The town of Platoro, Colorado is a small, remote mountain community in the San Juan Mountains in the southern part of the state. Its elevation is 9,800 feet, making it one of the higher communities in the United States. It is a great place for camping in the summer months, either in a cabin, campground, or dispersed camping.

conejos river in conejos valley
Conejos River in the Conejos River Valley on the way to the town of Platoro Colorado

We set up a dispersed camping site with some friends in the summer and the location was ideal for outdoor activities and escaping the summer heat at lower elevations.

Location of Platoro, Colorado

Platoro, Colorado is remote and in an isolated area, which helps keep it as an unspoiled area. It is located about two hours south of South Fork, Colorado and two hours east of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The roads from Pagosa Springs and South Fork are rough and suitable for ATVs.

Its off-the-beaten-path setting keeps it quiet and not overrun with tourists.

conejos river near platoro colorado
Conejos River

In the summer, you can take a well-maintained gravel road (FS 250) in a regular car from the Antonito, Colorado area to the east and Chama, New Mexico to the south. FS 250 will take you all the way to Platoro.

History of Platoro, Colorado

In the late 1800s, Platoro emerged as a mining boomtown, sparked by the discovery of large deposits of gold and silver nearby. The name “Platoro” combines the Spanish words for silver (“plata”) and gold (“oro”). The town was formally established in 1888 when a post office was opened.

platoro colorado mountain town
Modern day Platoro Colorado

In 1919, the post office closed. Following this closure, Platoro transformed into a ghost town. It was later revived as a quaint resort town, thanks to its proximity to the picturesque Platoro Reservoir.

See here for more details about the history of Platoro, Colorado mining.

We took some videos driving through the town of Platoro and the Skyline Lodge. See the videos below.

YouTube video
YouTube video

Platoro Reservoir

Platoro is home to the Platoro Reservoir, a secluded man-made lake spanning approximately 1.5 square miles or 990 acres.

platoro reservoir
Platoro Reservoir

The reservoir was built in 1951, following the completion of the Platoro Dam by the United States Bureau of Reclamation.

It was constructed as a component of the San Luis Valley Project, aimed at storing water.

The reservoir is also used for recreational activities, including, fishing, boating, paddleboarding, and swimming in freezing cold mountain water!

Platoro Colorado Today

Though the mining era has long since passed, Platoro has evolved into a seasonal hub for tourism and outdoor recreation. The surrounding mountains, forests, and rivers attract visitors for all types of outdoor activities.

signs in platoro colorado
Photo by Adam Zolyak (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED)

Today Platoro has only a few permanent residents, as it is not accessible by car during the winter months. It is only occupied when snow levels allow driving access, which is usually less than six months of the year. The rest of the year snowmobiling and other winter sports take place in the area.

Facilities and services in Platoro are limited. Bring whatever you need with you.

Things to Do

The USFS provides a list of things to do in Platoro, Colorado. Check it out here.

These include:


The Platoro Reservoir, along with adjacent lakes and rivers like the Conejos River, provides outstanding fishing for trout, salmon, and various other fish species.

fisherman in conejos river in platoro colorado
Fisherman in the Conejos River in Platoro Colorado

This area is particularly rich in rainbow, brook, and brown trout, in addition to kokanee salmon.

Anglers find the north shore of the reservoir and the Conejos River, along with its tributaries, to be prime spots for fishing.


The Rio Grande National Forest and South San Juan Wilderness surround the Platoro area, providing an abundance of hiking trail options. This region spans both the Rio Grande and San Juan National Forests as well as the South San Juan Wilderness.

conejos river through mountains
Conejos River in mountains near Platoro Colorado

Hiking trail options include:

See the USFS list of hiking trails in the area.


The Platoro Reservoir accommodates a wide range of vessels, from large to small and including both motorized and non-motorized boats.

platoro reservoir in colorado
Platoro Reservoir

A boat ramp is available at the reservoir’s northeast end, close to the dam.

ATV Riding

Summertime brings great scenic driving tour opportunities in and around Platoro. Not surprisingly, it is a popular area for ATV riding.

ohv riding in platoro colorado
ATV driving through Conejos River Valley near Platoro Colorado

Check out the interactive map from the USFS that shows ATV trails in the Platoro area. Road/trails highlighted in yellow are open to ATVs that are less than 50 inches wide.

You can click on the map below to go directly to the USFS interactive map.

map of ohv trails in platoro colorado
Map of ATV trails around Platoro Colorado

The video below was taken on the roads going up into the mountains from Platoro.

YouTube video

Visit the Ghost Town of Summitville

Summitville is a ghost town located near Platoro at a higher elevation of 11,286 feet.

summitville ghost town cabin in colorado
House in ghost town of Summitville, Colorado

Gold was first unearthed in Summitville in 1870, sparking an era of mining that lasted until the early 1990s.

inside of summitville ghost town cabin
Interior of house in Summitville ghost town

However, the discovery of contaminants leaking into the local watershed led to government intervention and the eventual closure of the mining operations. Today, Summitville is preserved as a ghost town.

summitville ghost town in colorado mountains
Summitville ghost town

A water treatment plant now operates on the site, as part of federal Superfund cleanup efforts aimed at mitigating the environmental impact of over a century of mining activities.

Cabins for Rent in Platoro, Colorado

Platoro has several options available for renting cabins during the summer months. These include:

USFS Cabins

Platoro work center from USFS
Platoro Work Center in Rio Grande National Forest (source: USFS)

The United States Forest Service built cabins in the area in 1963 as base quarters for Forest Service crews working in the area. These were occupied by USFS staff until the early 1990s.

