Gross Reservoir/WildFire

Gross Reservoir is an interesting location near Denver that can easily be accessed en route to Indian Peaks or the mountain highway route to Rocky Mountain National Park for access to Long's Peak. It works particularly well as a quick side trip as not much hiking is required at all. There are three areas for parking that be reached from the highway turn off for it, and more in a private property area. From the three lots good vantage points can be found along with easy access to the shoreline. Unfortunately the park closes at sunrise and sunset rather firmly. Since the area is a water supply, there are always rangers present.

The area in interesting to shoot because you have a large lake in relatively dynamic mountains. Further since the lake is artificial, strong lines have formed along the edges of it. There are several sweeping vantage points from which good panoramas can be made of a sunsets (if you are lucky enough to get a decent one) but doing them for the shores usually is an exercise in futility. Strong winds whip the lake, particularly around an aptly named Windy Point making the water hard to blend the sky equally as difficult.

Nearby are Walker Ranch and the western access to El Dorado Canyon at which a fire burned last fall. On the way back from Gross Reservoir I saw what I assumed to be a controlled burn and pulled off to the side of road. There was middle age pot bellied man walking around a fire. The fire at this point was rather small, smaller than most livings. I grabbed my camera and addressed the man, asking if this was a controlled burned, and after a rather confused exchanged it became clear that this was not and that it had been started by accident. He was trying to stomp it out and asked my to help, but it after a minute or so of doing so it seemed rather futile. The fire started at the top of a wide grass valley with sparse tree cover. Blowing down into a the valley was strong gusting wind, which whenever it gusted would jet the flames over my head. The fire was spreading, fast, and seemed to be inline to go rushing down the valley into a pine forest and then over the last set of mountains to the plains in between Denver and Boulder. It was at this point that it struck me to ask if he had called the fire department. He had not.

After another confused conversation, but this time with 911, the fire department was deployed. The dispatcher had no idea where El Dorado Canyon was and I had no idea what county I was in so it took us a minute to figure it out. It took them 15-20 minutes to get the first truck to us, during which most of the photos I have were taken. After arriving they banned from the area and preceded to set up for the next wave of firefighters. It took them 4 hours, but in the end they got it. As I was driving back to Denver, I spotted large tankers preparing for if the fire managed to hit the high plains, but it never did.

Photos of Gross Reservoir can be found here:


Photos of the Fire can be found here: