Nymph Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

Updated: Feb 25

There's a reason the Bear Lake Corridor section of Rocky Mountain National Park is the most popular area amongst visitors.


Not only is the area stunningly beautiful, but there are an abundance of things to see (especially lakes) via well kept trails that cater to visitors of all skill levels!


Nymph Lake is one of those reasons. If you're already planning to visit the more popular Bear Lake, be sure to journey the extra 0.6 miles (1 km) up the trail to take in views of this Lilly pad covered body of water!


Have a specific question about visiting Nymph Lake? Jump ahead using the table of contents below:


Don't forget that Rocky Mountain National Park is now on the timed entry reservation system during peak season (end of May through early October). If you don't have a reservation be sure to head over to Recreation.gov to lock that in!


Nymph Lake Colorado
This photo of Nymph Lake was taken while hiking on towards Dream Lake

If you aren't familiar with that system - do not fear! I've put together a post highlighting how to get through the reservation process along with other useful tips. Check out my National Park Timed Entry Guide here!


Once you're finished reading this guide, be sure to check out the Rocky Mountain National Park Video Guide I put together over on my YouTube channel. It includes tons of great footage I shot during my visit throughout the park.


You'll notice some links and advertisements from partner or affiliate sites throughout this post. I typically earn a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. If you check those out, great. If not, I'm still happy you're here!

 

Where is Nymph Lake Located?


Nymph Lake is best accessed from the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park via the Beaver Meadows entrance station. Without traffic the drive from Estes Park to the Bear Lake trailhead Parking lot should take you between 30 and 45 minutes.


Most of the drive time occurs after entering Rocky Mountain which means you'll be able to take in the parks beautiful scenery along the way!



If you're visiting Nymph Lake be sure to hit Bear Lake first! Bear Lake is located right by the main parking lot and there's a nature walk that loops around it. If you haven't already, you can learn more about this stop by reading my post on Bear Lake here!


Mountain views at Nymph Lake
Nymph Lake offers stunning views of the Colorado Rockies

If you're entering Rocky Mountain from the west, near Grand Lake, you'll have to drive across the entire park to reach the Bear Lake trailhead which can take nearly two hours. Considering many of the parks best hikes and sights are located along the Bear Lake Corridor, it's not a surprise that most people suggest staying in Estes Park over Grand Lake.

 

What to Expect When Hiking to Nymph Lake?


Nymph Lake is one of the easier hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park with AllTrails pegging the roundtrip journey at 1.2 miles or about 2 kilometers.


There's a slight elevation gain as you work from Bear Lake to Nymph Lake, but despite the trails elevation (9,900 feet or 3,000 meters) making breathing slightly more difficult, this is a trail that welcomes hikers of all skill levels.


The trail leading to Nymph Lake is well maintained and offers modest tree coverage which provides some protection against the mountain sun as well.


Hiking trail in Rocky Mountain National Park
Views of the trail leading from Bear Lake to Nymph Lake

Not surprisingly since the stroll to Nymph Lake is so easy and short you won't need to pack anything special. You probably won't need much more than water for this scenic hike.


If you plan to continue on from Nymph Lake towards Dream or Emerald Lake (which I HIGHLY recommend) you'll want to come more prepared. The Bear Lake trailhead also serves as the starting point for these areas.

 

Nymph Lake Parking


Unfortunately like many other popular National Park destinations the parking situation for Nymph Lake is pretty brutal since it utilizes the popular Bear Lake parking lot.


When I visited Rocky Mountain in late July we had a 9am timed entry slot which included Bear Lake Corridor access.


Man hanging out at Nymph Lake Colorado
Nymph Lake was covered with lily pads when we visited during July

We entered the park around 9:30am and reached the Bear Lake parking lot around 10am. At this time rangers were directing traffic. Most cars were being turned away and told to park at an overflow lot (with shuttle access) down the road.


Looking for tips to save on airfare? Check out a full post I wrote on the subject here!

Some way, some how, we were the last car they allowed to park here before the main parking lot was shut down again.


