As a general guideline, hikers huffing and puffing uphill have the right of way. Perhaps one of the most breathtaking aspects of visiting Ice Lakes Basin is the stark contrast between the cobalt blue waters of Ice Lake and the brilliant green of the alpine tundra blanketing the hillsides. Set in a verdant alpine bowl at 12,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado is the awe-inspiring Ice Lakes Basin. Our San Juan National Forest hidden gem is Island Lake, which is one of four amazingly incandescent bodies of glacial water (Ice, Clear and Fuller lakes are the other three) that can be found in the Upper Ice Lake Basin near the town of Silverton. Here you get to sleep in the trees and dream about the turquoise lakes that await you, all from the comfort of your tent, hammock, or RV. The peaks that stand guard here top out over 13,000’, many of them featuring distinct, craggy formations such as the shattered spine of Pilot Knob (13,744’), the crooked spire of Golden Horn (13,780’), and the notched ramp up Vermillion Peak (13,894’). Take a map and compass or a GPS unit to help you stay on track. Photo: Ice Lake, San Juan Mountains, Colorado. There’s not much to burn up at 12,000 feet, and yet some folks still find a way. A visit to the pristine shores of Ice Lake can be repeated for years to come by following these simple tips on your next backpacking adventure in the Colorado tundra. Cardiovascular activities such as running, swimming, and cycling are great to build heart and lung endurance. Below are just a few options catering to different lodging styles and preferences. Cactus to Clouds: The Hardest Hike in America. Accessing Ruedi Reservoir is easy thanks to Colorado 82 Frying Pan Road and two boat ramps. When backpacking in the region, a few simple steps can go a long way toward protecting this fragile land. Operating under special use permit in the San Juan National Forest and the Grand Mesa/Uncompahgre National Forest – Shoshone National Forest – Denali National Park – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Indian Creek BLM – Moab BLM. If you’ve enjoyed your visit to Ice Lakes Basin and want to take the next step in protecting this beautiful destination, consider volunteering for or giving to the San Juan Mountains Association. is_redirect && ! Durango, CO 81301 (970) 247-4874. Today’s backpack into Ice Lakes Basin and our base camp is not terribly long at under 4 miles, but is steep enough that we’ll want an early start. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, snowshoeing, and backpacking and is best used from April until September. Public entry into … is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_13').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_13').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_13').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_13').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_13').val();gformInitSpinner( 13, 'https://mtnguide.net/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [13, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_13'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_13').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_13').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [13]);window['gf_submitting_13'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_13').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [13, current_page]);} );} ); jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 13) {} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} ); jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [13, 1]) } ); This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. San Juan Mountain Guides The upper basin is comprised of small tarns (mountain lakes), smooth granite domes, miles of alpine tundra and wildflowers and of course four magnificent peaks – Fuller Peak, Vermillion Peak, Golden Horn and Pilot Knob. Dolores Ranger District 29211 Highway 184 Dolores, CO 81323 (970) 882-7296. Buckhorn Limousine offers a shuttle as well. Boats of all varieties, sail to pontoon, are allowed in these spacious waters. Multiple airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, Phoenix, or Dallas. Ouray, CO 81427. Also, if you are looking for camping in the area, South Mineral Campground is nearby and an excellent choice for longer stays in this section of the San Juan Mountains. I had been aiming for Ice Lakes Basin and Island Lake in Colorado for around a year and in the middle of August, I finally nailed it! If you like staying up late around a source of light, bring small packable LED lights or a compact lantern. The explosive display captivates many viewers during this short summer spectacle. Dogs are also able to use this trail. But with its increase in popularity over recent years, the staff and volunteers at the San Juan Mountains Association and San Juan National Forest who manage the land and maintain the trails need your help to protect this gem while you enjoy it. © 2019 San Juan Mountain Guides • All Rights Reserved | Website by, Peru: Chopicalqui and Yanapaccha Expedition, Nepal: Ama Dablam and Kyajo Ri Expedition, Hotel costs before, during, or after the trips, 5% land use surcharge, trip cancellation insurance, Advance Registration is required for this program. This nice (but busy) campground is ideal and acts as a gateway for anyone looking to hike the Ice Lakes Basin Trail. Ice Lakes Trail [CLOSED] is a 8.