This small lake high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is part of a fragile ecosystem formed by a geological fault in which the water pooled. The lake’s unique color is due to dissovled carbonate minerals. Visiting this national protected area surrounded by limestone cliffs, cottonwoods trees, and cascades requires a bit of effort: a steep 1,000-foot climb to an altitude of over 7,000 feet.
The going is easy now on on Highway 92 through Nebraska’s Mitchell Pass with its prominent sandstone formations on each side. But the journey was rugged during the Westward Expansion of the mid-1800’s when pioneers crossed in covered wagons over unpredictable terrain. These rock sentinels, assuring them that they were not lost, were a welcome sight! Today, wooden signposts mark the places where the Oregon Trail passed through the area and the land is protected as a part of Scotts Bluff National Monument.