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Topic: Maroon bells vs Rocky Mountain National park, 5 days. Which would you pick?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 10:03 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Pretty much have a week to travel and backpack. Been looking at these two locatons. Where would you go?
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 10:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Given the choices you have offered I would say the Maroon Bells hands down for backpacking, but why limit yourself to these two options. The Indian Peaks offer RMNP scenery without the rules and designated campsites, the Mt. Massive wilderness is gorgeous with far fewer people and when I get back to Colorado it will be back to the Sangres or the San Juans.
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trail? I don't need no stinkin trail!
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2013, 7:36 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Neither, and I'd skip the Indian Peaks too (arguably the 2nd most over-used area next to RMNP).

Sangres is a great choice!
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2013, 7:58 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What time of year?   Few fans of RMNP frequent this forum, due to the heavy usage.  The Maroon Bells are not as heavily used.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2013, 1:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

RMNP is, obviously, a national park which means all kinds of regulations, restrictions, time limits, etc.  Probably all necessary but it does detract from the hiking experience IMO.  Maroon Bells, being a wilderness area rather than a NP, does not have so many restrictions.  Just something to keep in mind.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2013, 9:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm going in July.
I'm not really restricted to either location, so I'm open to suggestions, but I'll be spending 5 days, so I want plenty of trail.
Sangres looks interesting. I'm looking into that one.
Indian Peaks looks great, but I again keep seeing that it's crowded.
By crowded, is that the trailhead, or once you get into the back country are there tons of people camping or what?
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2013, 9:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(treelinebackpacker @ Feb. 28 2013, 7:09 pm)
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By crowded, is that the trailhead, or once you get into the back country are there tons of people camping or what?

Indian Peaks is the only wilderness area in Colorado that requires a permit.  That happened because it is so close to Denver.  

July should be wonderful in the high country.  

Other ideas  --- http://www.coloradowilderness.com/wildpages/map.html


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 7:29 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

http://www.coloradoswildareas.com/colorado-wilderness/

You could spend a lifetime exploring Colorado's wilderness and not travel the same trail twice.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 5:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks Deborah. So, being the only place that requires a permit, does that mean it's less populated (due to the permit) or they have the permit because it's too populated?

Thanks beaver. That's a fantastic link. I'm doing some research on that one now.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 9:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(treelinebackpacker @ Mar. 01 2013, 3:37 pm)
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Thanks Deborah. So, being the only place that requires a permit, does that mean it's less populated (due to the permit) or they have the permit because it's too populated?

Close proximity to Denver means it would be completely overrun without a permit system.  During the prime high country months all of the back country camp sites will be full and the parking lots over flowing with the cars that belong to dayhikers.    There are some trailheads that are so crowded that you have to be there by 7:00 am to get a spot, even one of the over flow spaces.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 9:31 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Deborah @ Mar. 01 2013, 7:00 pm)
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(treelinebackpacker @ Mar. 01 2013, 3:37 pm)
QUOTE
Thanks Deborah. So, being the only place that requires a permit, does that mean it's less populated (due to the permit) or they have the permit because it's too populated?


   There are some trailheads that are so crowded that you have to be there by 7:00 am to get a spot, even one of the over flow spaces.


I always shoot for a 6 AM arrival at the latest, to any RMNP/IPW trailhead; and no later than 2AM to the Long's Peak lot. And yes, the Indian Peaks DO require a fee ($$) permit for overnight camping in designated sites.

RMNP has extremely limited BP'g opportunies due to it's general topography, trail network, small (by comparison) size, and extremely limited numbers of backcountry sites, most of which get snapped as soon as the reservation system opens here very shortly.

It's basically a dayhikers park; the same with the Indian Peaks.

One benefit of the permits though, is that while you might have extremely high traffic during the day, you are assured a somewhat more secluded evening.

CO has WAY better BP'g destinations than RMNP/IPW. Start researching the Weminuch Wildereness in the San Juans, the Sangre de Christo Range, Flat Tops Wilderness, and Eagles Nest Wilderness for a short starter.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 03 2013, 8:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the info guys. It's helping out a lot.
Are these conditions just as bad during the week? It's a Monday-Friday trip.

