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Photo Credit: © 2019 James Frank

Bear Lake Road


Drive up to Bear Lake on the most famous road in Rocky Mountain National Park!

This 10.5 mile drive from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center starts at 7,840 ft and climbs up to Bear Lake at 9,475 ft. Continental Divide peaks tower above you.

Along the way, you’ll pass trailheads for hiking trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, the Moraine Park Museum and Sprague Lake.

There is a large picnic area at Sprague Lake (elevation 8710 feet), portable rest rooms, and a wheelchair-rated trail around the lake.

Stroll the flat trail to the east side of the lake and look back across the lake — there’s an iconic view to the peaks above Bear Lake from just around the curve of the trail.

The road ends in the Bear Lake parking lot. Park your car and walk the few yards to the famous lake. There are rest rooms a few yards from the parking lot for summer visitors.

Several popular trails begin at Bear Lake. Some are short and moderate hiking for families with younger children, while others are more strenuous.

The trail circling the lake is easy, and photo opportunities are everywhere around the clear, smooth waters of this high mountain lake.

At an altitude of 9475 feet, the lake freezes in the winter.

Cross country skiers take advantage of the snow-covered lake and trails. Tubers hike across the lake and up the mountainside for a fast descent back down and across the lake.

Note for summer visits:

A Timed Entry Permit for the Bear Lake Road Corridor is required between the end of May and the end of October.  This allows entry to Bear Lake Road between 5am and 6pm in 2 hour windows with no set time for departure.  If you leave the area, re-entry is allowed after 2pm.

Traffic can be heavy during the summer months and the Bear Lake parking lot often fills up by noon on busy summer days.

Consider taking the Park shuttle bus to and from the lake.   Park at the Visitor Center in Estes Park, or park at the Park n Ride lot across from Glacier Basin Campground on the Bear Lake Road to catch the shuttle.

The Park shuttle runs during the summer months only, daily through early September  and weekends only until late-October.


For a full description of the scenic Bear Lake Drive: