Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Top of the Rockies

Saturday was a really nice day, a little chilly to start but bright sunshine. We decided to take a drive north and see what we could find. Colorado has many designated scenic drives...the campground is located along the Collegiate Peaks Scenic ByWay. I plotted a course north on 24 to Leadville (an historic frontier mining town, and also the highest incorporated city in North America at 10430 feet), then turned onto Highway 91 to Copper Mountain (part of the Top of the Rockies Scenic ByWay). A short ride on I70 to Frisco, a drive through downtown Frisco on Main Street, and then we turned south on Route 9 taking us through Breckenridge, the Hoosier Pass, and on through the plains on 285 back to Chalk Creek. The drive is 143 miles long and "should" take about 2 1/2 hours :-).

Well, we first decided to turn down CR390, Clear Creek Canyon Road. We could see a reservoir, and figured we'd check out what was down the road.
A sandy area of Clear Creek Reservoir, looking towards the southeast

Looking towards the west end of Clear Creek Reservoir; it was very windy!

New bird alert! American Avocets. They flew off before I could get close enough for a more respectable shot.

Remember, you can click on a picture to bring up a larger picture

This fence signaled the start of a privately owned ranch, Clear Creek Ranch. The road ran alongside of the ranch for several miles. We decided to turn back at this point and continue on the designated route. Further up the road are several mining ghost towns, but we'll leave them for a separate day of exploration.

There are pull-outs all along the highways with scenic vistas such as this.

We drove through Leadville....not too much happening there this early in the season. Before we reached the turn off for route 91, we saw a sign pointing down a road to Turquoise Lake Recreation Area...why not?? So we turned and went to see Turquoise Lake.

It's still frozen in spots!

We were on top of Sugarloaf Dam at this point, the lake was to the right, and this was the scene to the left

We continued driving around the lake, and Al's sharp eyes spotted this osprey sitting on a nest. Yes, the roadway at this point was at tree-top level. I wasn't aware that ospreys were in this area....now I know.

We parked at a trailhead parking area at the far end of the lake. Notice the snow on the ground! We are pretty much "topped out" elevation-wise for the day, at 11700 feet here. We wanted to stretch our legs for a few minutes, and decided to walk up the trail for a bit...a very little bit :-). 

Look at the ice...as I was taking a picture, a big hunk of ice on the rock slid off and floated down the creek. It looks really cold!

At last...on a short trail down the Shimmering Point Overlook, we came to the glorious view of Turquoise Lake. 

We finished the drive around the lake. It must be a very popular place in the summer, there are several campgrounds along the lake, boat launch ramps, and swimming areas. No open restrooms however :-). heading back into Leadville, we picked up some sandwiches for lunch and continued on our way.

Back on Route 91, we really felt as if we were skirting "the top of the Rockies". The peaks were not far away, and neither was the tree line! Barren land, but beautiful in an awesome way. 

Reaching Frisco, we turned onto Main Street and drove the length of town. Its a cute town, definitely looks like its there to serve the tourist/skiing crowds. There are many shops that look designed to part you from your discretionary funds :-). No shopping for us though! We did stop for a bit at the Frisco Bay Marina on Dillon Reservoir. No facilities were open yet for the season, and the water looked very low. It certainly seems as if the low snow amounts this winter will be taking a toll on the water activities around here this summer. There are lots of activities during the summer season here, though, and looks like it is a pretty busy area.

We turned onto Route 9 at the end of Frisco, which takes us south back to Chalk Creek. We did go through the ski town of Breckenridge, and even though there is no skiing going on, it was busy and you could tell this is a BIG ski-oriented area. And then we started going up again...up, up, up, through a long series of switchbacks, until we reached Hoosier Pass, on the Continental Divide. Our first Continental Divide picture!

Yes, I look cold, because I Am cold! It was about 35 degrees here. There is a trail that starts here, but it was too cold, wet, and snowy to think about it....at least, that's what I told myself :-). From here it was another series of switchbacks descending down to the plains (South Park, remember?), and the towns of Fairplay and Alma, the highest incorporated TOWN in North America at 10578 feet (population 275). 

South Park

Upon returning to Chalk Creek, it was dinner time. And we saw another new bird, right at our feeder
The Lesser Goldfinch, Adult Western

And the first hummingbird of the season!

First day of work was Monday, and that will be coming up next. Thanks for taking the ride with us


  1. You sure picked a great place to spend the summer! Gorgeous!

  2. Wow! What a beautiful part of the country. Enjoy your summer!

  3. How nice that you were able to make that trip before the crowds of summer!

  4. The ice and snow made it look a little cool, but it's absolutely gorgeous!! I want to be there!

  5. SPECTACULAR!!! Your header photo of Turquoise Lake is absolutely breathtaking:o)) Makes us want to back up and head your way. But for now we will have to enjoy it through your eyes. Thanks!!!

  6. It's great exploring around Colorado. And I think workamping gives us the opportunity to explore more of an area. I am working in the Four Corners area and have a list of places to check out on my days off.

  7. Beautiful! We're thinking about Colorado for next summer. We visited a few years ago and loved it. Right now we are enjoying Oregon for our first workamping experience. Always love the pictures of snow. Growing up in Florida, snow was something we never saw. So glad I will not be enduring the summer temps back home. I will enjoy following your summer in Colorado.

  8. Brrrr May 1st 35 degrees, ice and snow. I'm sure envying you your summer but not this current weather. Gorgeous pictures though, thanks for going out in those temps so I could see them.

  9. Beautiful drive- thanks for taking us along!