You cannot help focusing on Flattop Mountain while at Dream Lake. It juts 3,000 feet above you and, for the most intrepid hikers, lures you 4.4 miles to the Continental Divide.
The most impressive aspect of Dream Lake, however, is what lies below. The Ancestral Rocky Mountains were formed 1.7 billion years ago. They are made up of the oldest rocks in North America, which are Precambrian metamorphic rocks. What you know as the Rocky Mountains of Colorado are actually the newer rocks, which were pushed up about 80 – 55 million years ago. Since then glaciers, wind and water have carved the spectacular chain of skyscrapers we know as The Rocky Mountains.
As these modern mountains were forced upwards, they left some rock slabs tilted at steep angles. One popular place to see results of tectonic forces is the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado.
However, don’t overlook the rare beauty of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains revealed in Big Thompson Canyon. In the narrowest section of this twisted river canyon are black walls of banded gneiss and shiny schist deposited 1.8 billion years ago. Highway 34, from Estes Park, CO to Loveland, CO will open on Memorial Day weekend, 2017. The road will still be under construction for another year. They are reshaping the canyon so the Big Thompson River cannot do as much damage as it did in the flood of 2013.
Take this historic drive to Rocky Mountain National Park and head toward the bus stop to Bear Lake. From Bear Lake, maps and signs will lead you to Dream Lake and beyond.