We arrived at the Elk Creek Marina early and made our way to the little store and then the tour boat. There were only 6 people for the tour plus our ranger interpreter, Tara, and our boat captain.
Pappy’s restaurant is on the left of the marina:
And off we go:
Tara took us thru the history of the area. She talked about some of the geology – rocks in these canyons are some of the earth’s oldest and hardest. They were thrust up during the Colorado uplift as well as volcanic eruptions. The softer soil was washed away by water erosion thru the canyons.
She also talked about water rights of the Colorado River – which is why these reservoirs are here. And about all the peoples that have come thru – Utes and explorers and the trains.
Last year this reservoir was down 85 feet. Right now it is filling at the rate of 1-2 feet and day and they are hoping that it reaches full capacity. Right now, the deepest area is 450 feet and much shallower in the tributaries – as you can see from these trees.
Making our way back:
What a wonderful tour. Tara recommended that we stop by to see the Morrow Point Dam – water coming thru the top. And she also recommended that we stop by the little store at Sapinero and say hello to the owners, Geri and Jim.
We had lunch at Pappy’s then headed back and stopped at Sapinero where we met Geri and Maggie. Geri and Jim bought this place in 2010 and have been updating and remodeling ever since. These are some of the original buildings that were brought up from the original town site of Sapinero. They now have a little store, service station and tavern.
Behind these buildings are three levels of RV spaces and cabins. Most RV sites are seasonal and can fit small rigs. Every day they have a happy hour at the tavern and invited us to join them at 4:30 which we did – !
After the Sapinero stop and before Happy Hour, we drove to Cimarron to see the Morrow Point Dam. The road took us thru a narrow canyon:
to the Dam:
One of the rushing tributaries:
Coming together downstream from the dam:
“Near the top of the dam are four 15-foot square openings. These make up the spillway. On rare occasions more water flows into the reservoir than can be released through the power plant and the dam’s outlet works. When this happens the excess water is released though the free fall spillway, falling 350 feet into the stilling basin below. The spillway can discharge a maximum of 41000 cubic feet of water per second.”
A short video: http://youtu.be/hldEdBRzaEg
We made a brief stop at home and then headed to Sapinero Tavern where we had a great time meeting some great folks and learning about the area. So glad they invited us and we may stop back before we leave.
And the mountains – oh my!