San Juan Mountains
|San Juan Mountains|
San Juan Mountains seen from the San Juan Skyway.
|Elevation||14,309 ft (4,361 m)|
|Parent range||Rocky Mountains|
The San Juan Mountains are a high and rugged mountain range in the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Colorado, and is the largest mountain range in Colorado by area. 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 Creede, Lake City, Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. Large scale mining has ended in the region, although independent prospectors still work claims throughout the range. The last large scale mines were the Sunnyside Mine near Silverton, which operated until late in the 20th century and the Idarado Mine on Red Mountain Pass that closed down in the 1970s. Famous old San Juan mines include the Camp Bird and Smuggler Union mines, both located between Telluride and Ouray.
The Summitville mine was the scene of a major environmental disaster in the 1990s when the 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, La Garita Caldera, is 35 miles (56 km) 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.
Tourism is now a major part of the regional economy, with the narrow gauge railway between Durango 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 Road. Visiting old ghost towns is popular, as is wilderness trekking and mountain climbing. Many of the old mining camps are now popular sites of summer homes. The San Juans are extremely steep and receive a lot of snow; only Telluride has made the transition to a major ski resort. Purgatory (now known as Durango Mountain Resort) is a small ski area north of Durango near the Tamarron Resort. There is also skiing on Wolf Creek Pass at the Wolf Creek ski area. Recently Silverton Mountain ski area has begun operation near Silverton.
The Rio Grande 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 River.
The San Juan Mountains also have the distinction of being the location of the highest airport with scheduled airline service in the U.S., being Telluride Airport at an elevation of 9,070 feet.
- 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.
|1||Uncompahgre Peak NGS||!B9916186265317 4365 m
|!B9928270920401 1304 m
|!B9881730670374 137 km
|2||Mount Wilson||!B9916234307223 4344 m
|!B9928880679064 1227 m
|!B9891179983724 53 km
|3||Mount Sneffels NGS||!B9916300547008 4315 m
|!B9931652025855 930 m
|!B9898606501237 25 km
|4||Mount Eolus||!B9916349666381 4294 m
|!B9934996446997 665 m
|!B9893914366960 40 km
|5||Handies Peak NGS||!B9916371708445 4285 m
|!B9936448268035 575 m
|!B9902018729631 18 km
|6||San Luis Peak NGS||!B9916397413597 4274 m
|!B9931447577062 949 m
|!B9893215548917 43 km
|7||Vermilion Peak PB||!B9916484555720 4237 m
|!B9935360287090 642 m
|!B9904112231923 15 km
|8||Rio Grande Pyramid NGS PB||!B9916537374884 4214 m
|!B9936592298459 567 m
|!B9902409603518 17 km
|9||Mount Oso||!B9916636912385 4173 m
|!B9937711202281 507 m
|!B9909163572810 8.8 km
|10||Tower Mountain PB||!B9916733752375 4132 m
|!B9937783567066 504 m
|!B9909381596363 8.6 km
|11||Sultan Mountain PB||!B9916870758592 4076 m
|!B9936554765389 569 m
|!B9910921169860 7.4 km
|12||Summit Peak NGS PB||!B9916920356204 4056 m
|!B9932651134964 841 m
|!B9889297743297 64 km
|13||Dolores Peak PB||!B9916928880446 4053 m
|!B9936125148036 594 m
|!B9910103062991 8.0 km
|14||Lavender Peak PB||!B9916966938340 4037 m
|!B9932295225513 872 m
|!B9894056178019 40 km
|15||Bennett Peak PB||!B9916994572359 4026 m
|!B9937247371625 531 m
|!B9897773317079 28 km
|16||Conejos Peak NGS PB||!B9917017093656 4017 m
|!B9936321936751 583 m
|!B9905181069375 13 km
|17||Twilight Peak||!B9917029309229 4012 m
|!B9934310488744 713 m
|!B9910304581145 7.9 km
|18||South River Peak PB||!B9917036056109 4009 m
|!B9933850733476 746 m
|!B9895272292541 35 km
|19||Peak 13,010 PB||!B9917141685367 3967 m
|!B9936981285563 546 m
|!B9903585267731 15 km
|20||Lone Cone PB||!B9917451850731 3846 m
|!B9934592442086 693 m
|!B9903861965225 15 km
|21||Graham Peak NGS PB||!B9917517063817 3821 m
|!B9933438584798 778 m
|!B9902720570199 17 km
|22||Elliott Mountain PB||!B9917670438885 3763 m
|!B9934738683103 683 m
|!B9909808201334 8.3 km
|23||Cornwall Mountain PB||!B9917715072660 3746 m
|!B9937241632269 532 m
|!B9909675908365 8.4 km
|24||Sawtooth Mountain NGS PB||!B9917827774100 3704 m
|!B9936243791057 587 m
|!B9897500898799 28 km
|25||Chalk Benchmark NGS PB||!B9917922438128 3669 m
|!B9936018028151 601 m
|!B9906343667436 12 km
|26||Little Cone NGS PB||!B9917964222630 3654 m
|!B9936700349175 561 m
|!B9908201188355 9.7 km
|27||Cochetopa Dome||!B9918699886783 3395 m
|!B9937138939038 537 m
|!B9907997099638 9.9 km
|28||Horse Mountain PB||!B9919825912775 3033 m
|!B9936453552143 575 m
|!B9899805087717 22 km
History of the area
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 Miguel, Ouray, and San Juan counties. The SJDMA refused to consider any reduction in hours or increase in wages, helping to provoke a bitter strike.
Acceleration of snowmelt by dust
Dust blown in from adjoining deserts sometimes accelerates snowmelt in the San Juans.
- Southern Rocky Mountains
- Sneffels Range
- Cimmaron Range
- Needle Mountains
- La Garita Mountains
- Cochetopa Hills
- La Plata Mountains
- Mountain ranges of Colorado
- 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
- Roughneck—The Life and Times of Big Bill Haywood, Peter Carlson, 1983, page 65.
- The Corpse On Boomerang Road, Telluride's War On Labor 1899-1908, MaryJoy Martin, 2004, page 201.
- "Dust Accelerates Snow Melt in San Juan Mountains". Earth Observatory NASA. July 4, 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to San Juan Mountains.|
- Rocky Mountains @ Peakbagger
- Photos from the San Juan Mountains