Near Crested Butte, CO
Lost Lakes are made up of 3 small lakes that rest just north of the East Beckwith Mountain. The location sits in a tranquil Aspen forest just off of the Keebler Pass and is a photographers & outdoor enthusiasts dream.
You do not have to stay at the campground to photograph or hike the area, but once you get here you will wish you were staying for a few days.
Trail Difficulty (1.5 out of 5)
I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 1.5 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). The hike to the location is a simple 300 yd. walk around the from the campground.
GPS Coordinates & Elevation
9,635 Ft. Elevation
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
Click link above to view location in Google Earth
CLICK HERE to get driving directions to the Lost Lakes campground.
The following directions are from Crested Butte, CO (which is a small town in central west Colorado). From Crested Butte, travel west on CO RD 12 (Kebler Pass) for about 16 miles until you get to the turn off for Lost Lake Campground. Take a left and travel on the dirt road for about 2 miles until you get to the campground. The best shots are on east side of the campground down by the lake.
Best Time of Day to Shoot
The way the lakes are set up with the East Beckwith Mountain (part of the Ruby Mountain Range) as a backdrop, you can shoot here almost any time of day. If you shoot at sunrise or sunset you can capture the early morning or evening glow on the mountains facing south. Personally, I prefer sunrise because it is usually the best chance of getting the lake completely still for reflections.
Best Time of Year to Shoot
The Lost Lakes off of the Kebler Pass is one of the nicer locations in this area and can be viewed and photographed most times of the year (the Kebler pass is closed in the winter, thus access to the Lost Lakes is too). However, the best time for me is the during the fall color season (depending on the year – this ranges between mid Sept through the first week in October). There is a nice Aspen grove in the mountains just beyond the lake that lights up the view.
The above shot was taken on September 30th
What Lens(es) Do You Need
For most shots, you need a wide-angle lens (16-24mm). The shot above was done as a 3-horizontal pane stitch with a 24mm lens.
There are no permits required to shoot the Lost Lakes. However, the lakes are part of the Lost Lakes campground which requires permits/fees to spend the night.
Direction of the Shot
The shot is south by southwest – and depending on where you stand the shot between 190 – 220°.
Special Nuances of Shot
This is mainly a straight forward shot - with different views based on where you stand around the lake. On a perfectly still morning the reflection of the lake provides many great opportunities. I would suggest scouting out the different locations around the lake the day before to determine your best shots – as sunrise waits for no one.
Special Equipment Needed
No need for any special photography equipment - other than a tripod and potentially a polarizer unless you plan on doing a panoramic shot. If you arrive pre-dawn at this location in the fall, it is most likely to be cold – so make sure you bring appreciate clothes, hats and gloves.
Number of Other Photographers to Expect
As mentioned, this is one of the nicer locations in the area and the campground is almost always full. But, most of the people in the campsite are just there to take in the beauty and won’t be up before sunrise. That being said there are about 3-5 premium locations at sunrise –and the early bird gets the worm.
The weather in Colorado is normally mild in the summer, cold (lows in the 20’s) in the spring and fall. This location is almost 10,000 ft. elevation – so the temperatures are colder than most locations around this area.
I use Verizon and there is no cell service at the Lost Lakes.
The Lost Lakes are part of a beautiful campground with about 20 or so sites. This very popular campsite is a first come – first serve fee based campground and is normally full during the open season (Mid-June – October). The cost $20 is per night.
Other campgrounds in the area are Lake Irwin Campground – about 12 miles east and Paonia State Park which is about 17 miles west off of CO 133.
The closest town is Crested Butte – which is about 18 miles away and has plenty of lodging. Keep in mind, Crested Butte is one of the most beautiful and desirable locations in Colorado and fills up quickly during the tourist season.
Camping - click on the campground below for directions
Lost Lake Campground – on location
Lake Irwin Campground - about 12 miles east on the Kebler Pass toward Crested Butte
Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review
Lodge at Mountaineer Square
620 Gothic Road, Crested Butte, CO
Grand Lodge Crested Butte
6 Emmons Loop, Crested Butte, CO
As mentioned, the closest town is Crested Butte which is home to plenty of very good eating and drinking establishments. It is a GREAT little town and one of my very favorite places in all of Colorado. When in Crested Butte, make sure you stop by McGill's on Elk St. for breakfast.
Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review
228 Elk Ave, Crested Butte, CO
311 Elk Ave, Crested Butte, CO
The closest laundry facilities are in Crested Butte.
Crested Butte Laundry, 615 Teocalli Ave, Crested Butte
Other Photography Opportunities Around
The closest airports to Lost Lakes are Montrose (MTJ) 80 miles, Grand Junction (GJT) 140 miles and Denver (DEN) about 270 miles away. Montrose and Grand Junction are nice regional that services: American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines.
Area Guides and Workshops
The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determine the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise/moonset from any place on earth on any day (past and future). Click here to take you to The Photographer's Ephemeris for this location.