Spanish Peaks Wilderness

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Spanish Peaks Wilderness
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West Spanish Peak in the Spanish Peaks Wilderness
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Location Huerfano / Las Animas counties, Colorado, United States
Nearest city Walsenburg
Coordinates 37°22′57″N104°58′43″W / 37.38250°N 104.97861°W / 37.38250; -104.97861 Coordinates: 37°22′57″N104°58′43″W / 37.38250°N 104.97861°W / 37.38250; -104.97861 [1]
Area19,226 acres (77.80 km2)
EstablishedJanuary 1, 2000
Governing body U.S. Forest Service

The Spanish Peaks Wilderness is a 19,226 acres (77.80 km2) wilderness area in Huerfano County and Las Animas County, Colorado, United States, located 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Walsenburg. All of the wilderness area is located within San Isabel National Forest, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. [2] [3]

Contents

Geography

The Spanish Peaks (Spanish : Las Cumbres Españolas) are prominent landmarks along the eastern front of the southern Rockies. Their snow-capped summits of the East Spanish Peak and the West Spanish Peak, rise 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above the arid plains, made the "Double Mountain" an easily recognizable reference point to travelers of all cultures. The West Spanish Peak with an elevation of 13,623 feet (4,152 m), overtops the East Spanish Peak which only has an elevation of 12,708 feet (3,873 m). However, this difference is not readily discernible from a distance.

History

The Peaks have traditional and religious significance to American Indian tribes including the Apache, Comanche, and Ute. The common Indian name appears in at least three different spellings in various accounts, reflecting different renditions of oral expression. These are "Wahatoya", Huajatolla" or Guajatoyah". This is widely reported to be a Ute name meaning "breasts of the earth", but is in fact a Comanche name translating to "double mountain". [4]

Geology

The Spanish Peaks are geologically distinct from the faulted and uplifted mountains of the Sangre de Cristo range to the west. To the geologist the Spanish Peaks are prime examples of "stocks" which are defined as large masses of igneous (molten) rock which intruded layers of sedimentary rock and were later exposed by erosion. When mapped by geologists the Peaks were found to be masses of granite, granodiorite, and syenodiorite.

The Apishapa Arch. Apishapa Arch.JPG
The Apishapa Arch.

Among the most unusual features of the Spanish Peaks are the great dikes which radiate out from the mountains like spokes of a wheel. These walls of rock are often spectacular. They are easily visible from the highway north of the peaks (and west of Walsenburg), and pictures of them have been used as type examples in more than one introductory geology textbook. Several can be easily seen up close on back dirt roads, and one (Apishapa Arch) on the south side of the peaks can actually be driven through.

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Spanish Peaks

The Spanish Peaks are a pair of prominent mountains located in southwestern Huerfano County, Colorado. The Comanche people call them Huajatolla meaning "double mountain".

West Spanish Peak

West Spanish Peak is a high and prominent mountain summit that is the higher of the two Spanish Peaks in the Rocky Mountains of North America. The prominent 13,631-foot (4,155 m) peak is located in the Spanish Peaks Wilderness of San Isabel National Forest, 9.1 miles (14.7 km) south of the Town of La Veta, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide between Huerfano and Las Animas counties. The summit of West Spanish Peak is the highest point in Las Animas County, Colorado.

East Spanish Peak

East Spanish Peak is a prominent mountain summit that is the lower of the two Spanish Peaks in the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 12,688-foot (3,867 m) peak is located in the Spanish Peaks Wilderness of San Isabel National Forest, 9.3 miles (14.9 km) southeast by south of the Town of La Veta, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide between Huerfano and Las Animas counties. The Spanish Peaks are two large igneous stocks which form an eastern outlier of the Culebra Range, a subrange of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. East Spanish Peak is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude; it is also the easternmost point in the United States over 12,000 feet (3,700 m), 11,000 feet (3,400 m), and 10,000 feet (3,000 m) feet above sea level.

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References

  1. "Spanish Peaks Wilderness". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey . Retrieved August 12, 2012.
  2. "Spanish Peaks Wilderness". Wilderness.net. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
  3. "Spanish Peaks Wilderness". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
  4. Christofferson, Nancy (June 25, 2015). "The Spanish Peaks: Legends". Huerfano World Journal. Retrieved August 19, 2020.