid half as much with this option, while still enjoying all the ambiance and coziness of the hut. Tip #2: Get there early. Some rooms at Mont Fort only have two or four beds. If you’re lucky, you may end up with a private room.

Services: Toilets (TP and soap), drinking water, public wifi access, a la carte food and drinks available for purchase, hot showers (5 CHF for 5 minutes), kitchenette with stove, sink, and cookware, and a classic, cozy hut with great views.

Nearby: The Les Ruinettes gondola station is about an hour’s hike back down the trail. You can present your confirmation email from Cabane du Mont Fort at the Le Châble tourist office and receive a transit card which will allow you to ride the gondola for free down to Verbier and Le Châble. If you need to detour to Arolla due to bad weather or hazardous conditions, this is a great option. There are no other shops or services available along the trail until Arolla (with the exception of a few mountain huts which serve meals).

Price: 37 CHF (dorm only) or 75 CHF (half pension)

View from Cabane du Mont Fort.

Looking out from Cabane du Mont Fort.

 

Alternative Option: Le Châble to Cabane de Prafleuri

If you want to eliminate a day that doesn’t have easy camping options, you could take the gondola up from Le Châble to Les Ruinettes, then walk all the way to Cabane de Prafleuri. The next day you would descend to Arolla, where you’d have access again to a campground. We wouldn’t recommend this option for a few reasons. First, this would set you up for two very long and challenging days of walking in potentially hazardous conditions. Second, everyone we’ve talked has given poor reviews of Cabane de Prafleuri (it was actually closed for a bed bug infestation while we were hiking the WHR). If you’re going to spend the money on a hut, Mont Fort or Cabane des Dix are better options. Cabane des Dix is a further walk from Cabane du Mont Fort.

Read more: Walker’s Haute Route Accommodation and Refuge Guide

 

Stage Six: Cabane du Mont Fort to Cabane de Prafleuri

Camping Availability: Not available

Unfortunately, this section of the Haute Route does not have any options for camping. Here, the trail stays in the high mountains and does not encounter any towns, and thus does not encounter any campsites. The traditional Haute Route has walkers stop at Cabane du Prafleuri after Cabane du Mont Fort, although you can continue on to La Barma or Cabane des Dix as described above or head down to the Hotel du Barrage.

Services: Toilets, sinks (NO drinking water), showers, restaurant, outlets.

Nearby: No services nearby.

Price: Contact the Cabane for current prices.

 

Stage Seven: Cabane de Prafleuri to Arolla

Camping Availability: Camping Arolla

After a couple of days of crossing rocky, barren, snow-covered high mountain landscapes, the sunny, green valley and the village of Arolla are bound to look very inviting. As you descend into the small town, you’ll pass a couple of shops and hotels. To reach the campground, you’ll need to hike about 15-20 minutes further downhill. There’s a nice trail leading to the campground which can be accessed behind the Hotel du Glacier. You can’t miss the hotel, as it takes Alpine flower boxes to a whole new level. Camping Arolla is a nice, large campground with decent facilities and grassy terraces for tents. The reception has limited hours in the morning and evening, so pitch your tent and check back in later if they’re closed when you arrive. Tip: there are only a couple of showers for a whole bunch of campers, so try to get in there early if you want to avoid a long wait.

Services: Toilets (TP, no soap), sinks for washing up (hot and cold potable water), showers (1 CHF for 4 minutes), shop at the reception (limited hours) which sells snacks, beer/wine/soda, camper meals, toiletries, but no stove fuel, morning bread available for order, outlets in the bathrooms, wifi near the reception building, recycling (need to purchase bag for trash items), tent and camping gear rentals.

Nearby: The campground reception has a small shop and there is a pizza restaurant in the hotel next door to camping Arolla. There’s also a bus stop (Arolla, La Monta) just down the road from the campground. For all other services, you’ll need to walk back up to Arolla proper. There, you’ll find two small grocery stores, a few restaurants, and a tourist office.

Price: 8.70 CHF per person + 7.50 CHF per tent (cash or credit cards accepted)

Tents at Camping Arolla on the Haute Route.

A lovely evening at Camping Arolla.

 

Stage Eight: Arolla to La Sage

Camping Availability: Camping Molignon (Les Haudères)

The typical endpoint for this stage of the Haute Route is the town of La Sage, but those wanting to camp should stop instead in the town of Les Haudères, where there is a large campground with good facilities. Bear in mind that Les Haudères is at the bottom of the valley, while La Sage is further up the hillside. This means that you’ll have about 45 minutes of additional climbing to do at the beginning of the next day’s stage. We think this is a worthwhile trade-off, since Les Haudères is a charming village and also has way more services than La Sage. Camping Molignon is a big, busy campground on the edge of town. It’s located on a grassy area next to the river with nice views and easy proximity to the grocery store and bus stop. You’ll be in the minority with your tent, as most of the campground is occupied by camper vans. Though it is very large and crowded, you’ll find the facilities are quite nice and the location is ideal.

Services: Toilets (TP and hand soap), several covered sinks for washing up, potable water (hot and cold), showers, outlets, restaurant, small shop selling snacks and essential items, pool, hot tub, ping pong, playground, recycling, and trash (bag purchase required).

Nearby: Les Haudères has a grocery store, restaurants, cafes, outdoor shop, post office, and bus stop. You won’t find much in La Sage except for a few hotels and restaurants, so stock up in Les Haudères regardless of where you decide to spend the night.

Price: 7.50 CHF per person + 10 CHF per tent + 1.10 per person tourist tax

Campground near Les Hauderes, Switzerland.

Not a bad place to pitch a tent at Camping Molignon.

 

Stage Nine: La Sage to Cabane de Moiry (or Grimentz)

Camping Availability: Camping Ilôt Bosquet (Grimentz)

According to many Haute Route hikers, an overnight stay at Cabane de Moiry is a “can’t miss” experience. We opted to spend the night at Moiry instead of camping and found it to be a worthwhile splurge. The mountain hut is situated remarkably close to a truly stunning glacier, and the modern renovations (glass-walled dining room and spacious terrace) make for an atmospheric and wonderful space in which to study the glacier and soak up the views. However, by taking a variant to Grimentz, you have the option to camp instead, if you prefer.  Additionally, if you want to stay on the Moiry variant of the trail but still want to camp, we did see many people wild camping in the area between the upper reservoirs and Lac de Moiry.

Cabane de Moiry:

Services: Toilets (TP and soap), drying room, complimentary tea and coffee served in the afternoon and complimentary fruit tea in the morning, option for self-catering, restaurant/bar, sleep sheets available for rent (5 CHF), showers (5 CHF for 5 minutes), foosball, picnic tables, sinks but NO potable water (we recommend bringing a lightweight filter instead of buying the overpriced plastic bottles at the hut).

Nearby: There is a drinking water fountain located about an hour down the trail past Cabane de Moiry. There are also bathrooms at the parking lot next to Lac de Moiry.

Price: 40.50 CHF (dorm only) or 86.50 CHF (half board) (cash or credit cards accepted)

View of the Moiry Glacier.

The terrace at Cabane de Moiry gets you up close and personal to the incredible Moiry Glacier.

 

Alternative Option: Camping Ilôt Bosquet

If you would prefer to (legally) camp on this stage, your best bet is to continue hiking past the Barrage de Moiry and onwards for about two more hours to the town of Grimentz. If you plan on spending the following night at the Hotel Weisshorn, you’ll head straight there the next day, effectively cutting out a stage of the WHR. Alternatively, if you still wanted to complete the typical stage ten segment, you could take the bus back to Barrage de Moiry the next day and the complete the hike to Zinal. Another option (which would also cut out stage ten) would be to hike directly from Grimentz to Zinal (about 2.5 hours) and then continue on to complete stage eleven to Gruben all in the same day (which would be quite a long day of walking). Regardless of the option you choose, here’s a bit about the Camping Ilôt Bosquet:

Services: Basic toilets

Nearby: Bus stop, tourist office, restaurants, bank, post office, shops.

Price: 5 CHF per person + 4 CHF tourist tax per person

Stage Ten: Cabane de Moiry to Zinal

Camping Availability: Camping Relais de la Tzoucdana

As you begin your long descent towards Zinal, you’ll be able to see the campground far below. It sits next to river on the far edge of town (about 20 minutes’ walk to the town center). If you arrive in the afternoon, don’t be surprised to find the campground’s restaurant positively buzzing with families and hikers stopping by for a drink or some ice cream. Don’t worry, the crowds disperse as the evening sets in. At first glance, the campground is a little strange; there are various animals housed on site, people recreating everywhere you turn, and the area for tents is a bit cramped. However, it grew on us as we spent more time there. The showers are hot and clean, the staff is super friendly, the pitches are flat and grassy. Tip: There are two options for your descent from the gondola station into Zinal. If you choose the less steep variant (which follows a gravel road), the trail ends immediately next to the campground. If you take the steeper option, you’ll have to walk through town for a bit to reach the campground. The reception is located at the restaurant.

Services: Toilets (TP and soap), hot showers, water tap with cold, potable water in the camping field, sink with hot and cold potable water in the main building, porta potties in the camping field, restaurant/bar, picnic table, outlets, and a playground.

Nearby: Grocery store, shops, ATM, bakery, restaurants, bus stop, gondola station, tourist office, post office.

Price: 7 CHF per person + 6 CHF per tent + 4 CHF per person tourist tax (includes transit card) (cash and credit cards accepted).

Stage Eleven: Zinal to Gruben

Camping Availability: Wild camping only

The typical route for this stage brings hikers into the lovely, quiet Turtmanntal Valley and to the little hamlet of Gruben. Gruben is a quaint town situated along the river. However, for what it provides in rural, small-town charm, it lacks in camping options. If you want to camp along this stage, your only option is to camp wild. If you choose to do this, keep in mind that it is not technically legal, and you should therefore make every effort to minimize your impact. Upon arriving in Gruben, most campers continue uphill past the Hotel Schwarzhorn, following the trail towards the next stage. If you continue up past Gruben, you can scout for potential camping spots tucked within the trees. There are few flat spots, but they do exist. Once you find a workable spot, you can head back into Gruben, grab a beer at the hotel, fill up on drinking water at the tap in front of the church, and wait for the sun to set before setting up camp. In the morning, make sure to get packed up early. Bonus: you’ll have a head start on the next day’s walk! Tip: We chose to cook and eat our dinner on a bench next to the water tap. This allowed us to minimize our impact at our campsite and gave us easy access to water for cooking and washing up.

Services: Drinking water is available in town in front of the church. If you purchase something at the hotel and ask for the password, you can get wifi access there.

Nearby: Besides the hotel and restaurant, there’s not much in Gruben. Be sure to stock up at the shop in Zinal unless you want to buy some very expensive meals at the Hotel Schwarzhorn.

Price: Free

Big mountain view on the Haute Route.

Fantastic vistas on the descent to Gruben.

