On our last day in Rocky Mountain National Park, the skies cleared for the first time in our trip, and we were finally on our way back into the park to do some hiking.
After looking over our park map and reading reviews of the different trails in our Fodor’s guide-book, we opted to begin our hiking day in the Bear Lake area. The trails at Bear Lake are among the most visited trails in the park, and we were aware that we needed to begin our day pretty early to get a parking spot, especially since it was Labor Day and many people were in the park this day.
We arrived in the area just before 10 am, which was a bit later than we hoped to arrive in the area, and we were not surprised to find a sign stating that the small parking lot at Bear Lake was already full. The sign directed us to park in the large overflow lot, and we were quite surprised to find that lot almost full. Thankfully, we found a parking spot toward the back of the lot near a picnic table, which would come in handy for our picnic lunch a bit later after our first hike was done.
The overflow lot had stops for three different bus routes, so after seeing a bus called “Hiker’s Route,” we decided that must be the bus we needed to take us to the Bear Lake area. We waited about ten minutes, then hopped on the bus with a few other people. When the bus turned the wrong way on Bear Lake Road, however, we immediately knew we had made a big mistake. Fortunately, we were sitting right behind the bus driver, who was kind enough to return us back to the overflow lot, and he directed us to the bus we needed to take. We definitely detected more than a little irritation in his voice, but we were just grateful to not have to ride that bus *all the way back to Estes Park!* Seriously, that bus should have that destination listed somewhere for visitors to see, at least on its return trip back to town. I seriously doubt we are the only ones that have made that mistake, too.
A few minutes later, we boarded the correct bus, which finally dropped us at Bear Lake after making a few stops at other trailheads along the way. The Bear Lake bus stop reminded me of a bus stop in a major city due to the large number of people there, and my heart sank just a bit. I knew we would not have any trails to ourselves on this busy holiday, but this seemed a bit much. Fortunately, there were several trails that people could take from that drop point, and we enjoyed a truly great day of hiking, despite a few more people on the trails than we would prefer. The fabulous scenery made up for it, and people were dispersed on the trails pretty well for the most part.
We saw three beautiful Alpine lakes on our 2.5 hour hike – Bear Lake, Nymph Lake and Dream Lake. It was such a fabulous hike in absolutely perfect weather, too. Bear Lake sits almost adjacent to the bus stop area, and the half-mile trail around the lake was our first hike. This was an easy trail on a level path, and our early reward this day was some truly gorgeous views! No wonder this is such a popular place, especially for people who are not up to more strenuous hikes but still want to see some beautiful scenery.
In my next post, I will share the rest of our beautiful morning hike to Nymph Lake and Dream Lake. Both are amazingly beautiful and at altitudes higher than Bear Lake.