Sangres De Cristo seems pretty nice. What are the camping regulations there?
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 04 2013, 10:04 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Here's a trip report for the Maroon Bell's area that you could you stretch out to take 5 days.  It has a slightly different start location and adds a pass to the "loop".  You miss Buckskin, but you add Willow and East Snowmass (12,700') to the trip.

http://thebackpacker.weebly.com/snowmass-wilderness-co.html


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 04 2013, 2:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Here's another 4-pass variation I did. Leave out Pierre Lakes Basin and you could do it in 5 days. There's links to vids in the first paragraph if you want a good feel for the area. You'd likely have more wildflowers in July.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 12:52 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You only need a ($5.00) permit to CAMP in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and that's mostly on the east side of the CD...there are hundreds of free campsites in the vast west half of Indian Peaks.

Yes, the Indian Peak trails are very crowded, but THAT'S ONLY ON WEEKENDS. And 95% of those hikers are day-trippers,who turn around at the CD, and are all gone by 2:pm.

You'll love Indian Peaks; They are geologically young, sharp, pointed and spectacular like the Swiss Alps, and they have everything you ever wanted from mountains, like jaw-dropping scenery, glaciers, great trout-fishing lakes, old mines, ghost towns, incredibly beautiful wildflowers and huge herds of elk, deer, and Dahl curl-horn sheep.

And their all just an hour away from DIA...(An hour and a half by local bus.)
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 4:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

July in the Maroon Bells Wilderness is beautiful.
It can be crowded though. Probably worth it.

I'm not a fan of the regulations in RMNP, but they are needed.  I'd pick the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness over RMNP mostly because I enjoy more flowers and less regulation.

Look at coming in from the Crested Butte side.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 11:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Once again, there's that "crowded" word, used mostly by folks who have never actually hiked the trail...

The Four-Pass-Loop, circumnavigating the Maroon Bells, is one of the most spectacular hikes in the world, but it is only "crowded" up to the first pass. Once again, 99% of these "crowds" are daytrippers who will return to their cars by 2 pm.

I've hiked the 4-pass-loop three times in prime-time August and I've never encountered more than six hiking parties in three days of hiking after we've crossed the first pass.

All that "overcrowded trails" talk on these forums is bullsh*t from armchair hikers who have never actually walked the walk.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 11:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(highpeakdrifter @ Mar. 14 2013, 11:47 pm)
QUOTE
Once again, there's that "crowded" word, used mostly by folks who have never actually hiked the trail...

The Four-Pass-Loop, circumnavigating the Maroon Bells, is one of the most spectacular hikes in the world, but it is only "crowded" up to the first pass. Once again, 99% of these "crowds" are daytrippers who will return to their cars by 2 pm.

I've hiked the 4-pass-loop three times in prime-time August and I've never encountered more than six hiking parties in three days of hiking after we've crossed the first pass.

All that "overcrowded trails" talk on these forums is bullsh*t from armchair hikers who have never actually walked the walk.

I disagree with you on the four pass loop.  Snowmass lake was rediculously crowded, we ran into 4-5 different groups while going up Trail Rider Pass, and the same between Frigid Air and West Maroon.  Heck, we even had another group at Willow Lake with us, a spot we completely expected to have to ourselves.

The only place I've found seclusion in the rockies in my short backpacking career is in the Beartooths.  Aside from that, everywhere I've gone has been "crowded" in my view.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 16 2013, 2:40 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I think a person's perception of crowded is colored a lot by the particular time they were there and the unique experience they had.  Sometimes, just by chance, an individual is in an area that finds an inordinate number of other hikers there for whatever reason - the weather is great, it's a weekend or holiday, some story about the area hit the paper or internet, maybe they just went to an area that's convenient to the nearest population center or whatever.  Often it's just pure chance.  Case in point.  I consider the Beartooths fairly uncrowded but there are times and areas in them that can get pretty overrun.  I remember SWT being in the Beartooths one time and commenting on meeting a lot of people.  Surprised me since I was in the same general area about the same time and saw hardly anyone. Coincidence, I guess.  The only way, IMO, to make a judgement about an area being crowded is after you have been there numerous times at various times of the year.  And then, of course, there is the issue of what "crowded" means to different people.  To some peole meeting three parties in a week is crowded while others would consider that the height of isolation.  It's all relative, I guess.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 16 2013, 10:53 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(highpeakdrifter @ Mar. 14 2013, 11:47 pm)
QUOTE
Once again, there's that "crowded" word, used mostly by folks who have never actually hiked the trail...

