Colorful wildflower meadows, snow-capped mountain peaks, and mysteriously beautiful hidden lakes in Colorado…is your wanderlust calling? We don’t blame you! Colorado is a hiker’s paradise with its mix of breathtaking views and incredible destinations. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, there are some truly serene, lesser-known alpine lakes that make for an unforgettable day adventure or backcountry excursion.

To help you plan your vacation and get the most out of Colorado’s nature scene, we’ve rounded up seven of our favorite hidden gems in this state—complete with tips on how to explore each lake safely and where to stay nearby. So put on your hiking boots; it’s finally time to tackle one (or all) of these impressive lakes in Colorado.

Grand Lake near Denver, Colorado

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake is Colorado’s largest natural lake. With its crystal-clear waters surrounded by towering mountains and lush pine forests, it’s no wonder this picturesque destination is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Grand Lake offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, swimming, and paddleboarding. The nearby town of Grand Lake also features charming shops, restaurants, and even live theater performances at the historic Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre.

Tips for visiting Grand Lake

Grand Lake, Colorado is a charming mountain town nestled at the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Known for its namesake, Grand Lake – the largest natural body of water in Colorado, and a bustling historic downtown, it’s a destination that offers something for everyone.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:

  1. Plan for the Weather: Grand Lake experiences a wide range of weather conditions, depending on the season. Summers are usually mild and perfect for outdoor activities, while winters are cold and snowy, ideal for snowmobiling, skiing, and ice fishing. Pack accordingly and always be prepared for sudden changes in weather, which are common in mountainous regions.
  2. Stay Hydrated and Acclimatize: Grand Lake sits at an elevation of over 8,000 feet. If you’re not used to high altitudes, it’s important to acclimate to prevent altitude sickness. Drink plenty of water, avoid strenuous activities on your first day, and consume meals that are high in carbohydrates.
  3. Respect the Wildlife: Grand Lake and the surrounding Rocky Mountain National Park are home to a rich array of wildlife, including elk, deer, and occasionally, bears. Always view wildlife from a safe distance, never feed animals, and secure your food and trash.
  4. Book Accommodations in Advance: Grand Lake is a popular destination, especially during the summer and winter high seasons. To secure your choice of accommodation, it’s best to book well in advance. Options range from rustic cabins to cozy beds and great Denver breakfast spots, and lakeside lodges.
  5. Try Water Activities: Grand Lake is a haven for water enthusiasts. Plan to rent a kayak, paddleboard, or boat to explore the lake. For those who enjoy fishing, Grand Lake is teeming with trout, salmon, and other species.
  6. Explore Rocky Mountain National Park: The western entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park is located in Grand Lake. Be sure to spend at least a day exploring the park’s stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and over 350 miles of hiking trails.
  7. Visit the Historic Downtown: Grand Lake’s downtown area is home to over 60 shops, restaurants, and galleries, all housed in picturesque historic buildings. Enjoy a meal, pick up a souvenir, or simply take a leisurely stroll along the wooden boardwalk.
  8. Enjoy Local Events: Grand Lake hosts a variety of events throughout the year, from the Winter Carnival and ice golf tournament in the colder months to Constitution Week in September. Check the local calendar for any events coinciding with your visit.
  9. Practice Leave No Trace Principles: Grand Lake is a place of natural beauty. To help maintain it, always remember to leave no trace of your visit. This includes disposing of waste properly, staying on marked trails, and respecting wildlife and other visitors.
  10. Relax and Take it Slow: Last, but not least, remember to relax and enjoy the serene mountain atmosphere. The laid-back vibe of Grand Lake encourages you to take it slow and truly soak in the beauty of the surroundings.

Hotels & Lodges near Grand Lake

Grand Lake, Colorado, situated at the headwaters of the Colorado River and the western entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park, is a stunning and serene destination.

Here are several recommended hotels and lodges close to Grand Lake:

  • Grand Lake Lodge: This historic lodge, known as the “Crown Jewel of the Rockies,” offers cabins and guest rooms with spectacular views of Grand Lake and the surrounding mountains. The lodge also features a restaurant, pool, and convenient access to the Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Daven Haven Lodge & Cabins: This lodge offers individual cabins with kitchen facilities, ideal for families or longer stays. The lodge is set back from the lake, offering a peaceful, wooded setting, and it’s just a short walk from the town’s main street.
  • The Rapids Lodge and Restaurant: Established in 1915, this historic lodge offers a variety of accommodations, from guest rooms to condos and cabins. The on-site restaurant, overlooking the Tonahutu River, is one of the highlights of a stay here.
  • Gateway Inn: Situated slightly outside the main town, this lodge offers spacious rooms and suites with rustic decor. Many rooms offer great mountain views, and the lodge also features a fitness center, a bar, and a large fireplace in the lobby.
  • Spirit Lake Lodge & Snowmobile Rentals: In addition to comfortable rooms, Spirit Lake Lodge offers the unique opportunity to explore the area by snowmobile. They provide guided tours and have over 100 snowmobiles for rent.
  • The Historic Rapids Lodge and Restaurant: This lodge offers a range of accommodation options, from quaint historic rooms to pet-friendly suites and cabins. The Rapids Restaurant is a local favorite, with a menu focused on regional cuisine.
  • Winding River Resort Village: This family-oriented resort offers cabins, lodge rooms, and camping sites. It also features horse and pony rides, hayrides, and a petting zoo, making it a great option for families.
  • Shadowcliff Lodge: An affordable option for those on a budget, this not-for-profit lodge offers a range of accommodations, including hostel-style rooms, private cabins, and family suites. It’s worth noting that some rooms have shared bathrooms.
  • Inn at Grand Lake: This small, charming inn offers comfortable, individually-decorated rooms in the heart of Grand Lake village, just a few steps away from the lake and the boardwalk.

