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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Jennifer Cook

Lake City

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

One thing that my husband loves about this lifestyle is that on any given day we have the freedom to explore or do anything that comes to mind. David is always coming up with a new idea or place to visit, but we also have the freedom to change our plans at a moments notice too. This weekend we were planning to head back to Santa Fe (David loves New Mexico), but at the last second David asked if we could change things up a little. These past two years I've learned to just roll with the last minute changes because they usually mean some type of adventure is on the horizon, so I said "of course" and waited to see what the new plan was going to be. At that point, David offered to take me to Lake City (about two hours away.) The main reason for the trip was to visit Lake San Cristobal, which is the second largest natural lake in Colorado. Additionally , it would also give us a chance to drive through the San Juan Mountains- which is something I am falling more and more in love with doing.


We headed out early on a gorgeous Saturday morning. The weather was perfect. It was in the low 60's, with some clouds and a nice light breeze. Welcome to the San Juan Mountains everyone! I wish the pictures did them justice- the views were spectacular! (On a side note the lake in the first few pictures below are Blue Mesa Reservoir, not Lake San Cristobal.)

Eventually we drove deeper and deeper into the mountains. There are very few roads to Lake City, so you are surrounded by nature everywhere. I miss my ocean views, but there is something stunning about seeing so many mountains all around you and the vast open spaces as well.

Eventually we made it around to Lake City and found a delightful small town ready to welcome us. The county that Lake City is in has the smallest population of any county in Colorado.(We don't mind because small towns are what we like best!) Hinsdale County is home to 774 residents with about half of them living in Lake City. When we pulled into town we immediately went to the visitor welcome center to track down a good place for lunch. After being given several options we headed to Palmer Saloon and Cannibal Grill. If you spend any time in this county you will be inundated with numerous cannibalism jokes thanks to one infamous character named Alfred Packer. His nickname is the "Colorado Cannibal".

(Photo credit: Packer's Saloon's Facebook page)


After a very enjoyable lunch it was time to explore the town. I'm so grateful that David embraces my desire to "gather" and meander my way through little shops. He lets me loose to enjoy myself and quietly gives me time and space to do so. This always relaxes me and puts me in my absolute most feminine, which in turn makes him happy. It is a win/win situation. The wooden boardwalk that lines the street and the many benches outside makes you want to slow down and soak it all in. You definitely feel like you have stepped back in time in Lake City.

As we were getting ready to leave town and spend the afternoon at the lake David hung a left off Main Street and took us one block over. There was a beautiful old Baptist church sitting at the end of the block. If you get a chance to make it to Lake City look for the church.

The rest of the day was spent at the lake. It is only 3 or 4 miles away from Lake City. They have a dirt road that circles the lake and there are plenty of places to pull off to walk around and view the lake and mountains. David's said there was a suspension bridge somewhere on the lake, so that was our goal. About half way around the lake down we found it. Even though we were at 8,700 feet in elevation we got out and started to hike. I guess we are slowly acclimating to the high elevation. (Though we did both have to suck on some oxygen when we got back to the car 🤷🏻‍♀️)

As you can see we found the suspension bridge and it took us out to an island in the middle of the lake! Though the bridge did keep you above the water, it was only by a few inches. We safely crossed to the island and it was a perfect spot to look around and enjoy the scenery.

When we finally decided it was time to head back home, we found we found one more place to stop. Although I still prefer to live by the ocean, if I did decide to settle down in Colorado this spot might do. Minus the abandoned mines scattered all throughout the mountainside!! Oh, and if you are curious what was between me and the house in the first picture it was a beautiful river that feeds into Lake San Cristobal. Though watch out for that first step down.....it is a doozy!

All in all, I highly recommend a visit to Lake City and Lake San Christobal is you are in the area- it's absolutely worth the trip!

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