If you’re a fan of beautiful lakes, you need to plan an adventure at Rocky Mountain National Park. This outdoor paradise truly has it all – snow-capped peaks, gorgeous alpine lakes, and an abundance of Colorado wildlife. With 300 miles of hiking trails, there are plenty of scenic paths that will lead you to a number of crystal blue waters within the park.

Editor’s Note: Please check weather conditions, current road conditions, and closures before planning your travels to Rocky Mountain National Park. High-elevation sites are often inaccessible due to snow, even in the summer months. For more information, click here

1. Bear Lake

Bear Lake - Rocky Mountain National Park - OutThere Colorado.
Bear Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park – OutThere Colorado.

Start your journey to explore majestic waters in Rocky Mountain National Park with a quick visit to Bear Lake. While traveling to this lake is not much of a hike, it’s suitable for all abilities. Located just steps away from the Bear Lake Trailhead parking lot, this alpine lake provides serene beauty in every direction you look.

2. Nymph Lake

Nymph Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: Morgan Burke (Flickr).

A quick dip into nature will lead you to a beautiful mountain lake often covered in lily pads – Nymph Lake. Yellow blossoms sometimes float on the water’s surface creating a dream-like landscape nestled in the wilderness. Continue following the trail for more natural wonders, including Dream Lake and Emerald Lake.

3. Dream Lake

Dream Lake at Sunrise in Rocky Mountain National Park, Photo Credit: Matt Dirksen (iStock).

Dream Lake is one of the most picturesque places in all of Rocky Mountain National Park. Get lost in its tranquil beauty as you take in the sweeping views of the lush pine forest and jagged granite spires. Here’s a look at this relatively short hike.

4. Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Photo Credit: tupungato (iStock).

A real sense of wonder awaits at Emerald Lake, a popular destination for alpine water-seekers. Known for its rugged beauty and striking color pallet, exploring this natural wonder will you make you feel as if you’re on another planet. Hikers will be treated to incredible views of the naturally emerald-toned waters.

Bring warm layers. The temperatures can change quickly as you ascend deeper into the mountains. This particular spot is very windy, so hold on to your hats. It’s also worth mentioning that you’ll pass two other lakes, including Nymph Lake and Dream Lake before arriving at Emerald Lake.

5. Lake Haiyaha

Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: mark byzewski (Flickr).

Discover the solitude and beauty of Lake Haiyaha, a less-crowded alternative to Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. This giant rock-filled lake with royal blue waters creates an awe-inspiring setting, dazzling those who visit. The hike also features a waterfall and plenty of colorful blooms throughout the spring season. If you plan on hiking Emerald Lake first, follow the trail fork at the 1.1-mile marker to get reach Lake Haiyaha.

6. Sprague Lake

Ice on Sprague Lake OutThere Colorado
Ice is starting to form on Sprague lake as the Continental Divide mountains reflect in the partially frozen lake

Enjoy sunset reflections surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks at Sprague Lake. Take the scenic loop around the lake for panoramic views of the Continental Divide. This is a great place to reconnect with nature while capturing shots of the mountains as the sun paints the evening sky in breathtaking colors.

7. Fern Lake

Fern Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: Christian Collins (Flickr).

Take the route less traveled to Fern Lake. Escape to this quiet alpine lake for captivating beauty. Wildlife, particularly moose, are popular in the area, so be sure to keep an eye out. There are also several treasures to be seen along the trail including Fern Falls, Notchtop Mountain, and the Little Matterhorn. Prepared to be amazed!

Mosquitos tend to be present here. Be sure to pack bug spray for a more enjoyable trek. It’s also helpful to start early to avoid crowds. Carry plenty of water and use trekking poles for this 7.1-mile moderately trafficked out-and-back scenic journey through Rocky Mountain National Park.

8. Odessa Lake

Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: junaidrao (Flickr).

If your heart aches for more Colorado water, trek on to reach Odessa Lake. A dreamy alpine getaway is awaiting your arrival. Make the additional trek to this mountain treasure for the perfect blend of solitude and adventure. Stay awhile and soak in the views.

9. Chasm Lake

Longs Peak-Chasm Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, John Fielder
Longs Peak and Chasm Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: John Fielder.

Hiking to Chasm Lake is truly an unforgettable experience. This large glacial bowl is tucked away at the base of Longs Peak, one of Colorado’s most iconic and dangerous fourteeners. A 9.4-mile out-and-back trek featuring lofty summits, a rushing waterfall, glistening streams, and gorgeous wildflowers will take you to this spectacular alpine jewel. Be prepared to be amazed!

10. Jewel Lake

Jewel Lake in Rocky Mountains National Park. Photo Credit: AlexeyKamenskiy (iStock).

Discover pure alpine bliss at Jewel Lake via the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. Dense granite peaks tower over the lake’s waters and rise into the mountain sky for scenery that’s so extraordinary it will leave you breathless. If you’re planning a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, you don’t miss this hidden alpine treasure.


Sky Pond

Sky Pond and Shark’s Tooth. Photo Credit: DavidnKeng (Flickr).

For the super-serious adventurers, seeking a large scenic reward off the beaten path – a trip to Sky Pond might just be what you’re looking for. Explore turquoise blue waters surrounded by massive “shark tooth-shaped” rock spires at this iconic destination in Rocky Mountain National Park. The scenery is absolutely unreal. Be prepared for a challenging 8.1-mile out-and-back ascent filled with rocky terrain and dramatic heights.

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