Girl posing at Nymph Lake Colorado
Nymph Lake makes for a great spot to stop for a quick break

Unless you're arriving very early you should probably just plan on parking at the overflow lot and taking the shuttle service to the Bear Lake trailhead. Shuttles are plentiful so you shouldn't need to wait long for one.

 

Other Things to Know About Nymph Lake


Is There Cell Phone Service at Nymph Lake?


Cell phone service throughout most of Rocky Mountain National Park is minimal. You may get intermittent cell phone service around Nymph Lake but don't count on it. The higher points of the park (towards the Alpine Visitor Center) will offer better opportunities to get a signal.


How Much Does Nymph Lake Entry Cost?


There isn't a fee specific to accessing Nymph Lake. The Rocky Mountain National Park entry pass and timed entry reservation are all you need to access Nymph Lake. You can check out current rates at the National Park Service's website.


How Long Does it Take to Visit Nymph Lake?


Start off by budgeting 30-45 minutes of driving time from Estes Park. From there let's assume you park at the overflow lot and need to wait 10 minutes each way on the shuttle for pick up so you'll need to budget about one hour for logistics.


The trail itself is fairly short so it's unlikely you'll spend more than 2 hours from start to finish, including time hanging around the lake. You'll need to budget additional time if you also plan to visit Bear Lake.


Are Pets Allowed at Nymph Lake?


Sadly, pets are not allowed at Nymph Lake. While your pet is welcome to enter Rocky Mountain National Park, don't expect to take them with you at Nymph Lake or any of the other trails. Pets are only welcome around parking lots and certain campgrounds.



Are there Bathrooms at Nymph Lake?


There are bathrooms at the Bear Lake trailhead parking lot.


Should I Bring any Special Hiking Gear for Nymph Lake?


Not necessary for Nymph Lake. Hiking boots never hurt, but the trail is well kept and the distance is relatively short so even these aren't required. Just be sure to bring some water along for the trip!


What is the Best Time of Day to Visit Nymph Lake?


Given the short duration of this trail you can really visit any time of day. Keep in mind that during the summer months Rocky Mountain often experiences afternoon thunderstorms. Arriving early or late in the day can improve your prospects at parking in the main lot and cut down on crowds around the lake.


Also - don't forget to check out the Rocky Mountain National Park Video Guide over on my YouTube channel if you haven't already!

 

Looking for hiking gear recommendations?


Chances are if you're visiting Rocky Mountain National Park you'll be doing some hiking. If you're doing some hiking you'll want to have the right gear in order to have the best experience possible.


Finding gear that's functional, not overpriced, that also looks good can be a challenge.


For your convenience I've laid out some of my favorite hiking apparel below. All of the gear I link to below are items I personally own and have tested out on the trails. Quick disclaimer, I am an affiliate of several referral programs and I may earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.


  • Hiking day pack - If you're in the market for a hiking day pack I'd suggest browsing REI's selection. If you've never owned one before you can go into a retail store and they'll ensure you find one that fits properly with any of the bells and whistles you may require!

  • Water reservoir - I have reservoirs from Platypus and Gregory that I really like. While these come in a variety of sizes I wouldn't bother with those smaller than 3L. You can always just fill up the larger ones part way if you're concerned about weight since they collapse to the same size.

  • Moisture wicking t-shirts - Patagonia makes really great hiking t-shirts that keep you dry all day long. They also perform well under multiple layers of clothing.

  • Hiking socks - I absolutely love the FEIDEER brand of hiking socks. I've tried some other hiking sock brands, but I think these take the cake! They make great socks for women and men.


There's nothing worse than missing out on a great hike because you didn't come prepared, don't be that person!

 

Check Out Our Timed Entry Reservation Guide


There's one mistake you cannot afford to make when visiting US National Parks. Showing up without a timed entry reservation is a surefire way to blow up what should be an otherwise stress free day exploring some of Americas most beautiful destinations.


Fortunately - we have put together a guide walking you through that process. We also provide useful tips on how to get the best time slots and what to do if you find yourself without a reservation.


You can access our Timed Entry Reservation Guide here!