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San Diego Uptown News | Sept. 30–Oct.13, 2011


Grand Lake, Colorado

the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Its location, nestled at one end of Rocky Mountain National Park, has made it one of the most popular vacations spots to visit. Surrounded by majestic mountains and a national forest and anchored by the largest natural lake (400 feet deep, 1.5 miles long and 2 miles wide) in Colorado also makes Grand Lake one of the most beautiful areas as well as one of the state’s grandest natural outdoor water playgrounds.

G (Photo courtesy of Ron Stern)

THE “SPIRIT” OF GRAND LAKE Native Americans discovered Grand Lake in the 1800s and several tribes settled along the banks, drawn to the lake’s natural beauty and proximity of buffalo and other game. One of the most famous tales involves a battle between warring tribes. As the story goes, a fierce thunderstorm came across the mountains one night and a small group of Grand River Utes, camping on the shore, were attacked by an Arapaho-Cheyenne war party. Caught by surprise, the Utes quickly loaded their women, children and elderly onto rafts and sent them adrift in the cold, icy blackness of the lake. What ensued was a fero-

cious battle with both sides losing many warriors. After driving of f the invading force, the chief of the Utes looked across the lake for his people and was stunned by what he saw. Floating on the lake were only the rafts, all capsized and broken up into just pieces of timber.

The next morning, the fright- ened Utes saw the spirits of their dead relatives rising as spirits from the mist on the water. The tribe fled, vowing never to return to “Spirit Lake.”

HISTORICAL ROOTS The headwaters of the Colora-

do River originate in Grand Lake, and in 1879, gold was discovered along the river’s banks, bringing an influx of miners and prospec- tors to the area. In short order, Grand Lake

was a thriving town with a hotel, general store and saw mill. But, all good things come to an end and just four years later, the gold boom went bust and so did much of the town’s prosperity. Things came back to life again in the 1900s as the rich and wealthy built summer homes along the shoreline and people discovered fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities. Grand Lake’s future was

further secured when it became the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and was given of- ficial National Park status in 1915. Today, the town attracts thousands each year who come to experience its wooden board- walk, western-styled storefronts, fresh mountain air, and of course, the main attraction, the transquil waters of Grand Lake itself. One of Grand County’s first

permanent residents was Joseph Westcott, who settled in the area in the late 1800s. While not

see Colorado, page 21

rand Lake is located 100 mies west of Denver and is an easy, scenic drive into

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