Spent one night here with a group. With so many campgrounds, I expected it to be very loud. It was not.
Camp hosts were super nice and selling wood on-site.
Pit toilets were surprisingly clean.
We stayed at campsite 2.
River a quarter mile walk away.
This campground is ideal: close to town, backcountry seclusion. The hike is steep, but manageable. Read about the hike here; 3.4mi, 1500ft + gain. Starts from the top of Bridal Veil Falls, so either drive up the switchbacks at the end of town or be prepared for the dusty hike up.
If I remember correctly there may actually be an old campsite grill up there. But don't count on it.
There are several patches of firm, clear earth for camping.
Catching sunset in the San Juans on the edge of an alpine lake at 12,500ft is as great as it sounds.
Stayed here one night solo after trying to camp at the riverside sites further down the canyon. All cars park in a lot near the road, then campers walk their gear to sites. Maximum walk-to length is probably .1 mile. There are a couple sites near the road, these are good for bigger groups. The further back you walk, the smaller the sites get. All have fire pits. A rivulet runs through the sites. There is a very small box canyon at the end of the trail that is fun to spend a few minutes exploring.
Town park is right at the end of town. Camp and enjoy the sounds of the river, nearby trails, and limited company. This campsite gets used a LOT during the summer as festival-goers camp to keep their costs down. Different festivals expand the Campground to accommodate for the influx of campers.
Blue lakes campsites are about 3 miles in at the lower Blue Lake. From there, hike 2.5 miles to get to the Blue Lakes Saddle below Sneffels, and continue up to summit this great 14'er.
Campground Review: I loved my stay at Sunshine Campground. Only reason it gets 4 stars is the proximity to the main road and road noise, which is minimal at night. A couple of the 18 sites have awesome views. There's firewood for sale for $6, and two primitive bathrooms. Good for RV or tent camping, and loved the access to wilderness near Telluride.
Gear Review: As a Dyrt Ranger, I also get products to test and review in the field.
I recently got to test Osprey’s Aether 70L Backpack while I was at Sunshine Campground.
First off, a 70L pack is big--bigger than your average day pack. I’ve had my eyes on 65L+ packs for a while so I was psyched to get my hands on this one. And it lived up to my expectations. I’m going to be using the pack on a 5-day trek in Mexico in October, so I tried to replicate a multi-day, full load during my field test.
I packed in bulky camping gear and a couple big rocks (to exaggerate the feeling of the weight). I estimate the final weight around 60lbs. Structurally, the pack handled the weight well. I took it on day hikes (each ~10 miles, 3-5k net elevation gain) using Sunshine Campground as my HQ. It sat comfortably and didn’t leave any hotspots.
Only downside? The large size limits it to multi-night or training hikes.
As ranger worthy or not, this is definitely a ranger worthy pack. Check out the pack here: http://www.ospreypacks.com/us/en/product/aether-70-AETHER70.html
There are a number of campsites surrounding Alta Lakes and there are also other lakes nearby. Gold King Basin is a popular alternative to the most trafficked Alta Lakes, although it can see more wind than Alta. Overall, the camping experience is serene. High-altitude lakes with nearby jagged peaks and far-off vistas… it's remote, but it's worth the trip. The road to Alta can get rough after heavy rain and at the end of the season. Usually seems like at least half of the sites are occupied. It's a come-and-go-as-you-please sort of site, although I think there's technically a 7 day limit. Free.