Alta Lakes

4.2/5 (12 reviews)
Ophir, Colorado (San Miguel County)
Last Updated: 06/13/2022

Trail Information


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 many 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, paddleboard, 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 campsite.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Trail Reviews

4.2/5 (12)
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/09/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Beautiful campground and a popular spot so get there early, the sites were full by 5:00. I arrived about 1:30 and got the last site on the Lake. The trail to Alto Lake is rutted but easy, and if leaving early in the morning watch out for the deer.
Rated 4/5
Visited: 07/14/2021

Alta Lakes offered some pretty scenery and a fairly short drive to the top. There used to be a lot more sites than there are now, but almost all of them are closed for revegetation, so make sure to only camp in the allowable areas. The bummer part of this trail and the reason it gets 4/5 from me is that the designated spots are packed so close together and almost all the spots were taken by the time we got there at 5 PM on a Wednesday. We ended up taking a camping spot covered in puddles, which is probably why no one else had taken it. It wasn't a big deal for us with the roof top tent luckily. I'd recommend to get here early if you plan on camping, otherwise it is a nice scenic drive up to the lakes. You can watch our experience at Alta Lakes during the second half of the video posted below.
Rated 4/5
Visited: 06/29/2021

Pretty easy trail we visited a couple weeks ago. Camped a week right behind the sign telling you to go left for the lakes or right to Gold King Basin. The camp spots on the main lake are jam packed so ours felt great, 2 minute walk to the lake and no noise. Gold King Basin is a great spot, just very little shade. Hiking all over the place, much of it not marked on maps. Hike right up to Telluride in less than 1 hour. The road is very bumpy but my friend's high clearance VW Vanagon made it with no issues. A couple deep holes near the old mine site, but not a big deal. I saw a Honda Accord make it up.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 10/08/2020

2018 Subaru Crosstrek 1.5" Lift 235/75R15 Toyo AT2 Beautiful drive to a gorgeous little lake. I felt like I was in On Golden Pond when I got there. I was pleasantly surprised to see that trail was a little rougher than I was expecting. It added to the off road experience, but wasn't anything a stock SUV couldn't handle. We did this drive in the late afternoon so the trail it self was not busy, we saw one other vehicle. We got to the lake just in time to enjoy the sun set and it was well worth it.
Visited: 08/06/2020

2010 Stock 4Runner SR5 Really easy trail with nice views. Any car could do this drive. Very heavy traffic for a Thursday afternoon.

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