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844 Best Backcountry Sites
Summer - '13

Ptarmigan Site - Elk Skull on the Site Marker

On our Summer of '13 trip we stayed at a few backcountry sites and passed many more on the trails. We picked our favorite sites of the summer (where we stayed) plus added a few comments of places we would like to stay someday.

The sites were in either Rocky Mountain National Park or Grand Teton National Park. Our criteria were: the sites had great views, position, water, a privy (or suitable areas), the sites were well defined with preferably tent pads, off the trail, quiet, and that we had a good time in the backcountry area. We admit that the ratings are a bit subjective.

We divided the sites into three categories:

^^^ Great - just about a perfect site, anyone would be happy there

^^ Good, but - could have been better, but you might still really like it

^ Just a Site - a place to pitch a tent - still better than most motels!

Our picks ...

^ Ptarmigan (Rocky Mountain) - the site is off the North Inlet Trail. Our original plans were disrupted by a fire in the Park. Ptarmigan was the only site open. The site had potential, but not much care. There were a lot of downed trees on the path to the site and from the site to the creek. The tent pad was on top of nice soft duff and there was an elk skull on the site marker.

breakfast near the Lawn Lake site

^^ Lawn Lake (Rocky Mountain) - a popular destination. The lake is very popular with fishermen. We ate dinner both nights near the shore of the Lake (we did all of our clean up - far away from the water). For some reason we were both feeling a bit sick on the trip. If we had felt better we would have probably ranked it higher.

^^ North Inlet Junction (Rocky Mountain) - there are two sites at this location, we stayed in the lower site - further from the trail. The hardened area around the site was large, as if the site was often used for groups. The North Inlet Creek was nearby. If the views of the mountains had been better, it would have been rated higher.

^^ The Meadows (Tetons) - an old favorite of ours. It is worth the walk just for the views. During our visit it was just - really hot. We were glad we were sitting in camp searching for shade instead of still climbing the trail in the heat. The bear boxes are a good addition to the Meadows camping zone. Bears probably do not visit the area, but by securing camper's food it reduces the problems with marmots, ravens, and other scavengers. Our rating would have been more than ^^^, if it had not been sooo hot.

^^^ Pine Marten (Rocky Mountain) - located off the Lake Nanita Trail - not far from the North Inlet Junction site - Pine Marten has it all. The site sits on a bluff above the North Inlet Creek. There are good views of the surrounding mountains. Pine Marten is far enough off the trail that it seems remote. There is not a privy, but there are lots of woods close by. It is truly a great site, but like all the really good sites, it is in high demand.

A few places we would like to stay, but just passed on the trail ...

Sunset Lake (Tetons - well, Targhee NF), a beautiful secluded lake on the west side of the Tetons.

South Fork of Cascade Canyon (Tetons) - the sites are close to the cascading river and in the upper sections of the camping zone, the sites have great views. Most, if not all, of the sites have bear boxes.

Bradley Lake (Tetons) - a great site off the Valley Trail. It is only to be used by Loop hikers. The site has great views and position.

Trapper Lake and Bearpaw Lake sites (Tetons) - these sites are off an easy section of the Valley Trail. The trail offers great views of the Tetons and the sites are on the shores of their respective lakes. The sites would have to be high on the list for those wanting easy backcountry sites in the Tetons.

North Inlet Falls (Rocky Mountain) - close to Pine Marten, it should be an equally fine site.

Upper East Inlet Trail Sites (Rocky Mountain) - we loved the East Inlet area and the trail. The sites we saw were great, especially the Gray Jay Group site. We might need to get a group together just to camp there!

Happy Backcountry Site trails


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