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The San Juan Mountains are a rugged mountain range in the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Coloradomarker. 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 Creedemarker, Lake Citymarker, Silvertonmarker, Ouraymarker, and Telluridemarker. Large scale mining is now uneconomical in the region, although independent prospectors still work claims throughout the range. The last large scale holdouts were the Standard Metals operation near Silverton, which operated until late in the 20th century and the Idarado Mine on Red Mountain Passmarker that closed down in the 1970s. Another hold-out was the ill-fated Summitville mine on the eastern slope of the San Juans.

The Summitville mine was the scene of a major environmental disaster in the 1990s when the hastily installed 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, the La Garita Calderamarker, is 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.

There is some tourism in the region, with the narrow gauge railway between Durangomarker 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 Roadmarker. Visiting old ghost towns is popular, as is wilderness trekking and mountain climbing. The San Juans are extremely steep; only Telluride has made the transition to ski resort. Purgatory (now known as Durango Mountain Resortmarker) is a small ski area north of Durango near the Tamarron Resort. There is also skiing on Wolf Creek Passmarker at the Wolf Creek ski areamarker. Recently Silverton Mountain ski area has begun operation in Silverton. It is a highly rated extreme ski area and is currently available by reservation only.

The Rio Grandemarker rises on 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 Miguel, Dolores and Gunnison rivers, which all flow into the Colorado Rivermarker.

The San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests cover a large portion of the San Juan Mountains.

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Image:Dust Reduces Snow Cover in the San Juans - 2005.jpg|2005 (Less dust)Image:Dust Reduces Snow Cover in the San Juans - 2006.jpg|2006 (More dust)Image:Dust Accelerates Snow Melt in San Juan Mountains - May 31, 2008.jpg|2008 (Less dust)Image:Dust Accelerates Snow Melt in San Juan Mountains - May 18, 2009.jpg|2009 (More dust)

Prominent peaks

  • Note: This is only a partial list of important peaks in the San Juans, listing peaks by prominence only. There are dozens more summits over 12,000 feet.


The 28 Peaks of the San Juan Mountains With At Least 500 Meters of Topographic Prominence
Rank Mountain Peak Elevation Prominence Isolation
1 Uncompahgre Peakmarker NGS 4365.000 = 14,321 feet

