I have spent little time in the Park Range in Northern Colorado. Admittedly, I’ve spent more time skiing at the ski resort in Steamboat Springs than I have hiking in the same mountains. I spend a lot of time researching and am very discriminant when choosing potential backpacking adventures. When I lived in Colorado, other mountain ranges were closer, and now that I am in Wyoming, the Bighorn Mountains too are closer than the Park Range. When I am willing to drive, exotic areas like Yellowstone and the Wind River Range tend to draw my attention. As a result, I have mostly overlooked the Park Range.
Even though I have largely avoided the Park Range, the Mount Zirkel Wilderness that encompasses a great portion of these mountains and it should not be ignored! The mountains may not be as tall as others in Colorado (not a single 14er in the range) but they are still plenty rugged and are great to look at and, of course, photograph. In 2014, I met some friends on the fourth of July for a two night backpacking trip to Slide Lake.
The outlet to Slide Lake starts as a stream but then fans out on immense slabs of granite that were pitched just enough that I could manage to walk around in the (cold!) flowing water looking for compositions.
I was surprised how much snow was lingering around Slide Lake but also how rapidly it was melting. I took the above picture by carefully walking out onto a snow penninsula that stuck out into the lake. I was luck to have captured this photo; by the time we packed up camp and headed out at the end of the weekend, this snow bridge had collapsed and floated out into the lake like a small iceberg.
Although the Mount Zirkel Wilderness is not as well known as other areas in Colorado, I am glad to have visited and look forward to backpacking it again.