Alta Lakes

Ophir, Colorado (San Miguel County)

Last Updated: 01/15/2019
4.2 / 5 ( 5 reviews )
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: 04/16 - 11/30
Length: 4.7 miles
Highest Elevation: 11299 feet
Duration: About 1 hour, 40 minutes
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Ophir
Nearest Town w/ Services: Telluride
Official Road Name: 632
Management Agency: Uncompahgre National Forest
District: Norwood Ranger District
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles


Highlight: Alta Lakes
Alta Lakes is another in a long list of off road trails in the Telluride area which will stun you with its incredible beauty and easy access. Being that the beginning of the trail is a few feet off the highway, it is easily reached by anyone in the Telluride/Silverton area, and it should not be missed. As the road climbs to the Alta Ghost Town, it pops out of the trees every now and again to reveal breath-taking views of Wilson Peak, Lizard Head, Sunshine Mountain, and the Wilson Mesas. As you pass the Alta ruins and old mill site, the number of camping spots increases significantly. Although there are not a lot of big camping areas, you will find countless double tracks traveling into the bushes, most of which are well worth exploring. The lakes themselves offer a great place to fish, paddle board, swim, or camp. Although Alta Lakes Road is decently short (just about 5 miles), it is gorgeous and well worth the drive, especially if you are attempting to find a great dispersed camp site.


7 day forecast for Alta Lakes

Route Information

Technical Rating:

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1. Trail Start (0 mi)
This is the beginning of the trail. Once you turn off the highway, it has begun.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 37.883863, -107.888267
From the town of Ophir, travel approximately 4 miles north on Highway 145 until you see a turnoff for Alta Lakes on your right. From the town of Telluride, travel west on Highway 145, then follow signs at the roundabout for Mountain Village/Highway 145 South. After making the turn south, travel 5.3 miles on 145 until you see the turnoff for Alta Lakes on your left.



Land Use Issues

As you pass the first lake, the road splits. The right fork has a gate which is often closed. If you are attempting to travel past the second and third lakes and into the basin beyond, you must travel past this gate. The reason for its closure is unknown. Contact Norwood Ranger District for more information. Alta Lakes Road is closed seasonally, when it re-opens depends completely on the weather. For more information, contact the Norwood Ranger District.

Trail Reviews (6)

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Beautiful place but very busy. Currently very limited dispersed sites other than the developed campground next to the 1st lake which are all on top of each other. . Most sites/spurs on the way up to lake were blocked as no camping for wildlife regeneration. The road to 2nd and 3rd as described in final waypoint had a closed gate marked private property. Gold king basin has 2-3 dispersed sites. Great place to visit/walk around but tough to camp if looking to be more dispersed.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran this trail on an on again off again rainy Saturday afternoon. According to the locals, there has been an increase in large truck traffic, and people have even reported running into cement trucks on the trail... sounds like the locals are expanding and building more and more houses in the area. The day we ran this, there were 2 big 26' Uhauls half way up, as well as a dozen 15 passenger vans. Looked like someone was having a wedding reception at one of the ranches half way up, and shuttling all the guests up in big white vans. Trail to Lakes is pretty easy, and I would guess the 2-2 rating only comes in if you are trying to work your way around the lakes clock wise. Access to some of the camping and access to parking to hike the rest is certainly a 1-2 rating. Water crossing was no deeper than a puddle you might find on the streets. Once up there, the lakes and views are breath taking! Only gave 4 stars because the trail is actually quite busy... If you are in the area, I would also recommend checking out the old Trout Lake Trestle rail crossing, only a few miles down the road from the trail head to Alta Lakes.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We explore Alta Lakes which is located south of Telluride, CO in the Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ride up is fun. I did have to help a couple college kids that attempted it in a Ford Focus. Definitely changed their bumper for the worse. Beautiful views and great campsites. The toughest driving is once you get into the campsite. It’s incredibly peaceful and serene. In mid August and middle of the week there was plenty of open campsites.

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Alta Lakes is an easy trail up from the paved road between Telluride and Ophir. We were on our way to Ophir Pass and wanted to explore the lakes and take a break for lunch. It was Labor Day weekend, so there were a good amount of people up there, but it was silent and several places available to park and relax. We were up there with two 4WD's, 4 people, and 3 dogs and really enjoyed it for the hour or so we were there. We had plans to get over Ophir Pass and over to our next overnight camp so we didn't stay for long. Next time we are over that way, we'll plan on spending more time up there mid-week. - I give it 4 STARS because it had a few too many people for my liking, but outside of that it is a breathtaking location with a massive vista from any angle. Instagram: @overland_pajero

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
An absolute must-do if you're in the Telluride area. The trail has some loose small rocks on the first 1/3, but there were FWD vehicles that were coming down from the campgrounds at the lakes as I was driving up. The worst road conditions are actually in the campground "parking areas" in terms of rocks, ruts and camber. The views at the lakes are otherworldly. Clear waters, lots of wildlife (saw 2 baby beavers swimming by) a massive moraine field on the mountains behind. It encompasses all you expect in high altitude Colorado and it's easy to get to and from. You can be exploring at the lake and in 45 minutes be having a beer in downtown Telluride.

Questions & Answers (2)

Q: Hi Eli, I have a 10 ft off road camper, kind of a teardrop style. Would there be any problems hauling it up to the lakes? Nicci
–Nicci (12/19/2017)
–Brett Brogdon (12/21/2017)
Q: Hey Eli Was wondering how populated the three lake get the wife and I are planing on getting there around eleven am on wednesday after the fourth of July and was kinda concerned about getting a good camping spot thanks for your time
–David (06/27/2017)
–Eli Gray (06/28/2017)

Writer Information

Ryan Boudreau

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Hi, I'm Ryan! I am a Colorado native and I've been wheeling since I was 16 years old. I grew up with a relentless passion for all things Jeep and off road related, and that passion has never died out. I am a member of the Mile-Hi Jeep Club, Patrol 16 Sasquatch Jeepers and currently own an '06 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited (LJ) nicknamed "Minion". I am a huge supporter of Stay the Trail and Tread Lightly, and have participated and even been in charge of many trail restoration projects. I have been a trail leader several times for events such as All-4-Fun, ColoradoFest, Set Them Free, 14er Fest, and other. I am also the creator of the Unlimited LJ Adventure. My rig is built for extreme offroading, but I love to get my tires dirty on any kind of trail whether it's rock crawling or just scenic high Alpine drives. I've wheeled all over the country including Colorado, Utah, Kansas, the Carolinas, AZ, and California. I love a great adventure, and love even more to share those adventures with others. If you see the "minion" out on the trail, make sure to stop and say hello.
For individual use only, not to be shared.