 

Stages Twelve through Fourteen: Gruben to St. Niklaus to Zermatt

Camping Availability: Camping Attermenzen (Randa) or Camping Alphubel (Täsch )

The final days of the Haute Route present hikers with a lot of choices. You can choose to complete all, some, or none of the high-level Europaweg trail, you can complete the stages in two or three days, and you can use various forms of transit to shorten some sections. If you want to complete the entire Europaweg section, you won’t have many convenient options for camping. We’ve laid out all of your options for the final stages below:

Alternative Option #1: Gruben to St.Niklaus/Gasenried/Grächen, then  St.Niklaus/Gasenried/Grächen to the Europa Hut, then Europa Hut to Zermatt.

Camping Availability: None

If you want to complete the entire Europaweg section of the Walker’s Haute Route, your options for camping will be quite limited. You can choose to finish stage twelve either in St. Niklaus, Gasenried, or Grächen. Unfortunately, you won’t find campsites in any of these towns. Upon finishing stage twelve, you’ll first pass through St. Niklaus, which has a budget hotel, a grocery store and bus connections to Gasenried and Grächen. If you keep walking for about two hours uphill (or take the bus from the St. Niklaus train station), you’ll reach Gasenried next. This is the most convenient location from which to start the long and challenging Europaweg section the following day, but there is only one hotel in the town. Alternatively, you could detour to Grächen (2 more hours or bus) where you’ll find a shop, restaurants, and a few budget accommodation options. From our observations, it appeared to be quite difficult to wild camp near St. Niklaus, as it was quite populated. We didn’t pass through the other towns, so we can’t say how possible it would be.

Europa Hut:

Services: Toilets (TP), sinks, dining room, terrace, restaurant.

Nearby: No services nearby.

Price: 30 CHF per person (dorm only) or 65 CHF (half board)

Alternative Option #2: Gruben to Randa or Täsch, then Randa /Täsch  to Zermatt.

If you’d rather stick with camping instead of having to stay at the Europa Hut, or you want to cut out the sketchier parts of the Europaweg Trail, or if you just need to shorten your hike by a day this option is for you. After reaching St. Niklaus at the end of stage twelve, you’ll have a choice between two campgrounds. If you want to take the valley trail the following day, we’d recommend staying at the Randa Campground (it’s actually a bit past Randa towards Täsch). This campground will be closer to get to after a long day of hiking from Gruben and balance the remainder of the hike so your next day isn’t ridiculously short. If you want to hike on the Europaweg trail for the final day (highly recommended in good weather), we suggest camping in Täsch. You can hike directly up from the campground in  Täsch to meet up with the Europaweg Trail (about 1.5-2 hours) and take that all the way to Zermatt. By choosing this option, you’ll still get the incredible Matterhorn views that the Europaweg trail has to offer, while avoiding most of the exposed areas and the suspension bridge (of course some hikers will see this as a disappointment while others will rejoice). If you decide to stay in Täsch, you’ll likely want to shorten your hike there by either taking the gondola down from Jungen to St. Niklaus or taking the train from St. Niklaus to Täsch. If you want to walk all the way from Gruben to Täsch, prepare for a 10-12-hour day and a lot of downhill and uninteresting valley walking.

Camping Attermenzen (Randa):

Services: Toilets (TP), sinks for washing up, hot and cold potable water, washer/dryer, shop selling food, drinks, and camping equipment, and outlets.

Nearby: Keep in mind that this campground is about a 15-20 minutes’ walk past the town of Randa. To get to the grocery store, restaurants, bank, post office, or train station, you’ll have to walk back to town.

Price: 7 CHF per person + 6 CHF per tent + 3 CHF tourist tax per person + 1 CHF waste fee per person

Camping Alphubel (Täsch):

This van-packed campground is located conveniently next to the train station and grocery store. However, you’ll pay for that convenient location in the form of frequent noise from the road and railroad tracks. Ear plugs are a total game changer here, so make sure you pack them! The area for tents is small and cramped, but the facilities are decent and the proximity to the trail can’t be beat.

Services: Toilets (TP, no soap), potable water, covered sinks for washing up (hot and cold water), wifi (2 CHF), laundry room, outlets in the bathrooms, bread available for order, recycling and trash, picnic tables, and ping pong.

Nearby: Grocery store, ATM, train station, shops, tourist office, restaurants, post office.

Price: 9 CHF per person + 6 CHF per tent + 4 CHF per person tourist tax + 1 CHF garbage tax (cash only).

View of the Matterhorn and Zermatt.

First glimpse of Zermatt from the Europaweg.

 

Zermatt

Camping Availability: Camping Matterhorn

Upon completing a challenge like the Haute Route, many hikers consider rewarding themselves with a night or two in a hotel in Zermatt. However, once they start looking at the prices of hotels in Zermatt, many of those hikers decide that one more night of camping doesn’t sound so bad after all. Lucky for them, there is a decent campground located near the center of town. While it is quite noisy, a bit cramped, and the showers aren’t the warmest, this campground has a lot of redeeming qualities, too. The wifi is excellent, there are plenty of chairs and tables that can be moved around to suit your campsite, and the proximity to the grocery store and train station are quite convenient. This campground is a great budget option if you’re just staying one night in Zermatt before traveling onwards.

Services: Toilets (TP, no soap), covered area with sinks for washing up, potable water (hot and cold), “free stuff” exchange shelf, tables and chairs, warm showers, wifi (get password from the reception), and outlets in the bathrooms.

Price: 17 CHF per person (cash only).

Conclusion

We think that camping is the best way to do the Haute Route, not only for the money-saving aspects, but because it allows you to more fully immerse yourself in the natural surroundings you’re there to experience and to meet some really cool fellow campers along the way. Hopefully this guide helps to pave the way for your own Haute Route camping adventure. Happy trails!

What’s Next?

If you’ve read our Guide above, you’re well on your way to having an incredible experience camping on the Walker’s Haute Route Trail. However, you still have lots of preparation before you’re truly ready! Be sure to read our entire series on the Haute Route to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for your trip!

 

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Tour du Mont Blanc | Maps & Routes

The Tour du Mont Blanc takes trekkers through France, Italy, and Switzerland on one of the most spectacular trails in the world. Typically completed in 11 stages, the route circumnavigates…

The Tour du Mont Blanc takes trekkers through France, Italy, and Switzerland on one of the most spectacular trails in the world. Typically completed in 11 stages, the route circumnavigates Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe. This post will provide all of the TMB navigational resources you need to familiarize yourself with the route, location, and all things map-related so you can be sure you’re ready to tackle this epic adventure!

What’s in this post?

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

Whether you prefer mountain huts or hotels, 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 Tour du Mont Blanc adventure!

Our downloadable Guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc is ultimate resource to help you plan your perfect trip.

Guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc

LEARN MORE

Our 50+ page downloadable guide has everything you need to know to plan your Tour du Mont Blanc 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 9-day, 11-day, and 12-day TMB itineraries
  • Custom GPS data for the entire route & all three itineraries
  • Offline map access for the entire route
  • Lodging recommendations
  • Getting to/from the TMB
  • The ultimate packing list
  • A 15-week training plan

Get your digital guide today and start planning!

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Where is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The Tour du Mont Blanc is an approximately 101 mile/162 km trek that takes walkers around Mont Blanc and through France, Italy, and Switzerland. The closest major city to the TMB is Geneva, Switzerland. The route passes through seven mountain valleys (Val d’Arve, Val d’Montjoie, Vallee des Glaciers, Val Veni, Italian Val Ferret, Swiss Val Ferret, and Vallee du Trient) and is typically completed in 11 stages.

Looking for more TMB resources? Check out our Ultimate Guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc here.

Map showing the location of the Tour du Mont Blanc
The Tour du Mont Blanc takes walkers through France, Italy, and Switzerland.

The TMB is traditionally hiked in a counter-clockwise direction beginning in the French town of Les Houches, adjacent to Chamonix. It is also possible to walk the route in a clockwise direction, and trekkers headed this way typically start in the Swiss town of Champex. The TMB also passes through the French towns of Les Contamines, Les Chapieux, and Tre-le-Champ, the Italian town of Courmayeur, and the Swiss towns of La Fouly and Champex. The stages for the traditional counter-clockwise route are as follows:

  • Stage 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines
  • Stage 2: Les Contamines to Les Chapieux
  • Stage 3: Les Chapieux to Rifugio Elisabetta
  • Stage 4: Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur
  • Stage 5: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti
  • Stage 6: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly
  • Stage 7: La Fouly to Champex
  • Stage 8: Champex to Col de la Forclaz
  • Stage 9: Col de la Forclaz to Tre-le-Champ
  • Stage 10: Tre-le-Champ to Refuge La Flegere
  • Stage 11: Refuge La Flegere to Les Houches

Did you know we offer TMB trip planning support? Check out how we can help you below!

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While for many the mere mention of Mont Blanc conjures up images of the famous French mountaineering town of Chamonix, the route of the TMB does not actually go through the town, instead taking a trail high above the Chamonix Valley.

Tour du Mont Blanc map
The Tour du Mont Blanc leads trekkers around the Mont Blanc Massif.

In addition to the traditional route, the Tour du Mont Blanc also includes several ‘alternates’. These trails still connect the same start and finish points, but take walkers on a different route between the two points. Alternates can be used to add challenge, avoid certain sections, or lengthen/shorten a particular stage. The map below shows the common alternate routes on the TMB.

Tour du Mont Blanc Map with alternate routes shown.
The Tour du Mont Blanc also includes many alternate routes, shown in the map above.

Interactive Tour du Mont Blanc Map

The interactive Tour du Mont Blanc map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route. The map also displays the common alternate routes that are a part of the TMB. You can click on each stage to see the total length, listed in both kilometers and miles.

 

How long is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The Tour du Mont Blanc is approximately 101 miles or 162.5 kilometers long. This is based on following the traditional route and not taking any shortcuts or alternates. Of course, few if any walkers will stick to this route exactly. You could easily walk less or more depending on your preferences, route choices, and the conditions encountered on the trail.

The maps below show the approximate distance of each stage in miles as well as kilometers. For more detail on each stage be sure to check out our interactive map in the section above!

Map of the Tour du Mont Blanc with stage distances in miles.
Approximate stage distances of the TMB in miles.
Map of the Tour du Mont Blanc with stage length in kilometers
Approximate stage distances of the TMB in kilometers.

What is the elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc?

Over all 11 stages, the Tour du Mont Blanc has approximately 37,000 feet or 11,300 meters of elevation change! That averages out to over 3,300 feet or 1,000 meters of elevation change per stage for those who complete the walk in 11 days. Of course, there will be days with more elevation gain and days with less. Given that the TMB is a loop trail, you’ll ascend and descend the exact same amount over the course of your trek.

Looking for a custom itinerary for the TMB? We can help!

