Mount Sopris

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Mount Sopris
Mount Sopris as viewed from State Highway 82.
Elevation 12,965 ft (3,952 m) NAVD 88[1][2]
Prominence 1,433 ft (437 m)[3]
Location Pitkin County, Colorado, U.S.
Range Rocky Mountains, Elk Mountains

39°15′47.6″N 107°10′33.1″W / 39.263222°N 107.175861°W / 39.263222; -107.175861 (West Sopris)

[4] 39°15′40″N 107°09′51″W / 39.26111°N 107.16417°W / 39.26111; -107.16417 (East Sopris)[5]
Topo map USGS 7.5' topographic map
Mount Sopris, Colorado[1]
Easiest route Mount Sopris Trail (hike)
Looking North West from Mt. Sopris

Mount Sopris is a high, twin-summitted mountain peak located at the northwest end of the Elk Mountains in western Colorado in the United States. The mountain is located in western Pitkin County, south of Carbondale and southwest of the confluence of the Crystal and Roaring Fork rivers. It lies in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, part of the White River National Forest. Mount Sopris is notable for having two summits, East Sopris and West Sopris, that are one-half mile (0.8 km) apart and have exactly the same elevation.[6]

It is named for Richard Sopris, a former mayor of Denver and part of the first European expedition in the Roaring Fork Valley. In 2011 J.P. McDaniels petitioned to rename East Sopris "Mount John Denver" after the Colorado singer. A local poll in Aspen and Carbondale said 74 percent of the respondents were against the proposal.[7][8]

Mount Sopris dominates the skyline of Carbondale and the lower Roaring Fork Valley, serving as an unofficial symbol of the area. It is prominently visible from State Highway 82 in the vicinity of Carbondale. In terms of local relief, it is one of the largest peaks in the state of Colorado. For example, West Sopris rises 6,400 ft (1,905 m) above the valley to the west in only 2.7 mi (4 km). Mount Sopris is an inactive volcano, but the exact time frame is not well documented.[9] (One can compare this to the corresponding vertical rise of the more well-known Maroon Peak in the heart of the Elks: it rises only about 4,300 ft (1,310 m), at best, in the same horizontal distance.) In fact a vertical rise of over 6,000 feet in less than 3 miles is rare and impressive anywhere in the contiguous United States.[10]


The Mount Sopris Trail ascends to East Sopris via its east ridge. It starts near Dinkle Lake, on the northeast side of the mountain, and passes between the two Thomas Lakes just before reaching timberline. The ascent involves about 4,300 ft (1,300 m) of vertical gain (plus 600 ft/180 m for a round-trip to West Sopris, if desired) and 12 mi (20 km) of hiking (plus 1 mi/1.6 km for West Sopris); it is a strenuous trail hike, with some scree.


  1. ^ a b "W SOPRIS". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  2. ^ East Sopris is marked at the identical elevation on the topographic map.
  3. ^ "Mount Sopris, Colorado". Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  4. ^ West Sopris NAD 83 coordinates from the National Geodetic Survey
  5. ^ East Sopris on TopoQuest
  6. ^ The peaks are connected by a saddle at elevation of about 12,660 feet, giving them a relative prominence of just around 300 feet. Hence by the usual 300 foot prominence rule for Colorado summits, the two summits are on the borderline of being considered separate peaks.
  7. ^ Home About Sponsor (2011-07-24). "Mt. John Denver?". Retrieved 2011-08-09. 
  8. ^ "Speak out against Denver Peak proposal". 2011-08-02. Retrieved 2011-08-09. 
  9. ^ Inactive volcano, Colorado Geology.
  10. ^ Fred Beckey, Cascade Alpine Guide, The Mountaineers.

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