Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado has millions of visitors each year. However only a small part enjoy the experience of camping in Rocky. With hundreds of reservable campsites, the Moraine Park Campground is one of the best places to experience a night in the park.
During a recent camping trip to Rocky Mountain, we discovered that the Moraine Park Campground is also one of the best places to see elk during the fall rut. (Check out our past post on Elk viewing in the park). In late September female elk move down to the more open and grassy plains from the higher, tree-covered elevations. Moraine Park Campground smack in the middle on this migration!
Multiple times during our stay, groups of cows and large bull elk went right through the campground. The sounds of a bull elk bugling at 2:30 a.m. and the taste of a steaming plate of biscuits and gravy hot off a camp stove for breakfast on a frosty morning were highlights of our stay.
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Camping in the Moraine Park Campground
In Rocky Mountain National Park there are 5 organized campgrounds. Reservations are available on Recreation.gov for up to 6 months in advance for Moraine Park, Glacier Basin, and the Aspenglen campgrounds. The other two campgrounds, Longs Peak or Timber Creek are first come, first serve.
Moraine Park is the only campground in Rocky that is open year-round. It is also the largest in the park with the amenities you would expect in an organized campground. Vault and flush toilets, firewood and potable water are all available seasonally in Moraine Park Campground. None of the campgrounds in Rocky Mountain have showers. Find the nearest showers at the laundromats in Estes Park, 15 minutes outside of the East entrance.
Moraine Park Campground is also near some of the best hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. Check out the Fern Lake trailhead which departs directly from the campground road and The Loch Vale trail at the nearby Glacier Gorge Trailhead.
Moraine Park Campground Travel Notes:
- At over 8100 feet in elevation Rocky Mountain National Park can get cold, even in the summer. During our September trip we knew it would be cold but sudden temps below freezing surprised us. Check the forecast regularly and prepare for unexpected changes in the weather.
- When choosing camping reservations, its important to consider elevation. The campgrounds at higher elevations like Longs Peak are traditionally only open from late June to mid-September. Moraine Park is at lower elevations and open year-round.
- There are no showers in Rocky Mountain National Park, check out the laundromats in town if you want a shower
- Best time of the year to camp: We would recommend late September / early October (most common recommendation). Mosquitoes and other pesky bugs have slowed down/died off already and the fall colors will brighten up the hillsides.