Pass a nearby ghost town en route to camping with beautiful lake views. And, it's free!

Note: Camping is permitted around the lake. For more information, head to the US Forest Service website.

From the Mountain Village near Telluride, drive south on CO 145 toward Lizard Head pass. A few miles before you reach the turnoff for Ophir, there's a brown forest service sign for Alta Lakes on your right, and a dirt road immediately after to your left. Turn left and follow the main dirt road for about four miles until you reach a old mining ghost town. To get to the lakes, turn right at the town and follow the signs to Alta Lakes. High-clearance vehicles recommended. But I do it in my Suby Forester all the time... just go slow :) There are campsites all around the three lakes, so take your pick! Your total drive to the lakes is 5 miles each way and you gain 1700 feet elevation. So drink plenty of water, you'll be camping and recreating at just over 11,000 ft at the campground. And keep in mind that there are very limited facilities up there. A vaulted toilet and no water.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Beer
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Paddle board
  • Swimsuit
  • Fishing pole
  • Hiking boots
  • Water
  • TP
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Activities Stand Up Paddle, Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Mountain Biking, Running, Yoga, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Summer, Autumn
Features
Adult Beverages
Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Lake
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Spectacular

Words can't describe how incredible this spot is. Get here early!!! We arrived at 10:45am and got the last spot right on the lake's edge facing the mountains (there were other spots but were further from the lake). It should be noted that the sun hits the east rim of the lake (closest to the mountain face) an hour later than the western side. Couldn't have picked a better spot to camp.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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