Emerald Lake – Where is Emerald Lake in Colorado

Emerald Lake Colorado

Emerald Lake
Crested Butte, CO 81224, USA

Emerald Lake Hike- MOST POPULAR HIKE IN Rocky Mountain National Park. Emerald Lake Rocky Mountain NP

The Emerald Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park is the most popular hike in RMNP for good reason! It is busy, but you’ll be rewarded with not one but three alpine lakes during the hike.

Nymph lake is a short walk from the Bear Lake parking lot. The trail is semi-paved to Nymph Lake due to high traffic. This lowest lake is the best spot to view wildlife on the hike.

Dream Lake is the best view in RMNP. The large lake is just off the trail to Emerald Lake in Colorado. Most people skim by this resting point on the way to Emerald, but it is a view that should be taken in slowly. On a calm day the lake will reflect mountains on 3 sides surrounding you in a quiet retreat.

Emerald Lake Colorado is the final destination for most hikers along the trail that covers all three alpine lakes. The lake is aptly named with a green tint. The trail climbs in elevation between each lake but is well maintained for easy access.

As mentioned, it is the most popular hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, but don’t skip it because of crowds. This hike is worth a visit! Plus an easy way to enjoy the alpine lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

In early 2020 I quit my job to travel full time. I started a blog as a way to share the story of my journey and aspirations as a solo female traveler. Check it out at lauraonthemove.com

The Colorado journey continues next week with the first of a 6 day road trip exploring Colorado’s southwest boarder along with the remaining 3 National Parks in the state.

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This video includes: Emerald Lake Colorado, Emerald Lake Rocky Mountain National Park, Emerald Lake RMNP, Most popular hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, Most Popular hike in RMNP, Number one hike in Rocky Mountain National park, Emerald Lake RMNP, Dream Lake, Nymph Lake, RMNP Hike, easy day hike in rocky mountain national park

Emerald Lake Trail in Spring | Best Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park | Nymph and Dream Lakes

According to AllTrails, the Rocky Mountain National Park is the second best national park for hikers – only behind Zion. And the best hike within the “Rocky” Colorado park is the Emerald Lake Trail. This was our journey – and it started at the Bear Lake Trailhead, at an elevation just under 9,500 feet. We hiked to the smaller Nymph Lake, continued to picturesque Dream Lake, and finally made our way to our destination Emerald Lake, ending at an elevation of over 10,000 feet.

At these elevations, our Spring hike in late April was filled with plenty of snow and ice. We would soon learn what it is like to cross snow covered frozen lakes surrounded by some of the most beautiful wintery landscape this country has to offer.

Some of the comments made about this region are as follows:

“This lake is absolutely magical. The mountains that hide this lake are an amazing site to behold as well. I climbed up about 500ft through one of the deep crevasses that line western edge and was able to snap some incredible pictures.”

“Beautiful! After reading the road reviews, we were hesitant, but went anyway. From hwy 135, it was almost 9 miles from the start of the dirt road. Most of the way there, the road easily accommodates 2 vehicles. When you get about 3/4 of a mile from the lake the road becomes more rutty and rocky. There are places where only 1 car can travel, but you can visually see when it is going to be a problem and stop in a wider section of the road to allow another vehicle to pass. The road splits, go left, down to the lake. If you travel up, above the lake, this is a true one lane road with no way to easily pass or turn around. It’s worth the trip up.”

“Great hiking, ATV, or Moto stop! This destination has no funded upkeep so please keep it clean and enjoyable!”

“Small alpine lake above Crested Butte, it’s high in elevation so be prepared for the weather curve ball. Made the stop for lunch and the scenery.”

“Gorgeous. Best when the sun is overhead. The dirt roads get narrow and you have to share it with incoming traffic, so be mindful of pulloffs to make room for other drivers. We did the drive in a 2 wheel drive Passat, but AWD would have been ideal”

About Emerald Lake
Questions and answers

Can you swim in Emerald Lake Colorado?

It is COLD, but swimming is possible. There’s a good area to park with a short walk. Be sure to have decent footwear for a walk on the rocky area. Of particular importance is your awareness of the altitude and its effect on you while swimming.

Is Emerald Lake trail hard?

The trail to Emerald Lake is 3.3 miles roundtrip.

The total elevation gain for this hike is about 900 feet, with the elevation at Emerald Lake just over 10,000 feet above sea level. Due to the elevation gain and the altitude {which makes it harder to breathe}, I would consider this trail to be moderate in difficulty.

Where is Emerald Lake in Colorado?

Emerald Lake is located in the Weminuche Wilderness 10 miles from the Pine River Trailhead near Vallecito Reservoir. You’ll find the trailhead 15 miles northwest of Durango, with parking for the hike located adjacent to the reservoir.

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