The small Colorado mountain town of Lake City lies in a secluded valley on the Western Slope. Surrounded by towering peaks and forests, the town and the neighboring wilderness has a lot to offer vacationers from all over the US and beyond! Here are just five reasons to visit Lake City:
1. The great outdoors
There is a seemingly endless supply of forests, meadows, lakes, rivers and peaks! Five 14ers (mountains over 14,000' high) can be reached while using Lake City as a base, while there are dozens of lower (but no less challenging) peaks. Immerse yourself in the wilderness with anything from a 30 minute stroll to a multi-day backpacking trip. Runners can find plenty of trails, and there is even an annual ultra-marathon (which I ran).
Enjoy a walk in Lake City's downtown historic district, wander along nature trails, or spend a lazy afternoon at (or on) Lake San Cristobal. Escape the pace of the modern world and recharge your batteries in a place where you can do as much or as little as you want. Browse in a variety of local stores (such as San Juan Delights), or take your family to the park and watch the clouds drift by.
3. Scenic drives
Highway 149, which is the only highway that runs through Lake City, is also known as the Silver Thread Scenic Byway. Beginning at South Fork, the Silver Thread winds through outstanding scenery to Creede and Lake City. It ends just short of Gunnison at the Blue Mesa Reservoir. At just less than 120 miles, a one-way trip will take up to three hours, but I recommend that you take time to stop and enjoy the views along the way. For the more adventurous, the Alpine Loop is a dirt road trip across old mining roads where the remains of old mines and ghost towns are mingled with amazing views. Parts of the Alpine Loop require a high-clearance 4x4 vehicle and a head for heights.
Ice climbing, 10K races, a music festival and an old fashioned July 4th parade are just some of the events held each year in this small but lively town. Enjoy all the fun without the huge crowds and vast parking lots, and support some good causes while you're there (many community organizations are run by volunteers). Round off your day with a movie at the charming Mountaineer Theatre.
Pause for a moment and you'll be surprised at what you might see. From the tiny shrew and hummingbird moth to the mighty moose, our wildlife are a fascinating and important part of the wilderness. As deer wander through the streets, they remind us that Lake City is home to a number of species other than ours. Look up and you might spot a bald eagle, while bighorn sheep and the occasional black bear can be seen if you look closely enough. A pair of binoculars would be a great investment for animal lovers.
As with my 5 Reasons to Visit Colorado post, it isn't possible to fully describe all of the attractions in a few sentences. Lake City is a charming place (it even has its own song), and you'll find your own favorite aspects when you make your first trip! Check out the official Lake City website (it's partially funded by chamber members like me) - tell them Craig sent you!
Don't forget, Lake City fans; I offer prints, books, calendars and more, and I'm sometimes available for hire (on a limited basis). My work can be found in the homes of Lake City visitors and Colorado fans across the US and overseas. Take a look at my galleries, or contact me.