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The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, will give you an overview of what each stage of the Tour du Mont Blanc is like in terms of total elevation change and distance. On the charts elevation is shown on the left hand side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 11 stage TMB route, with the stop name shown at the top.

The steepness of the line between any two points shows the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the the stage. So for instance you can see that the stage from Tre-le-Champ to La Flegere is rather short in distance, while the stage from Les Contamines to Les Chapieux has a lot of elevation gain.

Elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc in feet and miles
Elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc in feet and miles.
Elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc in meters and kilometers
Elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc in meters and kilometers.

 

Which maps should I carry on the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The TMB is a very well marked trail with frequent signs and trail markers. As a result, when we hiked the TMB we did not rely heavily on any of the various paper maps that are available for the route. Instead, we preferred to utilize GPS maps on our phones, as described in the next section. However, that doesn’t mean we didn’t bring paper maps with us. While technology has done a tremendous amount to make navigating while hiking easier, there is simply no replacement for carrying a physical map with you. If your phone runs out of battery or you drop it in a puddle you’ll be glad you had your handy paper maps to rely on.

We recommend bringing the IGN 3630 OT Chamonix and IGN 3531 ET St-Gervais with you, as they provide a detailed view of the TMB route. A weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

Want custom GPS maps for your TMB adventure? Learn more here!

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Tour du Mont Blanc GPS/GPX

If you’re interested in getting access to the GPS data used to create all of the maps in this post, we are happy to offer our Tour du Mont Blanc GPX files for only $4.99. When you download the GPX file, you’ll get route data for each of the traditional stages of the TMB as well as all of the common alternate route, plus waypoints for each stop along the way.

If you want to learn how to use the GPS data to navigate on the trail, be sure to check out our post on How to Navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!

Tour du Mont Blanc map app/offline mapping

As mentioned above we utilized offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while hiking the TMB. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also isn’t reliant on a cell phone signal to display the map. Our How to Navigate on the TMB post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your Tour du Mont Blanc map. This step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device.

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

Whether you prefer mountain huts or hotels, 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 Tour du Mont Blanc adventure!

Our downloadable Guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc is ultimate resource to help you plan your perfect trip.

Guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc

LEARN MORE

Our 50+ page downloadable guide has everything you need to know to plan your Tour du Mont Blanc 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 9-day, 11-day, and 12-day TMB itineraries
  • Custom GPS data for the entire route & all three itineraries
  • Offline map access for the entire route
  • Lodging recommendations
  • Getting to/from the TMB
  • The ultimate packing list
  • A 15-week training plan

Get your digital guide today and start planning!

BUY NOW 

Want more Tour du Mont Blanc content?

Be sure to check out all of our great TMB content for packing lists, camping guides, and much more. We also have a FREE TMB Starter Kit and a comprehensive Tour du Mont Blanc Planning Guide that we know you’ll love!

4 Comments on Tour du Mont Blanc | Maps & Routes

Walker’s Haute Route Packing List

If you’re planning to trek the Walker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt (or the other way around) and have been utilizing our Guide to Camping on the Haute Route…

If you’re planning to trek the Walker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt (or the other way around) and have been utilizing our Guide to Camping on the Haute Route and/or our Ultimate Guide to the Walker’s Haute Route, you’re well on your way to having your best possible adventure. By now, you’ve likely realized that the Haute Route is a tough hike that requires thoughtful preparation and efficient packing. So how do you make sure you’ve got everything you need without carrying a backpack that’s as big as you are?  Our Walker’s Haute Route Packing List is here to help!

Hiker with trekking poles on stage 12 of the Walker's Haute Route

All smiles (and grateful for my trekking poles) on our final day of the WHR!

 

Below you’ll find a detailed Walker’s Haute Route packing list that will provide you with great, trail-tested gear that won’t weigh down your backpack too much. This list reflects our personal packing list which will vary for each individual’s specific needs. However, this should serve as a great starting point for planning your own Walker’s Haute Route adventure! We’ve organized it into the following categories to make it easy to customize for your own travel style and itinerary:

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!

BUY NOW
 

Haute Route Packing Basics

There are limitless ways to hike the Haute Route; you can customize the length of your trek, your accommodation preferences, your meal options, and so much more. Your Walker’s Haute Route packing list will need to be tailored to your individual itinerary and needs. Someone who is using a luggage transfer service and staying in refuges will have a significantly different kit than someone who is carrying all of their own camping gear and cooking their own meals. Despite all of this variability, there are a few basic truths about packing for the Haute Route that apply to everyone. These include:

  1. Keep your backpack as light as possible! (see the next section for more on this)
  2. Bring shoes/boots that you know from experience will be comfortable and problem-free.
  3. Bring hiking poles and learn how to use them prior to your WHR trek.

A trail in the foreground with snowy mountains and the Mattertal valley in the distance on the Walker's Haute Route.

Don’t forget to bring some sort of camera (or smartphone) to capture amazing views like these!

 

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? 

A hiker climbs a ladder up to Pas des Chevres on the Walker's Haute Route

You’ll be glad to have a lightweight pack on sections like this one at Pas des Chevres!

 

As a very general rule, campers should keep their pack weight below 13kg, including food and water. Those staying in refuges should carry no more than 9kg. If having your luggage transferred along the trail, most transfer services will limit you to 18kg, 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. Before you write us off as total dirtbags, hear us out. First, you’ll have plenty of time and sunshine to wash and dry laundry. Second, clothes are heavy, so cutting out everything but the absolute essentials will make a huge difference.
  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.

Footwear on the Walker’s Haute Route

Traditional hiking boots, hiking shoes, or trail runners will all work for the trail conditions on the Haute Route, but you need to make sure they will work for you too. This means that you should bring a pair of boots or shoes that you know from experience don’t cause problems for your feet. Ideally, you should put at least 30 miles on them in various terrain and weather conditions to reduce the chance of running into issues on the trail. A nasty blister can be catastrophic on a multi-day trek like the Haute Route! That being said, you also don’t want your boots/shoes to be too broken in, as you need them to hold up faithfully for many miles of gnarly terrain. I know we’re asking you to work some Goldilocks magic here, but it’s definitely worth it!

A woman stands on a log that juts into turquoise water. Footwear on the Walker's Haute Route.

Your trusty boots are one of the most important pieces of gear!

 

In terms of other specifications, we feel that the only other must-have is a good, grippy vibrum (or similar material) sole for steep descents and loose paths. Otherwise it’s up to personal preference when it comes to how much ankle support you need, waterproof versus quick-dry, sturdy versus lightweight, and so on.

You’ll probably need to cross some snow at some points along your hike. Gaiters and waterproof boots can be helpful for these situations, but certainly aren’t essential.

You’ll also want to make sure you have some good socks. Socks are one of those rare things in life where you really do get what you pay for, and high quality socks can be a game changer. Once again, try to do some hiking in a few different types to figure out how what you like in terms of thickness, cushion, and height. We love merino wool for its quick-drying and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister prone, consider trying sock liners. Many hikers swear by them. Other tried-and-true blister prevention tactics include putting bodyglide on potential hotspots or wearing toesocks.

Trekking Poles

We’ve completed a lot of tough treks all over the world, but the Walker’s Haute Route was the toughest on our knees. There are long steep ascents, and even longer and steeper descents on nearly every stage of this roughly two-week hike. I honestly don’t think we would have been able to complete this trek without our trusty trekking poles. These help so much with taking some of the strain off of your lower body and providing traction and stability on loose sections. We consider trekking poles to be an absolute game-changer for the Walker’s Haute Route, and this is especially true for campers who are carrying heavier loads.

A trekker seen from behind heads towards snow capped mountains on the Walker's Haute Route

Charging up the trail thanks to my trekking poles and comfortable backpack!

 

Backpack

The same rule for shoes applies to backpacks: make sure you complete several hikes with your bag packed the same way (and same weight) you’ll carry on the Haute Route. Also similar to shoes, backpacks need to be broken in through use, and your body needs to get used to the feeling of wearing it for extended periods of time. In terms of size, most campers will need between 45 and 65 liters. If you’re purchasing a new one, most good outdoors stores have experienced staff that will help you find the right fit and style for your needs.

Don’t forget to bring a pack cover (included with many newer backpacks) to protect against rain. This is an absolute must-have.

Battery Backup

If you plan on using your phone as a GPS to navigate along the Walker’s Haute Route (which we highly recommend!), it’s imperative that it stays charged. Many campgrounds will allow you to charge electronics, but this isn’t a guarantee everywhere. Carrying a small battery backup or one of these nifty portable solar panels will give you a little more freedom and peace of mind. In our Camping Guide, we’ve noted the availability of electronics charging along every stage.

Cooking on a camp stove outside Cabane du Moiry

We were glad to have our cozy jackets when cooking dinner outdoors!

 

Puffy down jacket

We’ve found this to be a perfect piece of gear for the Walker’s Haute Route. It can be quite chilly in the Alps in the early morning and evenings, but a heavy fleece or bulky jacket can really sabotage a lightweight pack. Down jackets are warm, super packable, and very lightweight. Besides a light waterproof rain jacket, this is the only outer layer you should need.

Guidebook

Cicerone’s Chamonix to Zermatt: The Classic Walker’s Haute Route by far the best guidebook out there for the Haute Route. This thorough guide covers everything from the history of the hike to interesting sights you’ll see along the way, and of course provides a comprehensive breakdown of every stage. It offers helpful advice on how to tailor the length of the trek to work for your time parameters, as well as descriptions of optional variants and side-trips. It is also available as an e-book, meaning you can download it to your phone to really optimize your packing! Make sure to get the 2019 version for the most up-to-date information.

Read more: Walker’s Haute Route Accommodation and Refuge Guide

 

Camping Gear

If you plan on camping along the Walker’s Haute Route, there’s a lot more gear you need to think about than just your hiking basics. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered!

Use this camping gear list in conjunction with the personal items list, miscellaneous list, and men’s or women’s clothing list to put together your perfect Walker’s Haute Route packing list.

Camping on the Walker’s Haute Route is definitely worth carrying the bigger backpack. We loved the flexibility and independence it gave us, and many of the campgrounds are downright luxurious. With the right gear and a manageable pack size, you are guaranteed to have an amazing experience conquering the Haute Route with your own tent.

A sign attached to a tree points towards a camping area on the Walker's Haute Route

Take shortcuts to get to your campground, but not when it comes to your gear!

 

Our favorite piece of camping gear: Marmot Trestles 15 Sleeping Bag

When the sun goes down, it can get very cold in the Alps, even in the summertime! Spending night after night shivering in your tent will surely make your Haute Route adventure much less enjoyable. This sleeping bag is designed for backpacking, meaning it is lightweight and packs down small, while still being cozy and warm. It is thoughtfully designed; we love the practical features like the double zippers and convenient stash pocket. Sure it’s not as fancy as a down version, but it’s the best synthetic option on the market and way more affordable than down.


