The complex interactions of elevation, slope, exposure and regional-scale air masses determine the climate within the park, which is noted for its extreme weather patterns. A "collision of air masses" from several directions produces some of the key weather events in the region. When cold arctic air from the north meets warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico at the Front Range, "intense, very wet snowfalls with total snow depth measured in the feet" accumulate in the park.
Slightly strenuous hike. The first portion (after the trail splits from Bear Lake) is primarily uphill. Snowshoes are a great asset to have here. After some breaks to catch our breath, we made it to Nymph Lake, which offered a gorgeous view and prime photo opportunity. Then, across the lake continued the trail. More uphill climbing, followed by a beautiful vista and Dream Lake, which was very windy but gorgeous. Then came a 20-25 minute steep hike up to Emerald Lake, snowshoes REQUIRED for this portion. The steep hike is worth it as you emerge from forest to a view unlike any other. There are plenty of spots to enjoy lunch with an incredible view of tall peaks and the frozen lake.
Features: Sprague Lake offers up pristine, open views of Half Mountain, Thatchtop Mountain, Otis Peak, Flattop Mountain, Taylor Peak, Notchtop Mountain, and Hallett Peak, as well as much of the Continental Divide. You can also catch a glimpse of aspen groves on the hillsides surrounding the lake, making Sprague Lake another ideal spot to visit in autumn. Sprague Lake is considered a handicap accessible hike.
Glacial Basin was the site of a resort run by Abner and Alberta Sprague, after whom Sprague Lake is named. The lake is a shallow body of water that was created when the Spragues dammed Boulder Brook to create a fish pond. Sprague Lake is a popular place for birdwatching, hiking and viewing the mountain peaks, along with camping at the Glacier Basin campground.
Many hikers want to experience the thrill of camping in the wild, which is what backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park is like. Backcountry permits are necessary and may be obtained at the Backcountry Offices. Near Estes Park, the Backcountry Office is located at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Many backcountry campsites dot the park, including special sites for groups of more than seven people. Campers are asked to take responsibility for their sites, such as practicing proper Leave No Trace techniques and taking appropriate wildlife protection measures. More information on these tips plus suggestions for how to plan a backcountry camping trip may be found at the official Rocky Mountain National Park Backcountry Webpage.
There is also plenty for you to explore in the surrounding areas. If you head south, you’ll reach Red Rocks Park, which is known for its red rock formations. Head east, and you’ll find yourself in Denver, where you can experience a taste of the city, complete with shopping and dining options. Head west, and you’ll be in the Rocky Mountains, with options to ski.
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