Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance from Denver: ~70 miles (~1.5 hours) ♡ ♡ ♡
Hike: 8-9 miles ♡ ♡
Difficulty: Moderate ♡ ♡
Parking Situation: Fills up quickly! Definitely use the shuttle. ♡
Parking Fee: N/A, but there is an entrance fee to the park (We purchase the America the Beautiful annual pass to visit any national park/forest for a whole year)
This day was an absolute d o o z y. It was Brandon's first time in Rocky Mountain National Park. Instead of a being a normal person and taking him along the famed Trail Ridge Road, I insisted that we hike to get him acquainted with the park that is so dear to my heart. We chose the Bear Lake Loop, but soon regretted it because we could not find any parking in the Bear Lake Lot despite making cute faces at people and asking them kindly if they were leaving (apparently no amount of puppy-dog face can get people to leave this parking lot).We decided to improvise and drive down to the Glacier Gorge area to begin our hike. Although it added a few miles to the overall total, we | | b r a v e l y | | (although in retrospect, that should read | | f o o l i s h l y | | ) decided to forge ahead.
The first notable point along the trail is Alberta Falls. This stretch of the hike is quite crowded given its proximity from the parking lot, but the crowds thin out considerably past the Falls. We meandered through woods and a plateau that has wide, expansive views of the valley below. It blew my mind how few people lifted their heads to look around! All but one person looked our way as we sat along our new favorite ledge just to the side of this trail.
The trail then reaches the intersection where you can choose to go straight ahead to the Loch, Lake of Glass, and Sky Pond. We chose to veer to the right to get to Lake Haiyaha, Dream Lake, Nymph Lake, and Bear Lake. The stretch of land between this junction and Lake Haiyaha is arguably my most favorite in the park because of a portion that overlooks Nymph, Dream, and Bear Lakes. To be SO high up and looking down over the lakes - and for the lakes to still appear large - simply took my breath away. Of the four, Lake Haiyaha is easily our favorite ♡ It requires a slight rock scramble to get to the lake but oh boy is it worth it! We brought lunch to enjoy here and spent almost an hour simply lazing along the river banks.
Reluctantly we continued on our trek, back towards all of the crowds. After the pristine condition of Lake Haiyaha, the remaining lakes could hardly hold a candle (although Dream Lake came close). I think part of the reason is simply because of the crowds - I felt like I couldn't enjoy a spot because tourists kept wanting to take pictures from behind us.
Overall, this was such a great day! We were both thoroughly exhausted, but loved the hours we got to spend together in our happy place ♡
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