Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Ghost Town and Alta Lake

Jellystone of Black Canyon
Montrose, CO
July 6, 2015

Heading north on Hwy 145 (We were coming from the little town Ophir...that will be another post.), we made a right turn onto CR 64F. Our destination was the ghost town of Alta and Alta Lakes. It's a very nice drive on a county road suitable for most 4-wheel drive vehicles not to be missed if you like meandering through aspen trees, spruce and pine trees and beautiful banks covered in moss and wildflowers.

 At about 3.5 miles of climbing up, we reached the ghost town of Alta. Silver was discovered here in 1864 and by the summer of 1872, the population had grown to several thousand with 180 buildings.  So how did Alta become known as a ghost town? At one point in it's history, it was considered to be the "bloodiest town this side of Kansas" with over 500 murders in one year.

 In 1885, a snowstorm and resulting avalanches killed 15 people and destroyed much of Alta. It is reported that 50 feet of snow was deposited on Main Street.

 By the mid 1930s mining was no longer profitable. So the mayor deeds 1800 acres to the U.S. Forestry Service. A weather station was built and daily weather records were kept. 

The results were obvious, the Salt Lake Winter Sports Association, later known as the Alta Ski Lifts Company raised $10,000 for the construction of a Collins Chairlift. It was not until 1970 that Alta was incorporated as the Town of Alta. Today it is a world renown ski resort with numerous hotels and condos that one can ski to and from each day located on the back side of Telluride Ski Resort.

From there it is less than a mile to reach Alta Lakes. At 11,000 feet this area has become a popular day-use and primitive camping (no fee, no water, no electric...there is one vault toilet) area for summer fishing and hiking. 

Very well camouflaged Mallards were hard to find.

There were several people fishing.
A new bird for me...a pair of Green-winged Teal Ducks

 It was drizzling rain and quite chilly as we wandered around the lake and in the surrounding woods. Looking up...

and looking down...

The highlight for me was a robin. Her movement on the ground got my attention and then I saw her tugging on a worm.

She hopped on the rock and then flew to a nearby tree. At this point I left to join the others for lunch. 
Another good example of camouflage...

 When low and behold, she flew to a branch just above where we were. I didn't even see the nest until hopped over to it.

 Surprised and not wanting to make a sound, I missed the picture of the babies (I saw three of them.) with mouths wide open as she stuffed in their lunch.

An absolutely wonderful day. 

So until next time...
Ophir Pass...I cant wait to share!


  1. You know, I've been seeing robins by the dozen all spring, but I've yet to see a single nest! What a lucky catch!

    Gorgeous photos, as always! I love that you focused on the nature and the ruins and not the ski resort ;-)

  2. I like the sounds of this road trip to Alta!! I enjoy wandering among the old buildings thinking about what must have been. So glad you shared:) I've never heard of this duck either but that male Teal Duck sure is a beauty. You did a wonderful job with the reflection photos. What a great time with the momma robin and babies:)

  3. Being up that high you certainly don't have to worry about running the air conditioner.

  4. The cool mountain air would certainly be refreshing.

  5. Since we can't drive our tow there, I will just enjoy all the views, the flowers and the birds through your great pictures! Thank you, Gay.

  6. Gorgeous photos Gay! Congratulations on the new bird. What a beauty he is!! Great fun watching the Robin, hunting for food and then feeding her babies!! It must have been a perfect day.