ItemOur recommended gear 
TentSierra Designs - Clip Flashlight 2
or
MSR Hubba Hubba Tent
This is the best budget tent on the market and the best overall tent on the market!
Sleeping bagMarmot Trestle 15Nights can get cold on the Haute Route, so a good sleeping bag is a must!
Sleeping padNemo Astro Sleeping Pad If you are a side sleeper this is a must!
PillowTherm-a-Rest pillowIf you're camping more than a few nights you will be glad you packed this!
HeadlampBlack Diamond Storm headlamp
StoveMSR Pocket Rocket StoveIan has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!
Backpacking potGSI Halulite
UtensilsHumangear Spork Best $4 you will ever spend!
Plate/Bowl/MugMSR Deep Dish plate , MSR Stainless Steel mug

Refuge-Specific Gear

If you’re planning on sleeping in mountain refuges and hotels along the Walker’s Haute Route, you can enjoy the benefit of a shorter packing list! This list has a few items you’ll need specifically for sleeping in gites and refuges. While you don’t need much, there are some essentials that you’ll be glad to have for these communal accommodation situations. Use this list in conjunction with the other lists (except for the camping gear list) to ensure that you’re well prepared for your Haute Route adventure.

Note: there are some repeats on this list that we’ve also included on the other lists. However, we wanted to highlight items on this list that are especially important for anyone who is staying primarily in refuges.

A view of the outside of Cabane du Mont Fort on the Walker's Haute Route

Cabane du Mont Fort.

 

Our favorite piece of refuge-specific gear: Vumos Sleep Sheet

Many mountain refuges along the Walker’s Haute Route require the use of sleep sheets for hygienic reasons. Even if it’s not mandated, a sleep sheet is a good idea. The bedding at most refuges consists of just a mattress cover and a duvet that isn’t typically washed between every use. Plus, it can get quite warm at night in those crowded dorm rooms, and you may prefer something lighter than the blanket provided. The Vumos sleep sheet is great for a number of reasons. It’s super soft, thoughtfully-designed, and easily packable in a compact stuff sack. This can be a huge difference-maker when it comes to getting quality sleep on your trek.


ItemOur recommended gear 
EarplugsMack's EarplugsThe best defense for that snorer next door!
Sleeping maskAlaska Bear Sleeping MaskPerfect to block out light while sleeping in refuges.
Sleep sheetVumos Sleep SheetRequired in most of the refuges along the Haute Route.
Sandals/SlippersCrocsWhile not the most stylish, Crocs make the perfect refuge shoes! Most refuges provide slippers, but many hikers prefer to use their own.

Personal Gear

Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for the Walker’s Haute Route. While we’ve included some toiletries that are absolutely essential for this hike, we’ve left it up to you to determine your personal list of additional self care items (comb, toothbrush, prescription medication, etc).

Use this list in conjunction with the camping gear list OR refuge list, and the miscellaneous and clothing lists to build your perfect kit.

Our favorite personal gear: Kahtoola Microspikes

Depending on when you hike the Walker’s Haute Route, these will either be absolutely essential or at the very least super helpful. It is very common for large patches of snow remain on the trail through mid-July or later. Some of these sections are easy to navigate with just your hiking boots, but others are extremely steep and slick. This can create a slow, tiring situation at best and a dangerous one at worst. These Microspikes can be quickly attached to your shoes or boots, and they provide immensely better traction to help you grip icy and snowy surfaces. They are small and easily pack away when you don’t need them.


ItemOur recommended gear 
Multi-toolGerber Suspension Multi-PlierA handy, must-have on the trail.
First-aid kitAdventure Medical Kits
Hydration BladderPlatypus 3 Liter Hydration BladderWay easier than a water bottle!
Small day-packCotopaxi Luzon 18LGreat for short day hikes and excursions in Chamonix or Zermatt!
Pack-coverSea to Summit Pack coverThis is a truly essential piece of gear given how much it can rain on the Haute Route!
Men's backpackOsprey Atmos 65The most comfortable backpack on the market!
Women's backpackOsprey Ariel 65
Trekking polesBlack Diamond Trail Back Trekking polesEssential for long downhills!
Micro-spikesKahtoola MicrospikesYou'll almost certainly encounter snow at some point on the Haute Route and micro-spikes can be essential to safely navigating it.
Travel towelSea to Summit DryLite TowelGreat to have for campsite showers.
Dry bagsSea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry SackKeeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour!
Hiking GaitersOutdoor Research Rocky Mountain High GaitersThese will help keep your boots dry when walking on snow covered trails.
Warm, waterproof glovesSeirus Waterproof Gloves
Buff or BandanaOriginal Buff
Sleeping MaskAlaska Bear Sleeping Mask
Blister padsBand-Aid Blister Pads
Lip BalmJack Black Lip Balm

Miscellaneous Gear

These odds and ends are the unsung heros of the Walker’s Haute Route 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 personal Haute Route packing list.

Our favorite miscellaneous gear: Mack’s Earplugs

Whether you are camping or sleeping indoors, we can almost guarantee there will be some noisy nights on your Haute Route trek. From people inexplicably setting up camp at 11:00pm to international snoring contests in the mountain refuges, there’s an endless array of things that can sabotage your much-needed sleep. That’s why these earplugs are one of the most essential items to take along on a trip like the Haute Route. Mack’s makes good quality silicone earplugs that are more comfortable and effective than the standard foam kind. Trust us, you’ll be glad you packed them!


ItemOur recommended gear 
GuidebookThe Walker's Haute Route (Cicerone Trekking Guide)This is the best guidebook available and a truly essential item to bring.
JournalMoleskin Journal
Ear plugsMack's ear plugsEssential for the more crowded campsites!
CameraSony a5100 mirrorless cameraIan loves his Sony mirrorless camera!
TripodJoby GorillaPodThe perfect travel tripod.
Unlocked phoneMoto G PlayA simple, budget-friendly phone to use for navigation and local calls with a SIM.
Battery backupAnker PowerCore 20100There are many long sections without access to outlets on the Haute Route.
Laundry Soap SheetsSea to Summit Trek and Travel Pocket SoapThese are the greatest travel hack ever! The best way to clean your clothes on-the-go.
Travel adapterJoomfeen All-in-one adapterGreat for all of your travels.
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.

No need to pack a  bunch of clothes- simply rinse them in the sink and rig a clothesline wherever you find yourself!

 

Women’s Clothing

When you’re wearing the same clothes for roughly two weeks 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. Plus, if you’re anything like us, you have no idea how many pairs of socks to bring. This list is also a handy (and experience-backed) guideline for quantities of items such as shirts and socks.

Emily’s favorite piece of women’s clothing: Smartwool Baselayer Top

This shirt was absolutely perfect for layering under my down jacket on frosty mornings on the trail, as well as nice and cozy for hanging out at camp and sleeping in. It’s light enough that I could wear it for added sun protection on hot days, too. Since it’s merino wool, I could wear it for days without it getting stinky at all. When it did need washing, I simply washed it out at the campground and it was dry in no time. This is the ideal clothing item for the demands of the Haute Route.


ItemOur recommended gear 
Underwear (3-4 pairs)ExOfficio Women's Sport UnderwearVery packable and easy to wash on the go!
Socks (3-4 pairs)Darn Tough Micro Crew SocksIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Sports Bra (1)Brooks Rebound Racer Sports BraThis is the most versatile, comfortable, and high-quality sports bra that Emily has found on the market.
Long sleeve base layer (1)Smartwool Women's NTS Mid 250 Crew
Short sleeve hiking shirt (1)Mountain Hardwear Wicked shirt
Leggings (1 pair)Nike Power Essential Running Tight
Running shorts (1 pair)Lululemon Run Speed ShortsThese shorts are so comfortable, packable, and quick-drying, that Emily didn't even feel the need to buy hiking-specific shorts.
Down jacketPatagonia Down SweaterLightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!
Rain jacketOutdoor Research Helium II JacketA high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.
Rain pantsColumbia Storm Surge pantsFor those heavy downpours!
Hiking bootsKeen Targhee II Mid Hiking BootEmily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!
SunglassesSuncloud Loveseat Polarized SunglassesGood quality sunglasses are essential when you're in the mountains all day. And these are stylish too!
Underwire bra
HatA hat with a wide brim provides valuable protection for sun and rain.
Sandals/Camp shoesChaco Z1The perfect camp sandals!

Men’s Clothing

Ian’s favorite men’s clothing item: Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks

Part of what makes the Walker’s Haute Route so incredible is the variety of terrains and conditions it allows you to experience. From climbing steeply up to a wet and windy mountain pass to walking through a flat and sunny valley,  you’re unlikely to get bored on this hike. Unfortunately, while the dynamic nature of the Haute Route can be great for the senses, it can wreak havoc on your feet, causing blisters and other nasty ailments.  A good pair of socks can greatly reduce your chances of suffering from 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 recommended gear 
Underwear (3-4 pairs)Exofficio Give-N-Go boxerHighly recommended! You can bring 4-5 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!
Socks (3-4 pairs)Darn Tough Hiker Micro CrewIn our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!
Long sleeve base layer (1)Smartwool Men's NTS Mid 250 CrewVery versatile mid-weight base layer
Short sleeve hiking shirt (1)Columbia Tech Shirt
Hiking pants (1)Prana Brion pantsThese are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!
Hiking shorts (1)Prana Brion shortsAwesome shorts that are great for hiking.
Running shorts (1)La Sportiva Aelous shorts
Down jacketPatagonia Down Seater HoodieSuper warm and super packable
Rain jacketOutdoor Research Helium II jacketA good rain jacket is a must!
Rain pantsMarmot Precip Pants
HatOutdoor Research Performance Trucker hatA hat with a wide brim provides valuable protection for sun and rain.
Sandals/Camp shoesChaco Z1 sandals
Hiking bootsSalomon X-Ultra 3 MidSuper comfortable and super waterproof!
Digital watchCasio Classic Sports watchAll you'll ever need
SunglassesSuncloud Mayor Polarized sunglasses

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what to pack for the Walker's Haute Route

What’s Next?

Be sure to read our entire series on the Walker’s Haute Route to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for your trip!

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GR20 | Maps

The GR20 takes hikers on a spectacular trail across the island of Corsica and is one of the most renowned long-distance treks in the world. The route is broken into…

The GR20 takes hikers on a spectacular trail across the island of Corsica and is one of the most renowned long-distance treks in the world. The route is broken into 16 stages and is traditionally walked from north to south, starting in the town of Calenzana and finishing in the little village of Conca. This post give you all of the GR20  resources you need to familiarize yourself with the GR20 map, route, location, and all other things navigational so you can be sure you’re ready to take on this incredible trail!

What’s in this post?

Where is the GR20?

The GR20 is located on the semi-autonomous French island of Corsica. Corsica sits in the Mediterranean Sea off the coasts of both France and Italy and just north of the island of Sardinia. GR20 hikers are likely to pass through at least one of the major towns in Corsica en route to and from the trail. These towns include Bastia, Calvi, Ajaccio, and Porto Vecchio.