Remember, Grand Lake is a popular destination, particularly in the summer and during the fall elk rut, so it’s wise to book your accommodations well in advance. Whether you’re looking for a rustic cabin or a comfortable hotel room, there’s something in the Grand Lake area to suit your needs.

Maroon Lake near Aspen, Colorado

7 Impressive Lakes in Colorado Worth Hiking

Located in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Maroon Lake is famous for its stunning reflections of the iconic Maroon Bells peaks. The vibrant colors of the surrounding aspen trees make for an unforgettable sight, especially during the fall season.

Maroon Lake is an ideal destination for hiking, photography, and wildlife watching. The scenic Maroon Bells loop trail offers panoramic views of the area, while the more challenging Crater Lake trail takes you to another picturesque alpine lake.

Tips for visiting Maroon Lake

Maroon Lake, located in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, is a stunning alpine paradise, surrounded by vibrant wildflowers, lush aspen forests, and the majestic Maroon Bells peaks.

To make the most of your visit, here are some tips:

  1. Plan Ahead: Maroon Bells are one of the most visited sites in Colorado, particularly in the fall when the aspen trees are changing colors. Make sure to plan your trip well in advance.
  2. Follow Access Restrictions: Due to its popularity, there are specific access restrictions for Maroon Bells. During peak season, usually, from mid-June to early October, vehicle access is restricted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and visitors must take a shuttle bus from Aspen Highlands. Exceptions are made for vehicles with disabled passengers or children in car seats, and before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m., private vehicles may enter for a fee.
  3. Book Shuttle Tickets Early: Shuttle tickets can sell out, especially during peak season. It’s recommended to book your tickets in advance online.
  4. Dress Appropriately: The weather in the mountains can change rapidly, so be sure to dress in layers and bring a rain jacket. Sturdy hiking shoes are also recommended if you plan to explore the trails.
  5. Hydrate and Acclimate: Maroon Lake is at an elevation of approximately 9,580 feet, so take it slow to acclimate to the altitude and stay hydrated to prevent altitude sickness.
  6. Leave No Trace: To preserve the environment, always follow Leave No Trace principles. Stay on designated trails, pack out all trash, and do not pick wildflowers or feed wildlife.
  7. Photograph Responsibly: While Maroon Lake offers stunning photo opportunities, avoid walking off the trail or damaging the environment to get the perfect shot.
  8. Explore the Hiking Trails: There are several trails ranging from easy to strenuous in the area. The Maroon Lake Scenic Trail offers an easy 1-mile round-trip stroll along the lake, while the more challenging Maroon Creek Trail and Crater Lake Trail offer the chance to explore further.
  9. Overnight Trips: If you’re planning to camp overnight in the wilderness area, you’ll need a permit, available from the U.S. Forest Service.
  10. Beware of Wildlife: The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is home to a variety of wildlife, including bears and moose. Always observe wildlife from a distance, never feed them, and store food properly to avoid attracting bears.

Visiting Maroon Lake offers a unique chance to witness some of the most spectacular landscapes in Colorado. By following these tips, you can ensure that your visit is not only enjoyable but also respectful of this beautiful environment.

Hotels & Lodges near Maroon Lake

Maroon Lake, nestled in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness of White River National Forest, is one of the most photographed sites in Colorado. While there are no accommodations directly at Maroon Lake, the nearby towns of Aspen and Snowmass offer a variety of lodging options.