The Four-Pass-Loop, circumnavigating the Maroon Bells, is one of the most spectacular hikes in the world, but it is only "crowded" up to the first pass. Once again, 99% of these "crowds" are daytrippers who will return to their cars by 2 pm.

I've hiked the 4-pass-loop three times in prime-time August and I've never encountered more than six hiking parties in three days of hiking after we've crossed the first pass.

All that "overcrowded trails" talk on these forums is bullsh*t from armchair hikers who have never actually walked the walk.

I completely agree

The trail between the parking lot and Maroon Pass is the only section I would call "busy" and even then it is not like the conga line you can get on some other trails and many of the 14'rs. I have done the loop where I only saw 3-4 other groups the whole time between Buckskin and Maroon when doing it during the week


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 16 2013, 11:53 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(treelinebackpacker @ Feb. 28 2013, 7:09 pm)
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I'm going in July.

None of the above.
Unless you don't mind lots of people.  You will have trouble finding privacy in Rocky Mountain Park (unless you go to the SE corner - you will still have a lot of people, but not as many as most parts).  You will have trouble finding privacy in the Indian Peaks, unless you keep to the west side of the divide.  You will have trouble finding privacy in the Maroon Bells area, unless you stay away from the 4-pass loop.  I love all 3 areas, but in September, unless I choose to tolerate population and people walking by my campsite.

That being said, consider the following:
Sangre de Cristos - Some areas are busy (14ers access), but most are not.
Flat Tops Wilderness north of Rifle
West Elk Wilderness going in from the Paonia or Crawford side.  I once had an 8-day backpack in there without seeing anyone, except one guy a mile from the end of my hike.
Weminuche Wilderness in areas away from the CDT or Chicago Basin.  Going north from Pagosa is usually good.
South San Juans.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 16 2013, 5:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Camping regulations in the Sangres:

No camping within 300 feet of lakes and 100 feet of streams.  Group size limited to 25.

There are a few others related to horses and long term camping, but there are no permits, reservations or fees involved for wilderness camping.

The loop trail over Venable Pass and the Phantom terrace is somewhat popular (and well worth it) but you will see very few, if any people on some of the other trails.

Trail info, looks at the ones below Crestone to start

http://www.fs.usda.gov/activit....ctid=51
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 16 2013, 6:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the great information there.
As far as Sangres, do you have to use a designated camping spot, or can you camp anywhere within certain criteria, such as at least 300 feet from lakes? Etc.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 16 2013, 10:40 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Crowds or no crowds, the 4 pass loop is a must do, we did it in 5 days, 4 nights. First day we started after 5:00pm at Maroon Lake,and finished late afternoon, on day five, coming down off Buckskin Pass. The most people we encountered was on the 2nd day which was Labor Day, most were coming down off West Maroon Pass, (north) as we were heading up.(south) We probably encountered 50 day hikers, but once we got up and over the pass, and it started getting later in the day, we encountered a lot fewer people, we camped between West Maroon Pass, and Frigid Air Pass in total seclusion. It was a Beautiful off-trail campsite as well.

If it works out this year, I may be hiking here again the 2nd week of July, or later in September again. Might go in at Snowmass Village instead, and do a slightly different route ?

DO IT !!
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 23 2013, 1:58 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, nobody likes a conga line, but they are easily avoided on the more crowded trails by doing a little research ahead of time with a phone call to the local rangers.

I actually feel more secure hiking a trail where I encounter other hikers frequently...backpackers are very friendly, you hear news about weather, trail conditions, and, in case of an accident or medical emergency, you know you won't have to lay there for two or three days until the next hiker comes along.

This actually happened to a friend of mine who fell and broke his femur on a little-used trail on Mt. Holy Cross...He laid there for three days in absolute agony.
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(highpeakdrifter @ Mar. 14 2013, 12:52 am)
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Yes, the Indian Peak trails are very crowded, but THAT'S ONLY ON WEEKENDS. And 95% of those hikers are day-trippers,who turn around at the CD, and are all gone by 2:pm.

We spent two weeks in the Indian Peaks -last week in august through 1st week in September awhile back. Once we were 3/4 mile past Monarch Lake, we only saw 5 people the entire trip. Three of them were a long way off in the distance on top of Arapaho Pass when we were camped at Caribou Lake.

We had Gourd Lake completely to ourselves and when we got misdirected coming off of Cooper Peak in a snowstorm, Im pretty sure no one would have found our bodies until spring (if ever) if we hadn't found our way back to our Gourd Lake campsite the next morning.


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