Loch Vale

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), CO


Description of the basin

The Loch Vale watershed is located in Rocky Mountain National Park in north-central Colorado (latitude 40.2878 / longitude –105.6628). The watershed is 660 hectares in size and ranges in elevation from 3,110 m (10,200 ft.) at The Loch outlet to 4,192 m (13,153 ft.) at Taylor Peak. There are two main subbasins in Loch Vale; Andrews Creek drains the northern subbasin, and Icy Brook drains the southern subbasin. The watershed consists of 3 lakes (The Loch, Lake of Glass and Sky Pond). The majority of Rocky Mountain National Park is underlain by igneous (granite) and metamorphic (schist and gneiss) formations. The watershed consists of 83% bare rock, boulder fields, snow and ice; 11% tundra; 5% forest; and 1% subalpine meadow (Baron, 1992). The sub-alpine forests of Loch Vale are dominated by Englemann spruce (Picea englemannii) and sub-alpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) with average ages ~500 years. The average annual precipitation of the area is 110 cm with 65-80% originating as snow. A more detailed description of the Loch Vale watershed can be found in Baron 1992.