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Everything You Need to Know for an EPIC Hike on the Bear Lake Road Trail Network

Bear Lake Road is one of the most popular portions of Rocky Mountain National Park. You can hike to over 9 lakes all from either the Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge Trailheads. While the routes to Emerald Lake and Sky Pond are the most popular, you can mix and match to create a bucket list hike connecting multiple destinations. Use the tables below to plan out your route based on what you want to see and how much distance you would like to hike!

Woman and man look at Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak at Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Destination Distances from Bear Lake Trailhead

In the table below you can find the most common destinations accessible from the Bear Lake trailhead. There are additional lakes beyond those listed below, but these are the most common hiking routes and the ones recommended for the broadest range of hiking abilities. In particular, the lakes beyond Mills Lake (like Black Lake and Frozen Lake) are more challenging to hike to. Unless you’re a very experienced hiker, we recommend sticking to the lakes listed in the table below (which also include some quite challenging, but more often-traversed hikes!).

Bear Lake Road Area Destinations and Distances
From the Bear Lake Road parking area, you can string together many destinations to create a loop or out-and-back route. Distances for the various combinations of destinations are shown above to help you plan your hike!

Destination Distances from Glacier Gorge Trailhead

The table below outlines distances to various destinations from the Glacier Gorge trailhead. This parking lot is smaller than the Bear Lake trailhead parking lot, but is a better access point for hikes to the Loch and Sky Pond, for example.

The Glacier Gorge parking area is nearby the Bear Lake parking area, so you can connect the same destinations in varying combinations to create your perfect hike. This table lists distances to see particular destinations if you are starting at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead.

Bear Lake Road Timed Entry Permit

During the spring, summer, and fall months, a timed entry permit is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park. To access Bear Lake Road, you will need to select Option 1 when you make your reservation. In 2022, these permits were required from May 27 to October 10. Dates vary from year to year so always check the official reservation site for the most up-to-date information.

No matter when you visit, you need to pay an entrance fee to Rocky Mountain National Park. This is $35 per vehicle for 7 days, or you can use a national parks pass like the America the Beautiful pass, which grants entry at no additional cost to over 2,000 sites within the US National Park System! It’s well worth in our opinion, so we linked it here to make it easy for you to order your own!

Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry Information
NPS Graphic/A. Andreas

Bear Lake Road Hike Destinations

This map shows all of the destinations and points of interest on the Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge trailheads listed in the tables above, so you can visualize your hiking route in the Bear Lake road area.

Bear Lake Road Area Hiking Guides

Check out our detailed guides to the following hikes in the Bear Lake Road corridor!

Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak at Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Where to Stay in Estes Park

We recommend basing yourself in Estes Park when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Here are some well-rated hotel options in Estes Park, which is just a few miles from the Beaver Meadows entrance station to RMNP.

Luxury

Midrange

Budget

Click here to search for additional hotels in Estes Park or search below!

 

Guided Tours in Rocky Mountain National Park

Looking for a guided experience in Rocky Mountain National Park? Check out some of these tours you can book to help you make the most of your time in RMNP without the hassle.

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