Map showing the location of the GR20

The GR20 takes trekkers across Corsica.

 

Many trekkers are surprised to find that the GR20 visits very few Corsican towns along its route, instead staying high in the mountains and stopping mainly at mountain refuges and bergeries (former shepherds’ huts). However, the GR20 does pass through the town of Vizzavona, which is the approximate halfway point of the trek.

Given this fact, many hikers will want to add a few days to their itinerary, if possible, to ensure they are able to visit some of the beautiful towns and villages in Corsica.

The GR20 is traditionally hiked from north to south, beginning in the town of Calenzana and finishing in the town of Conca. However, it is possible and not uncommon to walk the GR20 from south to north.

The stages for the traditional north to south route of the GR20 are as follows:

  • Stage 1: Calenzana to Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu
  • Stage 2: Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu to Refuge de Carozzu
  • Stage 3: Refuge de Carozzu to Ascu Stagnu
  • Stage 4: Ascu Stagnu to Auberge U Vallone or Refuge de Tighjettu
  • Stage 5: Auberge U Vallone to Hotel Castel di Vergio
  • Stage 6: Hotel Castel di Vergio to Refuge de Manganu
  • Stage 7: Refuge de Manganu to Refuge Petra Piana
  • Stage 8: Refuge de Petra Piana to Refuge L’Onda
  • Stage 9: Refuge L’Onda to Vizzavona
  • Stage 10: Vizzavona to Bergeries d’E Capanelle
  • Stage 11: E’Capanelle to Bocca di Verdi
  • Stage 12: Bocca di Verdi to Refuge d’Usciolu
  • Stage 13: Refuge d’Usciolu to Refuge de Matalza
  • Stage 14: Refuge de Matalza to Refuge d’Asinau
  • Stage 15: Refuge d’Asinau to Village de Bavella
  • Stage 16: Village de Bavella to Conca

 

Map of the GR20 in Corsica.

The GR20 take trekkers across the island of Corsica.

 

In addition to the traditional route, the GR20 also includes several ‘alternates’. These trails connect the same start and finish points, but take walkers on a different route between the two points. These alternate routes can be used to add challenge, visit nearby summits, avoid certain sections, or provide a low-level route in the case of bad weather. Additionally, there is an alternate route that allows trekkers to skip an entire stage of the GR20 by going directly from Refuge d’Uscioulu to Refuge d’Asinau.

Here are the common alternate routes on the GR20, which are also shown on the map below:

  • Low level route on Stage 1 allows trekkers to avoid exposure in bad weather.
  • Low level route on Stage 2 allows trekkers to avoid exposure in bad weather.
  • High level route on Stage 8 between Refuge de Petra Piana and Refuge L’Onda.
  • High level route on Stage 9 between Refuge L’Onda and Vizzavona.
  • Ascent of Monte Renosu on Stage 11 between Bergeries E’Capanelle and Bocca di Verdi
  • High level route between Refuge d’Usciolu and Refuge d’Asinau, shortening the GR20 by a day.
  • High level route between Refuge d’Asinau and Village de Bavella

Map of the GR20 with common trail variants.

The GR20 also includes many alternate routes, shown in the map above.

 

Interactive GR20 Map

The interactive GR20 map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route. The map also displays the common alternate routes that are a part of the GR20. You can click on each stage to see its total length, listed in both kilometers and miles.

 

How long is the GR20?

The GR20 is approximately 113 miles or 182 kilometers long. This is based on following the traditional route and not taking any of the alternates. Of course, many trekkers will opt to take several of the alternate routes, which will lengthen or shorten the total distance, depending on the routes chosen. You’ll have the option to walk less or more depending on the weather, your preferences, and the conditions encountered on the trail.

The maps below show the approximate distance of each stage in both miles and kilometers, giving you a sense of the distances encountered on each section of the GR20. For more detail on each stage be sure to check out our interactive map in the section above!

Map of the GR20 showing stage distances in miles.

Approximate stage distances of the GR20 in miles.

 

Map of the GR20 with stage distances in kilometers.

Approximate stage distances of the GR20 in kilometers.

 

What is the elevation profile of the GR20?

Over the course of all 113 miles, the GR20 has a staggering 34,500 feet or 10,500 meters of elevation change! Averaged out over 16 stages this means that each day you’ll have over 2,150 feet or 655 meters of elevation change per stage. Many trekkers will complete the GR20 in fewer days, meaning they’ll have an even greater challenge!

Of course, the elevation gain and loss isn’t spread out evenly from stage to stage. You’ll have days with a tremendous amount of climbing and you’ll also have days with much less (although always some!). Given that the GR20 is a point to point trail (meaning it does not start and finish in the same location) you’ll lose a tad more elevation that you’ll gain over the course of the entire route.

The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, will give you an overview of what each stage of the GR20 is like in terms of total elevation change and distance. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 16-stage GR20 route, with the stop name shown at the top.

The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the the stage. So for instance you can see that the stage from Refuge de Carrozu to Ascu Stagnu is rather short in distance, while the stage from Ascu Stagnu to Auberge U Vallone has a lot of elevation gain.

When thinking about how many days or stages you’ll take to complete the GR20 be sure to reference these elevation profiles. They’ll give you a sense of how hard each day is and will let you see which stages may make sense to combine

Elevation profile of the GR20 in feet and miles.

Elevation profile of the GR20 in feet and miles.

 

Elevation profile of the GR20 in meters and kilometers.

Elevation profile of the GR20 in meters and kilometers.

 

Which maps should I carry on the GR20?

The GR20 is the best marked trail we’ve ever hiked. The notorious red and white paint flashes guide the way through gullies, across boulder fields, and past mountain peaks. The saying on the GR20 is that if you’ve gone more than 20 feet without seeing marker you’re probably off the trail, and this is true! However, it can still be easy to get turned around, mixed up, and generally off the main trail in some capacity. You may find yourself walking in an early morning mist, struggling to look up to find a trail marker with the blazing sun, or simply have missed the last trail junction. For this reason we highly recommend that all trekkers have some form of wayfinding for the GR20.

When we hiked the GR20 we did not rely on traditional, paper maps that are available for the route. Instead, we preferred utilizing GPS maps on our phones to ensure we knew where the trail was as well as where we were in relation to it. Cell phone service is very limited along the GR20, so it is critical to have a good offline mapping app such as Gaia GPS to ensure you’ll be able to view the map at any point along the route.

With all this considered, we still recommend carrying a paper map, or map booklet. While technology has done a tremendous amount to make navigating while hiking easier, there is simply no replacement for carrying a physical map with you. If your phone runs out of battery or you drop it in one of the many swimming holes along the GR20 you’ll be glad you had your handy paper map to rely on.

To cover the entire GR20 at a good scale (1:25,000) we recommend bringing the following IGN maps:

. A weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

GR20 GPS/GPX

If you’re interested in getting access to the GPS data used to create all of the maps in this post, we are happy to offer our GR20 GPX files for only $4.99. When you download the GPX file, you’ll get route data for each of the traditional stages of the GR20 as well as all of the common alternate route, plus waypoints for each stop along the way.

You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!

BUY NOW
 

GR20 map app/offline mapping

As mentioned above we utilized offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while hiking the GR20. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also doesn’t require a cell phone signal (which you likely won’t have) to display the map. Our GR20 Offline Mapping post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your GR20 map. This step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device.

Check out all of our great GR20 resources:

 

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Badlands National Park | Maps & Resources

Badlands National Park preserves over 240,000 acres of prairie grassland, sandstone spires, and stunning rock formations in southwestern South Dakota. The park is somewhat remote, with few major cities in…

Badlands National Park preserves over 240,000 acres of prairie grassland, sandstone spires, and stunning rock formations in southwestern South Dakota. The park is somewhat remote, with few major cities in close proximity to its borders.

Badlands is also unique in the fact that it’s managed by both the National Park Service as well as the Oglala Lakota Tribe, which manages what is known as the South Unit. Given the large size and unique geography of the park, it is especially important to have a good sense of where you plan to visit and what you’d like to see.

To help with this, we’ve created this complete guide to all of the Badlands National Park maps you’ll need to ensure you don’t waste time figuring out how to get from point A to B and can instead enjoy your trip to this incredible national park.

Let’s get started.

View of sandstone rocks in the Badlands

 

In this Post

Where is Badlands National Park?

Badlands National Park is located in southwestern South Dakota, approximately 1 hour east of Rapid City. The park can generally be divided into the North and South Units, with the North Unit being the more frequently visited section of the park.

In addition, Badlands National Park also includes a small “island” of land that is not contiguous with the main park. Known as the Palmer Creek Unit, this section of the park sits entirely within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Check out the overview map below to get a general sense of the location of Badlands National Park.

Map showing the location of Badlands National Park

Overview map of Badlands National Park. Click to enlarge.

 

Zooming in a bit from the high-level overview provided above, you’ll see on the map below that Badlands National Park has several other public lands close by, including Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

You can also see that there are several small towns that provide access to the various sections of the park, with the main entrance points being the towns of Scenic, Wall, and Interior, SD.

Map of the area surrounding Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park Area Map. NPS map.  Click to enlarge.

 

Looking for a PDF map of the Badlands National Park Area Map? Click here to download directly from the National Park Service.

 

Badlands National Park Maps

The following sections contain all the map resources you’ll need to plan your perfect trip to Badlands National Park. We’ve compiled maps from the National Park Service as well as created a few of our own to help supplement what the park service provides.

As always, you can find the full set of Badlands National Park maps produced by the National Park Service here.

Badlands National Park Brochure Map

The park brochure map provides a nice general orientation to Badlands National Park and is useful for getting a sense of where the main attractions are located. Use it to help organize your trip, understand distances in the park, and think about where you may want to stay during your visit.

Badlands National Park map

Map of Badlands National Park from the NPS park brochure. NPS map. Click to enlarge.

 

Interested in a PDF map of the Badlands National Park Brochure Map? Click here to download directly from the National Park Service.

 

Detailed maps of the Cedar Pass area of Badlands National Park

Most visitors will start their trip to the Badlands by stopping at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, which serves as the park headquarters. This frequently visited section of the park also includes the main campground, the start of the Badlands Loop Road, and several popular hikes.

Map of Cedar Pass area

Detailed Map of the Cedar Pass section of Badlands National Park. NPS Map. Click to enlarge.

 

Interested in a PDF map of the Cedar Pass Area Map? Click here to download directly from the National Park Service.

For those interested in exploring the Cedar Pass section of the park, we recommend checking out the following:

Badlands National Park Campground Map

For those interested in camping during their visit to Badlands National Park, we’ve put together a complete guide below.

Check out the Complete Guide to Camping in Badlands National Park here.

We’ve also created the map below to give you a sense of where the park’s two main campgrounds are located.

Map of campsites at Badlands National Park

Car camping options in Badlands National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. Click to enlarge.

