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Book Online or call HomeAway Booking Assistance 888-640-7927
Book Online or call HomeAway Booking Assistance 888-640-7927

Alta Lakes Observatory; Rustic Mountain Cabin outside Telluride

Bedrooms 2
Half Baths1
Space 2,400 sq ft
Property type cabin
Minimum Stay 2 nights


About the property

High Altitude Lakefront Cabin, 2 Bedrooms + Loft, 1.5 Baths, (Sleeps 10-12)

Alta Lakes Observatory was hand built in the early 70's by some of the earliest 'settlers' of Telluride's Ski Resort town, Jim and Salli Russell. It is constructed of local timber and stone, stained glass windows, a huge fireplace, hot tub, sauna, decks, and an ambience that settles the soul.

The Observatory. Extremely. Comfortable. Backcountry.

SUMMER TIME: Alta Lakes Observatory is located 13 miles from Telluride, 5 miles off the highway, on a dirt road, accessible by 2 wheel drive vehicle through breathtaking scenery! Wild flowers abound! Great fishing, hiking, mountain biking - they are right out our front door..In the summer it's the perfect venue for small weddings, retreats, or corporate groups (45 people max).

WINTER TIME: Alta Lakes Observatory is ajacent to the Telluride ski area and is accessible by snowmobile, snowshoe or skiing from the back country access gate from the Telluride ski area. Snowmobile shuttles of gear and food are available.

Alta Lakes Observatory is a favorite venue for the locals, Telluride's organizations, clubs and schools - in the summer and winter. Come visit, you won't want to leave!


More Details

Alta Lakes Observatory
Member since: 2004
Speaks: english
Response time:
Within a day
Response rate:
Calendar last updated:
April 22, 2018

About Alta Lakes Observatory

This is Matt "Mattie" Bowling. He is a long time Telluride local who IS The Observatory. So, what is The Observatory? What's the deal?

In the summer of 1974, Jim Russell started to build the cabin along with the help of about 25 other young locals while living in the abandoned mining town of Alta. It earned it's name, The Observatory, by the many locals who have stayed there over the 11,300 feet it's so close to the moon and stars!

In 2010, Matt and his two brothers, were thrilled to purchase The Observatory from Papa Russell (Jim). Some improvements have been made; however, the soul, the essence of The Observatory remains unchanged.

Mattie and his loved-by-everyone-who-meets-her wife, Ana, live in Telluride proper. One of the brothers currently lives in Denver and the other is in Bogota, Colombia. It's a small family business and the Bowling brothers are committed to helping you make memories that you will cherish forever - whether you are a once in a lifetime guest or a guest that must have their fix of The Observatory repeated.

Alta Lakes Observatory purchased this cabin in 1974

Why Alta Lakes Observatory chose Telluride

There are truly but a few places in Colorado that can offer the beauty and remoteness that The Observatory offers.

Lakes, meadows of wildflowers, forests, mushrooming, eagles soaring, wild life exploring...someone summed it up by saying 'Oh! THIS is where God goes on vacation!'. Whether you are seeking pure mountain solitude or an outdoor adventure, The Observatory is the perfect location.

What makes this cabin unique

Adjacent to the Telluride Ski Area, the Observatory is the perfect 'off-piste' back country lodge in the winter. Enjoyed by some of the top extreme skiers from around the world, it is family friendly as well! The Observatory is perfect for snowmobile, sledding, ski or star watching parties! The Observatory. Extremely. Comfortable. Backcountry.

Guestbook comments from the owner

Our stay was amazing! The observatory was even better in person than we had imagined! We will definitely want to return for a group vacation in the future. Thank you guys so much!
Jul 2017
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Telluride Cabin Accommodation and Amenities

