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Hiking to Nymph Lake Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park

A relaxing hike to Nymph Lake, Colorado should be an enjoyable part of any trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Nymph Lak is situated in the Bear Lake Corridor of the park. And the Bear Lake Corridor section of Rocky Mountain National Park is hands down 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!

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 to lock that in!

Nymph Lake Colorado Rocky Mountain National ParkPin
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 Colorado located?

Nymph Lake is best accessed from the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park via the Beaver Meadows entrance station and is situated in the Bear Lake Corridor.

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 in Rocky Mountain National ParkPin
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 entirety of Trail Ridge Road 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.

If you’re still searching for accommodations you can find great deals in Estes Park here or in Grand Lake here.

What to expect when hiking to Nymph Lake Colorado?

Nymph Lake is one of the easier hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 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.

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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 Lake 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.

Where do I park for Nymph Lake?

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 National Park during my trip to Colorado in late July we had a 9am timed entry slot which included Bear Lake Corridor access.

Man hanging out at Nymph Lake ColoradoPin
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.

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 ColoradoPin
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.

Is there cell phone service at Nymph Lake Colorado?

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 Colorado 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 Colorado?

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 Colorado?

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. You won’t encounter more along the trail.

What is the best time of day to visit Nymph Lake Colorado?

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!

Should I bring any special hiking gear for Nymph Lake Colorado?

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!

Looking for suggestions on what to pack for hiking?

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 handy in order to have the best experience possible.

For your convenience I’ve put together an extremely thorough hiking checklist to make sure you don’t overlook anything.

That guide is geared towards longer day hikes, so if you’re doing something more casual you probably won’t need everything on that list. But rest assured you won’t overlook a thing!

Check out these activities available in the area

Looking for more ways to fill out your trip itinerary? Be sure to check out the list of activities below from GetYourGuide.

Read my Timed Entry Reservation Guide

There’s one mistake you cannot afford to make when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park during your trip to Colorado. Showing up without a timed entry reservation is a surefire way to blow up what should be an otherwise stress free day exploring one of Americas most beautiful destinations.

Fortunately – I’ve have put together a guide walking you through the reservation process. I 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 my Timed Entry Reservation Guide here.

Hopefully this guide covering what to know when hiking to Nymph Lake in Colorado serves you well!

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