 

In addition, the NPS also provides a helpful map of the popular Cedar Pass Campground, as shown below.

Map of the Cedar Pass Campground

Map of the Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands National Park. NPS Map. Click to enlarge.

 

Getting to Badlands National Park

Most visitors will travel to the Badlands by taking Interstate 90, which runs just north of the national park. From here, you’ll have easy access to the Pinnacles Entrance from the town of Wall as well as the Northeast Entrance from State Highway 240.

For those coming from the south, Highway 44 brings visitors to the town of Interior and the main park headquarters. Highway 44 continues west from here to the town of Scenic, which provides access to the South Unit in Badlands.

Use the Google Map below to get directions from your specific location to Badlands National Park:

Main park entrances

Badlands National Park has four main entrances conveniently located throughout the park. These include:

  • Interior Entrance: The main entrance to the park.
  • Northeast Entrance: Easily accessed from I-90 and close to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.
  • Pinnacles Entrance: Accessed from the town of Wall, the Pinnacles Entrance provides access to the Sage Creek Area.
  • White River Entrance: The only entrance to the South Unit and the White River Visitor Center.

Map of entrance stations to Badlands National Park.

Map of entrance stations to Badlands National Park. NPS map. Click to enlarge.

Getting around Badlands National Park

Finally, it is important to have a sense of the main roads through the park and how they connect to the various sections of the Badlands.

Badlands Loop Road

The Badlands Loop Road is the main thoroughfare through the North Unit of Badlands National Park. Connecting the the main visitor center with the Pinnacles Overlook, this winding road takes visitors through much of the most stunning scenery that the Badlands have to offer.

Sage Creek Rim Road

Sage Creek Rim Road continues west from where the Badlands Loop Road ends near the Pinnacles Overlook. The road is unpaved, so travel can be slow going at times. The Sage Creek Rim Road will bring visitors to the less-visited sections of the Badlands where you’re likely to encounter some of the wildlife that call the park home.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope these mapping resources for Badlands National Park have given you an overview of this incredible landscape. Let us know of any other maps you’d like to see in the comments below!

Close up view of the Badlands

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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

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

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

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 2.0 These 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 Deluge For 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 Shoes Crocs 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

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 Jacket Marmot 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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Cleveland Way | Maps & Routes

The Cleveland Way is one of England’s oldest National Trails, having been first established in 1969 as a designated walking route. The walk takes in a diversity of landscapes from…

The Cleveland Way is one of England’s oldest National Trails, having been first established in 1969 as a designated walking route. The walk takes in a diversity of landscapes from the heather covered hills of the North York Moors National Park to the stunning coastline between Whitby and Scarborough. The Cleveland Way is typically walked in between 6 – 11 days, and we’ve described it here in nine stages. 

Starting in Helmsley and finishing in Filey on the North Sea you’ll enjoy the stunning views, quaint villages, and the unique history that the Cleveland Way has to offer. Along the route you’ll find a plethora of accommodation options to suit all budgets and sensibilities.

This post is designed to provide an introduction to the Cleveland Way route though in-depth maps, elevation profiles, stage-by-stage maps, and more!

Let’s get started.

White cottages in Whitby, England.

The quaint streets of Whitby are a highlight of the Cleveland Way.

 

In this Post

 

Where is the Cleveland Way?

The Cleveland Way carves a horseshoe shaped path around the North York Moors and surrounding coastline in north-central England. Connecting Helmsley in the west to Filey in the east, the route is most commonly walked in a anti-clockwise direction. While there is nothing to stop you from walking in reverse, we think saving the coastal sections for the end makes for a wonderful finish.

Generally speaking you shouldn’t have trouble accessing the Cleveland Way from other parts of England and the UK. The route is well-served by public transportation with most walkers likely to take the train to York before transfering to a local bus to reach either Helmsley or Filey. Other major transportation hubs along the route include Thirsk, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, and Whitby.

Check out the map below to get a general sense of where the Cleveland Way is located.

Overview map of the Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way is located in north-east England. (Click to enlarge).

 

Highlights of the Cleveland Way include the famous heathered hills of the North York Moors, the Whitby Abbey, Robin Hood’s Bay, and the Scarborough Castle.

The walk is commonly completed in nine days walking, although many will prefer to cover the Cleveland Way in 7 or 8 days. We think 9 days provides a nice pace that allows walkers to savor their time in the part of England while still having some excellent days out walking.

Below is the standard 9-day itinerary for the Cleveland Way:

  • Stage 1: Helmsley to Sutton Bank
  • Stage 2: Sutton Bank to Osmotherley
  • Stage 3: Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top
  • Stage 4: Clay Bank Top to Kildale
  • Stage 5: Kildale to Saltburn-by-the-Sea
  • Stage 6: Saltburn-by-the-Sea to Runswick Bay
  • Stage 7: Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay
  • Stage 8: Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough
  • Stage 9: Scarborough to Filey

Check out the Cleveland Way map below for a detailed overview of the walk. 

Cleveland Way Map

Map of the Cleveland Way. Click to enlarge.

 

In addition to the standard route described above there are a few popular side trips that we recommend for anyone walking the Cleveland Way. These include the following:

  • Stage 1: Detour to the Kilburn White Horse
    • Near the top of Sutton Bank, walkers can take a short detour past the Yorkshire Gliding Club grounds to reach this interesting monument in the hillside. Created in 1857, it is reportedly the largest hillside figure in England.
  • Stage 5: Trip to the top of Roseberry Topping
    • A short, 2-km return trip from the main Cleveland Way will bring walkers to the top of Roseberry Topping, with its tremendous view of the countryside beyond. Thought by many to be the highest point of the walk, you’ll actually have already reached that at the top of Urra Moor!

You can see detailed maps of these side trips in the stage-by-stage map section below.

 

The Cleveland Way winds through the North York Moors National Park

Read more: Cleveland Way Packing List

Interactive Cleveland Way map

The interactive Cleveland Way map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route.

 

How long is the Cleveland Way?

Look around at the various guidebooks, websites, and other sources and you’ll typically see the length of the Cleveland Way given as somewhere around 175-km long. While this is an accurate estimate, we measure (via GPS) the Cleveland Way to be 168.5 kilometers (104.7 miles) from Helmsley to Filey. 

While this exact measurement provides little practical value to anyone planning a walk on the Cleveland Way, it is important to have a general understanding the distances involved. The maps below give the approximate distances for each of the nine-stages of the Cleveland Way in both kilometers and miles.

Use these to help understand the challenge each stages poses so you can be sure to plan your own itinerary accordingly.

Do keep in mind that the distances provided here assume no stops, detours, or other wandering off the main path. You will certainly end up walking further than the distances provided in this article as many of the accommodation options are located off the main route.

Add in a few side trips, a stop at the local pub, and a detour to a beautiful beach and you should plan on walking well over the 105 miles we’ve estimated for the Cleveland Way here!

Note that the distances displayed below do not include alternates or variants, and should only be used to get a general sense of the stage lengths.

Map of the Cleveland Way with stage distances

Stage distances of the Cleveland Way in kilometers. Click to enlarge.

 

Map of the Cleveland Way with stage distances in miles.

Stage distances for the Cleveland Way in miles. Click to enlarge.

 

Cleveland Way Elevation Profile

While not overly challenging, the Cleveland Way still has a significant amount of elevation gain. The entire walk has approximately 2,800 meters or 9,200 feet of elevation gain of the course of its 169 kilometers. Certainly nothing to underestimate!

Most of this elevation gain occurs during the walks first five stages, before the trail reaches the coast. The Cleveland Way’s major climbs include the walk to the top of Sutton Bank on stage 1, Carlton Bank near the top of the Carlton Moor, and of course the Cleveland Way’s high point at Round Hill on Urra Moor.

However, don’t be deceived by the coastal sections of the walk, as there is still significant elevation to be gained/lost here! Be especially prepared for the climb encountered between Robin Hood’s Bay and Scarborough.

Hiker on Urra Moor

Approaching Round Hill on Urra Moor, the high point on the Cleveland Way.

 

The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, will give you an overview of what each stage of the Cleveland Way entails in terms of total elevation change and distance. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 9-stage walk, with the stop name shown at the top.

The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the stage. For instance, you can see that the stage from Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay is rather long in distance, while the stage from Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top has a lot of elevation gain.

When thinking about how many days or stages you’ll take to complete the Cleveland Way be sure to reference these elevation profiles. They’ll give you a sense of how hard each day is and will let you see which stages may make sense to combine or split up on your walk.

 

Elevation profile of the Cleveland Way

Elevation profile of the Cleveland Way. Click to enlarge.

 

Elevation profile of the Cleveland Way in miles and feet.

Elevation profile for the Cleveland Way in miles. Click to enlarge.

 

Which maps should I carry on the Cleveland Way?

The Cleveland Way is a well-marked trail, with the iconic acorn symbol used by England’s National Trail system found at major intersections along the route. This helps identify the Cleveland Way from other popular trails in the area, of which there are many.

However, it is still quite easy to get turned around or otherwise off-track on the Cleveland Way due largely to the number of trail junctions encountered. For this reason, we recommend all walkers carry a few Cleveland Way maps to ensure they don’t spend an afternoon walking the wrong direction!

Our preference is generally to rely on GPS maps on our smartphones when out on a multi-day walk, and we can highly recommend this method for most walkers. All you’ll need is a GPX file for the route (available on the National Trails website here) and a GPS app. We like Gaia GPS, although there are many great options available.

In addition to digital navigation methods, we also recommend you bring a paper map or map booklet of the Cleveland Way along on your walk. There is simply no replacement for a physical map, afterall you never know when you may find yourself with a dead battery rendering your GPS app useless!

There are several excellent physical maps available for the Cleveland Way, outlined below:

The Cleveland Way Map Booklet – Cicerone Guides
In our opinion, your best bet will be to pack this excellent resource from Cicerone Guides. Their Cleveland Way map booklet contains Ordnance Survey maps for the entire route, neatly organized into a small and portable booklet.

 

Cleveland Way Adventure Atlas
Another convenient and highly recommended option is the Cleveland Way Adventure Atlas. This map consists of OS Explorer maps for the entire Cleveland Way route, but saves you the hassle of assembling all of the Ordnance Survey maps yourself. It is also a bit larger and easier to read when compared to the Cicerone Map Booklet, which many walkers will prefer.

 

Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps
Finally, no article on maps for the Cleveland Way would be complete without referencing Ordnance Survey maps. These detailed maps provide an excellent resource for the walk, although you’ll need to carry three OS maps to cover the entire route:

In addition, a weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

Stage-by-stage maps for the Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way is most commonly walked in nine stages, with a wide variety of accommodation options available at each point along the walk. The stage maps below provide a general outline for each of these nine stages and we’ve also included the distance and elevation change for each day below.

