Across the Divide

Estes Park, CO
5.0 (11 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Cross the Continental Divide
  • Tremendous Mountain Views
  • Glacial-carved Valleys
  • Alpine Tundra
  • Snow-fed Waterfalls
  • Abundant Wildlife Babitat
  • Pristine Streams & Lakes


Our 5-Day Across the Divide backpack takes us from the rivers that flow east into the Atlantic, to the very headwaters of those that make their way west to the Pacific – and we do it all under our own power! We’ll begin along the waters of the pristine Big Thompson River, follow the drainage up past roaring waterfalls, alpine lakes, and glacial-carved granite cliffs. Then we’ll ascend above the clouds, over the Divide, and down into the river valleys flowing west out of the mountains!

Days one and two we’ll ascend through a long and lake-strewn canyon with views of high peaks above – on day three we’ll make our way up and over the continental divide. This is the crux and highlight of our trip – we’ll likely see elk, quite possibly bighorn sheep, and if we’re alert we’ll glimpse the white-tailed ptarmigan above tree line as we pass. Days 4 and 5 we’ll continue through the wildlife – rich forests of the western slope as we descend to our final destination and the return trip by shuttle through the alpine tundra to Estes Park. Don’t miss this epic Colorado backpacking adventure!

Read more …
From USD
$1800 Per Person
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 1-6 Guests
Trip Length: 5 Days
Distance: 25+MI / 40+KM


Scale of 1-5. 1 is least difficult; 5 is most difficult

This tour hikes over the Continental Divide, from Estes Park to Grand Lake, CO, ascending to an elevation of 12,300 FT/ 3,750 M above sea level. Each day contains steep sections of trail for long durations. Day three is the most challenging, requiring 9 MI/ 14 KM of hiking with an elevation gain and loss of 2,500 FT/ 760 M while crossing the divide.

Hiking Distances:

4-8 mi

Backpack Weight:

35-45 lbs


Lightly Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

2370 ft

Heights Exposure:


Please Note: Terrain, Elevation Gain and Heights Exposure ratings reflect the section or day of the trip with the maximum difficulty of each. Much of the trip is at easier levels. See the trip itinerary for more detailed information. Backpack Weight ratings are estimates that account for Wildland-provided gear, guest clothing, personal items and a share of group food. By packing light it’s often possible to stay on the lower end of the weight range. Pack weights also decrease during the trip.


  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 35-45 lb backpack for 6-8 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on lightly rugged terrain
* For an official and complete list of physical requirements, please see our Essential Eligibility Criteria.


1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Rocky Mountain National Park backpacking trip a solitude 3. You can expect hours of solitude at a time.

Private Trips

Travel in perfect company by booking a private trip exclusively for your group!

Our sliding scale for private trips is based on the final number of guests in your group. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax, national park fees or guide gratuity. The final rate is based on the actual number of guests on the trip and may adjust based on cancellations or additions.

Please Note: you can also enjoy a private trip at our normal scheduled rates by filling any empty tour to capacity. However, if group members drop from the tour those spots will automatically become available on our website for instant booking. By purchasing a private trip at the rates listed below, your trip will remain exclusive to your group regardless of cancellations. 

Private Rates FOr This Trip

  • 2 People: Rate x 2.5
  • 3 People: Rate x 1.75
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.25
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1.15

*all rates are per person

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Day 1

  • Shuttle to trailhead: 30 minutes
  • Hiking Mileage: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet 

This Rocky Mountain National Park backpacking trip starts with a brief shuttle to the trailhead. Dawning our backpacks, we begin the uphill journey hiking in a thick stand of Lodgepole Pines and Douglas-Fir Trees. As we gain elevation, we will see glimpses of where we will hike over the continental divide in the coming days. After a stopping for lunch along the trail, we will continue to our night one campsite located at a pristine alpine lake.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 2.2 miles plus optional day hike
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet

Today we’ll continue in the presence of mountain water: from rushing rivers and waterfalls, to high mountain lakes. Our hike will take us through the reaches of Odessa Gorge, a land of towering cliffs, wildlife, and wildflowers.

This is our shortest day with full gear on our backs, and provides multiple options for side hikes together to more remote mountain lakes and waterfalls off the beaten path.

We’ll camp within earshot of the creek, near an alpine lake nearing tree line, at 10, 600 feet, where a hearty dinner awaits as we settle in and prepare for our divide traverse and our longest day the next morning.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 7.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,370 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 1,570 feet

Day 3 is the most difficult and in some ways the most stunning of our trip. We’ll rise before the sun, eat a hearty breakfast, and make our way out of Odessa Gorge to the heights of Flattop Mountain at 12, 324 feet. This route will take us into the higher reaches of the National Park – we’ll see glaciers, likely Rocky Mountain Bighorn, and we’ll spend much of the day in the alpine zone, where we can see to both sides of the Continent for unending miles.

From Flattop Mountain we’ll traverse south through the tundra into the Park’s western forests and the North Inlet creek. Our camp is just below tree line in the high spruce/fir forests that abound on the western slope of the Park.

As evening descends we’ll enjoy a well-earned dinner and listen to the creek as it murmurs past us near camp.

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 5.2 miles plus optional morning hike
  • Elevation Loss: 1,700 feet

After breakfast, we’ll break camp and head down into the valley of North Inlet creek. Today’s walk provides a great time to take a closer look at the flowers and wildlife of the subalpine forest, as we move through an area rich in Elk, Moose, and Rocky Mountain wildflowers of infinite variety.

Our final evening we’ll camp once more to the sound of rushing water, with limitless stars above, as we reflect on the journey of days past and those to come.

