Rainbow Lakes Trailhead

Photo of Rainbow Lakes Trailhead

Located east of the Rainbow Lakes Campground, this newly constructed trailhead provides access to the Rainbow Lakes and Arapaho Glacier Trails inside the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Vehicle access to this trailhead is seasonal. For current information on road openings and closures, check the Road Status Table.

View an area map here.

At a Glance

Permit Info: This trailhead accesses the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area:
  • Camping permits required for all overnight trips between June 1 and September 15. Overnight permits cost $5 per group, per trip from June 1 through September 15.
  • Organized groups are required to have a permit for both camping and day-hiking year round. Day-hiking permits are free.
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: Indian Peak Wilderness restrictions apply:
  • Motorized equipment and mechanized transportation are prohibited.
  • Pets must be on a hand-held leash at all times.
  • Campfires are prohibited year round.
  • Campsites must be at least 100 feet away from water and trail.
  • Group size is limited to 12 (people and livestock combined).
  • Processed weed-free feed is required for stock.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles.
Dispersed camping is prohibited within ¼ mile of either side of Rainbow Lakes Road. See Order Fishing and hunting: permitted in accordance with regulations established by Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Closest Towns: Nederland, Colorado
Water: No
Restroom: Vault toilets at trailhead
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service

General Information


The Rainbow Lakes Road is closed in winter near the Sourdough Trailhead and CU Mountain Research Station. The road is open when conditions permit: most often in June. Hiking conditions are best from July through September.


From Nederland, head north on Colorado Highway 72 for approximately seven miles. Look for the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station sign and turn west onto National Forest System Road 298. This route is gated during the winter. This road is a five-mile, native-surfaced road. A high clearance vehicle is recommended.


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