Stage 1: Helmsley to Sutton Bank

Distance: 11.89 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +442 m / -217 m

Map of Stage 1 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 1 – Helmsley to Sutton Bank

 

Stage 2: Sutton Bank to Osmotherley

Distance: 18.9 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +500 m / -621 m

Map of Stage 2 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 2 – Sutton Bank to Osmotherley

 

Stage 3: Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top

Distance: 17.6 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +821 m / -720 m

Map of Stage 3 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 3 – Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top

 

Stage 4: Clay Bank Top to Kildale

Distance: 14.99 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +290 m / -382 m

Map of Stage 4 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 4 – Clay Bank Top to Kildale

 

Stage 5: Kildale to Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Distance: 22.23 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +606 m / -739 m

Map of Stage 5 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 5 – Kildale to Saltburn by the Sea

 

Stage 6: Saltburn-by-the-Sea to Runswick Bay

Distance: 19.54 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +793 m / -757 m

Map of Stage 6 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 6 – Saltburn by the Sea to Runswick Bay

 

Stage 7: Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay

Distance: 25.37 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +983 m / -1,052 m

Map of Stage 7 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 7 – Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay

 

Stage 8: Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough

Distance: 24.19 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +846 m / -853 m

Map of Stage 8 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 8 – Robin Hoods Bay to Scarborough

 

Stage 9: Scarborough to Filey

Distance: 13.78 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +597 m / -556 m

Map of Stage 9 of the Cleveland Way

Stage 9 – Scarborough to Filey

 

Cleveland Way GPS/GPX

If you are interested in getting access to the GPS data for the Cleveland Way it really couldn’t be easier, as the National Trails website provides a free GPX file. This data includes the short side-trips that we described above, and they also have an excellent interactive map. Check it out below.

Click here to access the free GPS data for the Cleveland Way

You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!

Apps and offline mapping

As mentioned above we highly recommend utilizing offline downloadable GPS maps on your smartphone to navigate while walking the Cleveland Way. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also doesn’t require a cell phone signal (which you may not have) to display the map.

Our How to Navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your map. Although written for a different hike, this step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device for the Cleveland Way.

Hiker with a map on their phone

 

Have a great Cleveland Way adventure!

We hope this post has given you all the information you need to get a basic overview of the Cleveland Way. Let us know your questions or comments below. Happy trails!

And don’t forget to check out our handy Cleveland Way Packing List!

Looking for where to stay on the Cleveland Way? Check out our Accommodation Guide here.

Beach in Scarborough, England.

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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

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

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

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 2.0 These 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 Deluge For 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 Shoes Crocs 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

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 Jacket Marmot 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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The Complete Guide to Camping in Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park, located in central Kentucky, is one of America’s most unique national parks. The park preserves the longest cave system in the world, known as Mammoth Cave,…

Mammoth Cave National Park, located in central Kentucky, is one of America’s most unique national parks. The park preserves the longest cave system in the world, known as Mammoth Cave, which contains a staggering 400+ miles of underground tunnels. In addition to the cave system, the park also preserves a variety of landscapes including rivers, dense forest, and an incredible diversity of animal and plant life.

The only national park in Kentucky, Mammoth Cave is easily accessed from many major cities in the mid-west and south. Given this, we think the best way to experience Mammoth Cave National Park is to spend a night sleeping in your tent or RV, where you’ll get to experience this incredible environment first hand. 

The park features plenty of camping opportunities, from the three developed campgrounds, to the thirteen backcountry campsites, as well as opportunities for camping along one of the park’s beautiful rivers. In addition to the campgrounds founds within Mammoth Cave, there are also great options for RV and car camping, and a few free campsites just outside the park’s boundary. Needless to say, you’ll be spoiled for options.

Keeping reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Mammoth Cave National Park.

In this Post

 

Mammoth Cave National Park Campgrounds

Mammoth Cave National Park is well served by a variety of campgrounds. Visitors are likely to access the park from the south, where the main visitor center is located. The park is generally divided into a northern and southern section, with the Green River serving as the dividing line. Campgrounds are provided in both sections, with the majority of the backcountry campsites located in the less-developed northern section of Mammoth Cave.

There are three “front country” developed campgrounds located in Mammoth Cave National Park. These campgrounds are well dispersed and provide visitors with great camping options regardless of which section of Mammoth Cave they plan on exploring.

In addition, there are thirteen backcountry campgrounds located in the wilderness of Mammoth Cave. These backcountry campsites are concentrated in the north-west section of Mammoth Cave and can be accessed by a number of excellent hiking trails. Finally, those who plan to camp along either the Green or Nolan Rivers will have nearly unlimited options in the national park.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of these campgrounds are located in Mammoth Cave National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Mammoth Cave National Park

Campgrounds in Mammoth Cave National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Of the developed campgrounds, only the Houchin Ferry Campground is open year round. Both Mammoth Cave and Maple Springs Campgrounds are closed seasonally from December 1st – February 28th.

Keep reading to learn about reservations and permits for camping in Mammoth Cave National Park. 

Reservations & Permits

Reservations are required for all of the campsites within Mammoth Cave National Park. This includes the park’s three developed campgrounds as well as the thirteen backcountry sites. To make a reservation at any of the campgrounds in Mammoth Cave, head over to Recreation.gov, which handles all booking for the national park.

Reservations are generally available on a 6-month rolling basis, with availability opening up at 10am ET for 6 months out. We highly recommend making your reservation as early as possible, especially on busy summer weekends, as all of the campgrounds in the park are known to fill up.

Reservations for Mammoth Cave National Park Campgrounds can be made here via Recreation.gov

The Mammoth Cave and Maple Springs Campgrounds only accept reservations from March 1st – November 30th each year, while the more basic Houchin Ferry Campground accepts reservations year round.

Boats along the Green River.

 

For the adventurous campers out there who hope to plan a backcountry camping or riverside camping trip in Mammoth Cave National Park you’ll also need to secure a permit in advance.

The thirteen backcountry campsites in the national park have an online reservation system that requires advance booking. This can be done online through Recreation.gov or by visiting the Mammoth Cave Campground information kiosk. Permits cost $10 regardless of the number of nights you plan on camping. We recommend utilizing Recreation.gov for this as you’ll have a better chance of getting your desired campground if you book in advance.

Click here to reserve you backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave National Park

For riverside camping in Mammoth Cave you do not need advance reservations, but a permit is required. This can be obtained the day of your trip for free at the Mammoth Cave Campground Kiosk.

Learn more about backcountry & riverside camping in Mammoth Cave in this section.

What to bring on your Mammoth Cave National Park Camping trip

Preparing for your Mammoth Cave 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 Shenandoah:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This camping classic is perfect for whipping up classic campsite dinners.
  • Tick repellent– Ticks are common throughout this part of Kentucky, and while it is always a good idea to wear long pants, this tick repellent from Ben’s is worth applying when out hiking or camping.
  • Portable water container – Save yourself the countless trips to the water tap and bring one of these.
  • Cooler – The hot summer temperatures make a good cooler essential. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Mammoth Cave National Park Map – An essential for any trip, a good map is a must.
  • Mammoth Cave Guidebook – A good guidebook will provide insights and information to help you plan your perfect trip to Mammoth Cave.

When to Camp in Mammoth Cave National Park

Only the Houchin Ferry Campground in Mammoth Cave is open year-round, with the other two developed campgrounds closed seasonally during the winter months from December 1st – February 28th. Peak season for camping in Mammoth Cave National Park is generally during the summer months from May – September.

Winter in Mammoth Cave brings colder weather, with average daily temperatures from December – February in the 35 – 40 degree range. The park warms considerably heading into the Spring with average daily highs reaching into the 60s by April. Summer brings hot and humid days, although still a very pleasant time to camp. 

We think the best time to camp in Mammoth Cave National Park is from April – October when temperatures are warm. Summer months will be hotter, but you’ll be able to take advantage of the many things to do in the national park.

Find more information on the weather conditions you can expect to encounter in Mammoth Cave National Park here. 

Autumn colors in Mammoth Cave National Park.

Autumn can be a lovely time to camp in Mammoth Cave National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Developed Campgrounds

There are three developed campgrounds located in Mammoth Cave National Park. These campgrounds are easily accessed via the park’s excellent road network and offer a variety of camping experiences.

Keep reading for all the details. 

Mammoth Cave Campground

Number of Sites: 111 sites
Fee: $20/night for individual sites // $50/night for full hookup RV sites
RVs: Yes, max length of approximately 38′.
Reservations: Available from March 1st – November 30th. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open from March 1st – November 30th.
More Information

The Mammoth Cave Campground

Mammoth Cave Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Mammoth Cave Campground is the largest and most popular campground in Mammoth Cave National Park. Located adjacent to the visitor center and hub of activity for the park, this is a very convenient place to spend the night.

The campground is perfect for those looking to take an iconic cave tour, hike the Green River Bluffs trail, or tackle the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail. Be sure to visit the nearby Mammoth Cave Visitor Center for an excellent introduction to the park and great information on all Mammoth Cave has to offer.

The Mammoth Cave Campground features 111 campsites that can accommodate tents, RVs, and even some larger groups. 37 of the campsites are tent-only, while there are four group campsites that can accommodate up to 16 people each. The remaining sites can accommodate both tents and RVs, and will be perfect for most campers.

The campground is organized into three loops, with each loop featuring restrooms and drinking water. Nearby you’ll find the Caver’s Camp Store, which stocks essentials that you may have forgotten.

Campsites at the Mammoth Cave Campground are reservable up to six months in advance during peak season, from March 1st – November 30th each year.

Click here to reserve your campsite at the Mammoth Cave Campground

Check out the map linked below for a detailed map of the campground as well as more information on the features of each campsite.

Map of the Mammoth Cave Campground.

Map of the Mammoth Cave Campground. Courtesy of NPS.

 

Maple Springs Group Campground

Number of Sites: 8 sites, including two with electric/water hookups
Fee: $25 – $35/night depending on hookups
RVs: Yes, max length of approximately 40′.
Reservations: Available from March 1st – November 30th. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open from March 1st – November 30th.
More Information

Picnic tables at the Maple Springs Campground in Mammoth Cave National Park

Maple Springs Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Maple Springs Campground in Mammoth Cave National Park features eight campsites that can accommodate large groups as well as equestrian users. Located on the north side of the Green River, this is an excellent campground for those looking to escape from the busy visitor center area.

Maple Springs is perfect for groups hoping to hike on the Sal Hollow and Buffalo Creek Trail or visit the historic Good Spring Church.

The eight campsites at Maple Springs are designed to accommodate a variety of users. There is a single group site for those without horses that can accommodate up to 16 campers, as well as equestrian group sites both with and without electric hookups. Head over to Recreation.gov at the link below to learn more about the specific sites and to reserve.

Click here to reserve your campsite at the Maple Springs Campground

All of the campsites at Maple Springs include a picnic table, fire ring and access to potable water.

