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Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park during the Spring

Springtime in Rocky Mountain National Park is a beautiful season to visit. The weather is getting nicer, the sun is getting warmer and as one of the most visited national parks in the country it is not yet packed. Rocky Mountain National Park is located in the Rockies of Colorado, just a short drive from the picturesque mountain town of Estes Park.

With the elevation in the park ranging from 5,600 ft to over 12,000 ft it is best to spend the first day acclimating in the Estes Park before starting to hike. This gives you plenty of time to explore its main street, delicious foods, and even catch a glimpse of deer or elk walking through town.

The most important thing to know about hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park in the Spring is that most of the park is still covered in snow. On the trails the snow is heavily packed and often is a bit icy.

If you plan on hiking the more visited trails, make sure to wear snow/ice spikes on your shoes for enough grip. Heading onto more remote and backcountry trails require snowshoes as without them you can fall into waist deep snow.

Sprague Lake Loop

This easy going 1 mile walk around Sprague Lake is perfect if you are looking to avoid the ice and snow at higher elevations. In spring the lake itself is mostly melted and there are only a few manageable spots of snow and mud along the trail. As you walk around the lake you will be greeted with breathtaking views of the mountain peeks along the Continental Divide. In the lake you can spot a variety of birds feeding.

Alberta Falls

In the early spring the 30-foot tall Alberta Falls remains completely frozen over. It is so awe inspiring to see that even the power of water is no match for the cold winters of Colorado. Depending on the weather the falls begin to thaw in late spring leading to a thunderous site. No matter what this 1.7-mile roundtrip hike provides an amazing photo opportunity.

Bear Lake Loop

Bear Lake Loop has minimal elevation gain making it the ideal spot for the entire family who wants to hike on a snowy path. Go for a short hike around the frozen Bear Lake and on opposite sides of the lake you will get fantastic views of Hallett Peak and Half Mountain.

Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake

This hike also begins at the Bear Lake trailhead. Get ready for a steady climb uphill. This 3.5-mile round trip trail has an elevation gain of 650ft and is covered in hard packed snow and ice throughout the spring. As you make your way passed Nymph Lake and Dream Lake the final stop is Emerald Lake at the base of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain. As the spring progresses the ice on the lakes do thin, so be careful walking on the ice and make sure to ask for an update at the visitors center.

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Alex S

Tuesday 29th of May 2018

It sounds like spring is a good time to visit for some human powered backcountry skiing. Snow down to the lower elevations means epic powder in North Aspects I would assume.

Travel To Blank

Tuesday 29th of May 2018

We are not skiers, but in the early spring there is plenty of snow for snowshoeing or falling chest deep into it with regular shoes on!