What can I say about Dream Lake that has not already been said. It’s one of the most iconic locations in not only Rocky Mountain National Park but also Colorado. It’s one of the top requests my clients make when book a photography tour with me and if you hike the trail during the summer months you will quickly see its one of the busiest locations in all of Rocky not including roadside areas.
In the 19 years I’ve been photographing Dream Lake I’ve been at the lake in just about every kind of weather and lighting. Windy, snowy, rainy, sunny you name it and I’ve been on the shore trying to compose an image. I’ve shot my Nikon and Canon 35mm film bodies loaded with Kodachrome 25 and Fuji Velvia 50 here, used my 4×5 Large Format camera here, exposed my first digital images with a Canon D60 at Dream (yes that’s the correct model). Heck, I’ve even been lucky enough to compose a few images at Dream Lake that I’ve been pleased with.
Of the hundreds and hundreds of times I’ve been up to Dream Lake both alone or with clients I never tire of this magnificent location. It’s the one location in Rocky Mountain National Park I personally identify with more than any other location in the park where my passion and desire for landscape photography was stoked.
I don’t often head up to Dream Lake most mornings unless I have photography tour clients with me. There are just too many locations in RMNP to photograph and I need to use my time wisely and try to get to these other locations when I can. I most often visit Dream Lake now with photography tour clients. It still thrills me to watch my clients faces as we near the bridge over the outlet of Dream Lake and they see Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain towering over this beautiful lake for the first time. It’s a feeling I remember like it was yesterday so its still a treat to watch peoples reaction on their first visit to Dream Lake.
While Dream Lake is still one of my favorite locations in Rocky, it takes quite a bit these days for me to get that original feeling back like I did when first visiting Dream Lake back in 1998. That feeling was back last week when I arrived with my client lakeside to find a layer of fog breaking over Dream Lake. I always put my client needs first, but once my client was settled in and setup I had to break out the camera and tripod to capture this magnificent moment. I may have been the guide this morning but I can tell you without a doubt I was just as excited photographing Dream Lake this morning as she was.
Going on my third year of providing photography tours of Rocky Mountain National Park, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what most clients number one request is when visiting Rocky and heading out to photograph landscapes. Without question most of my clients are looking for the classic image of a mountain peak reflecting in the serene and placid waters of a mountain lake. Like my clients these are also some of my favorite scenes to photograph in Rocky Mountain National Park as well.
June is not only when Rocky starts to see visitor numbers skyrocket but its also the time when local business and the town of Estes Park really start to hum along and enter the summer season. This is true for me as well as lots of photographers come out of there winter hibernation and are taking summer vacations looking to dust off the camera and get outside to take photos.
Most visitors to Rocky as well as most of my photography tour clients are coming from lower elevations and locals that have been moving toward mild summer like weather months earlier than the high altitude lakes and peaks of RMNP.
So with clients booking June dates and late season snow storms like the one we had in late may, many of those classic iconic Rocky images of iconic peaks reflecting in a still lake are just melting out. The good news is with warm, summer like weather the past week the delayed melt out is now on a brisk pace.
Clients visiting from out of state last week were a bit surprised to be hiking on lots of snow on the way up to Dream Lake and even more surprised to still find some small pieces of ice floating around on the surface of Dream Lake at sunrise.
Experiencing the huge snow drifts on Trail Ridge Road or hiking on snow to Dream Lake in mid June are part of the experience that makes Rocky Mountain National Park so an awesome place to visit and photograph. So if you head out with me in the next week or so don’t be surprised if I tell you to pack some winter gear and micro spikes to get a first hand experience of late spring or early summer in RMNP.