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, it’s 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 (Updated 2021)
This summer RMNP implemented a ticketing system to enter the park. RMNP implemented a ticketing system last summer to reduce the capacity for COVID but in general, the park’s crowds have been growing and growing. In 2020, Rocky Mountain was the 4th most visited park in the US!
- Tickets are released on the first of the month (June 1st for all of July etc)
- There are now 2 reservations types = get details here
- However, 25% of tickets for every time slot is held for the day before, but you gotta be on right at 5 pm 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 than your ticket time.
- Each car must have a ticket to enter the ticket
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.
- Check out my 10+ hiking must-haves
Looking for a longer hike? Loch Lake and Sky Pond are beyond gorgeous! Since these hikes are much longer the trails are not as crowded the further you go. Get all the details here (picture below)