Dream Lake is an alpine lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is an extremely popular destination due to the ease of access, incredibly beautiful views, and shared trailhead with other fantastic Colorado hikes.
Elevation: 9,905 Feet (3,019 m)
Distance: 2.2 Miles (3.54 km)
Elevation Gain: 450 feet (137.2 m)
Duration: 1-2 hours
Need To Know Information
- During a large portion of the year, Rocky Mountain National Park requires permits. Permits can be purchased here along with all other relevant info: https://www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/10086910
- Other permit info (You should read this information): https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/timed-entry-permit-system.htm
- Dogs are not allowed in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Parking fills up, so the shuttle system in the park can be used when it does.
- A national parks pass is required to enter the park when the gates are being operated.
There is one main trail to Dream Lake, which is from the Bear Lake Trail. This 1.1 mile journey will take you past 2 lakes, Bear Lake (a couple hundred foot detour at the trailhead) and Nymph Lake, before hikers reach Dream Lake. Each of these lakes feature stunning views of Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain.
This trail is very well traveled by all types of hikers. Taking a trip around dream lake to the various viewpoints is common due to the ease of access and fantastic views. Many hikers choose to travel an additional half mile or so to Emerald Lake, with even more impressive views.
Hikers begin on a relatively flat trail heading towards Nymph Lake. Once passing Nymph Lake around (.5 miles into the hike) hikers will quickly ascend towards dream lake. The destination is only .6 miles away from Nymph Lake, making the climb relatively quick. The trail features views of Tyndall Gorge and even Longs Peak.
This is also the same location that hikers start at for summiting Flattop Mountain.
Dream lake is accessible year round. It is gorgeous in all seasons, and each season provides a unique and beautiful perspective.
Fishing is allowed in dream lake and is extremely fantastic. The cutthroat trout are beautiful and plentiful. Barbless hook, catch and release only.
Directions & Parking
This is an extremely popular area, so during peak season, it is recommended taking the Rocky Mountain National Park shuttle system to the trailhead. During the off season, this hike still gets quite busy, and the very large parking lot can fill up. The parking is located at the end of Bear Lake Road.
Information on the shuttle can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/shuttle_bus_route.htm
To Bear Lake Trailhead Parking Area (At the end of Bear Lake Road)
Estes Park, CO
Snow showers likely. Mostly cloudy. High near 14, with temperatures falling to around 10 in the afternoon. Wind chill values as low as -7. West wind around 17 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Snow showers likely before 8pm, then snow showers and patchy blowing snow between 8pm and 11pm, then snow and areas of blowing snow. Mostly cloudy. Low around 5, with temperatures rising to around 7 overnight. Wind chill values as low as -14. West wind 17 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.
Snow and blowing snow before 11am, then snow and blowing snow. Mostly cloudy. High near 9, with temperatures falling to around 5 in the afternoon. Wind chill values as low as -22. West wind 23 to 40 mph, with gusts as high as 64 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.
Snow. Cloudy, with a low around 6. Wind chill values as low as -22. West wind 43 to 47 mph, with gusts as high as 76 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches possible.
Snow. Cloudy, with a high near 17. West wind around 47 mph, with gusts as high as 76 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.
Snow likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 15. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of around one inch possible.
A slight chance of snow before 5pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 36. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about