Here are some recommendations:

  • The Little Nell: Aspen’s only five-star, five-diamond hotel, The Little Nell offers luxury accommodations right at the base of Aspen Mountain. It also features a renowned wine program and two on-site restaurants.
  • Aspen Meadows Resort: This resort is nestled on 40 acres in the Roaring Fork Valley and boasts stunning views of the Colorado Rockies. It’s home to the Aspen Institute and offers a health club, outdoor and indoor pools, and three on-site dining options.
  • St. Regis Aspen Resort: Offering an exceptional level of luxury, St. Regis features a spa, outdoor pool, and world-class dining. The rooms are spacious and elegantly furnished, and some offer views of the mountains.
  • Limelight Hotel Aspen: This hotel is known for its comfortable, spacious rooms, and friendly atmosphere. Amenities include an outdoor pool, hot tubs, and a ski shuttle service.
  • The Gant: Located in a peaceful enclave at the base of Aspen Mountain, The Gant offers private condominiums with the services of a hotel, including housekeeping, concierge, and complimentary in-town and airport transportation.
  • Viceroy Snowmass: This luxury resort offers ski-in/ski-out access in the winter and hiking/biking trails in the summer. It also boasts a Ute Indian-inspired wellness spa, a year-round pool terrace, and café, and a well-regarded restaurant.
  • Westin Snowmass Resort: Located on Snowmass Mountain, this resort offers rooms with stunning views and easy access to local attractions and activities. Amenities include a spa, fitness center, and several on-site dining options.
  • Snowmass Mountain Chalet: This ski-in/ski-out lodge offers comfortable accommodations with a complimentary hot breakfast and soup lunch in the winter months. Free shuttle service to Aspen Airport and around Snowmass Village is also provided.
  • Wildwood Snowmass: A more budget-friendly option, this hotel offers retro-style rooms and is conveniently located near the slopes. It also has an outdoor pool and two hot tubs.
  • Aspen Mountain Lodge: A great value option, this lodge offers comfortable rooms and a complimentary breakfast. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of downtown Aspen.

Keep in mind that the Maroon Bells area is incredibly popular, especially during the summer and fall, so it’s a good idea to book your accommodations well in advance. Also, the Maroon Bells Scenic Area has specific access restrictions, so be sure to check the current guidelines before your visit.

Bear Lake near Estes Park, Colorado

Another gem within Rocky Mountain National Park, Bear Lake boasts serene waters surrounded by a dense forest of pine and aspen trees. The lake’s easy accessibility and stunning views make it a popular destination for visitors.

Bear Lake offers numerous hiking trails suitable for all skill levels. The Bear Lake loop is an easy, family-friendly hike, while the more challenging Emerald Lake trail takes you past three additional alpine lakes in Colorado.

Tips for visiting Bear Lake

Bear Lake, located within Rocky Mountain National Park, offers stunning alpine scenery, a variety of wildlife, and numerous hiking trails.

Here are some tips to ensure your visit to Bear Lake is a memorable one:

  1. Visit Early or Late in the Day: Bear Lake is one of the most popular destinations within Rocky Mountain National Park, and the parking lot can fill up quickly, especially during the summer months. Arriving early in the morning or later in the afternoon can help you avoid the crowds.
  2. Use the Shuttle: During the peak season (generally from late May to early October), Rocky Mountain National Park operates a free shuttle bus service that stops at Bear Lake. This can be a convenient option, especially when the parking lot is full.
  3. Check the Weather: The weather can change rapidly in the mountains, and it’s not uncommon to experience a sudden rain or snow shower. Be sure to check the forecast and dress in layers to accommodate changing conditions.
  4. Wear Appropriate Footwear: The trail around Bear Lake is relatively flat and easy, but if you’re planning on hiking any of the other trails in the area, sturdy hiking shoes are a must.
  5. Stay Hydrated and Take Your Time: Bear Lake sits at an elevation of nearly 9,500 feet. If you’re not accustomed to the altitude, take it easy and drink plenty of water to help prevent altitude sickness.
  6. Follow Leave No Trace Principles: Help preserve Bear Lake’s natural beauty for future generations by following Leave No Trace principles. Stay on designated trails, dispose of waste properly, and avoid disturbing wildlife.
  7. Explore the Hiking Trails: While the Bear Lake trail is a must-do, there are several other hiking trails that start from the same area. The trail to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake is particularly stunning.
  8. Bring a Camera: Bear Lake’s crystal-clear waters, surrounded by towering peaks, make for beautiful photos, especially in the early morning or late afternoon when the lighting is best.
  9. Pay the Park Entrance Fee: Bear Lake is located within Rocky Mountain National Park, and an entrance fee is required to access the park. Consider purchasing an annual pass if you plan on visiting multiple national parks within a year.
  10. Take a Guided Tour: The park’s rangers offer guided tours and educational programs that can enhance your understanding of the area’s natural history and wildlife.

Bear Lake is a truly beautiful spot that offers something for everyone, whether you’re interested in a short scenic stroll or a longer, more challenging hike. By following these tips, you can ensure a fantastic visit to this gem of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Hotels & Lodges near Bear Lake Colorado

Bear Lake is a popular destination located within Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. While there are no hotels or lodges within the park itself, there are several excellent accommodations nearby, particularly in the town of Estes Park, which serves as the gateway to the national park.

