Day Trip Adventures: Last Dollar to Alta Lakes

Itching for a new adventure, a friend suggested Alta Lakes outside of Telluride. I had seen pictures, and heard about this area both for its pristine beauty and ghost town, but somehow always missed it on my adventures. 

Last Dollar Road is one of my favorites. Off of Highway 62 about 11 miles west of Ridgway, it is an easy drive through some awesome country, taking you through ranch land, forest, and tunnels of aspen trees, offering some of the most spectacular views of the area. 

Upon exiting Last Dollar, take a quick left on Highway 62 to the roundabout, then follow the arrows toward Mountain Village, it’s a few short miles up Highway 145 South to the turn off for Alta Lakes.

The road is pretty steep, but gentle, every curve offering new views. Suddenly, the road opens to a large clearing and we were greeted by the remains of the mining community that once prospered here. The majority of the buildings are still quite intact on the outside, offering a glimpse into the lives of those who came before us.

The road gets a little more rough, but still not too technical as we followed a minivan up to the first of three lakes with a campground and day area. The lower lake caught me by surprise, as the reflection of the water through the trees filled my vision. Like a mirror, the water reflects the mountains and woods, creating an absolute wonderland for the senses. A photographers fantasy, the question isn’t really how to get a great picture, but where to begin. Wildflowers bloom along the bank – a stark contrast to the deep blue water. 

Having made a late start, afternoon showers helped us decide to hike to the upper lakes another time, and we made our way back down to the town of Telluride for a snack before returning to Ouray on the highway. It never ceases to amaze me that there is always a new place to discover virtually right outside the front door! A short drive in any direction delivers a variety of opportunities to explore. Whether it is high adrenaline adventures, or a relaxing moment by a crystal clear lake, the possibilities are limitless!

Let the staff at the Box Canyon Lodge help you create a memory! Regardless of the adventure, we are here to make sure you have the best possible time!


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