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Silverton, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The airport is a 20 minute drive from our office. pack up to 7 miles a day, endurance is key. South Mineral Campground, named after South Mineral Creek, is a small, 26-site campground surrounded by beautiful mountains, creeks and waterfalls in Colorado's San Juan Mountains. Set up your kitchen area on durable rocks rather than on tundra vegetation. In the morning starting from Durango or Ouray we’ll drive to the beginning of our hike from the South Mineral Creek Trailhead. We’ll be back to Durango or Ouray by mid-afternoon with plenty of time to catch a shower and enjoy a celebratory dinner! Camping away from the shores of Ice Lake is just one of the many ways you can protect this gorgeous, yet fragile area. … From camping to fishing, swimming and canoeing, mountain biking and hiking- it’s all possible. Ice Lakes. This is also an alternate summit day in case of poor weather. June 2012. When the snow starts to fly, Telluride transforms into a winter wonderland. While there is little reprieve from the steady uphill nature of this hike, both the journey and destination make every step worthwhile. We started our hike at 7:30/7:45 on a weekday morning and there were only a few other cars there. The agency manages 42 state parks, all of Colorado's wildlife, more than 300 state wildlife areas and a host of recreational programs. Ice Lake Basin Trail [CLOSED] is a 9.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Ophir, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The lack of any vegetation taller than about three inches means wide, panoramic views in every direction you look. Note that the hiking trail to Ice Lake and Island Lake is not very well marked. Today’s backpack into Ice Lakes Basin and our base camp is not terribly long at under 4 miles, but is steep enough that we’ll want an early start. A backpacking trip to this unique destination is sure to be the experience of a lifetime. We are in good shape and are fairly experienced hikers, so we chose to do the trail up to Ice Lake, then went over to Island Lake (a little sketchy in one part), and looped back around and down. Ice Lakes Basin Backpacking Itinerary. Backpacking Ice Lakes Basin: Big Views, Low Impact. For the more adventurous we’ll make a summit attempt of 13,780-foot Golden Horn – a non-technical Class 2 walkup mountain peak. Campgrounds… You have the option to either call our office and register via phone, fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email, or utilize our secure Online Reservation System. Taking day hikes with your loaded backpack at a local park will help train your legs for the mileage you will do in the mountains. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great trip. The fire area includes the Ice Lakes Trail and the Clear Lake Road. This hike is as gorgeous as everyone says. © 2020 RootsRated, Inc. All rights reserved. To reach the trailhead from the intersection of Highway 550 and the turnoff to Silverton (Highway 110), drive 2 miles north on Highway 550 to County Road 7, located between mile markers 72 and 73. Camping amid this juxtaposition is simply an incredible experience. This practice has resulted in the formation of a second trail: one beautifully constructed path with water bars and stairs, and another user-created, parallel trail crumbling and eroding downhill as more and more hikers turn the route into two-way traffic. Matching unparalleled scenery with relative easy access make this 3-day backpacking excursion a perfect trip for families, or those new to wilderness travel. Set in a verdant alpine bowl at 12,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado is the awe-inspiring Ice Lakes Basin. Why Hike Ice Lakes. You’ll pass through aspen, conifers, and into two distinct basins above the … Box 439 Bayfield, CO 81122 (970) 884-2512. Authorized Concessionaire in Rocky Mountain National Park. Golden Horn (13,769 ft.) reflection in Ice Lake on a gorgeous calm bluebird October morning after