The West's BEST LAKES

Colorado and Wyoming Lakes

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LODGING: Gold Lake Mountain Resort & Spa: nearby in Ward, cabins from $195; (800) 450-3544 or www.goldlake.com.

CAMPING: Off State 72, west of Ward, Pawnee Campground has 55 sites for tents and campers, all with picnic tables and fire rings; $5 for five days.

CONTACT: Roosevelt National Forest, Boulder Ranger District: (303) 541-2500. - C.W.

Colorado's second-largest natural lake is also one of its youngest - formed some 700 years ago when the Slumgullion Earthflow blocked the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. The lake that backed up behind the dam nestles in a valley surrounded by 12,000-foot peaks; they wear snowy crowns well into summer, and in fall, their hillsides are aglow with golden aspens. The 350-acre, 80-foot-deep lake is also a draw for anglers, who are primarily after brown and rainbow trout.

LODGING. Lakeview Resort: from $65; (800) 456-0170 or www.lakeview-inc.com.

CONTACT. Lake City/Hinsdale County Chamber of Commerce: (800) 569-1874, (970) 944-2527, or www.lakecityco.com. - C.W.

Set in the middle of Yellowstone National Park, this 136-square-mile lake is said to be the largest natural lake above 7,000 feet in the United States. But Yellowstone is no mere book-of-world records' oddity: Vast, cold, and blue, it is a lake to remember, especially when glimpsed from the porch of the elegant Lake Yellowstone Hotel.

LODGING. Lake Lodge Cabins: from $50. Lake Yellowstone Hotel: from $100; (307) 344-7311 or www.travelyellowstone.com.

CAMPING. Camping available at Bridge Bay Campground; RV sites available at Fishing Bridge RV Park; (307) 344-7311.

CONTACT. Yellowstone National Park: (307) 344-7381 or www.nps.gov/yell/. - Peter Fish

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