Property Type:
  • cabin
  • Guests provide their own meals
Floor Area:
  • 2400 sq ft
House Rules:
  • Check-in: 4:00 PM
  • /
  • Check-out: 11:00 AM
  • Max. occupancy: 12 ...
  • Children welcome ...
  • Parties/events allowed ...
  • Pets considered ...
  • Non smoking only
  • Non Snow season check in is 4pm MST (June - mid October); snow season it is 2pm MST. All check outs are no later than 11am MST.
  • Mid-Nov - late May/early June: if you need snowmobiles for access contact owner about Altamate pricing (lodging + snowmobiles). Max 10 guests.
  • Max occupancy of 12. Person 13 turns regular lodging stay to a special event. Contact owner for pricing. Max 45 people for special events.
Location Type:
  • Lakefront
  • Mountain View
  • Rural ...
  • Ski-In ...
  • Ski-Out ...
  • Adventure
  • Away From It All
  • Family
  • Historic
  • Romantic
  • Sports & Activities
  • Tourist Attractions
  • Air Conditioning ...
  • Clothes Dryer
  • Fitness Room / Equipment ...
  • Hair Dryer
  • Heating
  • Internet ...
  • Linens Provided
  • Mobile Phone ...
  • Parking ...
  • Telephone ...
  • Towels Provided
  • Washing Machine
  • Wood Fireplace ...
  • Catering Available ...
  • Coffee Maker
  • Cooking Utensils
  • Dishes & Utensils
  • Dishwasher
  • Kitchen
  • Microwave ...
  • Oven ...
  • Pantry Items ...
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove ...
  • Toaster
  • Dining ...
  • Dining Area
  • 1 Bathroom
  • 1 Half Bath
  • Bathroom 1 - toilet , shower , Recently renovated with 2 shower heads; on the 2nd floor.
    Bathroom 1 - toilet , Located on the first floor.
  • 1.5
  • 2 Bedrooms, Sleeps 12
  • Loft - 2 bunk bed , Bunk beds are full size (sleeps 4).
    Bedroom 2 - The Sunshine Room - 1 queen , 2 twin/ single , Private deck; breathtaking view!
    Bedroom 1 - The Wilson Room - 1 king , Fireplace; amazing views and very spacious!
  • King size beds (1), Queen size Beds (1), Double Beds (2) Sleeps 4 (two double bed bunk), Two Oversize Chairs pull out for Twin Beds.
  • Books ...
  • CD Player
  • DVD Player
  • Games ...
  • Satellite / Cable
  • Stereo
  • Television ...
  • Video Library
  • Balcony
  • Deck / Patio
  • Kayak / Canoe ...
  • Outdoor Grill ...
  • Ski & Snowboard ...
  • Water Sports Gear ...
Pool / Spa:
  • Hot Tub ...
  • Sauna
Leisure Activities:
  • paddle boating
  • photography
  • sledding
  • wildlife viewing
Sports & Adventure Activities:
  • cross country skiing
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • hunting
  • kayaking
  • mountain biking
  • mountain climbing
  • mountaineering
  • skiing
  • snowboarding
  • snowmobiling
The Observatory is many things to many people. It is a base for adventure, it is a local Telluride icon with its own special place in the history of Telluride, it IS a tourist attraction and is a favorite stop for tour guides. It is also away from it all which can make it romantic or the perfect getaway to be with family and friends. There are many activities just out the front door…if you want to go out. The Observatory. Extremely. Comfortable. Backcountry.


Exceptional! 5/5 -
(21 traveler reviews)

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Alta Lakes Observatory; Rustic Mountain Cabin outside Telluride
average rating of 5.0 based on 22 reviews
Littleton, CO

Absoutely amazing!

  • 5 of 5

We had the most amazing stay at The Observatory. Our entire group loved the cabin and the surroundings. The Observatory is truly a special place. We enjoyed the hot tub, star gazing, spending time on the lake, hiking around, and had a great time in town for Blues and Brews. It was a fantastic weekend! We definitely plan to come back, especially in the winter.

Thanks again for sharing such a special place!

  • Submitted: Oct 29, 2017
  • Stayed: September 2017
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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Steamboat Springs


  • 5 of 5

We picked the Observatory for our wedding based on pictures we found online. We had no clue how perfect this decision was! The first time we drove the dirt road up, we kept smiling and saying, this is where we're getting married? It can't get better. But every little bit we went up, it got better! That spot was absolutely incredible!! Matt showed us a spot up the hill from the old truck we ended up using as our ceremony spot. It was perfect. Our families and guests LOVED it as well. I don't think there was anything negative about the weekend at all. It was a bit rainy but even then, it didn't matter and didn't detract from the weekend.

The house itself is comfortable and the kitchen is really well done. The drive isn't that bad and shouldn't be an issue for most people! We're glad to have been able to experience this location for our wedding and know we'll be back for years to come!

  • Submitted: Aug 24, 2017
  • Stayed: July 2017
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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This Place is Incredible!

  • 5 of 5

Alta Lakes Observatory is a magical place. Nestled in the back side of Telluride Ski Resort, with a private lake, and tons of hiking/skiing routes, this place is perfect for the adventure seeker; or someone who just wants to go relax! It is a good drive to the house from town, but once you get up there you don't want to leave! Tons of wildlife, a beautiful house and private lake with canoes, and tons of access to hiking during the summer or skiing during the winter. This place has a rich history in Colorado, and is an amazing vacation. We cannot wait to go back.