Here are some suggested options:

  • The Stanley Hotel: Known for its old-world charm and as the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining,” The Stanley Hotel offers luxury accommodations with breathtaking views of Rocky Mountain National Park. Along with its historical significance, the hotel offers top-tier dining, a spa, and a range of tours – including the famous ghost tour.
  • YMCA of the Rockies – Estes Park Center: This family-friendly lodge offers a range of accommodations from hotel-style rooms to cabins. With an extensive list of activities like hiking, horseback riding, crafts, and indoor swimming, it’s a great option for those traveling with kids.
  • Estes Park Resort: Located on the shores of Lake Estes, this resort offers rooms and suites with mountain and lake views. Amenities include an on-site restaurant, fitness center, and spa services.
  • The Ridgeline Hotel: This centrally-located hotel in Estes Park offers modern accommodations with an indoor heated pool, an on-site restaurant, and even a game room. They also provide a convenient shuttle service to Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • RiverStone Resort & Bear Paw Suites: For those looking for a home away from home, these resorts offer spacious suites and cabins equipped with full kitchens, fireplaces, and private patios. The accommodations are nestled alongside the Big Thompson River, providing a serene and natural setting.
  • Romantic Riversong Bed and Breakfast Inn: Ideal for couples, this charming B&B offers private rooms with unique features like claw-foot tubs, private hot tubs, and fireplaces. With its tranquil location on 26 wooded acres, it’s the perfect spot for a romantic getaway.
  • Marys Lake Lodge Mountain Resort and Condos: This historic resort, rebuilt after a fire in 2013, offers lodge rooms, condos, and vacation homes. With an on-site restaurant and stunning views of Marys Lake and the mountains, it’s a comfortable and convenient choice.
  • Fall River Cabins: If you prefer more privacy, consider these cabins located on the banks of the Fall River. Each cabin comes with a full kitchen, fireplace, and private deck with a hot tub.

When planning your stay, remember that Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding area can be very busy during peak seasons (summer and early fall). It’s recommended to book your accommodations well in advance. Regardless of where you choose to stay, you’ll be well-positioned to enjoy the natural beauty of Bear Lake and the rest of the park.

7 Impressive Lakes in Colorado

Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs, Colorado

If you’re a fan of travel destinations that are both stunningly beautiful and off the beaten path, make sure Hanging Lake is on your list of must-visit lakes in Colorado. Located near Glenwood Springs, this turquoise gem is surrounded by lush greenery and cascading waterfalls that are sure to take your breath away. And while the hike to get to Hanging Lake is certainly a bit challenging, the reward when you arrive is more than worth it.

Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs, Colorado is one of the most popular travel destinations for those looking to experience the natural beauty of lakes in Colorado. The hike to the lake is challenging, but highly rewarding once you lay eyes on the crystal clear water and stunning waterfall. The trail is well-maintained and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors are encouraged to pack a picnic and spend the day swimming, relaxing, and taking in the peaceful atmosphere.

Tips for visiting Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake, located in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado, is an absolute gem. It’s a beautiful and unique location that offers a stunning turquoise lake and a rich ecological environment. The hike to the lake is moderately challenging but undeniably worth it. However, due to its popularity and fragile ecosystem, there are specific guidelines visitors should follow.

Here are some tips for visiting Hanging Lake:

  1. Get a Permit: As of 2019, a permit is required to visit Hanging Lake to limit visitor numbers and protect its fragile ecosystem. You can book your permit online in advance, and it includes a shuttle service to the trailhead during peak season.
  2. Prepare for the Hike: The trail to Hanging Lake is just over a mile long but is steep and rugged, with areas of rocky terrain. It’s recommended to wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring plenty of water, and take your time. The hike can be challenging, but the view at the top is worth it.
  3. Check the Weather: Weather can change rapidly in the mountains. Check the forecast before you head out, and be prepared for possible changes in weather. 
  4. Pack Light: The hike can be strenuous, so it’s best to pack light. However, ensure you have essentials like water, snacks, sun protection, and your camera.
  5. Respect the Trail Rules: The Hanging Lake trail has a set of rules designed to protect the environment. These include no dogs on the trail, no swimming or touching the water at Hanging Lake, staying on the trail at all times, and not taking shortcuts.
  6. Start Early: The trail can get quite crowded, especially in the summer months. Starting your hike early in the morning can help you avoid the crowds and the heat.
  7. Leave No Trace: It’s crucial to follow the Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all trash, do not disturb wildlife, and leave what you find. The goal is to preserve the natural beauty of Hanging Lake for future generations.
  8. Prepare for Altitude: The trailhead begins at about 6,500 feet and climbs over 1,000 feet. If you’re not used to high altitudes, take it slow and stay hydrated to prevent altitude sickness.
  9. Enjoy the Journey: The trail is steep and challenging, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey. The canyon views are beautiful, and the surrounding vegetation is lush and green. 
  10. Take Plenty of Photos (Responsibly): Hanging Lake is incredibly picturesque, so be sure to capture the memories. However, remember to respect nature and stay on the trail while doing so.

