Discover the Beauty of Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

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Nestled amidst towering Rocky Mountain peaks, Sprague Lake is one of the most serene and picturesque locations in the majestic Rocky Mountain National Park. If you’ve ever dreamed of experiencing a tranquil mountain paradise, then this is the place for you!

Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is also one of the easiest to access of the most beautiful alpine lakes in the park.

From its stunning views to its awe-inspiring hiking trail circling the water, Sprague Lake offers an experience for all park visitors looking to explore the great outdoors.

Get ready to be amazed; come along with us on this journey as we explore what Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer.

Sprague Lake Trail Hiking Stats

  • Trailhead: Bear Lake
  • Distance: 0.8 miles roundtrip
  • Starting Elevation: 8,701 feet
  • Elevation Gain: Negligible
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Best Time to Visit: Any time of year!

If you’re looking for an easy, yet rewarding hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, the loop trail at Sprague Lake is a great option. This 0.8-mile loop trail is located in the Bear Lake Corridor of Rocky Mountain National Park and is accessible year-round.

The trail’s gentle elevation gain of fewer than 50 feet makes it suitable for most hikers. Strollers and wheelchairs are also permitted on this flat, crushed stone, accessible trail. You can expect to complete the loop in under an hour, but be sure to take your time and take in all the stunning views of Sprague Lake along the way!

The lake sits at an elevation of about 8,700 feet, so you’ll have forested views and mountain ridges surrounding you on this loop. Make sure to bring your camera as well – you won’t want to miss capturing some of these incredible sights!

The Continental Divide mountains as seen from the loop trail around Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
the Continental Divide peaks behind Sprague Lake

Sprague Lake Trail: Our Visit

Our experience on the Sprague Lake Trail was magical. We were lucky enough to visit this stunning lake twice during our Rocky Mountain National Park vacation – once in the afternoon and once in the morning. We weren’t lucky enough to spot a moose or any of the larger wildlife during our visits, but keep your eyes peeled!

The trail is an easy .8-mile loop that can be completed in under an hour, but don’t rush it! Take your time to enjoy all that nature has to offer you. From the majestic mountain peaks to the shimmering lake’s surface, there is much beauty along this path.

After checking out the afternoon views of the lake, we had planned to enjoy a picnic at one of the many picnic tables near the parking lot in the Sprague Lake picnic area, but our visit was cut short by one of those passing rain storms we’ve mentioned to plan for when hiking the longer and more difficult trails in the park, like the hike to Sky Pond via the Loch.

Sprague Lake with the trail around the lake to the right, at sunrise.
We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise walk around Sprague Lake.

Should you Visit Sprague Lake?

If you’re looking for a beautiful and peaceful spot in Rocky Mountain National Park, then Sprague Lake should definitely be on your list!

Located in the Bear Lake Road Corridor, this stunning lake is the perfect destination for casual hikers and nature lovers alike. Whether you’re looking for an afternoon hike or a stunning evening stroll, this loop offers unbeatable views of the surrounding mountains and shimmering lake surface.

Not to mention, there’s nothing quite like watching the sun rise over the mountains behind the lake in the morning. So if you’re looking for a great way to enjoy nature while exploring a leisurely trail, the Sprague Lake loop is one of the easiest in the park.

Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
views from the loop trail around Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Things to Know Before You Go

Before you take off to explore Sprague Lake, it’s important to know what you’re getting into.

Be sure to reserve your timed entry reservation on before you arrive so that you’ll be able to access all of the areas you have on your Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary. When selecting your time reservation, make sure it includes Bear Lake Corridor access, or you won’t be able to enter the area to visit Sprague Lake between 5 am and 6 pm.

In addition, the parking lot at the Sprague Lake trailhead is average-sized but can fill up so plan on arriving early in the morning or late in the afternoon for better luck finding a spot.

Visitors can utilize the park shuttle service by parking their vehicle at the Bear Lake Corridor Park & Ride to avoid parking concerns. This would be best used in the middle of the day, but the shuttle bus is not an option for sunrise visits.

This scenic lake is also a popular spot for lake wedding ceremonies and elopements.

Finally, the trail is suitable for all ages and accessible year-round so don’t let any weather keep you from enjoying this stunning lake!

