Best time to visit Colorado

Bear Lake Road

A beautiful drive through Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake Road in Colorado 2019 - Best Time
Photo by

© Don Evenson

Bear Lake Road links Upper Beaver Meadows and Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. This 36-km (23-mile) road offers access to many hiking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and the Moraine Park Discovery Center. Moraine Park area is rich with wildlife like foraging elk.

Bear Lake Road was constructed back in 1928, and it is generally open year-round, but may be closed after a significant snowfall. The best time for a scenic drive in terms of weather and moderate crowds is late spring to early autumn. Also, shuttle bus service is usually offered to the Bear Lake Route from Memorial Day Weekend in late May until late September–early October, so it's the most convenient time if you don't own vehicle. The shuttle departs from the Glacier Basin Campground and stops at Park & Ride, Bierstadt Lake Trailhead, Glacier Gorge Trailhead, and Bear Lake.

Bear Lake Road in late April 2019
Bear Lake Road in late April

One of the most picturesque areas along the road is Sprague Lake on the south side of Glacier Creek at an elevation of 2,654 m ( 8,710 feet). After passing Glacier Greek, the road features several dramatic twists and switchbacks before arriving at Bear Lake at 2,880 m (9,450 ft) above the sea level. From there, several hiking trails of various difficulty levels invite visitors to explore the park further. In winter, Bear Lake attracts cross country skiers, snow tubers, and snowshoe hikers.

Every year, over 2 million people visit Rocky Mountain National Park for its postcard-like views and abundant nature. Most crowds arrive in the summer as it's the best time for wildlife exploration.