Sangre de Cristo Range

Last updated
Sangre de Cristo Range
Northern Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Sangredecristomtns.JPG
Sangre de Cristo Range seen from Hardscrabble Pass.
Highest point
Peak Blanca Peak
Elevation 14,345 ft (4,372 m)
Coordinates 37°34′38″N105°29′7″W / 37.57722°N 105.48528°W / 37.57722; -105.48528 Coordinates: 37°34′38″N105°29′7″W / 37.57722°N 105.48528°W / 37.57722; -105.48528
Dimensions
Length75 mi (121 km)north-south
Width48 mi (77 km)east-west
Area1,250 sq mi (3,200 km2)
Naming
Etymology Sangre de Cristo Spanish: Blood of Christ
Geography
USA Colorado relief location map.svg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Sangre de Cristo Range
Country United States
State Colorado
Counties Chaffee, Fremont, Custer, Saguache and Huerfano
Parent range Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Rocky Mountains
Borders on San Luis Valley and Arkansas River watershed
Geology
Orogeny Fault-block mountains
Age of rock Precambrian and Permian-Pennsylvanian

The Sangre de Cristo Range is a mountain range of the Rocky Mountains in southern Colorado in the United States, running north and south along the east side of the Rio Grande Rift. The mountains extend southeast from Poncha Pass for about 75 mi (121 km) through south-central Colorado to La Veta Pass, approximately 20 mi (32 km) west of Walsenburg, and form a high ridge separating the San Luis Valley on the west from the watershed of the Arkansas River on the east. The Sangre de Cristo Range rises over 7,000 ft (2,100 m) above the valleys and plains to the west and northeast.

Contents

According to the USGS, the range is the northern part of the larger Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which extend through northern New Mexico. Usage of the terms "Sangre de Cristo Range" and "Sangre de Cristo Mountains" is varied; however, this article discusses only the mountains between Poncha Pass and La Veta Pass.

Notable peaks

Major peaks of the Sangre de Cristo
Named peaks over 13,500 feet (4,100 m)
Peak nameElevation Prominence
Blanca Peak [1] 14,351 ft (4,374 m)5,326 ft (1,623 m)
Crestone Peak [2] 14,300 ft (4,400 m)4,534 ft (1,382 m)
Crestone Needle [3] 14,197 ft (4,327 m)437 ft (133 m)
Kit Carson Peak [4] 14,165 ft (4,317 m)1,005 ft (306 m)
Challenger Point [5] 14,080 ft (4,290 m)281 ft (86 m)
Humboldt Peak [6] 14,064 ft (4,287 m)1,164 ft (355 m)
Ellingwood Point [7] 14,042 ft (4,280 m)322 ft (98 m)
Mount Lindsey [8] 14,042 ft (4,280 m)1,522 ft (464 m)
Little Bear Peak [9] 14,037 ft (4,278 m)357 ft (109 m)
Columbia Point [10] 13,960 ft (4,260 m)320 ft (98 m)
Mount Adams [11] 13,937 ft (4,248 m)851 ft (259 m)
California Peak [12] 13,855 ft (4,223 m)609 ft (186 m)
Rito Alto Peak [13] 13,800 ft (4,200 m)1,114 ft (340 m)
Colony Baldy [14] 13,711 ft (4,179 m)905 ft (276 m)
Pico Aislado [15] 13,612 ft (4,149 m)837 ft (255 m)
Tijeras Peak [16] 13,610 ft (4,150 m)724 ft (221 m)
Electric Peak [17] 13,601 ft (4,146 m)915 ft (279 m)
Cottonwood Peak [18] 13,504 ft (4,116 m)1,108 ft (338 m)
Twin Peaks [19] 13,560 ft (4,130 m)600 ft (180 m)
Broken Hand Peak [20] 13,579 ft (4,139 m)653 ft (199 m)
Fluted Peak [21] 13,560 ft (4,130 m)714 ft (218 m)
Milwaukee Peak [22] 13,528 ft (4,123 m)282 ft (86 m)

Geography

Seen from the San Luis Valley Sangre-de-Christo-pano.jpg
Seen from the San Luis Valley

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains run from Poncha Pass at the north end of the San Luis Valley to Glorieta Pass near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Most of the range is shared by two National Forests, which abut along the range divide. Most of the northeast (Arkansas River) side is located within the San Isabel National Forest, while most of the southwest (San Luis Valley) side is included in the Rio Grande National Forest. The central part of the range is designated as the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve sits on the southwestern flank of the range at the edge of the San Luis Valley. The range divide is traversed by no paved roads, only by four-wheel drive and foot trails over Hayden Pass, Hermit Pass, Music Pass, Medano Pass, and Mosca Pass.

