MORAINE PARK CAMPGROUND
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Moraine Park Campground, at 8,160 feet, is the largest campground in Rocky Mountain National Park but it doesn’t feel that way. It conceals its size by situating itself over many rolling hills on the northern slope of Moraine Park, which isolates sections of the campground from one another. It offers incredible views of Moraine Park below it and the mountain peaks surrounding it, including Long’s Peak, the tallest mountain in the park at 14, 258 feet.
Our Moraine Park Campground Experience
We loved our time at Moraine Park and don’t hesitate to recommend it highly. Once again, “doing our homework” by researching the campground as best we could prior to making a reservation paid off. We managed to get an awesome campsite, which we can confidently say was one of the best in the entire campground.
The campground is spread over the rolling hills of the moraine to the north of Moraine Park, a glacial meadow that the Campground is named after. Despite the campground’s large size, it doesn’t feel large. The hills do a great job of segmenting the campground and isolating sections from one another; you only tend to see campsites in your immediate area or loop.
Although Moraine Park Campground doesn’t have dense tree coverage, the hilly terrain of the campground provides campsites with more privacy than what you would expect. This was a common theme we kept coming back to with this campground, it wasn’t what we had expected. We have camped at a number of other large campground and Moraine Park just felt different. It felt smaller than it was and it was really a pleasant surprise. It exceeded our expectations.
There are a number of bathroom facilities throughout the campground. The buildings that have flush toilets also have sinks with water, as well as, a food cleanup sink that is located on the outside of the building. There are also pit toilets available but those facilities do not have sinks/water.
As is typical for most popular campgrounds in the NPS system, all sites in Moraine Park Campground have a tent pad, a fire ring with grate, and a picnic table. Despite there being a large number of posh RVs and the fact that it is such a large campground, it seemed to us that it was very tent camping friendly. There are many tent-only sites, including a number of walk-in sites situated throughout the campground.
The sites that were on outer loops offered the most space and the best views, particularly the sites on the southernmost edge of the campground. Our site and all the sites next to us had amazing views. They overlooked the Moraine Park meadow below and provided a wide, expansive view of the moraine/ridge to the south and a magnificent view of Long’s Peak beyond that. It was one of our favorite aspects of this campsite.
Some of the campsites in various areas of the campground did seem to be a little tightly placed, which provides a little less privacy.
Here’s a tip we always follow – always look at satellite views of the campground to try and determine ideal campsites. You can usually determine which campsites are close together and which ones are not. You might even be able to determine if there are trees providing cover and shade. Don’t just use Google Maps or Earth, use Apple Maps, and Bing Maps – they often have different quality photos for different locations. Some of them even have street-views of the campgrounds (Moraine Park didn’t at the time I wrote this).
While this method isn’t perfect, it can certainly help. When we looked at our campsite via satellite, it looked to be in an excellent location with trees and privacy and we were right. That being said, this has backfired on us before but is rare.
We were fortunate to have a nice sized cluster of trees on the west side of our site that allowed us to put up our hammocks. The kids love using them and we all tend to gravitate towards them after a hike.
Note: we are in the process of transitioning all of our hammock straps to “tree saver” straps that are wider to prevent damage to the bark of trees. Also, make sure you check with the campground or park regarding its hammock rules. Some parks will only allow a specific number of hammock straps per tree or only allow hammocks over areas not covered by vegetation.
We all agreed that our favorite thing about this campsite was the view it gave us every morning and every evening when we got back to the campsite. Even when it was raining, it managed to look mysteriously and surreal and then morph into a stunning scene with a double-freakin’-rainbow.
Moraine Park is the meadow area located between two glacial moraines (ridges formed by glaciers), the northern moraine being where Moraine Park Campground is located. The Big Thompson River meanders through the meadow and looked to be quite popular with people fly fishing. We were able to walk down to the meadow and river via a connection trail that started maybe 50 feet from our campsite, which was a nice surprise.
Tip: There is a shuttle stop at the bottom of the trail that leads from the campground down to Fern Lake Road (it runs parallel to the Big Thompson River). The shuttle can get you to many of the destinations in the park but don’t be surprised if there is a wait to get on if using the shuttle during peak times.
I wouldn’t call this a swimming river as the water is quite cold but the kids enjoyed wading around in the water. I could definitely see taking a quick dip in the stream after a long hike if we didn’t have a hanging shower to use at the campground. Just respect the space of anybody fly fishing, you don’t want to spook their fish (although I suspect fishing on this stretch of creek is tough, it looked to get a lot of pressure).
There are two popular hikes that are accessible in the Moraine Park area; Fern Lake Trail and Cub Lake Trail. We hiked the former and on our first full day at the campground. Rangers told us that it was common to see wildlife roaming in the meadow but we didn’t see any during our time there.
Things We Loved
- Despite the fact it’s a large campground, it doesn’t feel that way. It feels more intimate and quieter than most campgrounds its size.
- If you do your homework, you can get an awesome site. There are many great sites with privacy, views, trees but you will need to research to find them.
- The views of Moraine Park and the peaks surrounding the campground are awesome.
- The proximity to trailheads and shuttle stops is excellent.