Visiting Hanging Lake is a truly unique experience that combines challenge, beauty, and the chance to engage with nature. Following these tips will help ensure you have a memorable and respectful visit.

Hotels & Lodges near Hanging Lake

Located in the charming town of Glenwood Springs, this hotel offers easy access to Hanging Lake. It features an outdoor pool and hot tub and is within walking distance of local restaurants.

Here are some options:

  • Hotel Glenwood Springs – This affordable hotel is located in downtown Glenwood Springs and offers easy access to Hanging Lake.
  • Iron Mountain Hot Springs – Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains from this luxurious hot springs resort.
  • The Lookout Lodge – This quaint lodge is perfect for a romantic getaway or family vacation. It’s located just minutes from Hanging Lake, with stunning views of the lake and mountain peaks.
  • The Boiler Room Suites- Enjoy modern amenities and cozy suites at this hotel near Hanging Lake.
  • The Hotel Colorado – Experience the charm of staying at a historic hotel near Hanging Lake. This hotel offers views of the mountains and easy access to nearby attractions.
  • The Alpenrose Inn – Enjoy a warm welcome and cozy accommodations at this family-friendly inn. It’s located close to Hanging Lake, with scenic mountain views.
  • Redstone Inn & Suites – Enjoy comfortable rooms and suites near Hanging Lake at this conveniently-located inn.
  • The Alpine Lodge – This cozy Lodge is located near Hanging Lake and offers rustic charm and a range of amenities.

Blue Mesa Reservoir near Gunnison, Colorado

When it comes to travel destinations, Colorado has plenty to offer, and one of the best lakes in Colorado is Blue Mesa Reservoir near Gunnison. This stunning body of water spans over 20 miles and boasts more than 96 miles of shoreline, which makes it an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Whether you enjoy fishing, boating, or simply relaxing on the beach, Blue Mesa Reservoir has something for everyone.

The crystal-clear water reflects vibrant shades of deep blue that are truly breathtaking, especially during sunrise and sunset. Plus, with stunning mountain ranges surrounding the lake, you’re sure to have a scenic and memorable adventure. Don’t miss the chance to visit one of Colorado’s most stunning lakes in Colorado and create memories that will last a lifetime at Blue Mesa Reservoir.

Tips for visiting Blue Mesa Reservoir

Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest body of water in Colorado, is located in the Curecanti National Recreation Area and offers a wide range of recreational activities. With its stunning blue waters, fishing opportunities, and scenic landscapes, Blue Mesa Reservoir is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Here are some tips to ensure your visit to this Colorado gem is a memorable one:

  1. Check the Weather: Weather in the Blue Mesa Reservoir area can be unpredictable. While summers are typically warm and perfect for water activities, afternoon thunderstorms are common. Winters can be cold and snowy, which could affect road conditions. Always check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
  2. Prepare for Altitude: The reservoir sits at an elevation of about 7,500 feet, so be prepared for high-altitude conditions. Drink plenty of water, take it easy for the first day or two to acclimate, and watch for signs of altitude sickness.
  3. Fishing Requirements: Blue Mesa Reservoir is known for its fishing, particularly for trout and Kokanee salmon. Make sure to have a valid Colorado fishing license and be aware of the specific fishing regulations for the reservoir.
  4. Water Safety: Whether you’re boating, kayaking, or swimming, always prioritize safety. Wear a life jacket when on the water, avoid swimming alone, and always let someone know your plans.
  5. Book Campsites in Advance: The area around the reservoir offers numerous campgrounds, but they can fill up quickly during peak season. To secure a spot, especially if you want a lakefront site, make reservations well in advance.
  6. Bring Sun Protection: The Colorado sun can be intense, especially at high elevations. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats to protect yourself from the sun.
  7. Pack In, Pack Out: Preserve the beauty of the area by following the “Leave No Trace” principles. Dispose of your waste properly, and if you bring it in, make sure you take it back out.
  8. Explore Hiking Trails: There are numerous hiking trails around the reservoir, ranging from easy walks to challenging hikes. The Dillon Pinnacles Trail is a popular option, offering spectacular views of the unique geological formations.
  9. Boat Rentals: If you don’t have your own watercraft, several marinas around the reservoir offer rentals, from motorboats to kayaks and paddleboards.
  10. Winter Visit: If you’re visiting in the winter, ice fishing is popular on the reservoir. However, always check the ice conditions beforehand, and if you’re new to ice fishing, consider hiring a local guide.
  11. Wildlife Awareness: The area is home to a wide range of wildlife, including deer, elk, and occasionally bears. Always observe from a distance, and never feed wildlife.

Blue Mesa Reservoir is a versatile destination that offers something for every outdoor lover. By following these tips, you can ensure that your visit is not only enjoyable but also safe and respectful of this beautiful environment.

