Vacationing in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains

You could be forgiven for half-expecting a dolphin to playfully jump out of the water and do a flip. The intense, electric blue of Ice Lake would seem out of place against the patches of snow and the alpine meadows if it weren’t so starkly beautiful. Tucked away in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains near the town of Silverton, Ice Lake is one of four incandescently-colored lakes in the Upper Ice Lake Basin — the other three being Island, Clear, and fuller lakes finishing out the list.

Perfect for a day trip, Ice Lake and its nearby sister lake, Island Lake, are just outside of Silverton and can be reached from the gravel parking area across from South Mineral Campground and is where you can park and begin your trek. The lakes are accessed via a remarkably scenic four-mile hike with an elevation climb of around three-thousand feet. The trails are well defined and easily done by most hikers. Winding through alpine meadows, conifer forests, waterfalls and creeks, the hike itself is a lot of fun, so make sure to bring a camera as you’ll want to capture the scenery on the way up to the lake!

If you’re not the type of person for whom a landscape can hold endless captivation, bring along a fishing pole and some bait and tackle; the lakes are full of cutthroat trout. During the warmer months, you can travel light and leave the ice auger at home for a carefree day of fishing in a serene location.

Since you’ve undoubtedly brought your hiking boots, you might as well climb up one of the surrounding 14,000+ foot peaks that surround the lakes. Fuller, Vermillion, V2 – all can be had from Ice Lake, and the surrounding lakes. Trails do go up to the summits of many of the surrounding mountains, and since you’re above the timberline, the views are unimpeded.

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