Northern Sangre de Cristo Range seen from Coaldale, Colorado. CotopaxiMts.JPG
Northern Sangre de Cristo Range seen from Coaldale, Colorado.

The highest peak in the range, located in the south, is Blanca Peak at 14,345 ft (4,372 m); it is flanked by three other fourteeners: Little Bear Peak, Mount Lindsey, and Ellingwood Point. [Notes 1] Other well-known peaks are the fourteeners of the Crestone group: Kit Carson Mountain, Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, and Humboldt Peak. Two sub-peaks of Kit Carson Mountain, Challenger Point and Columbia Point, are named in memory of the crews of the Space Shuttle Challenger and the Space Shuttle Columbia. The range is also home to many high peaks in the 13,000 to 14,000 foot (3,900-4,300 m) range as it continues into New Mexico. In New Mexico most of the mountain area is managed by the US Forest Service in the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests.

History and economy

In 1719 the Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio named the Sangre de Cristo ("Blood of Christ") mountains after being impressed by the reddish hue of the snowy peaks at sunrise, alpenglow. Today tourism is the main economic activity.

Geology

The Colorado Sangre de Cristos are fault-block mountains similar to the Teton Range in Wyoming and the Wasatch Range in Utah. There are major fault lines running along both the east and west sides of the range and, in places, cutting through the range. Like all fault-block mountain ranges, the Sangre de Cristos lack foothills which means the highest peaks rise abruptly from the valleys to the east and west, rising 7,000 ft (2,100 m) in only a few miles in some places. The mountains were pushed up around 5 million years ago, basically as one large mass of rock. The Sangre de Cristo range is still being uplifted today as faults in the area remain active.

The Sangre de Cristo Range rising above the Great Sand Dunes National Park Dunes great sand 2.jpg
The Sangre de Cristo Range rising above the Great Sand Dunes National Park

On the west side is the San Luis Valley, a portion of the Rio Grande Rift. On the southeast side is the Raton Basin, a quiet but still active volcanic field. On the northeast side are the Wet Mountains and the Front Range, areas of Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks formed during the Colorado orogeny some 1.7 billion years ago and then uplifted more recently during the Laramide orogeny.

The Blanca Massif is also Precambrian rock, while most of the rest of the Sangres is composed of younger Permian-Pennsylvanian (about 250-million-year-old) rock, a mix of sedimentary conglomerates, shales, and igneous intrusions. These sedimentary rocks originated as sediment eroded from the Ancestral Rocky Mountains.

See also

Related Research Articles

San Luis Valley

The San Luis Valley is a region in south-central Colorado with a small portion overlapping into New Mexico. The Rio Grande with headwaters in the San Juan Mountains about seven miles east of Silverton, Colorado flows through the San Luis Valley and then south into New Mexico. It contains 6 counties and portions of 3 others. The San Luis Valley was ceded to the United States by Mexico following the Mexican–American War. Hispanic settlers began moving north and settling in the valley after the United States made a treaty with the Utes and established a fort. Prior to the Mexican war the Spanish and Mexican governments had reserved the valley to the Utes, their allies. During the 19th century Anglo settlers settled in the valley and engaged in mining, ranching, and irrigated agriculture. Today the valley has a diverse Anglo and Hispanic population.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains Mountain range in Colorado and New Mexico, United States

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. They are located in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the United States. The mountains run from Poncha Pass in South-Central Colorado, trending southeast and south, ending at Glorieta Pass, southeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The mountains contain a number of fourteen thousand foot peaks in the Colorado portion, as well as all the peaks in New Mexico which are over twelve thousand feet.

