This has been on my bucket list for decades. Having traveled Hwy 550 so many times over the years I would always be overwhelmed by the setting which is still OVERWHELMING.
This was the last of 3-2 night stays in search of the perfect paddling spot. I booked it back in March 2021 for June of the same year. It’s funny how your mind replays what you think you saw and then there’s the reality. It should be stated up front this property is a commercial endeavor owned by the Town of Silverton which is situated a brief drive, straight down hill. I had expected a much more refined experience than what I encountered because of viewing it from above in my car while driving by each time. It was NOT at all what I had imagined.
It is a breath taking spot there is no denying that and they take advantage of that. The camping is one step above dispersed. While there are fire rings, but no fires, at each site and a picnic table little else was been done to the sites themselves. It’s a sprawling compound but the vault toilets are few and a fair walk between. The sites are on top of each other and the terrain around them is filled with fallen trees and exposed roots and rocks. Trip hazards abound. One woman’s land yacht was wedged beside the road so precariously she had to install bright day glow green pool noodles to each exposed corner in hopes no one would hit it. My site had a beautiful view of the lake but no place to pitch a tent. There was barely enough room to function. It was situated directly next to the only road in and out and it had a constant steady stream of vehicles in and out all day and even until 10:00 at night. Dirt was flying everywhere and no one observed the 5mph speed limit. Several people left after one day for that very reason. No TP in the toilets but they hand you a roll at check in???
The lake is beautiful but small. It looks bigger from the road. There were thousands of tiny dragon flies everywhere it was amazing!
Bottom line this is really for families with kids who want to play in the boats they have available for rent. Showers are $5.00 for 4 minutes so there’s that. I didn’t see any evidence of drinking water but there may be. I bring my own so I didn’t have a need. Someone came buy peddling propane and the garbage truck loomed by around 4PM. The place was packed tight. They have added some new spots as you enter the compound for RV’s but they have literally been bull dozed out of the hillside below 550 and are not at all inviting, red clay and zero vegetation but I imagine they have a great view.
The couple who manage the place are very nice people and very accommodating. Of course, this is commercial endeavor in every way so expect accordingly.
I packed up and left after only one night. The incessant traffic noise from the 550 (think semi trucks struggling up or down the million dollar highway at 10,000 feet) and the steady stream of vehicles just a few feet from my bed was just too off putting. Turns out Ride Across the Rockies was going on and the road all the way to Durango was crowded with skinny tire cyclists testing their mettle on Molas and Coal Bank passes. It made for precarious driving on that two lane road that has nothing on either side. So everything was booked for that weekend probably from Ouray to Durango was was a zoo when I got down the hill. Glad I made it a week day trip the traffic going up the hill was thick looking for weekend relief from the incessant heat.
I’m glad I did stayed at least the one night. There are other spots that are more attractive there just make sure you really check the map before booking a spot. It’s a popular place for one good reason. The views are OVERWHELMING but the accommodations, sadly, left a lot to be desired. It’s really too bad because it’s a gem location and they rely on that in hopes you won’t notice the other.