Camping in the Boulder Field of Longs Peak

Camping in the Boulder Field

If you missed a part of the journey up Longs Peak click the links below to get caught up before reading about camping in the Boulder Field:

A tent in the Longs Peak Boulder Field.
Jennifer packs up our Big Agnes tent after a night in the Boulder Field.

The weather report for the two primary days we were on the Longs Peak trail was bad. They had forecasted rain, thunderstorms, and snow (in late July). The report had almost scared us away from the backpacking adventure and camping in the Boulder Field, but we decided to push on. I guess a lot of others heeded the warnings and stayed at home as we only shared the Boulder Field with the marmots and the pikas until about 8:00 PM when another hiker stumbled in and set up camp.

A pika sits on a boulder.
A pika sits on a boulder in the Boulder Field.

The Wind

A tent setup in the Longs Peak Boulder Field
A fellow backpacker camping in the Boulder Field.

The rain, snow, and storms never manifested, but the entire day was plagued with extreme wind and the night was no different. Laying in the tent it was hard to sleep contemplating whether or not the thin nylon would hold up under the unrelenting wind. Luckily the rock walls surrounding each of the camping spots do knock down the wind somewhat. I added to our rock wall to help close in the area as the “doorway” was allowing too much wind to pass through. Our tent was taking a beating while camping in the Boulder Field.

The Cold

Around 11:00 PM the wind finally subsided, but then the cold set in. By the end of the night, Jennifer and I were wearing every piece of clothing we had brought and were wrapped up tight inside each of our mummy bags. Our tent is a three-season tent but I don’t think that camping in the Boulder Field, above the tree line, counts as one of those three seasons.

We have since upgraded our gear, especially our sleeping bags and pads, to better endure the cold. Check out our complete gear list for ideas on what to take when camping in the boulder field.

Permits are required when camping in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park. This is a real-time permit availability tracker provided by our friends at Outdoor Status. They track cancelations so no permit goes unused. Sign up today to get emails sent directly to your inbox when your campsite becomes available.

The Morning

Longs Peak as seen from the Boulder Field in the early morning light.
The early morning light illuminates the massive rocky mountain that is Longs Peak.

Still, when the morning came and we got the early morning light, all the wind and cold was worth camping in the Boulder Field. We had amazing views of the gorgeous bouldery terrain and Longs Peak above lit up by the first light of the day. I was up before dawn, awakened by the first intrepid travelers climbing Longs Peak for the day. The lack of overnight campers didn’t stunt the long line of hikers streaming towards the peak. For the first few hours, we witnessed a lot of people attempting the feat while we had breakfast and packed up our site. None returned from the summit before we set off down the mountain the way we had come.

Our Second Day

After a challenging night of camping in the Boulder Field, we were greeted with a much nicer day. There was very little smoke remaining in the area. In the early part of the day I had wished I had waited to summit this morning, but with the stream of people, I would have been worried about them kicking debris down on us. Also, the clouds quickly swamped in the peak and by the time we left Chasm Lake the view from the top would have been nothing more than a thick cloud. Sleeping at altitude isn’t easy to recover from either. We both woke up extremely thirsty and fatigued. It took us both a half liter of water to recover. Thankfully there is a creek running underneath the rocks of the Boulder Field. Pools of which can be found and filtered for drinking water.

A view over Rocky Mountain National Park from the Long Peak trail.
A view over Rocky Mountain National Park from the Long Peak trail.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jo Anne Miles says:

    Wow! So much beauty!

  2. ben says:

    Wow this has always been on my bucket list, will have to prepare to do it next year!

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