Hotels & Lodges near Blue Mesa Reserve

There are a variety of accommodations to choose from, ranging from cozy cabins to luxurious lodges. Whether you’re looking for a scenic view of the Rocky Mountains or a place to unwind after a day of exploring the nearby travel destinations, there’s something for everyone.

Here are some of the best options:

  • The Inn at Blue Mesa Reservoir: Located on the shores of Blue Mesa Reservoir, The Inn at Blue Mesa offers stunning views of the lake and boasts spacious suites with all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay.
  • Blue Mesa Lodge: Situated just minutes away from the reservoir, this cozy lodge provides all the comforts of home in a peaceful setting. You’re sure to find rest and relaxation while enjoying access to nearby activities like fishing, boating, and hiking.
  • Sunrise Cabins & RV Park: Boasting a tranquil location near Gunnison National Forest and Blue Mesa Reservoir, Sunrise Cabins & RV Park is an ideal destination for camping enthusiasts. The property features cabins with modern amenities as well as RV sites with full hookups.
  • Gunnison River Resort: Nestled on the banks of the Gunnison River, just steps away from Blue Mesa Reservoir, this resort provides easy access to all the outdoor activities in the area while offering comfortable accommodations and stunning river views.
  • West Elk Guest Ranch: Located near both Black Canyon National Park and Blue Mesa Reservoir, West Elk Guest Ranch is a perfect destination for those looking to explore nature and enjoy horseback riding, fishing, and other outdoor activities. The ranch offers cozy cabins with modern amenities and unbeatable mountain views.
Lakes in Colorado Worth Exploring with Tips & Accommodations

Island Lake near San Juan National Forest

Island Lake is a hidden gem nestled high in the San Juan National Forest. This alpine lake is accessed via the Ice Lakes trail, a strenuous but rewarding hike. The deep, sapphire-blue waters of Island Lake, coupled with a unique island at the center, make it a photographer’s paradise. Be prepared for a rugged, wild experience, as amenities here are few.

This crystal-clear lake offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, with plenty of opportunities for aquatic adventures like fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Hiking trails surrounding the lake lead to breathtaking vistas, making this a prime spot for photographers and nature lovers alike. Don’t miss your chance to experience one of the most picturesque lakes in Colorado.

Tips for visiting Island Lake

Among these, Island Lake is a gem that draws visitors year-round with its crystal-clear waters and sweeping mountain views. Planning a visit to this breathtaking location can be a bit overwhelming, but with a few key tips, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Be sure to bring sturdy hiking shoes as the trail to the lake can be rocky and steep in places.

  1. Plan your visit during summer: The best time to visit Island Lake is from late June to September when the snow has melted, and the trails are accessible. Keep in mind that the weather can be unpredictable, so always check the forecast before your trip.
  2. Prepare for high elevation: Island Lake sits at an elevation of over 12,000 feet. Be aware of altitude sickness symptoms and take time to acclimate before attempting any strenuous hikes.
  3. Hike the Ice Lakes Trail: To reach Island Lake, you’ll need to hike the challenging Ice Lakes Trail, which is approximately 8 miles round-trip with a significant elevation gain. Make sure to wear proper footwear, and carry plenty of water, snacks, and layers for changing weather conditions.
  4. Start your hike early: Due to the trail’s popularity and limited parking, it’s recommended to start your hike early in the morning to secure a parking spot and avoid afternoon thunderstorms.
  5. Pack a camera: The stunning turquoise waters of Island Lake and the surrounding scenery make for incredible photo opportunities. Don’t forget to bring a camera or smartphone to capture the breathtaking views.
  6. Practice Leave No Trace principles: Help preserve the beauty of Island Lake by following Leave No Trace principles, such as staying on designated trails, packing out all trash, and not disturbing wildlife or vegetation.
  7. Be prepared for varying weather conditions: Even during the summer months, weather at high elevations can change rapidly. Pack layers, rain gear, and extra clothing to stay comfortable and dry.
  8. Camp responsibly: If you plan to camp overnight in the area, be sure to follow all regulations, including camping only in designated spots and adhering to fire restrictions.
  9. Secure a wilderness permit if required: Depending on the time of year and specific regulations, you may need a wilderness permit for hiking or camping in the area. Check with the local ranger station for up-to-date information on permits and trail conditions.
  10. Explore nearby attractions: While visiting Island Lake, consider exploring other nearby attractions, such as Silverton, Ouray, or Telluride, which offer additional outdoor activities, scenic drives, and historic charm.

Hotels & Lodges near Island Lake

For those planning an extended trip to Island Lake, there are plenty of nearby lodging options. From cozy cabins and rustic campsites to luxury hotels and vacation rentals, there are accommodations for any budget or preference. Whether you choose to stay close to the lake or explore the surrounding towns, you’ll find comfortable places to rest your head after a long day of exploring.

