lake haiyaha colorado hike

Visit Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park Now

If you’ve been to Lake Haiyaha before summer 2022, you need to go back! The color of the lake is completely different and no one knows how long it will remain the magical milky blue-green turquoise color. As of May 2024, the trail to Lake Haiyaha is still covered in snow but it’s melting so July-Sept would be a great time to visit if you can snag a permit!

Do you need a pass for Lake Haiyaha?

Rocky Mountain National Park requires timed entry reservations from May 24 – Oct 20, 2024 between the hours of 5 am to 6 pm — make sure you select the option with Bear Lake Corridor Road.

The reservation allows a two-hour block for entry and you can stay as late as you’d like in the day. 40% of reservations are released the night before your selected day at 7 pm MT so if you didn’t book an advance reservation, there’s still a chance!

HIKE TO: Lake Haiyaha
TRAIL: Nymph Lake Trail > Emerald Lake Trail > Lake Haiyaha Trail
TRAILHEAD: Bear Lake Trailhead
MILES: 2.74 miles out and back
TIME: 1.5 hrs
DATE I WENT: 9/8/22 
ELEVATION: 10,228 ft
PARK PERMIT: yes - I recommend getting an annual National Parks Pass
PARK RESERVATIONS: required from May - Oct
LOCATION: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Lake Haiyaha is just one of the many alpine lake hikes near Denver, CO but it should be at the top of your summer bucket list!

Why is Lake Haiyaha so blue now? How is it a different color than before?

A rockfall event on the South Slope of Hallet Peak on June 28, 2022 caused rocks to slide into Upper Chaos Canyon with Lake Haiyaha just below it. This event transported a lot of glacial silt into Lake Haiyaha which creates that milky turquoise blue color

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How long is the Lake Haiyaha hike?

According to the NPS site, it’s 4.2 miles out and back; however, my GPS tracker marked it as 2.74 miles round trip, and the Caltopo maps tracked it at 3.2 miles. Regardless, it is a relatively short hike that can be done in less than three hours total but leave some time to enjoy the lake.

How hard is the hike to Lake Haiyaha?

The hike is short and easy for all levels. I visited Rocky Mountain National Park during the busy season when reservations are required from May through October. If you’re planning a trip to visit Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer, this next bit may help.

Lake Haiyaha Trailhead

It gets very crowded in the summer months and there is a shuttle system in place for overflow parking to easily access the Bear Lake Trailhead – the shuttle comes often and the ride is short, only about 2-3 stops.

Lake Haiyaha Trip Report

Beautiful lake in Rocky Mountain National Park; nymph lake, bear lake trail

We started our hike at 10:26 am and within 10 mins, we passed Nymph Lake which was incredible to see with lilypad-like leaves floating along the edge of the lake. The trail goes through the forest and along the edge of the mountains so there is plenty of shade and although it is only <2 miles one way on a very crowded trail, the hike still provides a feeling of wandering in the wilderness.

Hike to Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park

Once you reach Lake Haiyaha, there are a lot of large boulders you can sit on for a snack to enjoy the view of Hallet Peak. Since it is a popular trail, you may want to get away from the crowds but still be by the water – walk around to the east end of the lake (your right side when staring at Hallet Peak) and cross some logs and rocks at the end of the lake to find some solitude.

With very little elevation gain overall and epic views of Rocky Mountain National Park along the way, this hike is perfect for the whole family!

This trail also splits off to Dream Lake and Emerald Lake which are only an extra 0.7 miles one way. Dream Lake is literally just around the corner from the trail junction so check it out on your visit!

dream lake hike rocky mountain national park
First time visiting Rocky Mountain National Park? Get a self-driving audio tour!

Places to Stay Near Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Stanley Hotel – this hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining
  • Coyote Mountain Lodge – nice and clean rooms in Estes Park, CO. Pet-friendly, includes breakfast, parking, wifi, AC, and hot tub.
  • Grand Lake Lodge – located along Grand Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, this lodge is surrounded by a lot of historic sites and landscape. It’s pet-friendly, has free wifi and parking, clean, and close to horseback riding, hiking and biking trails.
  • Swiftcurrent Lodge and Cottages by the River – private rustic cottages with secluded outdoor spaces located near the entrance of RMNP. Barbeque grill included.

Things to do near Estes Park, CO

Things to do in Denver, CO

Other Nearby Colorado Hikes You Might Like:

Thanks for reading! Would love to hear any questions or recommendations in the comment section below 🙂

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