First County Seat of the 17 Original Counties of Colorado
What is now known as Twin Lakes was once the site of Lake County’s first county seat, Dayton. Lake County was one of Colorado’s original 17 counties, established by the Colorado Legislature in 1861. Twin Lakes has been a tourist attraction since as early as the 1870s, when it became an important stop along the route to the gold and silver mines of Aspen. The Interlaken Hotel, located on the south side of Twin Lakes, was founded in 1879 and had some of the best amenities available of the time.
This excellent hike in Pingree Park takes you to some amazing lakes high in the Northern Colorado Rockies. It is 5.7 miles one way from the trailhead. Emmaline Lake is incredibly scenic and takes about a day for most people (even if you’re faster, you’ll want to take the whole day and explore). At and near the top, you are surrounded on three sides by the high mountain ridges of Comanche Peak and Fall Mountain. There are ways to the top, but they almost all require some scrambling. There are multiple little ponds, large rocks to climb on and explore, and it’s overall a nice little area that is kinda fun to spend a day.
One of the lowest 14ers in elevation, at 14,011 ft (USGS), Mt. of the Holy Cross is a challenge as well as a spectacle. It is such named due to the cross-shaped snowfield on the northeast face. The first recorded ascent of the mountain was in 1873, but it is very likely to have been previously ascended by Native Americans or mining prospectors. Holy Cross is the highest peak in the northern Sawatch Range.
The vast expanse that is the Arkansas River Valley is also notably cozy. On the south end, you have the town of Salida. In the middle, you have Buena Vista. At Buena Vista, highway 24 splits northbound towards Leadville, Minturn and I-70, while U.S. 285 heads south to Salida, Alamosa, and ultimately through New Mexico and Texas. North of Buena Vista, U.S. 24 and the valley climbs in elevation towards Leadville.
This was a winter time snowshoeing trip, in which we followed the old road towards Hancock pass.
St. Elmo has a ton of history, in fact that is its main attraction today. It was originally a mining town and a stop for the Denver, South Park, and Pacific railway. At its peak in the late 1890’s, there were five hotels, several saloons and dance halls, a telegraph office, post office, general store, a school, and a local newspaper.
If you like getting high and wild, then Long Draw is the place for you. You’re in deep at Long Draw Reservoir, surrounded by high 12,000ft peaks and rugged, wild mountain valleys accented by wildflowers and rolling meadows.
If you like getting high and wild, then Long Draw is the place for you. You’re in deep at Long Draw Reservoir, surrounded by high 12,000ft peaks and rugged, wild mountain valleys accented by wildflowers and rolling meadows. Long Draw Reservoir is close to the end of Long Draw Rd. At the end of Long Draw Rd is the trailhead for La Poudre Pass, a hiking trail that takes you over the continental divide and ends in Rocky Mountain National Park. From this trail you can also access the ghost town sites of Lulu City, once 40 buildings strong, and home to several hundred residents and a post office, and nearby Dutchtown, the outcast town founded by those cast out of Lulu City.
The descent into the mighty Laramie River Valley conjures images of the first explorers descending upon the untamed, wild Rocky Mountain valleys. Via Deadman Road (County Road 86), the descent is relatively sudden, and soon after several switchbacks backdropped by the towering Medicine Bows, a great expanse of valley is revealed through the trees. This is an area seen by few. Certainly, the experience is reminiscent of the descent from Kenosha Pass into South Park on U.S. 285, except several orders of magnitude less trafficked.
Pingree Park Road, or County Road 63E, is a well-maintained gravel road which travels due south from Highway 14 to the northern flank of the Mummy Range. The valley in which the road follows was originally explored by the Arapaho, Mountain Ute, and Cheyenne Native Americans. Development in the valley took place in the mid-1860s, when George Pingree traveled up the South Fork of the Poudre River in search of trees to log for railroad ties for the transcontinental railroad. In 1868, Pingree established a tie camp in the valley now known as Pingree Park. The ties were floated down the Poudre River to Laporte, where they were then taken via wagon to Tie Siding, Wyoming. In the fall of 1870, the demand for railroad ties had been filled and Pingree’s camp closed. Today, the valley offers an abundance of recreational activities, and is the site of Colorado State University’s Mountain Campus.
It’s hard to describe what kind of experience the White Rim was. If you’ve ever been to Moab, or any part of the Desert Southwest, you might think you understand: red rocks, towering sandstone monoliths rising above you, canyons… But you don’t quite know the desert southwest until you’ve spent time on the White Rim (and I mean meaningful time, not just passing through to Potash Canyon or popping in to see Musselman Arch).
The start of White Rim trail, traveling clockwise, has you not far from the Island in the Sky visitor center. Across the road from the visitor center is an overlook, that gives you the first glimpse of the White Rim trail, meandering its way into the distance. On a clear day, the La Sal mountains make for an impressive backdrop, paired with the thousand-foot drop off from the top of the Island in the Sky mesa to the White Rim sandstone layer, the geologic layer that the road runs on its entire route until the very western end. The White Rim Road is a 71.2 mile road that was built in the 1950s by the Atomic Energy Commission, as a uranium prospecting road. It follows roughly along the base of the Island in the Sky mesa.
The White Rim Road, despite being fully within Canyonlands National Park, is lightly trafficked. No more than 50 vehicle permits are issued daily (which, most of the time, are all issued by 8am), and there are a limited amount of campsites which are often booked as early as four months in advance. Backcountry camping and wood-based fires are prohibited on the White Rim, so you must use a designated campsite. There is very little to burn on the White Rim, so most of the time having a camp fire isn’t even an option.