When my husband and I left the Great Sand Dune National Park (see part one blog post here, and part two blog post about these amazing sand dunes here) we traveled CO 150 South on our way towards the town of Alamosa, about 38 miles away from the park. (All photos in this post will enlarge if clicked on)
I love road side "places of interest" or "historical markers" and often stop to see what they say. I was very glad to have stopped at this one which pointed out that the tall mountain peak in the distance was Mount Blanca.
Click on photo to enlarge to see what was written on the placard.
Mount Blanca is the fourth highest summit of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. At 14,351 feet (4,374 m) it is the highest summit of the Sangre de Cristo Range.
The Navajo Native Americans called this mountain Sisnaajini (White Shell mountain). The Navajos believed it was one of the four sacred mountain peaks of the Navajo Land and a sacred mountain placed in the east, the doorway to Navajo Land, because the sun rises in the east and the day begins there. They believed the First man and the First Woman, together with the Yei'i (Holy People) made the mountain with white shells, white lightening and rain clouds and gave it positive thoughts. You can read more about the Navajo beliefs about Mt. Blanca on this link.
It was named Mount Blanca by the Spanish explorers in 1598. By then the Navajo tribes had moved further west and the predominant Native Americans living in the area were the Utes. They entered this region with their domesticated dogs pulling their belongings, and found the San Luis Valley rich hunting grounds for bison, elk mule deer, fish and plants. When they first saw the Spaniards riding in on horses they thought the horses were "magic dogs." When the Utes acquired horses their warriors became skilled riders and they fought off European conquest in the San Luis Valley of Colorado until the early 19th century.
Another historical placard at this road pull off site, told about the Southwestern expedition lead by Lt. Zebulon Pike in 1806-7. He and his men were captured by the Spanish in this area and held captive in Chihuahua, Mexico for awhile until they were released in 1807.
When I looked up at the high peak of Mt. Blanca I thought about the many eyes who marveled at this sight over the thousands of years before me, and the many who will gaze at it in the future. It sits as a silent and majestic sentinel of time.
One last look at the beautiful Sangre De Cristo Mountain range in southern Colorado. It is another area that has won my heart in this great state.
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