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Lake City—with its collection of lacy gingerbread-trim houses and false-front Victorians—claims to have the largest National Historic District in Colorado. But the history the town is perhaps best known for is the lurid story of a notorious rogue named Alfred Packer. Packer led a party of six prospectors who camped near Lake San Cristobal during the winter of 1874. That spring, only Packer emerged from the mountains, claiming that after he had been deserted by the rest he subsisted on roots and rabbits. Soon after, a Ute traveling near Lake San Cristobal came across a grisly pile of human flesh and crushed skulls. Packer protested his innocence and fled, but a manhunt ensued. He was caught nine years later and sentenced to life in prison.
Lake City is the point of departure for superb hiking and fishing in the Gunnison National Forest. A geological phenomenon known as the Slumgullion Earthflow occurred some 800 years ago, when a mountainside sloughed off into the valley, blocking the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River and creating Lake San Cristobal, the state's second-largest natural lake. There's a scenic overlook along Highway 149, just south of town, with a sign explaining how this happened.
Lake City at a Glance
Elsewhere in Telluride and Southwest Colorado
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