Scenic USA - Colorado

Lake San Cristobal

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Lake San Cristobal - Lake City, Colorado

Photos by Paul Winters
Paul's High Country Aerie

   Inspiring Katharine Lee Bates to pen the lyrics of America the Beautiful, Colorado's Rocky Mountains have rewarded its visitors with priceless scenery since the first explorers, soldiers and miners arrived in the early 1800s. Along the Silver Thread Byway, Route 149 winds through the San Juan Mountains, climbing over two of Colorado's highest mountain passes. As travelers begin the climb toward Slumgullion Pass (11,361 feet) the Windy Point Overlook at MM 67 offers an incredible mountain panorama and an overhead view of Slumgullion Slide, a National Natural Landmark.
   Responsible for the creation of Colorado's second largest natural lake, Slumgullion Slide is an excellent example of a geologic process called mass wasting. Nearly 700 years ago, loosely packed and partially decomposed volcanic rock slipped down the mountainside. Slumgullion Slide - Silver Thread Byway, Colorado The earthflow, about four miles in length and covering 1000 acres, formed a natural dam blocking the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. A second 300 years old earthflow (inset), hovering over Lake San Cristobal, is still active and moves about 20 feet per year over top of the older landslide. Named by early settlers, the yellowish soils reminded them of Slumgullion stew.
   Lake San Cristobal, just off Route 149, is a great area to enjoy Colorado's mountain scenery, as well as fishing, camping, boating and watching Colorado's Rio Grande National Forest's wildlife. Waterfowl and beavers frequent the southern end of the lake, and on rare occasions visitors may spot elk and moose. Here on the south end, the Red Mountain Gulch Day Use Area provides the perfect location to picnic and soak in the scenery of the Continental Divide and Bates's purple mountain majesty.

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