Here are some recommended accommodations in those areas:

  • Grand Imperial Hotel, Silverton: A historic hotel dating back to 1882, the Grand Imperial offers comfortable rooms with an old-world charm. It’s located in the heart of Silverton, providing easy access to local shops and restaurants.
  • The Wyman Hotel & Inn, Silverton: Another historic choice, The Wyman offers beautifully appointed rooms and suites, some with private balconies. It also features an on-site bar and lounge.
  • Triangle Motel, Silverton: For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Triangle Motel. It offers clean, simple rooms and is conveniently located for exploring the San Juan National Forest.
  • Beaumont Hotel & Spa, Ouray: This grand, restored 19th-century hotel offers luxurious rooms and a full-service spa. It’s located in the heart of Ouray, often called the “Switzerland of America.”
  • Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, Ouray: This lodge offers comfortable rooms and the unique feature of natural hot springs on-site. Guests can enjoy the hot springs while taking in the views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Ouray Victorian Inn, Ouray: This family-owned inn offers comfortable rooms and suites, some with private balconies overlooking the Uncompahgre River.
  • St.Elmo Hotel, Ouray: A historic bed and breakfast-style hotel, St. Elmo offers individually decorated rooms with Victorian-era charm. 
  • Matterhorn Inn Ouray: For a balance of value and comfort, Matterhorn Inn offers cozy rooms and suites, some with kitchenettes. It also features an outdoor hot tub with mountain views.

Remember, Island Lake is located in a remote area, and the drive involves some steep, rugged terrain that may require a 4×4 vehicle. Also, as Island Lake is located at a high altitude, be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions, and always check local road and weather reports before setting out.

Lake Dillon near Summit County

Located in the heart of Summit County, Lake Dillon, also known as Dillon Reservoir, offers visitors an array of recreational activities. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks and filled with crystal clear water, this high-altitude lake is ideal for sailing, fishing, kayaking, and even ice fishing in the winter. With easy accessibility and a variety of nearby amenities, Lake Dillon is perfect for a family outing.

Nestled in the heart of Summit County, Colorado, lies a perfect travel destination for all nature enthusiasts – Lake Dillon. Known for its 3,233 acres of pristine water and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, this lake has been a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike for years. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities including boating, fishing, hiking, biking, and even camping.

Tips for visiting Lake Dillon

This beautiful reservoir is surrounded by Colorado’s breathtaking mountains and offers visitors boating, fishing, and hiking opportunities. However, to get the most out of your visit, it’s important to have a plan. Start by checking out the town of Dillon, which offers unique shops and restaurants.

  1. Plan your visit during summer or early fall: The best time to visit Lake Dillon is from June to September when the weather is warm and sunny, allowing you to fully enjoy the outdoor activities.
  2. Book accommodations in advance: Lake Dillon is a popular destination, so make sure to reserve your lodging ahead of time, whether you’re staying in a hotel, vacation rental, or campground.
  3. Explore nearby towns: The charming towns of Frisco and Silverthorne are located along the shores of Lake Dillon and offer a variety of restaurants, shops, and attractions to explore.
  4. Rent a boat or kayak: Make the most of your time at Lake Dillon by renting a boat, kayak, or paddleboard to explore the lake’s hidden coves and stunning shoreline.
  5. Pack layers: Even during the summer months, temperatures can drop significantly in the evenings due to the high elevation, so be sure to pack layers to stay comfortable.
  6. Enjoy the hiking and biking trails: Lake Dillon offers numerous trails for hiking and mountain biking, such as the popular Dillon Reservoir Recreation Path that circles the lake.
  7. Visit the Dillon Marina: The marina offers boat rentals, sailing lessons, and guided tours, as well as a lakeside restaurant with beautiful views.
  8. Attend a concert at the Dillon Amphitheater: During the summer months, the amphitheater hosts free concerts and events with stunning lake and mountain views as a backdrop.
  9. Be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms: Colorado is known for its afternoon storms, especially during the summer. Keep an eye on the weather and plan accordingly, seeking shelter if necessary.
  10. Respect the environment: Help preserve the beauty of Lake Dillon by following Leave No Trace principles, such as disposing of trash properly, respecting wildlife, and staying on designated trails.

Hotels & Lodges near Lake Dillon

Lake Dillon, also known as Dillon Reservoir, is located in Summit County, Colorado. Known for its stunning mountain vistas and ample recreational opportunities, Lake Dillon is surrounded by several towns with lodging options, including Dillon, Frisco, and Silverthorne.

