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One of our favorite experiences at Rocky Mountain National Park was hiking along Bear Lake. It’s a relatively easy hike; the terrain is relatively flat. And here’s a great tip–you don’t have to hike all the way around to see the beauty of the lake. We didn’t. We hiked about halfway and turned around. If you’re looking for a great hike for families in Rocky Mountain National Park, look no further.

When Should You Hike Bear Lake Loop

When we visited Rocky Mountain National Park, timed entry tickets were required. This is something you definitely want to check into before your trip. You may need to score that reservation before you head out, and sometimes you need to do it a few weeks or months ahead. Bu sure to check out the Rocky Mountain National Park website well in advance as you plan your trip.

Most people suggest going to popular places in national parks early, and that is certainly great advice. Our family has also had good luck visiting popular spots in the evening. We’d just arrived in Estes Park a couple of hours before we headed out to the park on this trip. We had a late lunch at Smokin’ Daves BBQ and Brews so we could try bison ribs. You can read more about our experience here. We checked into our little mountain resort, and then we were off.

We arrived after the timed tickets were required, and we got right in. As we got closer to the parking for the trailhead, we noticed the park shuttle was taking people back to the overflow parking lots.

Shuttle Rocky Mountain National Park

By the time we arrived at around 6:30 p.m. on a July evening, there was plenty of parking. There are restrooms at the trailhead which is always great to know when traveling with kids!

Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

Near the beginning of the trail, you’ll see this map to show you the other trails that shoot off from this one. We didn’t try any other trails, but it looks like this area of the park could keep you busy for a while.

Again, we only hiked halfway around. We went counter-clockwise; that direction is supposed to be the flatter path. Below is one of the other trailheads along the way. Those paths look a little rockier than ours!

Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

Hiking on Bear Lake Nature Trail

The trail, also know as Bear Lake Loop, is so incredibly beautiful.

Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

As you can see, we were pretty much alone in the evening after people set their paces from the trailhead. I love the sense of peace you get walking in the woods.

Before long, you’ll be able to see Bear Lake and the gorgeous scenery around it.

Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

The water was so still it looked like glass. We couldn’t resist touching it.


Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

The views are stunning, too.

Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

We stopped along the trail often, taking in the view from different vantage points.

Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

This really is a beautiful area.

Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

It’s impossible to take too many pictures.

Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake: The Wrap Up

Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

This is one great trail, especially for families. After our hike, we drove around a bit, and we saw some deer and elk as they came out for the evening. This was the perfect outing for our first day in Rocky Mountain National Park. The next morning, we used our timed-entry ticket to drive Trail Ridge Road. To read about that experience, click here.

Be sure to make Bear Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park part of your park experience!

Read about our other national park adventures!

Arches National Park

Canyonlands National Park: Island in the Sky

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Cades Cove


Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park
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  1. This looks like a lovely hike! Not too challenging but plenty of interesting things to see. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Colorado is a beautiful state. Rocky Mountain national park is on my list

  3. This trail is gorgeous! Such stunning views while hiking along Bear Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park. I would love to hike here.

  4. As a family who loves to hike, thank you for all of the tips about hiking Bear Lake. It’s great to know what we are getting ourselves into before we arrive somewhere. I’ll be adding this to our list for when we visit the Rocky Mountains.

  5. Looks like such a beautiful hike! Thanks for the tips and the beautiful photos!

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