Blanca Peak Mountain in Colorado, United States

Blanca Peak is the fourth highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the U.S. state of Colorado. The ultra-prominent 14,351-foot (4,374 m) peak is the highest summit of the Sierra Blanca Massif, the Sangre de Cristo Range, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The fourteener is located 9.6 miles (15.5 km) north by east of the Town of Blanca, on the drainage divide separating Rio Grande National Forest and Alamosa County from the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant and Costilla County. The summit is the highest point of both counties and the entire drainage basin of the Rio Grande. Below the steep North Face of Blanca Peak two live Glaciers once developed, until extinction sometime after 1903. North & South Blanca Glaciers were located at 37° 35N.,longitude 105° 28W. Blanca Peak is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude.

Crestone Peak

Crestone Peak is the seventh-highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the U.S. state of Colorado. The prominent 14,300-foot (4,359 m) fourteener is the highest summit of the Crestones and the second-highest summit in the Sangre de Cristo Range after Blanca Peak. The summit is located in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness of Rio Grande National Forest, 5.0 miles (8.1 km) east by south of the Town of Crestone in Saguache County, Colorado, United States.

Kit Carson Peak

Kit Carson Peak is a high mountain summit of the Crestones in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. Officially designated Kit Carson Mountain, the 14,171-foot (4,319 m) fourteener is located 5.2 miles (8.4 km) east by south of the Town of Crestone in Saguache County, Colorado, United States. The name Kit Carson Mountain is used for both the massif with three summits, or to describe the main summit only. The mountain is named in honor of frontiersman Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson. The Crestones are a cluster of high summits in the Sangre de Cristo Range, comprising Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Kit Carson Peak, Challenger Point, Humboldt Peak, and Columbia Point. They are usually accessed from common trailheads.

Humboldt Peak (Colorado)

Humboldt Peak is a high mountain summit of the Crestones in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,070-foot (4,289 m) fourteener is located in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness of San Isabel National Forest, 11.9 miles (19.2 km) south-southwest of the Town of Westcliffe in Custer County, Colorado, United States.

Crestone Needle

Crestone Needle is a high mountain summit of the Crestones in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,203-foot (4,329 m) fourteener is located 6.9 miles (11.1 km) east-southeast of the Town of Crestone in Saguache County, Colorado, United States. The Crestones are a cluster of high summits in the Sangre de Cristo Range, comprising Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Kit Carson Peak, Challenger Point, Humboldt Peak, and Columbia Point. They are usually accessed from common trailheads.

Little Bear Peak

Little Bear Peak is a high mountain summit in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,043-foot (4,280 m) fourteener is located on the Sierra Blanca Massif, 8.8 miles (14.2 km) north by east of the Town of Blanca, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide separating Rio Grande National Forest and Alamosa County from the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant and Costilla County. Little Bear lies 0.96 miles (1.54 km) southwest of Blanca Peak, the ultra prominent fourteener that is the highest point of the massif.

Ellingwood Point

Ellingwood Point is a high mountain summit in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,048-foot (4,282 m) fourteener is located on the Sierra Blanca Massif, 9.9 miles (16.0 km) north by east of the Town of Blanca, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide separating in Rio Grande National Forest and Alamosa County from San Isabel National Forest and Huerfano County. Ellingwood Point was named in honor of Albert Russell Ellingwood, an early pioneer of mountain climbing in the Western United States and in Colorado in particular.

Poncha Pass

Poncha Pass is a mountain pass in South-Central Colorado (USA). It lies between the San Luis Valley to the south and the valley of the Arkansas River to the north, and is one of the lowest mountain passes in the state. It is in the saddle between the Sangre de Cristo Range, lying to the southeast, and the Sawatch Range, lying to the west and northwest. The small town of Poncha Springs lies about 6 miles (9 km) north of the pass. The pass has a mild approach on the northern side and a moderate 5% approach from the south, though it remains open all year round and does not normally cause problems for vehicles in winter.