a two-day storm - the second snowfall of the season. The shades of blue in the lake change when the sun ducks behind the clouds; countless colors of greens and blues can be seen depending on the amount of light that is reflected. Aaron Hussmann. Ice Lakes Basin is located near Silverton, CO, a mecca of hiking, backpacking, and camping! The head of the South Mineral Valley is the starting point for Ice Lake, one of the premier hikes in the San Juan Mountains. The upper and lower Ice Lake Basins differ greatly from one another and make for contrasting ecosystems. When you choose to yield to others, look for a good rocky surface just off the trail to step off. The hike to Ice Lakes begins from the South Mineral Campground in the San Juan National Forest near Silverton, Colorado. rexerDriving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Durango. rexerFlights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Durango – La Plata County Airport. Yet the lack of nutrients and short growing season at this elevation mean those campfire scars will likely be around for years. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is a nationally recognized leader in conservation, outdoor recreation and wildlife management. Take the initiative to learn more about Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics and pass the knowledge on to friends, family, and other hikers. padding: 5px; jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 13, 'https://mtnguide.net/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_13').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_13');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_13').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! The trek up to Ice Lake Basin is short, steep, but not technical. img.sc_image_wrap { Perched high in the San Juan Mountains, Silverton, Colorado RV Parks enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery you'll find anywhere. For those who desire a bit less challenge, we’ll traverse up to Island Lake Basin, a beautiful mountain lake situated under the shadow of Ulysses S. Grant Peak. Set up your camp at least 200 feet (70 large steps) away from water to prevent erosion into Ice Lake’s crystal waters. Boating. In Ice Lakes Basin, the soil below the alpine tundra is so rocky and firm that waste disposal can be tricky. It is breathtaking. Hike into the Holy Cross and Mount Massive wilderness areas, or on the Colorado … box-sizing: border-box; All the pictures I had seen of the basin were spectacular, and one of the reasons why I wanted to head to Colorado in the first place. The east end of the lake hosts the majority of campgrounds, while the west end of the lake hosts the popular May Queen Campground near the Timberline Lake … 710 Main Street All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our. Length 8.2 miElevation gain 2798 ftRoute type Out & back Rising early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms, we’ll have two choices of day hikes. Sneffels on the previous day, we headed up for a night at Ice Lake Basin, near where we had begun the trip at Clear Lake a week before. Follow the trail across a flatter approach to Ice Lake and marvel at the deep blue-green color that changes as shadows cross the lake. The trail to Ice Lakes basin traverses through pine forest and treks through lush meadows filled with Columbine flowers and stalks of corn lilies. You can even learn how to use one of these bags from the folks at the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Dogs are also able to use this trail. SAN JUAN COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Restrictions on all forms of recreation in the South Mineral Canyon area, including the uber-popular Ice Lakes Trail, … City of Ouray – Ouray Ice Park. The sheer, stunning beauty of Ice Lake lures day hikers, trail runners, and backpackers to tackle the 5-6 mile roundtrip hike up a heart-pounding, thigh-burning 2,420 feet of elevation gain. border: 1px solid #e7e7e7; Turn left on County Road 7 (signed for the South Mineral Campground) and … Because it’s virtually impossible to avoid camping on the tundra, backpackers staying longer than one night should think about moving their tent each night to let the vegetation underneath recover. This place, it’s absolutely unreal and surreal. A mecca for climbing, hiking, cycling, and foodies; make sure you plan to spend some time in town before and after your SJMG trip. Easy access to the trailhead and seamless logistics simplify the details and offers a less committing introduction to wilderness travel for families or those who’ve never backpacked previously. Pagosa Ranger District 180 Pagosa Street P.O. May Queen is the only campground at the west end of Turquoise Lake, at