Dream Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park
Trail: Dream Lake
Length: 2ish Miles RT to 3.8 Miles RT
Elevation Gain: ~400Ft
Where: Rocky Mountain National park
Closest Town: Estes Park
Dream Lake – is it worth it?
Nymph Dream and Emerald lake are really some of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park and after hiking to 2 of 3 I can understand why. Yes, the trails are more crowded than most but the views – are outstanding. IMO cruise past Nymph Lake straight to Dream Lake for these iconic views. Continue on to Emerald Lake and you are only clocking in 3.6 miles round trip so really this hike is for everyone.
Since we had an afternoon pass to RMNP we did an (accidental steeper) hike outside the park in the morning, which kind of wore us out. So we didn’t continue on to Emerald Lake, which is only 1.8 miles further. However, we had six adults and two little girls under 7 so we turned it around. Again, its very family, all shapes and sizes friendly!
If you are looking for another hike or a more challenging/longer hike I highly suggest Loch Lake to Sky Pond. We did this hike a few years ago and truly it’s one of the most incredible hikes I have done in Colorado!
Rocky Mountain National Park Ticket System
This summer RMNP implemented a ticketing system to enter the park, while this definitely was promoted by COVID it has been something the park has been toying with for a while, at its peak, RMNP can see crowds up to
- Tickets are released 30 days in advance
- However, a small % of tickets for every time slot is held for the day before, but you gotta be on right at 8 to grab them
- Tickets are your ENTRY TIME – if you get 8 am you enter around 8 am but if you show up at 9 or 12 that works too. You just can’t go in any earlier.
- Each car must have a ticket to enter the ticket
- You even need a ticket to Drive Ridge Road which I highly recommend!
Quick Tips for the Best Hike
- Since we couldn’t enter the park till 1 pm we arrived early did the steep hike to Gem Lake then picked up from BBQ from Smokin Dave’s. After heading into the park we pulled off to a picnic site and enjoyed lunch there before going to the parking lot to take the shuttle to the trailhead.
- Everyone was wearing a mask and the shuttles were limited to keep distancing. I highly recommend bringing a facemask for the trail as you will be passing people and sometimes in close quarters.
- Remember you can’t really bring your dog with you. Pets are only allowed in parking lots and not on trails so best to leave them at home.