Elmer Albert Russell Ellingwood was a pioneering mountaineer and climber in the western United States during the first half of the twentieth century. He made first ascents of many peaks and routes in the Rocky Mountains, particularly in Colorado, including Lizard Head in the San Juan Mountains, Ellingwood Ridge on La Plata Peak in the Sawatch Range, and Crestone Needle in the Sangre de Cristo Range. Many mountain features are named for him, on peaks such as Middle Teton, on which Ellingwood made the first ascent, the Ellingwood Ridge of La Plata Peak, and the Ellingwood Arete ascent of Crestone Needle; the fourteener Ellingwood Point, near Blanca Peak in southern Colorado, is named for him as well.

Columbia Point

Columbia Point is a high mountain summit of the Crestones in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 13,986-foot (4,263 m) thirteener is located 5.5 miles (8.8 km) east by south of the Town of Crestone in Saguache County, Colorado, United States. The Crestones are a cluster of high summits in the Sangre de Cristo Range, comprising Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Kit Carson Peak, Challenger Point, Humboldt Peak, and Columbia Point.

Brazos Mountains Mountain range in New Mexico

The Brazos Mountains is a range in far northern Rio Arriba County, in northern New Mexico in the southwestern United States. The range is part of the Tusas Mountains – the southern portion of the San Juan Mountains which are more well known in Colorado. A high crest runs from the border with Colorado for over 20 miles (32 km) in a south-southeasterly direction. The high point of the range at 11,405 feet (3,476 m) is on Grouse Mesa, at the Brazos Benchmark. Two miles (3 km) to the southeast is the more distinctive Brazos Peak, at 11,288 feet.

Southern Rocky Mountains Major subrange of the Rocky Mountains in the Western United States

The Southern Rocky Mountains are a major subregion of the Rocky Mountains of North America located in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Wyoming, the central and western portions of Colorado, the northern portion of New Mexico, and extreme eastern portions of Utah. The Southern Rocky Mountains are also commonly known as the Southern Rockies, and since the highest peaks are located in the State of Colorado, they are sometimes known as the Colorado Rockies, although many important ranges and peaks rise in the other three states. The Southern Rockies include the highest mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains and include all 30 of the highest major peaks of the Rockies.

Mount Adams (Colorado) Mountain in Colorado, United States of America

Mount Adams is a high mountain summit of the Crestones in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 13,937-foot (4,248 m) thirteener is located in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, 5.1 miles (8.2 km) east by north of the Town of Crestone, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide separating San Isabel National Forest and Custer County from Rio Grande National Forest and Saguache County.

Sangre de Cristo Wilderness

The Sangre de Cristo Wilderness is a long and narrow wilderness area covering 220,803 acres (893.56 km2) of the Sangre de Cristo Range centered about Saguache and Custer counties, Colorado. Smaller areas are located in Fremont, Alamosa, and Huerfano counties. All of the wilderness area is located on U.S. Forest Service land within the San Isabel and Rio Grande National Forests and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The wilderness area is home to several fourteeners and quite a few thirteeners. Crestone Needle is considered the most difficult.

Ellingwood Ledges

The Ellingwood Arete is a popular technical climbing route on Crestone Needle in Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Range. The Ellingwood Ledges Route is recognized in the historic climbing text Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. An "arete" is "a sharp narrow ridge found in rugged mountains".

References

  1. "Blanca Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  2. "Crestone Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  3. "Crestone Needle". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  4. "Kit Carson Mountain". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  5. "Challenger Point". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  6. "Humboldt Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  7. "Ellingwood Point". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  8. "Mount Lindsey". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  9. "Little Bear Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  10. "Columbia Point". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  11. "Mount Adams". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  12. "California Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  13. "Rito Alto Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  14. "Colony Baldy". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  15. "Pico Aislado". Bivouac.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  16. "Tijeras Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  17. "Electric Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  18. "Cottonwood Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  19. "Twin Peaks". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  20. "Broken Hand Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  21. "Fluted Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  22. "Milwaukee Peak". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
Notes
  1. Ellingwood Point is not always counted as an official fourteener, as it has a high saddle connecting it with Blanca Peak, and hence a low topographic prominence.