Bear Lake picture
Rhona Wise/Getty Images

Key Info

Bear Lake Rd.

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Recreation, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.6scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Bear Lake is encircled by a nearly 1-mile trail that visitors enjoy for its ease and beauty, especially during the fall when the aspens turn gold. Spruce, fir and pine trees also surround the lake, as do giant granite boulders. Travelers that hike Bear Lake's entire perimeter will also be rewarded with majestic views of Hallett Peak and Half Mountain. 

The variety of trails that lead from the Bear Lake trailhead (including the Emerald Lake Trail) make it a great place for people of all fitness levels. Previous travelers recommended getting here early to secure a parking spot in the small lot that fills up quickly. 

To reach Bear Lake, you can drive and park your car on Bear Lake Road, which is less than 10 miles from the turn-off at Highway 36, but the park's free shuttle makes stops here as well. There is no fee to access to Bear Lake. For more information, visit the NPS website.

See all Hotels in Rocky Mountain National Park »

More Best Things To Do in Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail Ridge Road1 of 6
Beaver Meadows Visitor Center2 of 6
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Trail Ridge Road

Horace Albright, director of the National Park Service between 1929 and 1933, once said about Trail Ridge Road, "It's hard to describe what a sensation this new road is going to make. You will have the whole sweep of the Rockies before you in all directions." Trail Ridge Road was a sensation when it debuted back in 1932 and it remains so today for the travelers that make the 48-mile drive from Estes Park to Grand Lake, rising above the tree line for 11 miles at an elevation of nearly 11,500 feet. Visitors should keep that in mind when they're stopping at the lookout points that the road experiences temperatures that are 20 and even 30 degrees lower than both Estes Park and Grand Park. 

Most travelers call Trail Ridge Road a must-do while in Rocky Mountain National Park. One recent traveler, who said she spent a full day taking in the "stunning views" along Trail Ridge Road, saw elk, marmots and moose. Stopping at the pull-offs yields some spectacular photo ops, and some offer restrooms. 

Read more
Carolyn Hebbard/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Rocky Mountain National Park »

Explore More of Rocky Mountain National Park

When purchasing from our site, we may earn commissions. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

30 Amazing Caribbean Islands to Visit

It's time to plan your next tropical getaway.

Holly JohnsonAugust 8, 2019

The Best Travel Rewards Programs for 2019-20

See which airline and hotel loyalty programs come out on top.

Erin ShieldsAugust 6, 2019

20 Surprising Ways to Earn Loyalty Program Points or Miles

Branch out beyond hotel stays and flights to maximize your earnings.

Christine SmithAugust 6, 2019

The 12 Best Cancun Tours

These excursions will show you what lies beyond the city's bright beaches.

Lyn MettlerJuly 26, 2019

Traveling With Toddlers: 16 Tips to Make Your Vacation Go Smoothly

These expert travel hacks guarantee a happy trip for the whole family.

Kyle McCarthyJuly 25, 2019

The 11 Best New Orleans Ghost Tours

Hear chilling tales of the city's paranormal activity on one of these guided tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 25, 2019

The 10 Best Seattle Boat Tours

Take in the Emerald City's top sights from the water.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 24, 2019

The 6 Best Maui Helicopter Tours

Combine sightseeing with a breathtaking adventure on one of these flights.

Gwen PratesiJuly 23, 2019

The 7 Best San Francisco Boat Tours

Take in the city's major sights by water with one of these excursions.

Holly JohnsonJuly 22, 2019

How to Pack a Suitcase: 16 Tips and Expert Tricks for Perfectly Packed Luggage

Take the stress out of vacation prep with these handy recommendations.

Lyn MettlerJuly 22, 2019