Nestled high in the San Juan Mountains, well above tree line, the Ice Lake Basin is home to one of the most brilliant cobalt blue lakes in all of Colorado. Although the hike to this lake is strenuous, the views of nearby Grant Peak and other lakes in the Ice Lake Basin make the trek worth the journey.

Starting from the base of the South Mineral Valley near Silverton, this hike begins at almost 10,000 feet above sea level. Make sure to be prepared for high country weather as a beautiful day can turn dangerous in just a few hours at high altitude.

Ice Lake is covered with snow and ice for up to eight months of the year, giving the lake its unique name. Ice Lake, and neighboring Fuller Lake and Island Lake, are seasonal lakes that are the result of snowmelt and are brilliantly clear due to the lake of contamination.

For hikers that want to see Ice Lake as well as Fuller and Island Lake, the trip is 9.3 miles and will take around 7 hours. Due to the 2,500 vertical feet climb to the lakes, make sure to be prepared with plenty of water and other necessary high country gear.

Photography Pro Tips

Brilliant grand landscapes and plenty of opportunities for creative composition are available in the Ice Lake area.

  1. Bring a tripod. You’re going to want to plan the angles and composition before the sun starts rising.
  2. Try for unique composition. There are so many mountain photos out there, do some exploring to find a unique angle on the landscape.
  3. Spend the night. To find your ideal light, you have to spend some extra time in that space. Take a lot of shots at lots of different times of day to get the best one.

For more tips, check out

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