Into Eleven Mile Canyon

12 06 2011
Eleven Mile Canyon Tunnel

Eleven Mile Canyon Tunnel

The dam that creates Eleven Mile Reservoir is located at the top of Eleven Mile Canyon, formerly Granite Canyon. There’s no way to directly access the Canyon from the lake, you can’t get over the dam. Instead, you travel north to the small town of Lake George, cross over the river and then enter the canyon, basically a 30 mile “u-turn”. Originally the Colorado Midland Railroad followed this route, hauling goods and passengers from Colorado Springs to the mining and lumbering camps in South Park. The route was a critical piece of the 260 miles of line which was used for over 30 years, then abandoned in 1918 – thought to be the largest abandoned rail project in the world.

Eleven Mile Dam

Eleven Mile Dam

There are 6 Federal campgrounds in the canyon. Riverside is the closest to Lake George, and appropriately named Spillway Campground is literally in the shadow of the dam that creates Eleven Mile Reservoir. None of the campgrounds are large, and most are very near the main road. The road is gravel, very rough and today, very dusty and busy. The hostess that takes our $5 at the main gate tells us there is a wedding at Spillway. Indeed, it’s a very busy drive into and out of the canyon and Spillway is packed!

After a brief stop at one of the picnic areas we head back to the relative quiet of our Rock Ridge campsite. The scenery is spectacular, but I’m not sure that the camping in the canyon has much over the lake – and we have hot showers at the lake!

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