My most recent trip to Colorado was extremely short so I only had one day to roam around The Rocky Mountain National Park. Since the time was limited, I knew I had go online ahead of time to look up the best spot to hike. A ton of people mentioned Bear Lake and based off the pictures, it looked like it was worth a try.
For this trip to the Rockies, I rented a Jeep from the app Turo. The drive from Denver to Bear Lake was a good 2 hours. Seems lengthy, but trust me – it’s worth it.
Once I got to The Rocky Mountain National Park, the first thing you have to do is pay to get in. I was half surprised and half not. I definitely wasn’t surprised because it’s such a major attraction and pretty much any major attraction is going to give someone money in their pocket… but I was also a little surprised because while I was researching for my trip, NONE of the blogs I came across mentioned that it cost to get it. Personally, I feel like that’s something you would want to know when it comes to planning out what you’re doing. But luckily I had money on me, so it was all good.
Cost: It cost $20 for a day pass and you can get an annual pass for $50.
Once I got in the entrance, Bear Lake was extremely convenient to get to. I took the first road to the left and it took me all the way up to the lake! I made the mistake of going there way too late though. I arrived around noon and by the time I got to Bear Lake, the parking lot was PACKED and there was an entire line of cars sitting and waiting for parking spaces to become available. I’d say I sat in that line for a good 30-45 minutes before I was able to even get to the parking lot and then got extremely lucky when someone was leaving just a couple minutes after I finally arrived up to the parking lot .
Was the 30-45 minute wait worth it? 100%.
Once I got up to the beginning of the trail, I had to decide which way I wanted to go. There were two different trails. If you get there early, I would suggest taking the circle around the whole thing. Unfortunately, I got there late so I only explored one trail.
If you look at the map I have here, there’s a purple line and a blue line. The purple line was the trail that I took that I’ll be showing you pictures of. The blue line is the second trail that I didn’t have enough time to hike but I definitely recommend taking that trail back to Bear Lake if you get the chance so you can see different types of scenery on your way from and to Bear Lake!
So the first thing I saw was Bear Lake. Absolutely. Fucking. Gorgeous.
Honestly, I probably could have just chilled at that Lake all day and been perfectly content, but I knew there was so much more beauty to see so I moved on to the trail.
I knew I was going to run into two main “attractions” on the trail based off the map, which were: Alberta Falls and The Loch. I figured everything in-between was going to be some basic trails and nothing too special but boy was I wrong. Literally every turn had a new breathtaking view. There were multiple times along this trail that I just stopped to sit and take it everything I was seeing.
Once I got to The Loch, I was exhausted. It took me about 3 or so hours to hike from Bear Lake to The Loch (and I’m an amateur hiker if that helps you figure out how long it will take you to hike it). I ran into an older lady sitting at The Loch and chatted with her for awhile. I wish I would have got a picture with her because she was the sweetest little lady. She had lived in Denver for awhile, so she was used to the different trails and said the one I had taken was one of the best trails to take.
I feel like it would take quite a bit to be able to beat this view. While me and her were chilling and taking in the scenery, we enjoyed some crackers and peanuts that she shared with me. That’s when I learned there is FOR SURE wild animals hanging around. The food attracted a blue jay and a little chipmunk. Neither of them would go away in hopes that they’d get something for dinner first. The chipmunk was literally running around right next to me and also climbing into the older lady’s bag searching for food.
The older lady had even told me that it’s well known for animals to do that type of thing and that the park encourages you NOT to feed them. Apparently certain foods are bad for them and makes their fat not as effective for the winter months. I’m not really sure how that works but it was interesting to listen to because I didn’t even know that as a thing with animals.
Overall, I would completely recommend taking this hike. Or just go to the Rocky Mountain National Park in general. It’s definitely worth visiting. I personally visited in mid-October, but I would suggest maybe checking it out a little bit sooner to keep away from the chillier weather along with more of a chance of seeing elk! Either way, you’re going to end up with one hell of a view.
So what are you waiting for? Buy the planet ticket to Colorado!