Campsites at the Maple Springs Campground are reservable up to six months in advance during peak season, from March 1st – November 30th each year.

 

Houchin Ferry Campground

Number of Sites: 12 tent-only sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Not allowed.
Reservations: Required year round. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open year round.
More Information

Tent at the Houchin Ferry Campground

Houchin Ferry Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Houchin Ferry Campground is located in Mammoth Cave’s far northwest corner and is easily accessed from the nearby town of Brownsville, KY. Located on the Green River, the Houchin Ferry Campground is small and only accommodates tents, making it the perfect rustic escape.

Those camping here will be well positioned for a boat trip on the Green River and still only a short drive from the main visitor center and park attractions.

Houchin Ferry features 12 tent-only campsites tucked into a serene location along the river. The campsites all feature fire rings, picnic tables, and easy access to drinking water. Houchin Ferry is the only campground in Mammoth Cave National Park that is open year-round, making it attractive for the hearty winter campers out there!

Campsites at the Houchin Ferry Campground are reservable up to six months in advance at the link below.

Click here to reserve your campsite at the Houchin Ferry Campground

 

Backcountry camping in Mammoth Cave National Park

In addition to the developed campgrounds described in the section above, Mammoth Cave National Park also provides incredible opportunities for the adventurous campers out there. The park features miles of hiking trails that connect a system of 13 backcountry campsites and also allows for backcountry camping along the Green and Nolan Rivers for those on a float trip.

The primitive nature of these campsites means you won’t find any bathrooms, water taps, or other amenities that the developed campgrounds in the park offer. In exchange for roughing it you’ll be treated to a solitude only possible by venturing off the beaten path!

The National Park Service publishes an excellent Backcountry Map & Guide available here. 

Keep reading to learn more about backcountry camping in Mammoth Cave National Park.

Riverside Camping in Mammoth Cave

A unique way to experience Mammoth Cave National Park is to take a river camping trip along the Green or Nolan Rivers. These beautiful rivers provide a level of solitude that is difficult to come by in other sections of the park. Camping along either of these rivers couldn’t be easier, just be sure to follow these simple regulations:

  • Obtain a free riverside camping permit at the Mammoth Cave Campground prior to setting out.
  • Camping is permitted on the river shores as well as islands within the park boundary.
    • The exception is that camping is prohibited within the Green River Ferry, Houchin Ferry and Dennison Ferry Day Use Area. Camp at least 1/2 mile from any of these locations.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

The NPS also recommends checking water levels before setting out on a riverside camping trip in Mammoth Cave National Park.

Check out all the details on riverside camping from the NPS here.

Backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave

In addition to backcountry riverside camping, Mammoth Cave National Park also allows for traditional backcountry camping at a series of 13 backcountry campsites. These campsites are generally located in the less-visited northwest section of the park and allow visitors to explore a quieter side of Mammoth Cave.

Check out the map below for the location of all thirteen campsites. 

Map of backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave National Park.

Map of backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

The campsites must be reserved in advance and users are required to obtain a backcountry use permit for any backpacking trip in Mammoth Cave. The permits cost $10 per group, regardless of the number of nights you plan on camping. The full list of backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave National Park is below:

  • Second Creek
  • First Creek 1
  • First Creek 2
  • Three Springs
  • Ferguson
  • Collie Ridge
  • McCoy Hollow
  • Bluffs
  • Sal Hollow
  • Raymer Hollow
  • Homestead
  • Turnhole Bend
  • White Oak

To reserve your campsites and backcountry use permit you’ll head over to Recreation.gov, which has a full itinerary builder for Mammoth Cave.

Reserve your backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave National Park here.

Backcountry campsite in Mammoth Cave National Park

A backcountry campsite in Mammoth Cave. Photo credit NPS/Mary Schubert.

 

Mammoth Cave National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Mammoth Cave National Park. First, it is important to familiarize yourself with the general camping regulations in the park:

  • For developed campground check-in time is 2pm and check-out is by 11am
  • Generators are permitted from 8am – 8pm at developed campgrounds
  • Quiet hours are 10pm – 6am

For a full list of camping regulations in Mammoth Cave National Park be sure to read the sections below and find the full list of regulations here.

Campfires in Mammoth Cave

Fires are allowed in both the developed campgrounds as well as the 13 established backcountry campsites in Mammoth Cave. Campfires must be contained in the provided fire rings and always remember to never leave a fire unattended.

It is also important to not bring any wood with you into Mammoth Cave National Park. Firewood can carry invasive pests that can cause serious damage to the fragile ecosystem. Firewood is available for purchase at the Caver’s Camp Store near the visitor center.

Campfire in a grate.

Fires are permitted in the provided fire grates in Mammoth Cave National Park.

 

Wildlife

Mammoth Cave National Park is home to a huge diversity of wildlife that makes this one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Many of these unique species live deep underground in the cave system and have unique adaptations found nowhere else in the world.

In addition, there are a few animals and insects that campers should be especially aware of:

  • Ticks: Ticks are found throughout Mammoth Cave National Park and campers should be on especially high alert. We suggest wearing light colored clothing, long pants, and frequently check yourself and any pets for ticks.
  • Snakes: Venomous snakes do inhabit the national park, although they tend to be more active at night. Always keep an eye out and leave any snakes you do see undisturbed.
  • Bats: Bats thrive in Mammoth Cave National Park, and while most are harmless it is important to be aware of any signs of rabies. Always leave any bats you encounter alone, especially if they are behaving strangely.

You can find more information on the wildlife of Mammoth Cave National Park here.

 

Pets

Mammoth Cave permits pets within the National Park, although with several strict guidelines as outlined below.

  • Pets must be leashed at all times.
  • Pets are allowed on all trails in the park.
  • Pets are not allowed in any park building or in the caves.
  • Always properly dispose of your pet’s waste.

If you do bring your pet and plan on visiting a section of the park where they are not allowed, the Mammoth Cave Lodge provides a pet boarding service. 

For a complete list of regulations related to pets check out the Mammoth Cave National Park website here.

Dog walking on a trail.

 

Where to get supplies

Unlike many national parks, Mammoth Cave has easy access to several nearby towns with plenty of services. This makes planning a camping trip here convenient, as you’ll have no problem stocking up on supplies before your trip. Check out your best options to pick up camping supplies near Mammoth Cave National Park below:

Camping near Mammoth Cave National Park

The campgrounds in Mammoth Cave National Park all provide excellent options for your perfect camping trip. However, it is always possible that you may not be able to secure a campsite within the park boundaries or you may want more amenities than what the NPS campgrounds offer.

If that is the case, don’t fret, as there are plenty of great camping options outside of Mammoth Cave National Park. Check out your best bets for RV campgroundscar camping, and free camping near Mammoth Cave National Park below.

RV campgrounds

Those searching for RV campgrounds just outside of Mammoth Cave National Park will have several great options. We’ve organized the campgrounds by their geographic location, either north of the park, or in the southeast of the park near Cave City.

Keep reading to learn more.

RV parked near Mammoth Cave

 

RV Campgrounds near Cave City/Southeast of Mammoth Cave National Park

Rock Cabin Camping

Number of sites: Plenty
Fee: $25 – $33/night for RV sites and $18/night for tent sites
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Call 270-773-4740.
Pets: Allowed

Located just outside the park boundary, Rock Cabin Camping is a basic but well run campground. Here you can choose from basic tent sites to full hookup RV sites, all at very reasonable prices. There aren’t tons of amenities at the campground, but it does get rave review for the incredibly friendly and helpful owners.

 

Diamond Caverns RV Resort

Number of sites: 68 sites
Fee: $38 – $65/night depending on hookups, RV size.
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

The Diamond Caverns RV Resort is located immediately south of Mammoth Cave National Park and is just a 15 minute drive from the visitor center. This is a large campground which can accommodate all variety of tents and RVs. Amenities include a swimming pool, laundry facilities, WiFi, and a playground. This is a busier campground so we recommend it for those who aren’t looking for a rustic experience.

 

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park – Mammoth Cave

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $36 – $131/night depending on site and amenities
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

Located just 15 minutes from the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center, Jellystone Mammoth Cave is a great option for full service family camping. Here you’ll find tons of family-friendly activities including a huge water slide, jumping pillows, mini-golf, and more. While the campground is certainly more costly than most, it may be worth it if you’ll take advantage of everything on offer.

 

Horse Cave KOA

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $38 – $50/night
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

The Horse Cave KOA Campground is located a bit further from Mammoth Cave National Park than the other options in this section, but it provides a great option for those looking for a predictable camping experience. Equipped with all the amenities KOA’s are known for, you’ll enjoy a swimming pool, basketball court, laundry facilities and WiFi.

 

RV Campgrounds north of Mammoth Cave National Park

Double J Stables and Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $25/night
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Call 270-286-8167.
Pets: Allowed

The Double J Stables and Campground is located immediately north of Mammoth Cave National Park and provides a great campground for both equestrian users as well as those looking for a relaxing place to spend the night. The campground can accommodate RVs with full hookups as well as simple tent camping, all at very affordable rates. Amenities are basic, but include WiFi, fire rings, picnic tables, a playground, and more. Highly recommended, especially those interested in horseback riding in Mammoth Cave!

 

Mammoth Cave Horse Camp

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $16 – $26/night
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed

As the name suggests, Mammoth Cave Horse Camp features campsites that can accommodate anyone traveling with a horse. However, even for those who are just looking for a great campground, Mammoth Cave Horse Camp is a great option. Located on the northwest side of the park, this is a perfect place to spend the night before setting out to explore this less visited section of Mammoth Cave. Affordable rates and friendly staff earn this campground high marks!

 

Car camping sites

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Mammoth Cave National Park you’ll want to check out Nolan Lake State Park, described below. In addition to the campground here, car camping is permitted and recommend at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above.  Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near Mammoth Cave.

Car camping site near Mammoth Cave National Park.

 

Nolan Lake State Park

Number of Sites: 32 full hookup site + 27 primitive tent sites
Fee: $16 – $32/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, hookups available at specific sites.
Reservations: Recommended. Reserve here. 
Pets: Allowed.

Nolan Lake State Park is conveniently located just a few miles north of Mammoth Cave National Park. The large campground here can accommodate both RVs and car campers with a variety of campsites available. You’ll have great lake views and be able to enjoy swimming, mountain biking, and easy access to the surrounding area.

 

Free camping near Mammoth Cave

Your final option for camping near Mammoth Cave National Park is to try and find a free campsite in the surrounding area. While certainly not as easy in this part of the country when compared to the abundant free camping available in the western US, you’ll have at least one good option.

Located approximately 30 minutes from Mammoth Cave, Thelma Stovall Park in Munfordville, KY generally allows free camping for a few nights. While not officially listed on the City’s website, there are numerous reports on FreeCampsites.net that camping is permitted here at no cost.

We recommend inquiring with the City prior to camping here.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Mammoth Cave National Park in this post helpful 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 or had a great time out camping!

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