Make Alta Lakes Your Next Badass Camping Bonanza

Alta Lakes Colorado

Alta Lakes - Get it

Are you tired of scrolling through the same camping suggestions over and over? Search no further my friends, Alta Lakes in the San Juan National Forest is a dream camping trip - and it is just waiting to be had.

If you are willing to make the trek, you will find that Alta Lakes offers a unique experience unrivaled by most camping locations in Colorado.

Paddle Board Alta Lakes

What makes Alta Lakes so groovy?

Alta is a bit of a trek, but that is one of the reasons it is so great.  You will find that Alta attracts less of the continuous crowds that flock to many of the other well-known areas in Colorado.

For me, that would be enough in itself, but Alta has so much more: dispersed camping throughout the San Juan, a badass lake to enjoy the water in seclusion, ample hiking opportunities, ridiculous views, great fishing, and your relative proximity to Telluride - which as everyone in their mother now knows is one of the most amazing towns in all of America.

Imagine a trip where you can hike in the morning, take a dip in the afternoon, enjoy the sights throughout the day, and take a moonlight dip in Rico Springs at night (Rico is a tiny natural spring just down the road that no one talks about – check it out here)

Alta Lakes Ghost Town

What say you...interested?

When I found out about Alta, I was itching to go.  However, as I mentioned, it is a bit of a trek.  Take a look below for more information and resources that will help you plan your trip.

Travel: We broke up our drive into two days camping the first night and exploring some of the areas along the way – such as the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park.


Destination: The lakes are 15-20 miles from Telluride which is a 6-7 hour drive from Denver.  You will want to plan to stay for multiple days as it is not the best trip for a one-night stay.


Directions: Drive approximately 5 miles south on Highway 145. Turn east on Forest Road #623 (Alta Lakes Road) and continue about 3-3.5 miles to the first lake. Alta Lakes Road is well marked, it is a narrow and rugged mountain road with several blind curves.

*No hiking, biking, camping or parking is allowed on private property along Alta Lakes Road and at the Ghost Town Site - the cabin picture above.


Tip: You do not have to have 4Wheel, but conditions vary and All Wheel or 4Wheel significantly helps during wetter years.


Tip 2: If it is a busy tourist season, you will find that people will drive up just to see the lakes. If you want to be completely dispersed, continue driving along Hwy 145 and find your own secluded area.


Insider Tip: Check Rico Springs at night.  Check out our Rico Post Here.


Fun Tip: If you have it, bring something to float the lake with.

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