|San Juan Mountains|
|Elevation||14,309 ft (4,361 m)|
|State||Colorado, New Mexico|
|Parent range||Rocky Mountains|
The San Juan Mountains is a high and rugged mountain range in the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. The area is highly mineralized (the Colorado Mineral Belt) and figured in the gold and silver mining industry of early Colorado. Major towns, all old mining camps, include Creede, Lake City, Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. Large scale mining has ended in the region, although independent prospectors still work claims throughout the range. The last large scale mines were the Sunnyside Mine near Silverton, which operated until late in the 20th century and the Idarado Mine on Red Mountain Pass that closed down in the 1970s. Famous old San Juan mines include the Camp Bird and Smuggler Union mines, both located between Telluride and Ouray.
The Summitville mine was the scene of a major environmental disaster in the 1990s when the liner of a cyanide-laced tailing pond began leaking heavily. Summitville is in the Summitville caldera, one of many extinct volcanoes making up the San Juan volcanic field. One, La Garita Caldera, is 35 miles (56 km) in diameter. Large beds of lava, some extending under the floor of the San Luis Valley, are characteristic of the eastern slope of the San Juans.
Tourism is now a major part of the regional economy, with the narrow gauge railway between Durango and Silverton being an attraction in the summer. Jeeping is popular on the old trails which linked the historic mining camps, including the notorious Black Bear Road. Visiting old ghost towns is popular, as is wilderness trekking and mountain climbing. Many of the old mining camps are now popular sites of summer homes. Though the San Juans are extremely steep and receive much snow, so far only Telluride has made the transition to a major ski resort. Purgatory Resort, once known as Durango Mountain Resort, is a small ski area 26 miles north of Durango.There is also skiing on Wolf Creek Pass at the Wolf Creek ski area. Recently Silverton Mountain ski area has begun operation near Silverton.
The Rio Grande drains the east side of the range. The other side of the San Juans, the western slope of the continental divide, is drained by tributaries of the San Juan, Dolores and Gunnison rivers, which all flow into the Colorado River.
The San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests cover a large portion of the San Juan Mountains. The Continental Divide Trail, a long-distance hiking trail follows the crest of the San Juan Mountains. The Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado's largest wilderness area, with an area of 499,771 acres (202,250 ha) is in the San Juans.
The San Juan Mountains are also distinctive for their high altitude plateaus and peaks. As a result, facilities in the towns and cities of the region are among the highest in the nation. Telluride Airport, at an elevation of 9,070 feet,is the highest in the United States with regularly scheduled commercial service.
|1||Uncompahgre Peak NGS||4365 m|
|2||Mount Wilson||4344 m|
|3||Mount Sneffels NGS||4315 m|
|4||Mount Eolus||4294 m|
|5||Handies Peak NGS||4285 m|
|6||San Luis Peak NGS||4274 m|
|7||Vermilion Peak PB||4237 m|
|8||Rio Grande Pyramid NGS PB||4214 m|
|9||Mount Oso||4173 m|
|10||Tower Mountain PB||4132 m|
|11||Sultan Mountain PB||4076 m|
|12||Summit Peak NGS PB||4056 m|
|13||Dolores Peak PB||4053 m|
|14||Lavender Peak PB||4037 m|
|15||Bennett Peak PB||4026 m|
|16||Conejos Peak NGS PB||4017 m|
|17||Twilight Peak||4012 m|
|18||South River Peak PB||4009 m|
|19||Peak 13,010 PB||3967 m|
|20||Lone Cone PB||3846 m|
|21||Graham Peak NGS PB||3821 m|
|22||Elliott Mountain PB||3763 m|
|23||Cornwall Mountain PB||3746 m|
|24||Sawtooth Mountain NGS PB||3704 m|
|25||Chalk Benchmark NGS PB||3669 m|
|26||Little Cone NGS PB||3654 m|
|27||Cochetopa Dome||3395 m|
|28||Horse Mountain PB||3033 m|
Mining operators in the San Juan mountain area formed the San Juan District Mining Association (SJDMA) in 1903, as a direct result of a Western Federation of Miners proposal to the Telluride Mining Association for the eight-hour day, which had been approved in a referendum by 72 percent of Colorado voters.The new association consolidated the power of thirty-six mining properties in San Miguel, Ouray, and San Juan counties. The SJDMA refused to consider any reduction in hours or increase in wages, helping to provoke a bitter strike.
Telluride is the county seat and most populous town of San Miguel County in the southwestern portion of the U.S. state of Colorado. The town is a former silver mining camp on the San Miguel River in the western San Juan Mountains. The first gold mining claim was made in the mountains above Telluride in 1875, and early settlement of what is now Telluride followed. The town itself was founded in 1878 as "Columbia", but due to confusion with a California town of the same name, was renamed Telluride in 1887 for the gold telluride minerals found in other parts of Colorado. These telluride minerals were never found near Telluride, but the area's mines for some years provided zinc, lead, copper, silver, and other gold ores.
San Miguel County is one of the 64 counties of the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 7,359. The county seat is Telluride. The county is named for the San Miguel River.
San Juan County is one of the 64 counties of the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 699, making it the least populous county in Colorado. The county seat and the only incorporated municipality in the county is Silverton. The county name is the Spanish language name for "Saint John", the name Spanish explorers gave to a river and the mountain range in the area. With a mean elevation of 11,240 feet (3426 meters), San Juan County is the highest county in the United States.