Day 5

  • Hiking Mileage: 4 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 700 feet
  • Shuttle to Estes Park: 1.5 hours

Our final day together we’ll enjoy a leisurely breakfast and pack up for our final 4-mile stretch to the North Inlet Trailhead. We’ll then enjoy a shuttle up and over the Divide along Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous road in the Lower 48! We’ll stop for a picnic lunch and officially end our trip in Estes Park, where we began, having come full circle across the Divide and back on Trail Ridge Road.

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes. Normal terms and conditions apply to trips with itinerary changes.

Trip Dates & Booking


Click on a date to register. You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.

Available to Book


This trip is available and bookable online! Click on the date to register now or contact us online to book through our award-winning customer service team!

Going Fast


This trip has 1 or 2 spots remaining and is bookable online! Click on the date to book now or contact us online to book through customer service.

Request a Reservation


This trip is exclusively booked through customer service due to logistics with lodging, permits, staffing, availability, or something else. Please contact us online or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to request a reservation.

Don't see your dates? Call us! We may be able to add new trip dates.

800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Details

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, backcountry sleeping pad and multi-day backpack
  • High quality, synthetic sleeping bag (professionally laundered after every use) – or bring your own.
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • Trained hiking guide(s) with years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. See Guide Bios.
  • Entrance fees and national park permits
  • Transportation for the duration of the trip beginning and ending in Estes Park, CO
  • Bear cannisters for food storage
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and communication device (InReach Explorer or satellite phone)

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear and footwear (see recommendations)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about what to pack.

Meals: What to Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware synthetic-fill sleeping bags (or bring your own)
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Bear cannisters
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

Guest Packing List

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with a detailed packing list specific to this trip (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, a recommended clothing system, a headlamp or flashlight, a hydration system (water bottles and/or bladder) and other items specific to each trip.

Additionally, some guests choose to bring their own sleeping bag. We supply high quality, synthetic fill bags that are professionally laundered after every trip. Synthetic fill is non-allergenic, insulates when damp and stands up well to repeated washings, but is heavier and bulkier than down. If you’re able to bring your own down sleeping bag, there are multiple benefits. If not, we’ve got you covered!

Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics

How Do I Register?

Reserve your spot today! In the Trip Dates & Booking section of this page, the green and red dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you’re ready to register we’ll email you a link to a registration profile. You’ll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit.

Feel free to call us for more info – we’re here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

You will meet your guide and group in Estes Park, Colorado at the Estes Park Mountain Shop (2050 Big Thompson Ave) at 5:00 PM the evening before your trip begins for an orientation meeting. Your guide will be in contact approximately 2 weeks before your trip to answer any questions you have, provide you with more details about your exact trip, and coordinate the rendezvous.

We recommend guests arrive in Estes Park (or another nearby location that is 7500′ or higher) 1-2 days before your trip starts. This will help you acclimatize to the higher elevation, and make for a more enjoyable experience during your tour. This is especially important if you have never been to higher altitude, or are flying in from sea level.

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about flights, shuttles, recommended lodging and more.

Travel to Estes Park, Colorado

All Rocky Mountain National Park trips begin and end from Estes Park, Colorado. Estes Park does not have an airport. The most convenient airport is Denver International Airport (DIA), which is served by most major airlines and is an inexpensive airport to fly into. From DIA one can take a shuttle or rent a car to reach Estes Park. It is a 1.5-hour drive from DIA to Estes Park on good roads.

Denver to Estes Park Shuttles

Estes Park Shuttle: 970-586-5151

Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day’s pick-up time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).

Safety Precautions

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT’s, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. Guides adhere to standardized risk management protocols in case of any potential or actual incident, and all tours carry an emergency communication device and comprehensive first-aid kit. Additionally we have a “24/7” system through which guides or guests can reach Wildland support personnel at any time.

If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Essential Eligibility Criteria (“EEC”) have been specifically identified to help you understand the skills and abilities necessary to participate on each Wildland trip, and they apply uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability.

Once you identify a trip in which you may be interested, please carefully review the EEC and itinerary details. If after reviewing the EEC that apply to your desired trip, you determine you need an accommodation in order to meet the EEC, please contact us prior to registering to discuss your requested accommodation.

The EEC exist for your own safety and the safety and enjoyment of all participants. If you are unable to meet the EEC for the trip, with or without an accommodation, you are not eligible for that trip. If you register and arrive for a trip for which you do not meet the EEC, you will be disqualified from participation on the trip and will be dismissed or evacuated from the trip without a refund.

Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time…etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides’ off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.

Age Restrictions

Age restrictions on this trip are as follows:

  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in the Colorado Rockies

Being a high mountain environment, the Rocky Mountains are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in Colorado’s high country. On trips in June, snow is a slight possibility, and the rest of the summer rain is always a possibility on your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
High / Low





Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and synthetic-fill sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.



Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.



Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

Trip Reviews

Trip Reviews

  • Average Customer Ratings:

  • 5.0 (11 reviews)
Mathis Y


10 months ago

My first backpacking trip. It was amazing! Our guide, Connor, was just great. Great guide and a great chef. The beauty of the hike was unbelievable. Highly recommend.

Rob F

Experience was Excellent

11 months ago

This was my first backpacking trip and hike and Wildland made everything so easy. Everything about the experience was excellent, from the itinerary, equipment, customer service, guide, and food. Our guide, Chris, was amazing and extremely knowledgeable about the hiking area. Plus, he was an amazing cook and motivator for the difficult parts of the hike. I learned so much from the experience and would definitely book with Wildland again!

Steve G

One of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.

11 months ago

I’ve traveled a lot, but this was one of the best trips EVER. Everything, from start to finish, was absolutely first class. Great equipment, amazing backcountry meals, and our guide was like an old friend we were hanging out with. Scenery was breathtaking….just can’t say enough amazing things. Looking forward to many more trips with Wildland!

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