Photograph Bear Lake

Colorado Bear Lake Trailhead

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An iconic lake in Rocky Mountain National Park with year-round photography access.

Bear Lake is a popular tourist destination in Rocky Mountain NP, but when the sun is low in the sky or the stars are out you'll find the big crowd are gone. The lake is beautiful at sunrise and sunset but especially photogenic in the fall or at winter's end. While it doesn't have the darkest night skies it can still serve as an excellent location to watch meteors or photograph star trails above Hallet Peak. The area is also frequented by wildlife and you might capture an elk harem, flock of turkeys, or lone fox.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Wide-angle Lens
  • Telephoto Lens for Wildlife
  • Tripod
  • Batteries
  • Memory Card
  • Warm Layers
  • Hiking Shoes or Snowshoes
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Activities:

Photography

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Year Round

Rating:

Features:

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Handicap Accessible
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

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How to Get There

Easy approach For Such A Pretty Lake

We finished our hike to Emerald Lake and before returning to the car we decided to quickly check out Bear Lake. It was worth the very fast hike there. You can do a loop but we did not, we simply admired the lake, took a couple pictures and returned to our car. It was raining and the clouds were rolling in, making it particularly different and beautiful.

4 days ago

5 months ago

Always a cool spot

This is a pretty scenic starting point for a lot of hikes in RMNP. Consider arriving early to avoid the crowds.

5 months ago

5 months ago

Beautiful In Winter

This is a wonderful lake to visit during the Winter months if you're wanting to see the snow-covered mountains but don't want to hike to see them. The roads are generally well-maintained even after the snowstorms. After parking in the lot, it's just a few hundred feet to the lake and it's breathtaking after a snowstorm. Great for families with small children or elderly adventurers. If you are more interested in getting a bit of a workout, continue on to Nymph Lake about a half mile up, Dream Lake just a bit further from that and finally Emerald Lake at the top. Hiking boots are fine for Bear Lake but anything further you may want to consider snow shoes to make your trek easier. We rented ours from Estes Park Mountain Shop for $5 a day and it was well worth it.

5 months ago

5 months ago

One of my favorites

One of my favorite things to do in CO, definitely a must see in RMNP

5 months ago

about 1 year ago

Great to Share the Beauty of the Park

If I have family in town that has never been to RMNP but isn't necessarily up for a "hike," I take them to Bear Lake. Its a gorgeous spot that has a mostly handicap accessible path and incredible views of Long's Peak. It's such a great place to share the beauty of the park without the strain of hiking somewhere further away.

about 1 year ago

about 1 year ago

Bear Lake loop

One of my all time favorite hikes to do in RMNP. Its a shorter hike, with great views. The trail pretty much all year is easy to access and easy to complete. I highly recommend it!

about 1 year ago

about 1 year ago

First Time at Bear Lake

Hiking to Nymph and Bear Lake was such an awesome experience. Being a first-timer in RNP, I was breathless be holding the stunning and majestic views. Even the drive to the trail head was an event; I stopped when I could to take in the scenery. The trail to Nymph Lake was clearly marked and lead me through fresh-smelling forest. Bear Lake was a bit larger than Nymph.

about 1 year ago

Added by Jason Hatfield

Adventure and travel photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. I teach photography workshops and offer private guiding around the west. More at jasonjhatfield.com

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