Ouray County is a county located in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 4,436. The county seat is Ouray. Because of its rugged mountain topography, Ouray County is also known as the Switzerland of America.
The City of Ouray is the Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Ouray County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 1,000 as of the 2010 census. The Ouray Post Office has the ZIP code 81427. Ouray's climate, natural alpine environment, and scenery has earned it the nickname, "Switzerland of America".
The town of Silverton is a Statutory Town that is the county seat of, and the only incorporated municipality in, San Juan County, Colorado, United States. Silverton is a former silver mining camp, most of which is now included in a federally designated National Historic Landmark District, the Silverton Historic District. The town population reached 637 in the U.S. Census 2010.
Wolf Creek Pass is a high mountain pass on the Continental Divide, in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. It is the route through which U.S. Highway 160 passes from the San Luis Valley into southwest Colorado on its way to New Mexico and Arizona. The pass is notable as inspiration of a C. W. McCall song. The pass is significantly steep on either side and can be dangerous in winter. There are two runaway truck ramps on the westbound side for truckers that lose control of their brakes.
U.S. Route 550 (US 550) is a spur of U.S. Highway 50 that runs from Bernalillo, New Mexico to Montrose, Colorado in the western United States. The section from Silverton to Ouray is frequently called the Million Dollar Highway. It is one of the roads on the Trails of the Ancients Byway, one of the designated New Mexico Scenic Byways.
The Elk Mountains are a high, rugged mountain range in the Rocky Mountains of west-central Colorado in the United States. The mountains sit on the western side of the Continental Divide, largely in southern Pitkin and northern Gunnison counties, in the area southwest of Aspen, south of the Roaring Fork River valley, and east of the Crystal River. The range sits west of the Sawatch Range and northeast of the West Elk Mountains. Much of the range is located within the White River National Forest and the Gunnison National Forest, as well as the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and Raggeds Wilderness. The Elk Mountains rise nearly 9,000 ft. above the Roaring Fork Valley to the north.
The San Juan Skyway is an All-American Road and a component in the Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway System. It forms a 233.0-mile (375.0 km) loop in the southwest part of the U.S. state of Colorado traversing the heart of the San Juan Mountains. It roughly parallels the routes of the narrow gauge railways: Rio Grande Southern ; and the unconnected Ouray and Silverton Branches of the Denver & Rio Grande along US 550 with the Silverton Railroad bridging a part of the gap. Its origin can be traced to the Around the Circle Route promoted by the D&RG.
The Rio Grande Southern Railroad was a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow-gauge railroad which ran in the southwestern region of the US state of Colorado, from the towns of Durango to Ridgway, routed via Lizard Head Pass. Built by Russian immigrant and Colorado toll road builder Otto Mears, the RGS operated from 1891 through 1951 and was built with the intent to transport immense amounts of silver mineral traffic that were being produced by the mining communities of Rico and Telluride. On both ends of the railroad, there were interchanges with The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, which would ship the traffic the RGS hauled elsewhere like the San Juan Smelter in Durango.
The Weminuche Wilderness is a wilderness area in southwest Colorado managed by the United States Forest Service as part of the San Juan National Forest on the west side of the Continental Divide and the Rio Grande National Forest on the east side of the divide. It is about 5 miles (8.0 km) south east of the town of Silverton and about 15 miles (24 km) northeast of Durango. At 499,771 acres (2,022.50 km2), it is the largest wilderness area in the state of Colorado. The wilderness was named after the Weminuche Indians.
San Luis Peak is the highest summit of the La Garita Mountains range in the Rocky Mountains of North America. The prominent 14,022-foot (4273.8 m) fourteener is located in the Gunnison National Forest portion of the La Garita Wilderness in Saguache County approximately 10 miles (16 km) north of Creede. It is situated rather far to the east of the other fourteeners in the San Juans, and has more of a wilderness setting than many of the others.
The West Elk Mountains are a high mountain range in the west-central part of the U.S. state of Colorado. They lie primarily within the Gunnison National Forest, and part of the range is protected as the West Elk Wilderness. The range is primarily located in Gunnison County, with small parts in eastern Delta and Montrose counties.
Gold mining in Colorado, a state of the United States, has been an industry since 1858. It also played a key role in the establishment of the state of Colorado.
The Camp Bird Mine is a famous and highly productive old gold mine located between Ouray and Telluride, Colorado. The mine is within the Sneffels-Red Mountain-Telluride mining district in the San Juan Mountains.
The La Garita Mountains are a high mountain range in the San Juan Mountains, a sub-range of the Rocky Mountains. The mountains are located in Saguache and Mineral counties in southwestern Colorado and are almost entirely managed as public land within the Gunnison National Forest and the Rio Grande National Forest.
Emil B. Fischer published six detailed maps of the San Juan area of southwestern Colorado between 1883 and 1898. A surveyor’s son, he came to America around 1872. He moved to Durango in 1880 when the building of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway to the San Juan attracted widespread attention, then to Silverton. These maps aided silver and gold prospectors to file their claims; they enabled investors to locate mines and view their proximity to famous neighboring mines; and they encouraged tourists to visit the depicted mining regions and invigorate the local economies.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to San Juan Mountains .|