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Longs Peak from Bear Lake

Longs Peak from Bear Lake

Photographer: Jason Hill

Longs Peak (14,259ft / 4,346m) towers over frozen Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park after a May snowstorm.

If you happen across a Colorado state quarter (U.S. 25-cent coin), you may want to compare the image on the coin with this view.

As of May 14, 2014, the conditions in the national park are slowly turning to spring (minus the 30" of snow that has fallen there this week). Sprague Lake is ice-free. As you can see, Bear Lake is still 100% covered. Snow in the Bear Lake area is roughly 5 feet deep, while snow has thinned drastically at lower elevations and Moraine Park, for instance, has none. The higher elevation tarn lakes (e.g., Dream and Mills) have largely thawed.

The roads and trails are another story. The September 2013 floods caused significant damage to the canyon roads leading from Boulder to the park and to the park's trail network (many bridges and backcountry campsites are simply gone). Route 7 from Lyons and through Allenspark has been entirely reconstructed while Highway 36 from Lyons to Estes remains under reconstruction. Boulder Canyon is also a reliable route to Nederland, and the Peak-to-Peak Highway is open from there to Estes Park. The Bear Lake road reconstruction project routed the road away from Glacier Creek just in time for the flood, and the old route is now closed (and probably washed out anyway).