One Colorado destination known for its jaw-dropping beauty is Island Lake in Southwest Colorado near Silverton. Tucked away in the San Juan National Forest, Island Lake is one of four bright blue lakes that hikers trek to in the Upper Ice Lake Basin. It’s a four-mile trail one way, but it’s definitely worth it, as hikers make the journey past old mining ruins, seemingly endless wildflower fields, and jagged peak after jagged peak.

Author’s Note: If you’re planning a visit to this remote area, please follow the Leave No Trace best practices. Parts of this ecosystem are fragile. Enjoy them, but do your part to make sure that someone a year, a decade, or a century from now can enjoy the area, too.

RELATED: What makes Colorado’s mountain lakes so blue?

Photo Credit: Gavlick Wheelwright.

Island Lake is located at roughly 12,400 feet above sea level.

Island Lake - San Juan National Forest - OutThere Colorado
Island Lake, one of the lakes you’ll encounter on the Ice Lakes Basin Trail.

Island Lake’s bright blue color comes from something called glacial flour, residue found in the snow melt that fills the lake.

If you’re planning to make the hike yourself, keep in mind that bad weather is common at this altitude during the afternoon. Start your hike early to avoid it.

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