You might not have heard of Sky Pond until this very moment, but from here on out, you aren’t likely to forget the name. That might seem strange considering what a simple name it is: Sky Pond. It doesn’t sound like much, but its spectacular appearance more than makes up for its simple name.
Sky Pond Colorado is located in Rocky Mountain National Park, and although the park itself offers an incredible number of trails and destinations, the Sky Pond hike is one of the most satisfying.
It’s not as famous as some of the other Rocky Mountain attractions, but if the locals could point you to spot, they’d likely suggest this hidden gem.
Why Visit Sky Pond?
So what exactly is it that makes Sky Pond such a necessary destination for a nature enthusiast like yourself? One stunning photograph could easily answer that question, but just in case, here are three reasons you should head to Sky Pond.
1. The hike is challenging but achievable
The Sky Pond trail is a 9-mile round trip trek that can take you anywhere from five to eight hours to complete.
It begins at Glacier Gorge Trailhead, and it starts out easily enough with a well-kept footpath, a few footbridges, and countless switchbacks.
The difficulty of the hike often hinges on the weather, and the time of year you choose to make the journey. While the summer months are the easiest and most popular, it is possible to hike to Sky Pond in the snowier months.
Whether in rain, snow, or sunshine, you will encounter rough and treacherous patches on the trail as you make your way up past Alberta Falls. The trail is steep in some parts, and lingering snow any time of year can make it more difficult. The appropriate gear and shoes are an absolute must when undertaking the Sky Pond trail. So is an extra dose of concentration.
The difficulty of the hike is, of course, part of what makes it worth doing. If you’re lucky enough to have the perfect conditions to make it all the way to the top and back, you will feel a huge sense of accomplishment.
2. It might be the most beautiful place on Earth
Yep, it definitely might be the prettiest place on the entire planet, and to think you have only just heard of it.
The pond itself is located at a staggering elevation of over 10,000 feet above sea level. You get stunning views of the surrounding mountains, the wide open sky with its big clouds rolling in, and a serene lake that hardly makes sense. You are up in the middle of the sky, and yet there is a gorgeous pond.
It’s a pond that is gorgeous no matter what time of year you visit it too. In the summertime, the water is a deep blue-green that contrasts sharply with the pale blue sky and the dark gray rocks of the looming mountains.
In the wintertime, the pond is a sheet of clear glass nestled amid snowy mountains. And the whole landscape seems like something you might have dreamed up or imagined.
3. The hike offers several points of interest
Because it is a difficult hike, especially given the possibility of sudden changes in weather, hikers often find that they cannot complete the journey to the top, and they must turn around.
While that is disappointing for sure, the trail offers several other spectacular points of interests along the way. That means that even if you have to turn back before you reach the summit, you’ll still get a fantastic experience and some amazing pictures.
Its natural landmarks
The first major landmark you’ll reach is Alberta Falls. It’s a great place to sit down, take a break, and take some remarkable photographs of the roaring water. Getting past the falls can be tricky though, especially if there is still snow on the ground. If this rough terrain forces you to turn around, at least you got the chance to view a waterfall. The day can’t be all bad, right?
Past Alberta Falls is what is known as the Loch. It is a beautiful Alpine lake with clear waters that shimmer in the summer and shine with ice in the winter. It’s another great stopping point if the weather or conditions are too rough.
The final stop on the trail before Sky Pond is Glass Lake. Hikers often mistake Glass Lake for Sky Pond, and both are absolutely beautiful to look at. If sky Pond is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Glass Lake can’t be far behind. In fact, hikers often mistake Glass Lake for the destination and turn around before reaching the pond, so it’s pretty much a win either way.
Sky Pond Hike Summary
Many devoted hikers claim the Sky Pond trail is one of the most beautiful in the country. Although it’s a bit difficult, many have weighed in on hiking sites and rated it highly with many awarding 5 of 5 stars.
The trail is open from May to September. The 9-mile round trip hike starts at an elevation of 9,240 and rises about 1,647 feet to a maximum height of 10,906 above sea level at Sky Pond.
Only a two-hour drive out of Denver, Colorada, you can expect to see wildlife like elk and deer as well as native wildflowers and insects.
Unfortunately, dogs, bikes, and horses are not permitted on the trail.
Rocky Mountain National Park
If you’re going to make the Sky Pond hike, you should know a bit more about the park and its environs. Some important details include:
Rocky Mountain National Park hours
Fortunately, the park is open all year round, for 24 hours a day, every day of the year. You’ll have to check ahead, however, because weather, nightfall, and some holidays may mean that some roads, attractions, or facilities my close.
Visitor centers and campgrounds throughout the park offer varied hours, with many only open during the summer. Online the Moraine campground is open year round. You can check with the park’s website for details.
Rocky Mountain National Park camping
If you plan to camp overnight at the park, you’ll find five campgrounds ready to receive visitors. If you want to stay at the Aspenglen, Glacier Basin, or Moraine Park campgrounds, you’ll need to make reservations in advance. Longs Peak and Timber Creek campgrounds are first come, first served. Note that Longs Peak only accommodates tent camping.
Other Rocky Mountain National Park trails
While Sky Pond is one of the most beautiful trails to choose during your visit, you may want to explore some of the other trails at the park.
Rocky Mountain National Park features over 300 miles of hiking trails, although some were damaged by flooding in 2013. You’ll find trails for every fitness level but keep in the high elevation in mind. Some trails reach up to 12,000 feet, which means they may not suit those new to hiking or the Rockies.
Plan a Trip to Sky Pond Trail
It’s probably easy to see now why a trip to Sky Pond is so worthwhile. You get to challenge yourself, and you get to see the beauty of nature no matter how much of the trail you are able to complete.
When you’re finished hiking to Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park offers many other trails and destinations to explore. However, you might not find any as picturesque or rewarding, but that’s no reason not to try.