area landmarks

Simpson’s Rest sheltered early pioneer George Simpson in 1867,
when he hid there for days from a band of warring Utes. The summit,
where Simpson is buried, offers unrestricted views of the Purgatoire Valley.

Photo by Jay Slater

Fisher’s Peak
“stands there dominating the landscape, a thing of beauty
day or night.” A.R. Mitchell, early Trinidad artist and namesake of the
A.R. Mitchell Museum. This basalt-capped mesa was most likely formed
by horizontal lava flows more than one million years ago. The peak was
one of the defining landmarks for pioneers on the Santa Fe Trail. Kit Carson
once guided an army brigade against the Jicarilla Apache on its eastern flanks.

This distinctive tabletop mountain is now part of a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation conservation easement and is a National Natural Landmark. It rises to an
elevation of 9,600 feet south of Trinidad.

Photo by Jay Slater

For early traders and settlers who traveled west on the Santa Fe Trail to
reach Trinidad, the ancient Spanish Peaks signaled the end of a
weary journey. The peaks were named Wahatoya, or
"breasts of the world," by Native Americans.

The Spanish Peaks are known by geologists the world over for
spectacular rock walls radiating like spokes from the peaks.
These "dikes" are made of intrusive igneous rock that was
forced into softer sedimentary layers. As the softer rocks eroded,
walls of hard rock were exposed, some 100 feet high and
as long as 14 miles. The region, now designated as a
National Natural Landmark, has around 400 of these formations.
Nowhere else are these geologic phenomena found in these patterns
or in such abundance.

These ancient Spanish Peaks watch over 17,500 acres of wilderness.
The area provides not only dramatic scenery but some of the
best wildlife watching and hiking in Colorado.

Photo by Jay Slater

The Sangre de Cristos, the most southerly range of the Rocky Mountain System, were formed over a million years after the nearby Spanish Peaks.

For more on these area landmarks,
visit Trinidad's Colorado State Welcome Center
at 309 Nevada.

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Last Modified 2/2/17