Lake Purgatory, Colorado, USA

Also known as:  Columbine Lake, Purgatory Lake

Set in the middle of a winter wonderland, Lake Purgatory is a private, alpine lake found in beautiful southwestern Colorado. Property owners and their guests enjoy canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing on this secluded lake where motorized boats are not permitted. Lake Purgatory is not open to the public. During winter, snowshoeing, snowcat skiing, snowboarding, snow biking and cross country skiing are all within view of Lake Purgatory, but – READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Purgatory! Article topics include:

Looking for Lake Purgatory cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Purgatory! Article topics include:

Looking for Lake Purgatory cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

All About Lake Purgatory

Lake Locations: USA - West - Colorado - Southwest -

Set in the middle of a winter wonderland, Lake Purgatory is a private, alpine lake found in beautiful southwestern Colorado. Property owners and their guests enjoy canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing on this secluded lake where motorized boats are not permitted. Lake Purgatory is not open to the public.

During winter, snowshoeing, snowcat skiing, snowboarding, snow biking and cross country skiing are all within view of Lake Purgatory, but the fun doesn’t stop there. When spring arrives, ski trails turn to hiking trails and meadows bloom with wildflowers.

Surrounded by over two million acres of the San Juan National Forest, a sense of the old west remains where people of the Ute Nation once resided. Purgatory Lake and Purgatory Mountain are said to be named after a 1776 party of Spanish explorers who became lost among the Rockies’ slopes and doomed to purgatory having never being found. Thirty miles north of Lake Purgatory, the Silverton area legally opened its land to miners in the 1870s and remains a popular destination today. In 1965, a major ski resort opened on Purgatory Mountain and year-round recreational developments soon followed. At the forefront is Lake Purgatory where lakefront properties are in close proximity to winter sport parks, and spectacular mountain vistas provide an added attraction. Today, multiple subdivisions now provide seasonal and year-round residences either along the lakeshore or within view of Lake Purgatory’s sparkling water.

Also called Columbine Lake, Lake Purgatory sits on Little Cascade Creek drainage, two miles north of an off-stream reservoir named Electra Lake. A series of four diversion dams direct water from Cascade Creek, Little Cascade Creek and Elbert Creek into Electra Lake to power Xcel Energy’s Tacoma hydropower project. The original 1906 Terminal Dam, reconstructed in 1980 and 1981, directs water from Cascade Creek through a pipeline feeding Lake Purgatory on its way to Electra Lake. At some point a dam at Lake Purgatory was breeched changing Lake Purgatory to what the state now classifies as a natural lake. According to the Colorado Division of Water Resources, early records show the original dam height was 13 feet with the lake having a surface area of 40 acres. Lake Purgatory dimensions are estimated to be smaller now. State photographs indicate a surface area of approximately 17 acres and a depth not more than 8 feet.

Surrounded by aspen trees and Colorado blue spruce, the very private setting of Columbine Lake (not to be confused with Columbine Lake in Grand County) brings the outdoors to your back door. Mule deer, elk, black bear, mountain lions, Rocky Mountain big horn sheep, wild turkey and blue grouse are among the wildlife roaming the mountains around Purgatory Lake making wildlife watching, photography and hiking popular pastimes. Fishing along the banks of Lake Purgatory, or casting a line from your canoe or kayak, may bring in brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout or cutthroat trout found in the area.

While you are canoeing Lake Purgatory, don’t be surprised if you hear the distant sound of a steam locomotive. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad runs past Lake Purgatory on a scenic ride you will not want to miss. Originally built to bring silver and gold ore out of the mountains, this historic train has been in continuous operation since 1882. Today, the ride between Silverton and Durango is rated one of the world’s top ten train rides.

Once an old mining camp, the town of Silverton, located 30 minutes north of Purgatory Lake, is an excellent place to find a guide or outfitter and hit the trails on skis or snowmobiles. During summer months, nearby lakes and streams provide excellent trout fishing; chair lifts take mountain bikers to trails that will test the limit of biking skills and send your heart racing; jeeping, horseback riding and camping add to the thrilling adventures and exciting experiences found near Lake Purgatory.

Located in Colorado’s Southwest Tourism Region, the old mountain community of Durango is now a modern city with approximately 15,000 residents who lovingly care for their historic downtown. Located 26 miles south of Lake Purgatory, Durango offers a wide selection of restaurants with mouth-watering cuisine, unique shops offering everything from fine art to fishing gear, and entertainment for the kids at museums and the Durango Recreation Center.

The Animas River runs near Purgatory Lake and through the city of Durango. The Animas is a “gold medal” fishery known for the highest quality rainbow and brown trout. Some stretches of water are restricted to fly fishing only, but all stretches of water are open for fun and sports. For those who prefer to ride the waves, the Animas River provides Class I through Class III rafting depending on the season and river’s flow.

Historic Mesa Verde National Park lies 56 miles west of Durango. Over 4,000 archeological sites are preserved within this park, the first national park established to “preserve the works of man.” The remains of cliff dwellings, pithouses and masonry towers provide a glimpse into the lives of ancestral Puebloans who lived on the mesas for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300.

Found among the forests, mountains and waterways in north La Plata County, Lake Purgatory subdivisions were built with fun, beauty and convenience in mind. If you come to the San Juan Mountains for skiing, hiking and fishing, just put on your boots and walk out your back door. If you come to the mountains for the simplicity and beauty that bring relaxation and renewal, just walk out your front door and gaze upon the scenery. No matter the reason, distinctive vacation rentals and real estate properties found within Lake Purgatory’s subdivisions provide the perfect location to celebrate life and renew your spirit of adventure.

Things to Do at Lake Purgatory

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Snowboarding
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park
  • National Forest
  • Museum

Fish Species Found at Lake Purgatory

  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

All About Lake Purgatory

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Purgatory

The Lake Purgatory map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.


More Ways to Book a Lake Purgatory Vacation

While our interactive map above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME rental homes (with VRBO) and nearby hotels (with Booking.com), there might be times when you need to expand your search with a different type of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you might want to explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our full disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Lake Purgatory Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Lake Purgatory Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


Recommended Sites to Book a Lake Purgatory Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lake Purgatory lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.
ALL TRAVEL RESOURCES

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Surface Area: 17 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 8,825 feet

Maximum Depth: 8 feet

Water Volume: 50 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1906

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

More Lake Purgatory news from LakeLubbers.com

  • Advertise your vacation rental property or local business: DETAILS HERE
  • The Lake Purgatory forum has been discontinued: HERE’S WHY
  • New Lake Purgatory photos coming soon!
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  • Share this Lake Purgatory article with your fellow LakeLubbers:

Do you have a vacation rental property at Lake Purgatory? Coming in 2022, LakeLubbers will have an opportunity for you to showcase your listing and put it in front of thousands of lake lovers searching our site for homes, condos or townhomes to rent for their upcoming lake trip this season.

Please get in touch with our advertising team HERE and we’ll provide you more details on this upcoming advertising opportunity.

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Looking for the Lake Purgatory forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here.

We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook and Instagram!

Click here to advertise your Lake Purgatory vacation rental or local business.

The former Lake Purgatory forum is closed. Find out why here.

New Lake Purgatory photo gallery is coming soon.

Please share this article with your fellow lake lovers!

Spread the word! Share our Lake Purgatory article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

Explore local Lake Purgatory vacation rentals and hotel accommodations using our interactive map. Clicking on listings below will allow you to compare nearby properties, best rates and availability for your dates.

Looking for the old Lake Purgatory forum group? Click Here

New Lake Purgatory photos coming soon!

Vacation Home Name

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  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • hot tub
  • wifi