Here are some recommended accommodations in those areas:

  • Best Western Ptarmigan Lodge, Dillon: This hotel offers comfortable rooms and suites, many with lake views. Amenities include free breakfast, an outdoor hot tub, and easy access to the lake and local hiking trails.
  • Hotel Frisco, Frisco: Located on Frisco’s charming Main Street, Hotel Frisco offers cozy rooms and suites, some with fireplaces and balconies. The hotel also features a hot tub and sauna for guests to relax.
  • Frisco Inn on Galena, Frisco: This bed-and-breakfast-style inn offers beautifully appointed rooms and a variety of amenities, including a hot tub, sauna, massage services, and complimentary afternoon wine and cheese.
  • Hampton Inn & Suites, Silverthorne: Located off I-70, this hotel offers spacious rooms and suites, an indoor pool, a fitness center, and complimentary breakfast. It’s also pet-friendly.
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites, Silverthorne: This hotel offers comfortable rooms, an indoor pool, and a fitness center. It’s conveniently located near several dining and shopping options.
  • Lake Dillon Condominiums, Dillon: For a home-away-from-home experience, consider these condos located directly on the shores of Lake Dillon. Each unit has a full kitchen, living area, and balcony or patio with lake views.
  • Silver Inn, Silverthorne: This budget-friendly option offers clean, simple rooms, an indoor hot tub, and a sauna. It’s centrally located with easy access to local attractions.
  • Baymont by Wyndham, Frisco: This hotel offers comfortable rooms and suites, an indoor pool, a hot tub, and a complimentary breakfast. It’s located near Lake Dillon and Frisco’s downtown area.
  • Luxury Inn & Suites, Silverthorne: This inn offers a range of rooms and suites at a reasonable price. Amenities include an indoor pool, hot tub, and complimentary breakfast.
  • Dillon Inn, Dillon: This budget-friendly inn offers clean rooms, an indoor pool, and a hot tub. It’s located a short drive from Lake Dillon and several local restaurants.

Remember, the Lake Dillon area is popular year-round, with water activities and hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter, so it’s a good idea to book your accommodations well in advance.

Getting to the Lakes in Colorado

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Lakes in Colorado

With their awe-inspiring backdrops and endless recreational opportunities, these five beautiful lakes in Colorado are sure to create lasting memories for any visitor. The lakes in Colorado offer a blend of peaceful retreat and adventurous spirit that’s hard to find elsewhere. Whether you’re seeking a tranquil escape, an exciting adventure, or the perfect photo, these hidden gems of the Rockies promise an unforgettable experience. Let the serene waters, pristine landscapes, and fresh mountain air rejuvenate your spirit.

Unlock Adventure with the Best Hiking & Backpacking in Colorado National Parks
Best Hiking & Backpacking in Colorado National Parks Guide

Looking to explore the best hiking and backpacking trails in Colorado National Parks? The Best Hiking & Backpacking in Colorado National Parks guide has got you covered! With detailed descriptions and insider tips, our guide is your ultimate roadmap to experiencing the natural beauty of Colorado’s rugged terrain.

The Best Hiking & Backpacking in Colorado National Parks guide provides detailed information about the top hiking and backpacking destinations in Colorado’s national parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Mesa Verde National Park. We also highlight lesser-known trails that offer stunning vistas and wildlife sightings for the intrepid adventurer.

Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or a first-time hiker, our guide includes essential information on trail difficulty, duration, camping options, and safety considerations.

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Lakes in Colorado FAQs

With so many travel destinations across the state, it can be overwhelming to choose where to go. We’re here to answer all of your frequently asked questions about breathtaking lakes in Colorado, from the best spots for fishing to the most scenic places to take a swim. Our aim is to provide clear, organized, and friendly information that will help you plan your next adventure.

What is the largest of the lakes in Colorado?

The largest lake in Colorado is Grand Lake, which has a surface area of 4,400 acres.

Are there any lakes in Colorado with beaches?

Yes, several of the larger lakes such as Grand Lake and Steamboat Lake offer sandy beaches for visitors to enjoy.

Are there any free activities at the lakes in Colorado?

Yes, many of the lakes in Colorado offer free activities such as fishing, swimming, and hiking. There are also plenty of opportunities for bird watching, wildlife viewing, and photography.

What is the best time to visit lakes in Colorado?

The best time to visit a lake in Colorado is during the summer months of June, July, and August when temperatures are the warmest. However, some lakes in Colorado can be enjoyed year-round on their location and elevation.

What are the Leave No Trace principles?

The Leave No Trace principles are a set of guidelines to help reduce the impact on the environment when visiting parks or public lands. The seven principles include planning ahead and preparing, traveling and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly, leaving what you find, respecting wildlife, being considerate of other visitors, and minimizing campfire impacts. These guidelines are essential for preserving Colorado’s natural beauty for generations to come.

Are there any good breweries around the lakes in Colorado?

If you’re looking for some great breweries while enjoying the beautiful scenery of Colorado’s lakes, you’re in luck! There are plenty of Colorado breweries scattered around the state’s many travel destinations. Some of the most popular breweries in the area are located near the picturesque lakes in Colorado, offering visitors a great spot to relax and enjoy a cold beer after a day of exploring. From Boulder’s Avery Brewing Company to Fort Collins’ Odell Brewing Company, there are plenty of choices for craft beer enthusiasts.