Snake River

Snake River seen from a trail-head on Montezuma Road, looking East up the valley towards the Continental Divide.

The Snake River begins on the slopes of the Continental Divide and flows 15 miles through the valley; past the old mining town of Montezuma, through Keystone Resort, and finally spilling into Dillon Reservoir. It forms a part of the larger Blue River watershed of the Upper Colorado River. The area has been mined heavily since the late 1800's, the evidence of which can still be seen in the hills.

As elevation goes up, temperature goes down. This stretch of the river further up Montezuma Road is frozen over early in the winter.

A quick snap on the cell phone of a spectacular sunset behind Buffalo Mountain. The view is across the frozen mouth of the Snake River, from the parking lot on Swan Mountain Road.

The slowly thawing Snake River Arm during a late April snow-shower. Luxury homes of the Summerwood Estates can be seen along the ridge on the right. Swan Mountain Road is just out of view on the left. There is a small parking area here where Swan Mountain Road begins its initial climb.

The mouth of the river is a popular area for ice-fishing in the winter, with tents numbering into the dozens on frigid Saturday mornings and keeping steady presence through the week. The Snake River Arm of Dillon Reservoir is picturesque, with a view of Buffalo Mountain and the Gore Range flanked by the cliff-perched Summerwood Estates on one side and Swan Mountain Road on the other. Swan Mountain Road is the main thoroughfare between Keystone and Breckenridge. There is a sizable parking area, with trail and lake access, located approximately 1,000ft down Swan Mountain Road from U.S. Hwy 6.

For the adventurous, follow U.S. Hwy 6 as it passes trough Keystone, heading east. Take the last exit, Montezuma Road, before Hwy 6 turns upward toward Loveland Pass. Montezuma Road offers a pleasant and winding drive through the valley along the river. There are a few trail-heads and opportunities to pull over and appreciate the scenery.

Montezuma Road gains elevation as it winds further into the valley. As such, it is covered in a solid layer of hard pack snow starting early in the winter and lasting late into the spring. Past the town of Montezuma, the roads become impassable to all but 4x4 and AWD vehicles. Wildlife is plentiful - watch out for moose and elk that may be hanging out just around the next bend.


These articles are my best efforts to share the amazing things I have encountered on my adventure in Summit County. They are a constant work in progress, so check back often for updates and feel free to contact me with questions or comments.