Some places in Colorado are so beautiful, and the effort to reach them so minimal, they can feel like a dream. This alpine gem in Rocky Mountain National Park is one such place. It’s just a 1.1-mile hike from the Bear Lake Trailhead to the lake, whose crystal-clear waters, flanked by the dramatic visage of Hallett Peak, make for one of the park’s most iconic photographs. You’ll pass two other photo-worthy lakes, including Bear Lake and Nymph Lake, on the short hike. Then Dream Lake opens up before you. Take some pictures, have a snack and return the way you came. Hikers can also continue another .7 miles past Dream Lake to Emerald Lake, which is just as stunning. Anglers may want to stay a while. Dream Lake is known for a healthy greenback cutthroat trout population.
Recommended season(s): Spring – fall for hiking, winter for snowshoeing.
—R. Scott Rappold