Access point to the Sprague Lake loop from the picnic area parking lot.
Use this pathway to access the loop trail from the picnic parking area.

Where to Watch the Sunrise at Sprague Lake

If you’re visiting for sunrise, you’ll want to position yourself on the side of Sprague Lake nearest the picnic area parking lot. Heading across the bridge to the loop trail, begin walking to the right.

Find a bench, a boulder, or a log to sit and enjoy. The beautiful reflections in the lake with the fiery colors in the sky are stunning scenes.

You most likely won’t be the only one to head to Sprague Lake for sunrise, so you’ll want to arrive with plenty of time to scout the trail for the best spot.

While the mountains behind are not those of the Continental Divide including Hallett Peak, Taylor Peak, and Flattop Mountain, you can turn around or continue along the trail to the other side of the lake and see those taller peaks in the morning glow.

A summer sunrise at Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park with peachy golden toned sky
Summer sunrise at Sprague Lake

What Nearby Trails to Also Explore

Along Bear Lake Road, there are multiple spots you should visit for stunning panoramic views.

The Bear Lake Loop is extremely similar to the loop around Sprague Lake. The trail is almost as flat as this one with benches dispersed along the way to enjoy the spectacular views. 

Nymph Lake, Emerald Lake, and Dream Lake are just beyond Bear Lake, and the hike to reach these three lakes is known as one of the most stunning, yet relatively easy hikes in the park. This one is definitely more of a “hike” on a rocky trail, but is great for active visitors, even with little to no hiking experience.

Lake Haiyaha can be visited on its own or added to the Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lake hike. This one, also at the end of Bear Lake Road, is a little larger than the previous three and its panoramic views are simply unmatched.

If you want to get away from the craziness of Bear, Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes, then Mills Lake is a spot you should visit. The hike is easy to moderate, but the lake is extremely peaceful. You might have the chance to see wildlife here, too!

Alberta Falls can be found along the trail to Mills Lake. Visit early in the morning or later in the evening. Otherwise, the crowds visiting this short hike to the waterfall can be overwhelming.

milky turquoise waters in Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park
Our view of Lake Haiyaha in July 2022

FAQs: Visiting Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Do you need a pass for Sprague Lake?

To visit Sprague Lake along Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, visitors need to have a valid park entrance pass. Rocky Mountain National Park offers several entrance pass options, including a daily pass, a weekly pass, and an annual pass.

During the summer and fall months (check with the park each year for specific dates), you’ll need a timed entry reservation in addition to a park entrance pass to enter the Bear Lake Road Corridor between the hours of 5 am and 6 pm. These can all be purchased on Be sure to check when timed entry passes are scheduled to release for the days of your visit, as they get scooped up quickly, especially for weekend dates.

It is important to note that the park’s entrance pass system is designed to help fund the maintenance, facilities, and educational programs throughout the park. The pass can be purchased ahead of time online or in person at one of the park’s entrances.

Can you swim in Sprague Lake?

Due to safety concerns and conservation efforts in Rocky Mountain National Park, swimming is not allowed in Sprague Lake. The lake’s ecosystem is fragile and home to various species of fish and aquatic plants, which are essential to maintaining the park’s diverse ecosystem.

In addition, the lake’s bottom is covered with rocks and other underwater hazards, making swimming a potentially dangerous activity.

Visitors can still enjoy the lake’s serene beauty and recreational activities from the shores, but it is important to respect the park’s rules and regulations to ensure the safety of visitors and the preservation of the park’s environment and ecosystem.

How far is Sprague Lake from Estes Park?

Sprague Lake is only 10 miles from the center of Estes Park. From town to Sprague Lake Road, the drive only takes about 20 minutes.

While the walk around Sprague Lake is scenic, you shouldn’t sleep on the 20-minute drive to the adventure as it can be equally as beautiful and you may be lucky enough to spot various wildlife along the way.

Use the Beaver Meadows entrance, but depending on the time of day, there may be a line to get through the entrance booths or to enter Bear Lake Road.

Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park with the Continental Divide in the background
Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, with the Continental Divide in the background

Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty and scenic panoramas of the Rockies. Whether you’re an avid hiker or just looking for a peaceful spot to relax, Sprague Lake is accessible for all. So grab your camera and head out to Sprague Lake, no matter what time of day it is!