Rainbow Lakes  
USGS 7.5' Map: Ward
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 1 FR116, Cnty116 4.90 9,147 to 9,960 ft. NA 2 hours
County: Boulder
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Arapaho/Roosevelt National Forest,
Boulder Ranger District
2140 Yarmouth St., Boulder, CO 80301 (303)444-6600
Summary: The Rainbow Lakes 4WD road leaves Hwy 72 about 5 miles north of Nederland and heads west to the Rainbow Lakes Campground at the edge of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Attractions: Wilderness access
Agency - December 1 to May 30
Best Time: June - Poor, snow may be melted out late in a dryer winter.
July - Good, snow may not be melted out in a wetter winter.
August - Best
September - Best
October - May get early snow.
Rainbow Lakes Trail - Hiking
Glacier Rim Trail - Hiking
Camping: Their are dispersed campsites along the Rainbow Lakes 4WD road toward the center part of the road, as well as the Rainbow Lakes Campground at the end of the road.
Base Camp: Not a great area to base camp. Most of the other local 4WD roads are not linked to Rainbow Lakes 4WD Road.
Fall Colors: Poor - There are few Aspen trees, mostly by the creek.
Navigation: From Boulder, CO. head west on Canyon Blvd toward 26th Street for 2.0 miles. Continue onto CO-119/Boulder Canyon Drive for 15.1 miles. At the traffic circle, take the 2nd exit onto West 2nd Street and go 0.3 miles. Continue to follow CO-72 West for 6.8 miles. Turn left onto County Rd 116/FR116. This is the start of the Rainbow Lakes 4WD road.

The Rainbow Lakes 4WD road is accessed from the Peak to Peak Highway between Nederland and Ward. It begins as a graded two lane road, County Road 116. After just over three quarters of a mile you will come to an intersection. Taking the left you will pass through the seasonal closure gate and be on public lands, FR116. The road will head south from here through thick forests. You will cross some small creek drainages and the road will be rougher. There will be a few spots along this road that people have camped in, but there are few flat areas through this section. After just over a mile you will once again be off of public lands and on County Road 116.

The road will now head mainly west and continue to climb through the forest. It opens up a bit and has some sections where you get views of the Continental Divide. After a mile and three quarters you will once again be on public lands and back on FR116.

The road will head south again and after about a third of a mile you will pass an intersection to the left for Caribou, FR505, 4WD road. Continue on FR116 for another three quarters of a mile and you will come to the Rainbow Lakes Campground at the edge of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Data updated - May 8, 2015       4WD Road driven - July 20, 2014       Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2016