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There is no prettier lake than Lake Quivera in Colorado's Front Range Region. Tucked high into the Rockies west of Idaho Springs, Lake Quivera and its twin, Silver Lake, hold some of the clearest water found in the St Mary's Glacier area. The lake is relatively unknown as the twin reservoirs are entirely private property and open for limited use only to area residents. Records don't reflect exactly when the reservoirs were built but this is a part of Colorado's famed gold and silver mining country. From 1859 through the turn of the century, intrepid miners hand-dug mines and panned the small creeks in search of wealth. Many brought their families here; small towns grew up and later crumbled to dust and ruin. The towns of St Mary's, Alice and Ninety Four were built near the Princess Alice, the Lalla and the Ninety Four mines, among others. By the 1930's the majority of the residents had either died out or moved away to search for wealth someplace else. Larger, better-known towns nearby like Idaho Springs and Georgetown claimed some residents. The Arapahoe National Forest enveloped the ghost town of Ninety Four, so named because its mine was founded in 1894. Other towns maintained a bare minimum of residents. Mostly the area was seen by those driving up to hike to St Mary's Glacier - the glacier farthest south in the United States. Some came to explore the crumbling ghost town's foundations and remaining shacks. And quite a few passed by on their way to the old St Mary's Ski Resort which closed in 1988.
With the growth of upscale housing in the Rockies west of Denver, the area around Lake Quivera was re-discovered by young professionals wanting to live in the mountains yet have easy daily access to Denver. Only a 45-minute drive west on I-70, the area was quickly developed with custom homes to cater to the newly-affluent. Where once people settled here looking for wealth, now people brought their wealth with them. As long as the nine miles of road are clear down to the interstate, access is easy with a good vehicle. Water, however, is hard to come by in any reliable amount. So, the reservoirs were build across a tributary of Silver Creek; Silver Lake to the north and Lake Quivera directly south provide the necessary water supply for new developments. The name Quivera originates with the Early Spanish explorers who were eternally looking for a supposed rich tribe of Native Americans they called the Quivera. Alternately spelled Quivira, the name is found all over Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico. It appears most have come here looking for wealth. Many have found it here in the incredible riches of nature.
Close to the headwaters of the little stream, few natural fish stocks would develop, so trout were stocked in both lakes. Brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout now inhabit the cold water fishery, living in a predation-free environment: all fishing on Lake Quivera is 'catch and release'-artificial flies only! In the past, a resort lodge operated between the two lakes but has since gone out of business. Now fishing is restricted to residents only with permit. No true boats are allowed: only belly-boats (float tubes) and canoes are allowed on Lake Quivera. Violations of the rules are dealt with harshly: restrictions from fishing on the lakes for three full years!
The Lake Quivera area is ideal for the adventurous outdoorsman. Famed Berthoud Pass is only 30 miles by road. The Golden Gate Canyon State Park is about an hour to the east. Several ski and snow areas are located close by and the vast Arapahoe National Forest provides miles of trails in all types of terrain. The many mountain creeks provide opportunities for canoeing and white-water rafting. And the Denver area is famous for adventure sports. A new snow park is soon to open at the site of the former ski resort on St Mary's Glacier: a member of the Coors family is re-developing the park as a family-oriented venue for day skiing, snow boarding, and as a wedding and celebration location. Due to the delicate ecology of the glacier, water will be trucked in for snow-making.
Local history doesn't end with the Lake Quivera region; Nearby Georgetown is a wonderful, small Victorian town with plenty to do and see. The Georgetown Loop railroad is considered to be one of the nation's most scenic train lines. Originally all steam locomotives, the line will soon be returning to the traditional steam after several years of diesel powered equipment. Seen on the Georgetown Loop but well worth a separate visit is the ghost town of Silver Plume. Back in Georgetown, shop the quaint Victorian-style downtown area.
Even closer to home, Idaho Springs proudly proclaims itself the birthplace of the Rocky Mountain Gold Rush. Several mines in the area have been restored and are open for tours.The closest large town near Lake Quivera, Idaho Springs is well-equipped to keep tourists happy with plenty of restaurants, adventure venues and vacation lodgings. Vacation rentals are common in the nearby mountains, some with lake views. Bed-and-breakfast facilities are found overlooking the lake. And, occasionally one can find a short-term lease at Lake Quivera itself. The area is a snow skier's dream come true. A visit of several days is needed to see everything this beautiful area has to offer. So come to see the hidden treasure that is Lake Quivera. You'll be scanning the real estate listings before you leave!
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