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Potato Lake - 13 Things to Know Before Visiting

Potato Lake, Colorado 81301, USA

Lake/ River/ Ponds
Outdoors- Other

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About Potato Lake

Potato Lake is a beautiful spot located in San Juan County, Colorado. The lake is surrounded by mountains and is a popular destination for hiking, camping, and fishing. Potato Lake is home to a variety of fish, including trout, pike, and bass. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, kayaking, and canoeing. In addition to its natural beauty, Potato Lake is also home to a number of historical sites, including the ruins of an old mining town.

Things to Do at Potato Lake

There are plenty of things to do here, including hiking, fishing, and picnicking. The scenery is stunning, and the lake is teeming with wildlife. Potato Lake is also a great place to stargaze. The night sky is incredibly clear here, and you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye. If you're looking for a place to relax and soak up some natural beauty, Potato Lake is definitely worth a visit.

History of Potato Lake

Potato Lake is a beautiful body of water located in San Juan County, Colorado. The lake is named for the large number of potatoes that were once grown in the area. The first recorded mention of Potato Lake was made by a trapper named James Bridger in 1844. Bridger noted that the lake was full of fish and said that it would be a great place to build a cabin. However, it wasn't until 1874 that the first permanent settlers arrived in the area. These settlers were drawn to the lake because of its abundant fishing and hunting. They built cabins along the shore and soon established a thriving community. Today, Potato Lake is a popular destination for camping, hiking, and fishing. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, elk, and bighorn sheep. The history of Potato Lake is one of Native Americans, trappers, settlers, and outdoor enthusiasts. It is a history that continues to be written every day.

Best Time to Visit Potato Lake

The best time to visit Potato Lake is in the summer, when the weather is warm and the water is calm. This is the perfect time to go swimming, fishing, or kayaking. The fall is also a great time to visit, as the leaves start to change color and the air becomes cooler. 

Tips for Visiting Potato Lake

  1. Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and hats - the high altitude means that the sun is very strong.
  2. Remember that the lake is at high altitude - if you have any medical conditions that are affected by altitude, make sure to take precautions.
  3. Be aware of the weather conditions - thunderstorms can roll in quickly in the mountains.
  4. There are several different hiking trails around Potato Lake, so be sure to bring your hiking shoes. The trail around the lake is an easy hike with amazing views.
  5. Potato Lake is a great place for fishing and camping. Fishing licenses can be purchased at most sporting goods stores or online through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website. Camping is allowed anywhere around the lake except within 100 feet of the shoreline.
  6. Be sure to pack insect repellent as mosquitoes can be plentiful near the lake during certain times of year.
  7. If you're looking for a more strenuous hike, the 12-mile trail around the lake is perfect for experienced hikers. Make sure you're prepared for a long day on the trail before embarking on this hike.
  8. ATVing and off-roading are also popular activities in the area - just be respectful of the fragile ecosystem and stick to designated trails.

Interesting Facts and Trivias About Potato Lake

  1.  The lake is fed by the Rio Grande and has a maximum depth of 100 feet and is approximately 12 miles long and 6 miles wide.
  2. The lake is home to a variety of fish species including rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout.
  3. The scenery around Potato Lake is stunning, with mountains, forests, and meadows all nearby.
  4. Potato Lake is located in an area of high seismic activity and has experienced several earthquakes in recent years.
  5. The name 'Potato Lake' comes from the fact that potatoes were once grown in the area around the lake.
  6. There are several geologic features of interest in the area, including Ancient Puebloan petroglyphs and an extinct volcano.

How Much Time Did Visitors Spend at Potato Lake

The maximum time required to explore the lake is 3-4 hours. If you want to fully explore this area, allow at least one day. 

How to Reach Potato Lake

 The lake is located about 12 miles north of Durango, and can be accessed via a relatively easy hike from the south side of the mountain. From the trailhead, it is about a 3-mile hike to reach the lake, with an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet. The trail is well-marked and scenic, passing through aspen groves and meadows with wildflowers before reaching the rocky slopes that lead to the lake.

Entrance Fee of Potato Lake

No, there is no entrance fee to explore Potato Lake. 

Opening Hours of Potato Lake

The lake is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. during the summer months.

Attractions Near Potato Lake

Twilight Peak
Twilight Peak3.52km from Potato Lake

Twilight Peak is a popular destination for hiking and camping. The peak is named for its position near the edge of the continental divide, where the sun sets early in the evening. Twilight Peak is also home to several glaciers, including Bancroft Glacier and Sunset Glacier. The summit of Twilight Peak offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and lakes.Wildflowers are abundant in the meadows near the peak, and wildlife includes elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions.

Coal Bank Pass
Coal Bank Pass4.28km from Potato Lake

Coal Bank Pass is a high mountain pass located in San Juan County, Colorado. The pass is traversed by a road that connects the town of Silverton with the town of Ouray. The pass is named for the coal deposits that are found in the area. The road over the pass is one of the most scenic drives in Colorado, and it offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The pass is open year-round, but it can be treacherous in winter due to the heavy snowfall.

San Juan National Forest
San Juan National Forest4.89km from Potato Lake

The San Juan National Forest is located in the southwest corner of Colorado, bordering both the Lizard Head Wilderness and the Weminuche Wilderness. It is the largest forest in Colorado, stretching over 1.8 million acres. The San Juans are home to 12,000 foot peaks, alpine lakes and meadows, old-growth forests, and sprawling valleys. With such a variety of terrain, it's no wonder that the San Juans are a popular destination for hikers, campers, hunters, and fishermen alike.

Engineer Mountain
Engineer Mountain5.36km from Potato Lake

Engineer Mountain is one of the many peaks in the San Juan Mountains, which is notable for its symmetrical cone-shaped peak, which is a popular hike for visitors to the area. It is also home to a number of old mines, which are now popular tourist attractions. Engineer Mountain is located in San Juan County, Colorado, and is part of the San Juan National Forest. The peak rises to an elevation of 12,968 feet.

Purgatory Resort
Purgatory Resort5.52km from Potato Lake

A majestic ski resort located in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado. It offers 105 trails, including 5 terrain parks, over 1,500 skiable acres, and 12 lifts, including one six-person and two high speed quad lift. Facilities at the resort include condos that are rented out by their owners to vacationing tourists, a nightclub/bar at the bottom of the ski slopes by the chair lifts, a shuttle that goes back and forth from the resort to the nearby town of Durango.

Snowdon Peak
Snowdon Peak8.49km from Potato Lake

Snowdon Peak is the highest point in San Juan County. The peak is located in the San Juan National Forest and has an elevation of 12,933 feet. Snowdon Peak is a popular destination for hikers and climbers and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The peak can be accessed via a number of trails, and there are several camping sites located nearby. Snowdon Peak is a beautiful spot to experience the natural beauty of Colorado and is well worth a visit for any outdoor enthusiast.

Where is Potato Lake

Discover More Attractions in San Juan County, Where Potato Lake Is Located

San Juan County
San Juan County
29 attractions

San Juan County, located in the southwest corner of Colorado, is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. The county is home to several popular National Parks and Monuments, including Mesa Verde National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Hovenweep National Monument. In addition, the San Juan Mountains offer ample opportunities for hiking, camping, and fishing. Thanks to its abundant natural beauty, San Juan County is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Colorado. In fact, the county w