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Alta Lakes Observatory; Rustic Mountain Cabin outside Telluride

Bedrooms 2
Half Baths1
Space 2,400 sq. ft.
Property type cabin


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.

It's remote, off the beaten path and not for everyone! ALTA IS VERY REMOTE!

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

Member since: 2004
Speaks: english
Response time:
Within a day
Response rate:
Calendar last updated:
July 22, 2017

About The Owner

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.

The Owner purchased this cabin in 1974

Why The Owner chose Telluride Area

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.


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
  • Minimum Age Limit for Renters ...
  • pets considered
  • Events Allowed
  • non smoking only
Location Type:
  • Lakefront
  • Mountain View
  • Ski-In ...
  • Ski-Out ...
  • Adventure
  • Away From It All
  • Family
  • Historic
  • Romantic
  • Sports & Activities
  • Tourist Attractions
  • Air Conditioning ...
  • Clothes 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 ...
  • 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 ...
Pool / Spa:
  • Hot Tub ...
  • Sauna
Leisure Activities:
  • 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.


Exceptional! 5/5 -
(18 traveler reviews)

Alta Lakes Observatory; Rustic Mountain Cabin outside Telluride
average rating of 5.0 based on 18 reviews

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: Feb 2017
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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4 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: Jul 2016
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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6 1

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: Sep 2015
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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11 1
Austin, TX USA

The Observatory

  • 5 of 5

This was my families second stay here and it was just as amazing as I remembered!!! Since the last time 13 yrs. ago the new owners have made some awesome upgrades to the property but it still maintains the original charm. From the booking process right through our stay they were very responsive and always checking to see if we needed anything. My only recommendation is that they add an additional shower since I am usually with a large group but I believe that is already on their agenda :)

  • Submitted: Aug 31, 2015
  • Stayed: Aug 2015
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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10 0

Life in a Snow Globe

  • 5 of 5

Have you ever looked into a snow globe and thought "that place looks perfect!"??. Well then you would be talking about Alta Lakes. I am very late in writing this review, but our family (2 adults, 2 teenagers, small dog) spent a week over New Year's at Alta Lakes. It was absolutely breathtaking in every way. The location is incredible - perched at over 11,000 feet, every direction you look is another spectacular view. My daughter described it as the world's most beautiful playground, and that is accurate! The cabin itself is perfect - it is charming and rustic while still offering the modern amenities. It is cozy yet so well laid out that we felt we had loads of space. Matt, the local caretaker is awesome - available to help when you need him. He is very knowledgeable about the area and its history which we very much appreciated. The location is isolated, so it may not be for everyone. But, if you love the outdoors, natural beauty and are happy to be with the ones you are traveling with, then this place is perfection. We will definitely return!

  • Submitted: Aug 5, 2015
  • Stayed: Dec 2014
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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11 0
Gilbert, AZ

""WOW"" It's going to be hard to find one better than this.

  • 5 of 5

This cabin is going to be hard to beat for the views and it's uniqueness. May even have to come back sometime. We try to find new places for our vacations which explains why we may come back. The views from the cabin and surrounding area can't be described, only seen in person to appreciate. We were at the cabin during the 4th of July weekend and barely saw a soul at the upper lake. The campground down below can't be seen or heard from the cabin. Make sure you keep the gate locked when you pass the lower lakes, and then drive up the private road. I would recommend mid to late June for your stay, plenty of snow still on the ground, and on the mountains. We did get a short rain or storm on most days but was a welcome change for use coming up from Phoenix. Our biggest concern at the cabin were the stairs, very steep and no back to them. We had our two golden retrievers with us and was a problem the first couple days going up. We always bring a couple baby gates to keep the dogs out of certain areas and were needed on this trip. Highly recommend you bring gates if you have small children, or adults that may have a few too many. I could keep going on but I'll stop here and let you decide if you want to stay.

  • Submitted: Jul 21, 2015
  • Stayed: Jun 2015
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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9 0


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, 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

Telluride Cabin Rental Rates

Rental Basis:
per property
Owner accepts payment in:
Convert Currency
Rate Period Nightly Weekend Night Weekly Monthly Event
Standard pricing
1 night minimum stay

Additional information about rental rates

Cleaning Fee $200
Pet Fee $50
Optional Wifi (per day) $20

Summer Rate (Memorial Day Weekend - Labor Day) for 1-7 guests is $850/night, 8-12 guests is $950/night; there is a 2 night minimum for summer reservations.
Spring, Fall & Winter Rate for 1-7 guests is $750/night, 8 - 12 guests is $850/night.
Inquire about the Altamate if you need snowmobiles for your stay.
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).
Security Deposit is equivalent to a one night's stay ($750, $850 or $950).
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.

2 night minimum year round (unless the reservation is made less than 30 days in advance).
Rates are: $900/night for up to 7 guests.
$1000/night for 8-12 guests.
Cleaning Fee: $200 one time fee.
Please email for "off season" specials between November 1-December 15th.

Rates and terms are subject to change.
Security Deposit is required to hold reservation.
Balance in full is due sixty (60) days prior to check in.
Payment is online with credit card; Owner sends invoice.
Owner has a no refund policy however, Owner will reschedule based upon availability.

Owner's Cancellation Policy

  • Canceled bookings will not receive a refund