Log In

Reset Password

Alta Lakes proposed for improvements

The Alta Lakes area south of Telluride is being evaluated to reduce recreation impacts. (Courtesy U.S. National Forest)
Increased recreation use has led to natural resource impacts

The popular Alta Lakes Recreation Area 13 miles south of Telluride would be improved under a proposal by the Norwood Ranger District of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest.

The District is seeking public comment on the plans for area, located in a high alpine basin accessible from Colorado Highway 145.

The project includes Alta Lakes, Gold King Basin, Wild Boy Lake, and the Alta Lakes Road (Forest Road 632).

According to a news release, the proposal purpose is to address present and future impacts from recreation. Proposed improvements would reduce resource degradation by managing visitor impacts and sanitation issues.

Proposed site improvements include the construction of two dispersed camping loops and day-use parking areas, vault restrooms, trail and road improvements, visitor sign enhancement and riparian habitat restoration.

Courtesy Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest
Courtesy Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest

“The combination of significant year-after-year increases in visitation has created a situation that under our current management strategy is not sustainable,” said Norwood District Ranger Megan Eno in the news release. “Our goal is to maximize recreation opportunities while minimizing unwanted impacts to the sensitive, high-alpine environment surrounding the Alta Lakes Recreation Area.”

According to Forest Service 2018 master plan, the Alta Lakes area is undeveloped with limited facilities. The primary road access to the lakes is via the Alta Road, a rough, narrow 4.3-mile route recommended for high clearance vehicles.

Designated dispersed camping is allowed throughout the area. There is no potable water, insufficient trash facilities, a lack of Forest Service signing throughout the Alta area, according to the forest service. The riparian habitat along Lower Alta Lake has been heavily impacted by unmanaged vehicle travel and dispersed camping.

For detailed information on the proposed site improvements visit the project website. Public comments must be received by March 2, 2023.

Comments options are:

  • Online at: Alta Lakes site improvement commenting platform.
  • Mailed or hand delivered to: Norwood Ranger District, Attn: Megan Eno, P.O. Box 388, Norwood, CO 81423.
  • Emailed to: Megan.Eno@usda.gov.
  • Faxed to: (970) 327-4854, Attn: Megan Eno.
  • Oral comments can be provided by calling the Norwood Ranger District at (970) 327-4261.