Boulder to Westminster, the Hard Scenic Way, Part II: Gross Dam

After a short time on Flagstaff Road above Boulder, I determined that the road continued far enough to intersect Colorado Highway 72, which would bring us into northwestern Denver in the vicinity of our Westminster hotel. So with very little effort, I persuaded my parents to continue on the scenic route.

Mom questioned that decision when paved Flagstaff Road gave way to unpaved Gross Dam Road, we were already lost in the wilderness, we had less than a quarter tank of gas left, and we were driving further into the wilderness. And frequently — one might even say continually — thereafter.

We persisted.

The payoff was worth it.

Gross Dam and Reservoir

Gross Dam, Colorado: northern view

I could see from the GPS that we were approaching a large lake, but I didn’t yet know it had a dam. This was our first view, through the trees looking down from the road.

Gross Dam, Colorado: southern view

Completed in 1954, Gross Dam stores and regulates water for Denver.

Gross Dam, Colorado: spillway shack

It fascinates me to think of how much solid concrete you must travel through to get to this spillway shack … and how far below the reservoir’s water surface you are while doing so.

Gross Dam, Colorado: no-boating area

The red floats, I believe, were installed to give the water birds a place to sit whilst waiting for a meal.

Gross Reservoir, Colorado

The dam creates Gross Reservoir, open seasonally for boating, fishing, and hiking, but not for swimming. Given the amazing views on the way there and the extremely pleasant climate, it looks like somewhere I’d enjoy spending a few days.

(More) Wildflowers

Gross Dam, Colorado: purple wildflowers

Gross Dam, Colorado: purple wildflowers

Gross Dam, Colorado: red berries

Gross Dam, Colorado:

The leaves on the last bush look very like currant and gooseberry, but the berries were small to be currants. And also very red.

Union Pacific Railroad

Eldorado Canyon State Park, Colorado: Union Pacific railroad

Nearing Highway 72 toward the end of our drive, we suddenly came upon this Union Pacific rail line — clearly the railroad at the top of the world.

Eldorado Canyon State Park, Colorado: Union Pacific railroad

A fitting end to a day of travel.

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