Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the U.S. The park mesmerizes people with its breathtaking diverse landscapes of snow covered mountains, jagged valleys, pristine lakes, alpine trees and tundra, seasonal abundance wildflowers, and amazing wildlife. The park is a paradise with many gorgeous alpine lakes. The park has 156 lakes with 450 miles of streams. There are plenty of scenic paths with 300 miles of hiking trails that will lead to a number of pristine and crystal blue picturesque lakes within the park.
These photos are from our two day visit to Rocky Mountain National Park in the last week of September 2019.
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Places to Go
Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, Lake Haiyaha, Sprague Lake, Bierstadt Lake, Cub Lake, Sky Pond, The Loch Lake, Gem Lake, Chasm Lake
Best Things To Do: Enjoy hiking easy, popular, less than 4 mile short trails that are the most scenic. Embrace the breathtaking views of the gorgeous lakes surrounded by magnificent peaks along the hikes.
Bear Lake Trail: This is an easy, popular, busy, and short 0.7 mile loop trail. The trail begins from the Bear Lake Trailhead beyond the Bear Lake Ranger Station located at the end of Bear Lake Road. The trail offers a gorgeous lake surrounded by magnificent peaks. The trail circles around the subalpine lake and passes through a woodland of pine and aspen trees. Parking lots fill up quickly during the morning of the summer season so start early for a better chance to get a parking spot; you will be lucky to get a parking spot early. It is highly recommended to use the free park shuttle at the Estes Park Visitor Center in order to avoid the congested traffic and hassle of parking. Do the hike in the early morning in the counterclockwise direction for great photos of Hallett Peak and Longs Peak reflecting off the lake during calm weather.
Nymph Lake: It is a short, easy, mostly paved 1.2 mile round trip hike from the Bear Lake Trailhead. The trail makes a steady climb up with a glimpse of Longs Peak through the jagged forest. The trail offers a beautiful lake with the floating layer of yellow lily pads. In the summer, the lake is covered with yellow blossoms of lily pads. You can further continue hiking to reach another pretty lake, Dream Lake.
Dream Lake: This 2 mile round trip hike to Dream Lake begins from the Bear Lake Trailhead. The trail becomes a steep climb for a small portion after Nymph Lake. This portion of trail, between Nymph Lake and Dream Lake offers an outstanding view of Longs Peak, Hallett Peak, and an abundance of wildflowers during the summer. At around 1.1 miles from the Bear Lake Trailhead you will hit the junction for the trails that lead to Dream lake and Lake Haiyaha. Take the right trail to continue on towards Dream Lake. At the end, the views of Hallett Peak, Flattop Mountain, and subalpine lake are spectacular. You can further continue to hike to another jewel Emerald Lake.
Emerald Lake Trail: This hike is the most popular, busy, and is considered as a moderate trail. This 3.3 mile round trip hike through the forested jagged valley offers amazing scenery with high peaks, three beautiful lakes: Nymph lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and the waterfalls. The hike to Emerald Lake begins from the Bear Lake Trailhead, located at the end of Bear Lake Road. The first lake, Nymph Lake is at around 0.6 miles. After passing Nymph lake, the hike becomes steep uphill. Continuing climbing up about 0.5 miles to reach the second lake, Dream Lake. The trail has a series of steep steps. If you experience high altitude sickness, slow down, sit for a while, drink plenty of water, and take your own time. As you climb up, around 0.5 miles you pass through a very pleasant and impressive pine forest. At the end of the hike, you see the real beauty of Emerald Lake carved by Tyndall Glacier. Embrace the subalpine lake while listening to the sound of a waterfall rushing down the gorge between the two mountains.
Lake Haiyaha Trail: This is a less crowded trail when compared to the popular Emerald Lake trail. This 3.6 mile out and back trail begins at Bear Lake Trailhead then goes around Nymph Lake. After passing Nymph lake around 0.3 miles, you hit the junction for the trails that lead to Dream lake and Lake Haiyaha. Take the left trail and hike almost a mile to reach Lake Haiyaha. The hike offers a giant rock-filled blue lake, a waterfall, and colorful wildflowers that bloom throughout the spring season.
Sprague Lake Trail: This paved trail is a short and easy 0.8 mile loop trail located at the end of Sprague Lake Road. The trail features a beautiful lake and impressive surrounding peaks. Hike the trail in the morning to capture wonderful photos of panoramic views of the Continental Divide and majestic peaks reflecting on the lake. The sunset reflections surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks at Sprague Lake is also simply amazing.
Bierstadt Lake Trail: This 3.2 mile loop trail begins from the Bierstadt Lake Trailhead and is considered as moderate. The trail offers a gorgeous lake with stunning panoramic views of mountains along the Continental Divide. It is a steep uphill trail with a series of switchbacks to reach the top of the Bierstadt Moraine. Approximately 1 mile from the Bierstadt Lake Trailhead, just after top of the Bierstadt Moraine, the trail reaches the Bierstadt Lake Loop Trail junction. Take right at the junction and a short walk in order to reach the southwestern shore of the lake for great photos.