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Surrounded by ghost towns and a rich mining history and in the shadows of some of the tallest mountains in the county, Lake San Cristobal is a beautiful place to play and explore. Unsurpassed scenery, wildlife, and recreation make the lake a great destination.
Second only to Grand Lake, Lake San Cristobal is the second largest natural lake in Colorado. It was formed over 700 years ago when the Slumgullion Earthflow blocked the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. Started when heavy rains loosened the volcanic tuff and breccias, the earthflow slid down the southern flank of Mesa Seco. Around 350 years ago another earthflow started and it is still moving today sometimes as much as twenty feet a year. The more recent earthflow doesn't impact the lake, but it's an interesting stop for visitors to the lake. One of the best ways to explore the earthflow and surrounding area is on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway or on one of the overlooks on the Silver Thread Scenic Byway. Surrounded by majestic mountains including five peaks over 14,000 feet, the byways are some of the most beautiful drives in the country.
In addition to enjoying truly beautiful scenery, visitors to Lake San Cristobal can fish from the shore or by boat for trout. There's a boat ramp on the lake and in the winter there is ice fishing. There are also developed campsites around the lake for visitors wanting to extend their stay overnight.
The lake is surrounded by the Gunnison National Forest. Created in 1905 by President Theodore Roosevelt, the forest is a great place to see wildlife including elk, moose, and migratory waterfowl or to hike one of the many "14ers." Trails lead up Redcloud, Sunshine, and Handies Peaks all of which are over 14,000 feet high. Lucky visitors to Gunnison National Forest may find Anasazi ruins and archeological study is still going on.
Lake City in Hinsdale County is the nearest city. Founded in 1874 when Enos Hotchkiss found gold, the city started as one of the many mining camps. Surrounded by ghost towns, today Lake City is a well preserved town with interesting turn of the century architecture.
With its rich history, interesting geological formations, and majestic scenery, Lake San Cristobal is a great place to enjoy from a boat, car, or mountaintop.
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