In Rocky Mountain National Park along Trail Ridge Road, Poudre Lake serves as the headwaters of the Cache La Poudre River. It’s located just east of the Great Continental Divide at Milner Pass.
Poudre Lake is a popular, scenic stop for national park visitors traveling between Grand Lake and Estes Park. It sits at about 10,000 feet in elevation and can only be reached when Trail Ridge Road is open. There are several pull-offs on the north side of the road and one large parking lot just south of Poudre Lake at the Forest Canyon Overlook.
Activities at Poudre Lake
As it’s located on the continental divide, Poudre Lake is surrounded by panoramic views with dramatic mountain and sweeping pine forests. Visitors should bring a jacket as this high-evaluation area is subject to stronger winds and lower temperatures than most other parts of the park. In fact, Poudre Lake freezes completely in the winter, so fish cannot survive in the water.
Camping: Read about the camping near Estes Park and RMNP.
Hiking: There are numerous hiking trails close to Poudre Lake.
- South of Poudre Lake, hikers can travel east along the Ute Trail over Forest Canyon Pass to reach the Alpine Visitors Center.
- Alternatively, the Poudre River Trail begins on the north side of Poudre Lake, which gradually descends along the river, eventually exiting the park.
- Lastly, the Continental Divide Trail can be accessed from Milner Pass, where hikers can climb up to the 12,489 foot Specimen Mountain, which overlooks Poudre Lake.
Wildlife: While enjoying the views, visitors of Poudre Lake often spot wildlife such as marmots, pika, elk, bighorn sheep, eagles, and others. A safe distance should be maintained and it is never okay to feed wildlife in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Address: Poudre Lake, Trail Ridge Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517
Season: Access via Trail Ridge Road (May to October)
Fees: Daily fee or National Parks Pass required