Best time to visit Colorado

Alta Lakes in Colorado

A magical Alpine setting by the three lakes

Best time: late June–September

Alta Lakes
Alta Lakes
Alta Lakes
Alta Lakes

Three Alta Lakes are located on the back side of the Palmyra Peak and Telluride Resort. A popular skiing and snowmobiling destination in winter becomes excellent fly fishing, camping, hiking, and paddle boarding site in the summer. The main highlight in the lakes area are the remains of the Alta Lakes Ghost Town. The town situated between Telluride and Rico has several original buildings from the mining activity there in 1877-1948. During World War II, the town was functional until the mill burned down and then it became abandoned. However, now the ghost town is located on private property, and biking and hiking are not allowed through there.

Alta Lakes features a beautiful and popular campground located at an elevation of 3,353 m (11,000 feet). This perfect summer weekend destination is available from late June, when the snow melts, to late September. There are about 20 designated free sites that are available for seven-day limited camping, two vault toilets, and no water.

To get to Alta Lakes, start driving south from the Mountain Village near Telluride on Highway 145 toward Lizard Head pass. You will see a forest service sign for Alta Lakes on your right and a dirt road right after it to your left. This 5-mi (8 km) hilly road is one way and requires a high clearance vehicle. Downhill vehicles should yield to uphill traffic.

Practical info

What is the best time to visit Alta Lakes, Colorado?

Alta Lakes makes for a great destination between June and September. You can indulge in various activities such as fly fishing, paddleboarding, hiking, and camping. These months mark the melting of snow, so it's an ideal time to explore the place and enjoy yourself. During winter, visitors highly recommend skiing and snowmobiling. Show more

How can I get to Alta Lakes, Colorado?

Travel south on Highway 145 from Mountain Village near Telluride towards Lizard Head Pass, and you'll see a forest service sign for Alta Lakes. The dirt road, after the sign, requires a high clearance vehicle, and uphill traffic should have the right of way. Once you get to the place, you'll understand why visitors highly appreciate the effort it takes to reach Alta Lakes. Show more

What activities can I do at Alta Lakes during summer?

Alta Lakes's summer months offer plenty of activities such as camping, wildlife watching, hiking, paddleboarding, and fly fishing. One of the main attractions is the Ghost Town of Alta Lakes, where you'll find several original buildings from the mining days between 1877 and 1948. Keep in mind that biking and hiking are prohibited through here, but you have many other means to explore the historical landmark. Show more

Can I hike through the remains of the Alta Lakes Ghost Town?

The Ghost Town of Alta Lakes is on private property, making hiking or biking prohibited. However, you can still enjoy the remnants of the old town through other means of exploration. The location has become a historical landmark, featuring several original buildings from the mining activity between 1877-1948, and visitors appreciate the restriction, as it keeps the place well-maintained. Show more

Is there a fee to camp in the designated sites at Alta Lakes campground?

There are about 20 free designated sites available at the Alta Lakes campground for seven-day camping, with no fee required. The elevation of the site is 3,353 meters; thus, campers need to come prepared and fully equipped. The campground also has two vault toilets with no water supply. The peaceful and scenic camping experience is perfect for those looking to admire nature's beauty and relax. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin