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
Patchy blowing snow between noon and 1pm, then blowing snow and snow showers likely. Partly sunny. High near 28, with temperatures falling to around 23 in the afternoon. Southwest wind 29 to 32 mph, with gusts as high as 49 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.
Snow showers. Cloudy, with a low around 7. Wind chill values as low as -16. West wind 24 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
Snow showers. Cloudy, with a high near 16. Wind chill values as low as -19. West wind 36 to 52 mph, with gusts as high as 75 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
Blowing snow and a chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 10. Wind chill values as low as -16. West wind 40 to 48 mph, with gusts as high as 71 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New snow accumulation of around one inch possible.
Blowing snow. Sunny, with a high near 26. West wind 37 to 40 mph, with gusts as high as 54 mph.
Blowing snow. Mostly clear, with a low around 17.
Blowing snow. Mostly sunny, with a high near 29.
Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor 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. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about