  • Submitted: Aug 18, 2017
  • Stayed: July 2017
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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A Storybook High Altitude Rustic and Luxurious Mountain Cabin in the Backcountry of Telluride CO

  • 5 of 5

We spent a few days and a couple magical nights at the Observatory at Alta Lakes with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Our mountainman concierge, the unflappable and resilient "Matty Ice" was also our adventurous snowmobile tour guide, sharing remarkable and electrifying stories of human history, wildlife and mountain lore. On two of the nights he snowmobiled in Chef Patrick of Wine Geek Food Freak (great guy) for spectacular evenings of 5 course dinners with 5 wine pairings, as we stayed toasty by the crackling and roaring fire in the giant stone fireplace, while laughing, telling stories over a background of Continental Jazz and a good mix of the Argentina/France Gotan Project. Mornings were spent snowshoeing around the lake and area or with a bit of fireside reading at sunrise followed by delicious breakfasts, and afternoons at full throttle trying to keep up with my hilarious but fearless beast of a brother in law "shredding the gnar" on snowmobiles at 11,300ft+. We also had some more sublime, but absolutely magical snowglobe-like snowmobile tours through and above the treeline in a mountain snow storm. The cabin is everything you would dream of in it's rustic and quirky nature, mountain luxury, and perfect location. There is an O2 generating machine should you feel the effects of altitude or just want a bit of a boost. There is a beautiful fully functional kitchen with higher end stainless appliances and cabinets full of all the pots, pans, and utensils necessary for any meal preparation. The two bedrooms are spacious and relaxing with private decks. The master bedroom has another stone fire place. There is even a loft area with bunk beds and a couch, so there is plenty of room for a small to medium size group to spread out and have their own space. We really hope to return this summer and then again next winter for more adventure and active relaxation. Spectacular, secluded, rustic and mountain-luxurious!

Thanks Matty Ice and Nicole, talk to you soon!!!

  • Submitted: Mar 23, 2017
  • Stayed: February 2017
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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5 0


  • 5 of 5

Our 2nd year to stay at the Observatory! Fell in love last year and had to come for another week! Great hiking, so romantic, secluded...BEAUTIFUL! We will be back!

  • Submitted: Aug 5, 2016
  • Stayed: July 2016
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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Perfect Honeymoon Escape

  • 5 of 5

We visited Alta Lakes Observatory for our "mini-moon" and it was amazing. It was the perfect quiet retreat that we needed right after our wedding. As you can see from the pictures the location is spectacular and extremely secluded. I highly suggest a high clearance vehicle if you are visiting in the summer and will be driving up to the house. While 4 wheel drive is not necessary, the road has lots of very large potholes and high clearance will make the drive in much more enjoyable. We pre-planned a few days worth of meals and picked up groceries in Telluride before heading out to the Observatory. The Observatory sits above 11,300 ft in elevation, thus altitude sickness is something to keep an eye out for. Luckily, we were not affected. We rented inflatable paddle boards and also brought them out to the Observatory....which was really fun! We also hired Metamorphic Massage out of Telluride to come out to the house one day for a couples massage! And we hiked! The whole trip was really fantastic! Matty was extremely knowledgeable about property and was available by text to answer all of our questions. Nicole was so friendly and helpful in the booking process. I cannot recommend this place enough. And might be planning a return trip already!

  • Submitted: Oct 20, 2015
  • Stayed: September 2015
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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Nearest Point of Interest
Alta Lakes Observatory
Nearest Point of Interest
Alta Lakes Ghost town

Come experience for yourself what others have known for years! The Observatory is unique! It is not for everyone, but if it is for you - you are in for an experience like none other! It is a paradise for snow lovers and summer guests revel in the pristine outdoor setting whether in the canoes, stand up paddle boards, hiking or just being with family and friends. Not the outdoorsy type? The inside is spectacular on it's own! A fireplace that is legendary, a chef's kitchen, views from literally every window that will take your breath away. The Observatory. Extremely. Comfortable. Backcountry.


Rates & Availability

Taxes and fees are additional

Additional information about rental rates

Pet Fee $50
Stock the Pantry Fee $75
Cleaning Fee $200
Refundable damage deposit $1,500
Day Guests $250
Transportation (sleds) $100
Property Damage Protection $59
Altamate (snow) Ask us! $200

The system generated quote is not always accurate.
Feel free to contact owner without a booking request: altalakes @ G mail
Additional information can be seen at www altalakes . com (no spaces)
Rate for 1-7 guests is $900/night, 8-12 guests is $1000/night; there is a 2 night minimum for all reservations unless they are made 30 days or less in advance.
Inquire about the Altamate if you need snowmobiles for your stay (mid-October - May).
Just need us to transport provisions or a person or two for you? $100 per round trip per sled (2 people per sled).
10% discount on the nightly rental rate for 6 or more nights (excluding Altamate packages).
Cleaning Fee is $200 (one-time rate, not daily).
Early Check-In Request: Summer Stays Only: $100 for an early check in time of 2pm (regular check in time is 4pm); Guest must request at least 3 days in advance of check-in and owner must confirm early check-in.

Special Event Pricing applies when there are 13 -45 people onsite (regardless if it is mere minutes or days). Contact Owner for pricing.


Owner's Cancellation Policy

  • Canceled bookings will not receive a refund