Lake Quivera, Colorado, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Colorado - Front Range -

Also known as:  Lake Quivira

There is no prettier lake than Lake Quivera in Colorado’s Front Range Region. Tucked high into the Rockies west of Idaho Springs, Lake Quivera and its twin, Silver Lake, hold some of the clearest water found in the St Mary’s Glacier area. The lake is relatively unknown as the twin reservoirs are entirely private property and open for limited use only to area residents. Records don’t reflect exactly when the reservoirs were built but this is a part of Colorado’s famed gold and silver mining country. From 1859 through the turn of the century, intrepid miners hand-dug mines and panned the small creeks in search of wealth. Many brought their families here; small towns grew up and later crumbled to dust and ruin. The towns of St Mary’s, Alice and Ninety Four were built near the Princess Alice, the Lalla and the Ninety Four mines, among others. By the 1930’s the majority of the residents had either died out or moved away to search for wealth someplace else. Larger, better-known towns nearby like Idaho Springs and Georgetown claimed some residents. The Arapahoe National Forest enveloped the ghost town of Ninety Four, so named because its mine was founded in 1894. Other towns maintained a bare minimum of residents. Mostly the area was seen by those driving up to hike to St Mary’s Glacier – the glacier farthest south in the United States. Some came to explore the crumbling ghost town’s foundations and remaining shacks. And quite a few passed by on their way to the old St Mary’s Ski Resort which closed in 1988.

With the growth of upscale housing in the Rockies west of Denver, the area around Lake Quivera was re-discovered by young professionals wanting to live in the mountains yet have easy daily access to Denver. Only a 45-minute drive west on I-70, the area was quickly developed with custom homes to cater to the newly-affluent. Where once people settled here looking for wealth, now people brought their wealth with them. As long as the nine miles of road are clear down to the interstate, access is easy with a good vehicle. Water, however, is hard to come by in any reliable amount. So, the reservoirs were build across a tributary of Silver Creek; Silver Lake to the north and Lake Quivera directly south provide the necessary water supply for new developments. The name Quivera originates with the Early Spanish explorers who were eternally looking for a supposed rich tribe of Native Americans they called the Quivera. Alternately spelled Quivira, the name is found all over Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico. It appears most have come here looking for wealth. Many have found it here in the incredible riches of nature.

Close to the headwaters of the little stream, few natural fish stocks would develop, so trout were stocked in both lakes. Brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout now inhabit the cold water fishery, living in a predation-free environment: all fishing on Lake Quivera is ‘catch and release’-artificial flies only! In the past, a resort lodge operated between the two lakes but has since gone out of business. Now fishing is restricted to residents only with permit. No true boats are allowed: only belly-boats (float tubes) and canoes are allowed on Lake Quivera. Violations of the rules are dealt with harshly: restrictions from fishing on the lakes for three full years!

The Lake Quivera area is ideal for the adventurous outdoorsman. Famed Berthoud Pass is only 30 miles by road. The Golden Gate Canyon State Park is about an hour to the east. Several ski and snow areas are located close by and the vast Arapahoe National Forest provides miles of trails in all types of terrain. The many mountain creeks provide opportunities for canoeing and white-water rafting. And the Denver area is famous for adventure sports. A new snow park is soon to open at the site of the former ski resort on St Mary’s Glacier: a member of the Coors family is re-developing the park as a family-oriented venue for day skiing, snow boarding, and as a wedding and celebration location. Due to the delicate ecology of the glacier, water will be trucked in for snow-making.

Local history doesn’t end with the Lake Quivera region; Nearby Georgetown is a wonderful, small Victorian town with plenty to do and see. The Georgetown Loop railroad is considered to be one of the nation’s most scenic train lines. Originally all steam locomotives, the line will soon be returning to the traditional steam after several years of diesel powered equipment. Seen on the Georgetown Loop but well worth a separate visit is the ghost town of Silver Plume. Back in Georgetown, shop the quaint Victorian-style downtown area.

Even closer to home, Idaho Springs proudly proclaims itself the birthplace of the Rocky Mountain Gold Rush. Several mines in the area have been restored and are open for tours.The closest large town near Lake Quivera, Idaho Springs is well-equipped to keep tourists happy with plenty of restaurants, adventure venues and vacation lodgings. Vacation rentals are common in the nearby mountains, some with lake views. Bed-and-breakfast facilities are found overlooking the lake. And, occasionally one can find a short-term lease at Lake Quivera itself. The area is a snow skier’s dream come true. A visit of several days is needed to see everything this beautiful area has to offer. So come to see the hidden treasure that is Lake Quivera. You’ll be scanning the real estate listings before you leave!

Things to do at Lake Quivera

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Tubing
  • Hiking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • State Park
  • National Forest

Fish species found at Lake Quivera

  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Lake Quivera Photo Gallery

    Lake Quivera Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: St Mary’s Glacier Water and Sanitation District

    Surface Area: 4 acres

    Shoreline Length: 1 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 10,305 feet

    Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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