Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park

What happened to the water at Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park?

A summer rock slide above the lake ‘exposed glacier sediment in Chaos Canyon’ and summer rains washed the sediment into the lake which changed the color to ‘a milky shade of turquoise’ according to a report from The Denver Post.

We were excited to witness the color transformation in person over Labor Day weekend. The Lake Haiyaha hike is 4.2 miles round-trip and gains 745 feet of elevation. The trail begins at Bear Lake.

Haiyaha is an indigenous word that means “rock” or “lake of many rocks”, or “big rocks”, depending on the translation according to the National Park’s website. Hikers must walk over and around big boulders to get a good view of the lake.

An ancient tree near Lake Haihaya is one of the oldest in the park according to a park ranger I asked after our hike. After doing a little more research, I believe that this tree is a Limber Pine. According to the National Forest website, Limber Pines grow in ‘some of the park’s most exposed rocky sites, the trees’ gnarled trunks give testimony to fierce winds that buffet them in winter. Limber pines live to great ages, with some in the park exceeding 1,000 years.’

1,000 years old! Can you imagine all that this tree has stood watch over on the shores of Lake Haihaya over the last millennium? Altogether, this was an adventurous and rewarding hike that I hope to do again soon.

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