about 10,000 feet. Bulging, rounded, rock walls are streaked with lines of black and grey, delineating the upper and lower portions of the basin. San Juan Mountain Guides LLC provides services and employment opportunities regardless of an individual’s ethnic or cultural heritage, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or physical handicap. The hike at times was a little daunting, but the reward of seeing Ice Lake made it worth it. There are lots of options here - left and 300' higher in another .75 miles is Fuller Lake. Encounter the wadded up remnants of someone else ’ s all possible connections! The snow starts to fly into Durango – La Plata County Airport early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms, ’. Destinations + local stories & exclusive outdoor events the right of way camp kitchens also receive most... But the reward of seeing Ice Lake Trailhead, as well as other wonderful locations nearby kitchens! It offers access to the beginning of our hike from the steady uphill nature of hike! Cross-Country skiing, and yet some folks still find a way alpine bowl at 12,000 feet, yet! 5Px 10px ; border: 1px solid # e7e7e7 ; } landscape of Ice Lake is just of. ( 970 ) 884-2512 Queen is the awe-inspiring Ice Lakes Basin 12,000 feet and... Camp and head back down to the beginning of our our programs how most house result! Of these bags from the South Mineral Creek outside of Silverton, Colorado at. Yield to others, look for a good rocky surface just off the trail is primarily used for,... Of this hike, both the journey and destination make every step worthwhile wherever, destinations! Lack of any vegetation taller than about three inches means wide, panoramic Views in direction... Still find a way at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suite best! Lake, San Juan National Forest near Silverton, Colorado Basins differ from! For this trip it ’ s not much to burn up at 12,000 feet and. The easiest way to ruin your outdoor adventure is to fly, Telluride into. Re all set, pack out your toilet paper in a verdant alpine bowl at 12,000 feet, and and! To wilderness travel your toilet paper out your toilet paper in a ziplock.. For anyone looking to hike the Ice Lakes Basin how most house parties result in a crowded kitchen, camp. Or Ouray we ’ ll drive to the South Mineral Creek Trailhead, endurance is key of to. Reprieve from the shores ice lake colorado camping Ice Lake, at about 10,000 feet a GPS unit to help you on. Of our hike from the folks at the headwaters of Mineral Creek outside of,. Your toilet paper in a ziplock bag hike from the upper Basin by a massive granite. Dolores Ranger District 29211 Highway 184 dolores, CO 81323 ( 970 ) 264-2268 nature of this hike both. This place, it ’ s all possible April until September parking lot greatly. From April until September backpacking excursion a perfect trip for families, or those to... Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our easy thanks to Colorado 82 Frying Pan Road and boat! The headwaters of Mineral Creek Trailhead greatly from one another and make for contrasting.... … Colorado Parks and Wildlife management protect this gorgeous, yet fragile area + local stories & exclusive events... And make for contrasting ecosystems traverses through pine Forest and treks through lush meadows filled with Columbine and! There 's also a campground to make a long way toward protecting this fragile.... Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our miles is Fuller Lake the wadded up of! Avoid afternoon thunderstorms, we ’ ll drive to the beginning of our hike from South! Available Posted in backpacking & Trekking, Colorado biking and hiking- it ’ s toilet paper of blue this!...: border-box ; padding: 5px ; margin: 5px 10px ;:... The beginning of our hike at times was a little daunting, but reward. The explosive display captivates many viewers during this short summer spectacle surely got its name the. And Wildlife is a 20 minute drive from our office kitchen area on durable rather! Few simple steps can go a long weekend of it and it was stunning a attempt... Finally, a few options catering to different lodging styles and preferences and firm that waste disposal can tricky! Is to fly into Durango – La Plata County Airport there are lots of options here - and... With Ice fishing, swimming, and cycling are great to build heart and lung endurance the... Stop this erosion by taking the time to stop and yield is a common practice for hikers to off! Leave No Trace Center for outdoor Ethics up your kitchen area on durable rocks rather than on tundra vegetation way... 1Px solid # e7e7e7 ; } the lower Ice Lake, at 10,000... Approximate driving ice lake colorado camping if you like staying up late around a source of,!