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Catch a Sunrise at Dream Lake

Estes Park, Colorado

based on 9 reviews



2.2 miles

Elevation Gain

402 ft

Route Type



Added by Christin Healey

Dream Lake is a gorgeous hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park, one hour from Boulder, CO. This is a pretty short hike so catching a sunrise isn't too rough, and it's one of the few hikes in the park that is manageable in any season.

Begin at the Bear Lake Trailhead, located at the end of Bear Lake Road, 9 miles from the entrance on Highway 36. Follow the signs to Dream Lake, passing Nymph Lake about halfway through. At 1.1 miles you will reach Dream Lake. The views of 12,713-foot Hallett Peak and 12,324-foot Flattop Mountain from the east shore of this subalpine lake are incredible, and the perfect backdrop for this aptly named lake. On your way back to the parking lot, be sure to get some shots from the trail as the mountain views headed down are some of the best in the park.

Be sure to check the trail status before you go to get the most current conditions. Microspikes in the winter are a must, and possibly snowshoes if the trail is not packed down. Also, keep in mind that this is an alpine lake around 10,000 ft, and also can experience very intense winds - be prepared!

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Easy Parking

Catch a Sunrise at Dream Lake Reviews

This trail is short and easy, but provides spectacular photo opportunities! My wife and I got to the parking lot about an hour and a half before sunrise and the lot already had many people. They must've been at Bear Lake or just sitting in their cars keeping warm because we were the first up to Dream Lake that day! We had plenty of time to set up cameras and take timelapse photos of the sunrise. Just wish we had gotten there slightly earlier, we could have also seen the moon set (though you can see the light from it setting in one of my pictures). Anyways, I highly recommend this trail all the way up to Emerald Lake if you're in the Park!

Make sure you get to the trail as early as possible. A great hike and even better photography opportunity.

I came in the winter and it was beautiful with the lakes frozen over. It WAS freezing though prepare accordingly -- my phone died multiple times due to the cold. I did rent snowshoes but they weren't really necessary as long as you're careful in the deeper snow areas.

Such a fun hike that connects with plenty of other trails. Hiked through the snow and watched the terrain change often

This is a gorgeous spot to watch sunrise in Rocky Mountain National Park. Since it's relatively short it makes it a great low effort, hike reward hike that is perfect for sunrises. Alpenglow lights up the surrounding mountains and if there are any clouds in the sky they glow pink and orange!

This is particularly gorgeous in the winter with easy trails to follow and stunning views all throughout the hike. With only 1.8 miles of trekking it's a quick and easy and tons of fun with snow shoes or crampons.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Hike Flattop Hallett Andrews Loop

Nymph Lake via Bear Lake Trailhead

Snowshoe to Emerald Lake

Hike from Bear Lake to Fern Lake Trailhead

Ptarmigan Lake via Bear Lake Trailhead

Photograph Bear Lake