4365 m
1303.630 = 4,277 feet

1304 m
00136.89 = 85.1 miles

136.9 km
2 Mount Wilsonmarker 4344.080 = 14,252 feet

4344 m
1226.515 = 4,024 feet

1227 m
00053.21 = 33.1 miles

53.2 km
3 Mount Sneffelsmarker NGS 4315.400 = 14,158 feet

4315 m
0929.640 = 3,050 feet

930 m
00025.32 = 15.7 miles

25.3 km
4 Mount Eolusmarker 4294.255 = 14,089 feet

4294 m
0665.378 = 2,183 feet

665 m
00040.48 = 25.2 miles

40.5 km
5 Handies Peakmarker NGS 4284.800 = 14,058 feet

4285 m
0575.462 = 1,888 feet

575 m
00018.00 = 11.2 miles

18.0 km
6 San Luis Peakmarker NGS 4273.800 = 14,022 feet

4274 m
0948.842 = 3,113 feet

949 m
00043.41 = 27.0 miles

43.4 km
7 Vermilion Peakmarker PB 4236.719 = 13,900 feet

4237 m
0641.604 = 2,105 feet

642 m
00014.60 = 9.1 miles

14.6 km
8 Rio Grande Pyramid NGS PB 4214.400 = 13,827 feet

4214 m
0567.233 = 1,861 feet

567 m
00017.31 = 10.8 miles

17.3 km
9 Mount Oso 4172.659 = 13,690 feet

4173 m
0507.187 = 1,664 feet

507 m
00008.81 = 5.5 miles

8.8 km
10 Tower Mountain PB 4132.446 = 13,558 feet

4132 m
0503.530 = 1,652 feet

504 m
00008.62 = 5.4 miles

8.6 km
11 Sultan Mountain PB 4076.215 = 13,373 feet

4076 m
0569.366 = 1,868 feet

569 m
00007.39 = 4.6 miles

7.4 km
12 Summit Peak NGS PB 4056.048 = 13,307 feet

4056 m
0841.248 = 2,760 feet

841 m
00064.23 = 39.9 miles

64.2 km
13 Dolores Peak PB 4052.592 = 13,296 feet

4053 m
0594.360 = 1,950 feet

594 m
00008.02 = 5.0 miles

8.0 km
14 Lavender Peakmarker PB 4037.198 = 13,245 feet

4037 m
0871.728 = 2,860 feet

872 m
00039.91 = 24.8 miles

39.9 km
15 Bennett Peak PB 4026.057 = 13,209 feet

4026 m
0531.266 = 1,743 feet

531 m
00027.52 = 17.1 miles

27.5 km
16 Conejos Peak NGS PB 4017.000 = 13,179 feet

4017 m
0582.778 = 1,912 feet

583 m
00013.12 = 8.2 miles

13.1 km
17 Twilight Peak 4012.096 = 13,163 feet

4012 m
0712.622 = 2,338 feet

713 m
00007.86 = 4.9 miles

7.9 km
18 South River Peak PB 4009.390 = 13,154 feet

4009 m
0746.150 = 2,448 feet

746 m
00035.34 = 22.0 miles

35.3 km
19 Peak 13,010 PB 3967.262 = 13,016 feet

3967 m
0545.592 = 1,790 feet

546 m
00015.39 = 9.6 miles

15.4 km
20 Lone Cone PB 3846.100 = 12,618 feet

3846 m
0692.810 = 2,273 feet

693 m
00014.97 = 9.3 miles

15.0 km
21 Graham Peak NGS PB 3821.100 = 12,536 feet

3821 m
0777.545 = 2,551 feet

778 m
00016.78 = 10.4 miles

16.8 km
22 Elliott Mountain PB 3762.941 = 12,346 feet

3763 m
0682.752 = 2,240 feet

683 m
00008.26 = 5.1 miles

8.3 km
23 Cornwall Mountain PB 3746.183 = 12,291 feet

3746 m
0531.571 = 1,744 feet

532 m
00008.37 = 5.2 miles

8.4 km
24 Sawtooth Mountain NGS PB 3704.200 = 12,153 feet

3704 m
0587.350 = 1,927 feet

587 m
00028.28 = 17.6 miles

28.3 km
25 Chalk Benchmark NGS PB 3669.300 = 12,038 feet

3669 m
0600.761 = 1,971 feet

601 m
00011.68 = 7.3 miles

11.7 km
26 Little Cone NGS PB 3654.000 = 11,988 feet

3654 m
0561.137 = 1,841 feet

561 m
00009.70 = 6.0 miles

9.7 km
27 Cochetopa Dome 3394.838 = 11,138 feet

3395 m
0537.058 = 1,762 feet

537 m
00009.90 = 6.2 miles

9.9 km
28 Horse Mountain PB 3033.307 = 9,952 feet

3033 m
0575.158 = 1,887 feet

575 m
00022.46 = 14.0 miles

22.5 km


History of the area

Ore wagons, San Juan Mountains, circa 1900?
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 Miguelmarker, Ouraymarker, and San Juanmarker counties. The SJDMA refused to consider any reduction in hours or increase in wages, helping to provoke a bitter strike.

See also



References

  1. The elevation of this summit has been converted from the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD 29) to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88). National Geodetic Survey
  2. Roughneck—The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 65.
  3. The Corpse On Boomerang Road, Telluride's War On Labor 1899-1908, MaryJoy Martin, 2004, page 201.

Further reading

  • Bove, D. et al. (2001). Geochronology and geology of Late Oligocene through Miocene volcanism and mineralization in the western San Juan Mountains, Colorado [U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1642]. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Lippman, P.W. (2006). Geologic map of the central San Juan Caldera Cluster, southwestern Colorado [Geologic Investigations Series I-2799]. Reston, VA: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.


External links





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