Which Timed Entry Permit for Rocky Mountain National Park?
Question: Why choose the Bear Lake option?
Answer: In addition to access to the rest of RMNP between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m., Bear Lake Road is arguably the most famous road in the Park! These are the popular areas you can access along the Bear Lake Road corridor:
- Alberta Falls – spectacular falls with an easy hike. The short climb to the falls is worth it! Roundtrip 1.6 miles with 160 ft of elevation gain.
- Bear Lake – 0.6 mile loop around beautiful Bear Lake with minor elevation gain. There are many stunning photo opportunities all around this calm, mountain lake. Bear Lake trailhead gives access to some of the most iconic hikes in the Park, with varying degrees of difficulty – you’ll be able to find an appropriate hike for young and old alike.
- Dream Lake – With dramatic views of Hallett Peak standing guard over the alpine lake, this relatively short hike offers big rewards! 2.2 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 425 ft.
- Sprague Lake – stunning mountain views with peaceful lake reflections, plentiful benches and lookouts around each bend on this short, flat hike. Picnic area, restrooms, and wheelchair rated trail. 0.5 mile loop with 10 ft of elevation gain.
These are all great hikes for the whole family!
Question: Will I still get to see much of the Park if I choose a Timed Entry Permit without access to Bear Lake Road?
Answer: YES! There’s so much to see in RMNP, and the “rest of the Park” permit allows access to the majority of the Park – from Estes Park all the way to Grand Lake. You’ll be able to drive on Trail Ridge Road, visit the Alpine Visitor Center, and go to Hidden Valley (the Jr Rangers’ Headquarters) to name a few.
You’ll also be able to visit these top Park destinations:
- Adams Falls – 0.6 miles roundtrip with 79 ft elevation gain. This short hike leads to a small, lovely waterfall. Past the falls, you’ll find a river valley where you can often see moose grazing and wildflowers in bloom during late spring and summer months.
- Deer Mountain – 3 mile peak hike with 1,076 ft elevation gain. After some steep and rocky terrain and switchback trails, the beautiful, sweeping views of Mummy Range, Horseshoe Park, the Front Range, and Moraine Park are well worth the effort!
- Holzwarth Historic Site – visit the Holzwarth family dude ranch and learn about these early homesteaders and their rugged life in before the NPS acquired the land.
- Sheep Lakes – a beautiful meadow a few miles from the Fall River Entrance to the Park where you can see abundant wildlife – bighorn sheep, coyotes, ground squirrels, and elk.
- Timber Lake – a 10-mile roundtrip hike with 2,060 ft elevation gain. You’ll hike up-hill through forests, subalpine meadows, past flowing streams, to end at sparkling Timber Lake.
- Tundra Communities Trail – a 1 mile roundtrip hike with 214 ft elevation gain. This short hike starts at the Rock Cut pullout off Trail Ridge Road. The high altitude offers views of the unique tundra ecosystem – its rock formations, high alpine wildflowers (in bloom mid-summer), and sweeping views of the surrounding peaks.
- Lily Lake – this beautiful roadside lake has an easy trail around the lake with spectacular views of the Estes Cone and Longs Peak.
- Wild Basin Trailhead – on the east side of RMNP, this less explored part of the Park really feels wild! This trailhead leads to several different trails that offer hikes to multiple waterfalls and alpine lakes. You won’t run into as many people on this side of the park, but you’ll enjoy the solitude and opportunities to immerse yourself in pristine wilderness.
For more information on how and when to get a Timed Entry Permit click here.