Bivy/Water/Access Beta

Bivy Ideas

This line crosses through Rocky Mountain National Park, the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and the James Peak Wilderness.

RMNP has strict camping regulations. You’ll need a permit year ’round to camp, and may only camp in designated spots. (more information).

Indian Peaks Wilderness also has camping regulations. Generally speaking, you’ll need a permit to camp between June 1st – September 15th. (more information).

There are no permits required to camp in the James Peak Wilderness.

I’ll be going over places to bivy, and a light bivy at that: throwing a sleeping bag on the ground to get a few winks, style. You can do this most anywhere on the route you’d like, so I’ll highlight some less than terrible places, but don’t think these as four-star campsites. They’ll be flat and not very rocky, but could be exposed and dry. If this doesn’t appeal to, you’ll need to get off route considerably.

One suggestion is to start at Milner Pass, and be able to fully traverse through the Park in a day, then bivy on route in the Indian Peaks. This is a long day. Although I doubt anyone would care if you pass out for a few minutes in the Park, I wouldn’t suggest setting up a bona fide campsite out there. Your pack as a pillow, snoozing behind a rock is all I’d recommend.

Right over the RMNP boundary, just SW of Ogalalla Peak is a flat-enough tundra area that you can carve out a meager, exposed, dry bivy. There won’t another great place (flat, not rocky, potential water source) to bivy on route until Buchanan Pass.

Pawnee Pass would make a reasonable bivy (dry) bivy. West of Shoshoni Peak would also garner you some flat tundra, before the Kasparov Traverse/Apache Peak. I bivied on the east ridge of Navajo Peak close to the Airplane Gully route, on a small shelf. Fairly miserable place, but water was nearby.

The next OK place to bivy would be after South Arapaho Peak, near Arapaho Pass, or even better: near Lake Dorothy (flat, somewhat sheltered, plenty of water).

After Pt. 12660, the terrain really relaxes, and your choices become actual choices. Rollins Pass would be an excellent point to bivy (one I used), as the terrain is low, flat, and is accessible by car from the west, in case you need extraction.

Water Sources

Water is actually plentiful on the route, so long as you have a way to make it from the beaucoup permanent snowfields/glaciers that dot most all the first 3/4ths of the route. This can be supplemented with lingering snowfields, and a few lakes/tarns (but only a few). For me, that meant packing a stove. Without a stove, you’ll be dropping down off the ridge.

Here are some water sources that I found:

Andrews Glacier is a very reliable water source – you should be able to get here from Milner Pass, without going totally dry

McHenrys Peak – there’s usually lingering snow on the downclimb to the notch that stay until mid-August.

The Cleaver – a lingering snowfield with a small pool of melted water was found just before the business of The Cleaver. A tombstone-like piece of rock shaded this snow from the east.

Ogallala – after Ogallala, the very top of the St Vrain Glaciers should be able to be accessed from the crest of the ridge. Be careful.

Buchanan Pass – a snowfield just to the east of the col usually lingers until about early August.

Paiute Peak – A tongue of snow usually sticks around late into the summer between the last unnamed tower and the final ridge/face up to the summit of Paiute Peak. The south ridge towards Mt. Toll also carries a lingering snowfield on the east side. The col between Paiute and Mt. Toll is strangely depressed, and keeps lingering snow.

Pawnee Peak – A spring can be tracked down on its north slope, right on route.

Arikaree Peak – there’s a large tarn at the bottom of the glacier that you’ll pass on route.

Lake Dorthy – extremely reliable water source. Camel up!

City of Boulder Watershed – Caveat Emptor

Arikaree Peak and Deshawa Peak are officially off limits.