Today the cabins are available for reservations during the summer months.

Two cabins are available:

USFS Platoro Cabin #1

USFS platoro cabin #1
Platoro Cabin #1 (Source: USFS)

Rent Platoro Cabin #1 here.

USFS Patoro Cabin #2

USFS platoro cabin #2
Platoro Cabin #2 (Source: USFS)

Rent Platoro Cabin #2 here.

Skyline Lodge

The Skyline Lodge in Platoro operates during the summer months. There are about 15 cabins and vintage Airstreams for rent.

sign for skyline lodge in platoro colorado
Skyline Lodge sign in Platoro, Colorado
cabin in skyline lodge
Cabin at Skyline Lodge

They also have a cafe available for people renting cabins and anyone just passing through.

Conejos Cabins

Conejos Cabins is operated by the same people that own the Skyline Lodge. There are about 10 cabins for rent.

conejos cabins sign in platoro colorado
Conejos Cabins sign in Platoro, Colorado

They had some cabins for sale when we visited.

Gold Pan Acres Cabins

Gold Pan Acres operates 5 relatively new (built in 2009) cabins, as well as a café, general store, and RV park. They also have corrals available for horses and mules.

Campgrounds in Platoro, Colorado

There are several campground options available in the Platoro area. These include primitive campgrounds operated by the USFS and an RV park with full-hookups available.

USFS Campgrounds

The National Forest Service also maintains several campgrounds near the town of Platoro. The three closest are Mix Lake, Lake Fork, and Stunner campgrounds.

The map below shows the location of the three USFS campgrounds in relation to the Platoro Reservoir.

map of usfs campgrounds near platoro colorado
Map of USFS campgrounds in Platoro area

Mix Lake Campground

The closest USFS campground to the town of Platoro is the Mix Lake Campground. It has 22 tent and RV campsites available near Mix Lake, which is one mile west of the town of Platoro. Campsites have tables and fireplaces.

It is dry camping, with no hookups available. There are 3 vault toilets, garbage containers and pickup, and drinking water available. The campground has lots of parking available for extra vehicles or trailers.

Reservations are not accepted.

conejos river in conejos valley
View of Conejos River Valley area

Lake Fork Campground

The Lake Fork Campground is located on your way to the town of Platoro on FR 250. It has 18 tent and RV campsites next to the Conejos River. Some sites overlook the river.

The campground has some campsites you can reserve in advance, while others are first-come, first-served. You can make reservations here.

This is dry camping, without hookups. However, the campground has a centrally located potable water spigot and vault toilets, as well as fire rings and picnic tables at each campsite.

Stunner Campground

Stunner Campground is a small campground with only 5 campsites for tent camping. (No RV camping.) Each campsite has a table and fire ring. Vault toilets are available. No water is available, so bring whatever you need. You will need to pack out your trash.

There are no fees to camp here. Reservations are not available.

cliffs in platoro colorado
Cliffs surrounding Platoro Colorado

Gold Pan Acres RV Park

In addition to cabins, Gold Pan Acres also has an RV park with full hookups. There are 24 30 amp sites and 4 50 amp sites.


Gold Pan offers showers for both RV park and non-RV park residents. So if you happen to be camping in the area and need a shower, they offer showers for a fee.

RV Dump & Water

Gold Pan also provides a dump station and water fill for RV’ers traveling in the area, but not staying at the RV park. Check with Gold Pan for the latest information.

Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping is also permitted in the surrounding Rio Grande National Forest. There are many dispersed camping sites available in the area.

We camped here in the summer with friends.

dispersed camping site in platoro colorado
Our dispersed camping site near Platoro Colorado

We found a great group campsite area on FR 250.6K. This side road off FR 250.6K goes back for about ½ mile, but the road can be rough in a few spots.

conejos valley
Area surrounding our dispersed camping location

The Conejos river is nearby and we brought our dogs down to play in the river. If you follow FR 250.6K until it dead-ends, you’ll come to a trail that takes you right to the river.

dogs playing in conejos river
Our dogs playing in the Conejos River

The map below shows FR 250.6K highlighted in red. You can see the original version of this interactive map on the USFS website here for more specific directions.

map of dispersed camping location in platoro
Map that shows location of our dispersed camping location in Platoro

To find other dispersed camping sites in the USFS, check out this tutorial that explains the process step-by-step.

Cell Phone Access

There is no cell phone access available in the Platoro area. Plan accordingly.

Getting to Platoro by Regular Car or RV

To get to Platoro via a regular passenger car (not an ATV) or an RV, the main route is through the picturesque Conejos River Valley via Forest Road (FR) 250.

The video below shows the road condition, as well as views of the Conejos River Valley.

YouTube video

To reach Platoro from Antonito, CO, travel west on Highway 17 for about 21 miles to the junction with FR 250. From there, take FR 250 northwest through Conejos River Valley for about 22 miles to reach the town of Platoro.

If you’re planning to camp at the Lake Fork Campground, you’ll take FR 250 for about 17 miles, as it is located about 5 miles before the town of Platoro.

Google Map of Platoro, Colorado

Final Thoughts on Platoro

Enjoy your visit to Platoro. You’ll find so much to do in this remote area of southern Colorado. It’s a beautiful place to escape the summer heat and the tourist crowds. You can stay at a cabin, camp in an established campground, or boondock at any number of locations.