Colorado Expedition - Update 3

Hi all!

The Rocky Mountain Expedition just finished our second backcountry and it was a huge success! We hiked deep into the North Inlet of Grand Lake within Rocky Mountain National Park in search of native Colorado River Cutthroat Trout. We found tons of these fish, with some campers catching over one hundred (!!!) in a single day. The hiking was tough, but the group pushed hard, supporting each other and it paid off with fantastic views and phenomenal fishing. 


Before we hiked into the backcountry, we spent a day fishing a lower section of the Colorado River near Parshall, CO. This section of water sees a good bit of fishing pressure, but we were able to catch some nice browns and rainbows. We headed back to camp and started getting ready for our backcountry the next day. We got to bed early for our early wakeup call and headed into the North Inlet for our final backcountry excursion of the trip.


Our first day, we hiked 3-4 miles to our first campsite at Big Pool. We had lunch and caught some fish, and then half the group headed up to their campsite, another mile upstream. Both groups caught tons of fish and we all enjoyed chicken alfredo for dinner. The next morning, after breaking down camps, we all met up and headed up toward Bench Lake to a place called the Wonderland.

After making it the mile up to the Bench Lake, we spent the rest of the day catching cutthroat and enjoying one of the most beautiful places in the entire park. This is a grazing area for many elk and we found three different carcasses of elk that had died the previous winter. Once we had all caught our fill of Cutthroat, we headed back to camp and got ready for our big hike the next day to Lake Pettingell. We took a break at Lake Nokoni before heading off trail towards the lake. 


Lake Pettingell was a blast, with many kids catching their biggest cutthroat of the trip at the lake. These fish rarely see anglers, so they are eager to take your fly, and many of the fish caught were in the 16-17” range. The hike back was quick and everybody was excited to eat and sleep when we got back. We took a rest day the next day, and we fished around our campsite and caught tons to wrap up an epic backcountry. We enjoyed our crowd favorite Buffalo chicken mac n’ cheese for dinner, followed by a no-bake cheesecake.

The next day we got up early and hiked back to Grand Lake. After getting our much deserved ice cream, we headed to our campsite at River Run RV Resort for showers and laundry. Tomorrow we are headed towards Kremmling, CO where we will set up camp at Pumphouse Recreation Area. Here we will do our Service Project as well as fish with the guides of Cutthroat Anglers. After that we are headed to Silverthorne, CO for our banquet dinner, and then off to Denver Airport. This trip has been one to remember, and we couldn’t be more proud of this group! 



Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions was started in 2010 as a graduate thesis for my Master's Degree in Environmental Conservation Education at NYU. The operating premise was simple - by coupling amazing wilderness fly fishing camps for teens with environmental education and service learning we can help inspire future generations of fly fishing conservationists. We have been growing our unique list of trips and experiences ever since.

When it comes to choosing a summer program for your teen the options are endless. For the teen who loves to fish, be outside, and has a strong sense of adventure we have made the choice easy. We are the leader in teen fly fishing adventures and are dedicated to providing the best backcountry fly fishing experience with opportunities for teens to engage in leadership training, community service, and backcountry camping.


Will Lillard signature

Will Lillard, Founder/Director/Guide

Contact Us

[email protected]

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions
2540 King Road
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

(828) 577-8204