Camping at Long Lake

Camping at Long Lake

Photographer: Jason Hill

The lakes in the Brainard Lake area of the Indian Peaks Wilderness near Boulder are exactly where they should be in their freeze/thaw cycle for this time of year, which is a bit surprising given how much snow the mountains have received this year. As of April 26, Red Rock Lake was about 50% thawed. Slightly higher up and closer to the mountains, Brainard Lake is about 90% ice-covered. Long Lake is 100% covered, still in the grip of winter. There is little snow at the winter trailhead (gate area), but snowshoes are still definitely required beyond Brainard Lake.

I'm convinced that this area, which is very accessible, has some of the best sunrise photography in the entire state. The shores of Red Rock Lake, Long Lake, and Lake Isabelle are great for sunrise when the weather permits. Unfortunately, nights on the east side of the divide in the Indian Peaks tend to be windy and those winds can continue through sunrise, giving you little reflection in the lakes.