icelake

Ice Lake Basin in the San Juan Mountains.

While it's prime time for high-alpine adventure in Colorado, one destination will remain closed this summer.

The U.S. Forest Service expects the Ice Lakes area in the state's southwest mountains to be off-limits until Sept. 15, according to an agency news release. This part of the backcountry near Silverton has been closed since last October, when a fire burned about 600 acres near the trail rising to a lake that has been increasingly popular in recent years.

The closure also goes for the nearby South Mineral campground, as well as South Mineral and Clear Lake roads.

Jed Botsford, a district recreation manager within San Juan National Forest, said the Ice Lakes trail saw close to 600 people on busy days last summer during the pandemic — about three times the normal count, he said.

"This closure is not due to that," Botsford previously told The Gazette. "It is purely because of safety issues."

He said dead-standing trees were falling along the trail and nearby roads. Rocks were tumbling down burned hillsides, Botsford said. And without vegetation, heavy rains could lead to dangerous flooding.

The Forest Service said it would evaluate hazards during the closure. The agency has warned of $5,000 fines for violators.

Ice Lakes has been the subject of permit talks — a crowd-controlling reservation system of the sorts at Hanging Lake, Maroon Bells, Rocky Mountain National Park and Mount Evans. "I think that is very realistic," Botsford said.

Sign Up For Free: Denver AM Update

Your morning rundown of the latest news from overnight and the stories to follow throughout the day.

Success! Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.