Rocky Mountain National Park: Bear Lake
Date visited: 3/5/16
Mileage: Located steps from the Bear Lake trailhead
It's been exactly 6 months since I was last in Rocky Mountain National Park and it has snowed quite a bit since then. With the winter months winding down I knew there wouldn't be many more opportunities for winter adventures left this season. Not wanting to miss out on a snow covered Rocky Mountain National Park I decided to head there for a long weekend and snowy adventures!
I had an entire 4 day itinerary planned, like usual, and not a bit of it went according to plan, like usual. I've found itineraries never go according to plan but I make them anyway. It gives me a better idea of the area so when one plan falls through it's easy to find a fallback option. So while we weren't able to make it to every spot on my itinerary (Sky Pond has eluded me yet again!) we were able to make it to some beautiful winter scenes.
Our first stop was Bear Lake. Bear Lake is an easily accessible lake located mere yards from the trailhead. It is the perfect spot to visit if you don't have the time or ability to take longer hikes. We arrived to Rocky Mountain a little behind schedule and didn't have enough time to hike to Dream Lake for sunset. We opted to just hang out around Bear Lake and while we didn't get to see the actual sunset from the lake we enjoyed watching the sky change colors as the sun sank lower in the sky.
It was also fun to photograph the ice of Bear Lake. The cracks and fissures create the perfect leading lines. The lake was pretty busy when we first arrived but everyone seemed to be keeping to the south side of the lake so Alex and I walked over to the opposite side and had it pretty much to ourselves except for one other woman who, as it turns out, is a wonderful photographer. See for yourself here! We ran into her the next morning at Dream Lake as well and had a nice conversation about other photogenic spots in the area and exchanged information. One of my favorite things about hiking is the wonderful people you meet on the trails! People you meet on the trails are usually just as, if not more, enthusiastic about the outdoors as you are. They are helpful, open, and all-around friendly people. I'm sure there are some outdoorsy jerks out there but we have yet to meet one :)
Lodging: Moraine Campground, $18/night
We spent the first night in Moraine Campground. No rangers were on duty to check us in so we drove around the campground loop until we found a spot we wanted to call home for the night and self-registered. The campground was nice with basic amenities. We haven't car camped in a while and it felt like a luxury to simply pull up to a spot and carry our equipment a few feet to set up camp instead of having to haul it up a mountain! We also weren't used to the company. We had a few noisy neighbors but most of them quieted down once it got dark. Or maybe it was just the wind had picked up and drowned out their noise. It was a windy night but our Mountain Hardwear Tangent 2 and down-filled sleeping bags kept us warm.
See more photos of my adventures in Rocky Mountain National Park HERE!