Saturday, February 3, 2018

Dillon Reservoir - Centerpiece of Summit County

Snowy Dillon Reservoir

In 1883, during the height of Colorado’s gold rush, the town of Dillon was established at the confluence of three remarkable rivers. Ten Mile Creek, the Snake and the Blue came together, creating a natural finger lake in a basin of unsurpassed beauty.

After the mines played out, Dillon’s population dwindled while other towns in the area began to thrive thanks to the booming ski industry. Denver’s population exploded and folks in that dusty, old cowtown were thirsting for more fresh water.

The Denver Water Board came up with an idea to dam the Blue River and divert water via an underground pipeline dug through the Continental Divide. The board acquired the land and water rights needed to construct the reservoir while residents and businesses were notified that they must sell and leave by September 15, 1961.

The earth-filled dam was completed in 1963 and it sends water gushing from the Blue River Basin through the 23.3 mile Harold D. Roberts Tunnel into the South Platte River which then flows right through Denver. A few buildings were flooded but most of the Dillon townsite and its cemetery was relocated to the northeast edge of the reservoir.

Today the sparkling lake is the centerpiece of Summit County and it’s a fluid hub for almost any outdoor, recreational activity you can imagine. Hordes of people flock to this destination looking to hike, climb, bike, boat, fish, ski, snowmobile and bird watch.

The setting for such excursions is absolutely spectacular as gigantic, snow-capped peaks surround the broad valley. The scenery is gorgeous any time of the year but it’s especially dramatic when experienced during changing weather conditions.

Tremendous snowstorms lay siege to this area as dense clouds become socked into the basin, filtering out most of the light. The surreal atmosphere spawns a fantastic landscape of mountains and water that you’ve probably only seen in a dream.

It’s during such dreary times that one can find solitude along the shores of this magnificent preserve. I’ve spent hours exploring and photographing this special place and I hope to find more time in the future to enjoy everything this park has to offer.

Unsurpassed beauty

The sparkling lake is a centerpiece

A fluid hub for outdoor recreation

People flock to this destination

Snow-capped peaks

A broad valley

Gorgeous scenery

Changing weather conditions

Tremendous snowstorms lay siege

A surreal atmosphere

A fantastic landscape of mountains and water

Snowy solitude

A special place to explore

Find more time in the future

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