Spanish Peaks

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Spanish Peaks
Spanish Peaks.JPG
Highest point
PeakWest Spanish Peak
Elevation13,631 ft (4,155 m)  NAVD 88 [1]
Prominence3,666 ft (1,117 m) [1]
Coordinates37°22′32″N 104°59′36″W / 37.375588°N 104.993396°W / 37.375588; -104.993396[1]
Area28 sq mi (73 km2)
Spanish Peaks is located in Colorado
Spanish Peaks
Map of Colorado
LocationHuerfano County, Colorado
Range coordinates37°23′N 104°57′W / 37.38°N 104.95°W / 37.38; -104.95Coordinates: 37°23′N 104°57′W / 37.38°N 104.95°W / 37.38; -104.95

The Spanish Peaks are a pair of prominent mountains located in southwestern Huerfano County, Colorado. The Ute Indians named them Huajatolla (/wɑːhɑːˈtɔɪə/ wah-hah-TOY) meaning "two breasts" or "breasts of the Earth".[2]

The two peaks, West Spanish Peak (13,626 ft [4,153 m]) and East Spanish Peak (12,683 ft [3,866 m]), are east of, and separate from, the Culebra Range of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. West Spanish Peak is the easternmost mountain over 13,000 ft (4,000 m) in the United States.

The Spanish Peaks were formed by two separate shallow (or hypabyssal) igneous intrusions during the Late-Oligocene epoch of the Paleogene Period.[3][4] West Spanish Peak is an older (24.59 +/- 0.13 Ma) quartz syenite. East Spanish Peak (23.36 +/- 0.18 Ma) is composed of a granodiorite porphyry surrounded by a more aerially-extensive exposure of granite porphyry. The granite porphyry represents the evolved upper portion of the magma chamber while the interior granodiorite porphyry is exposed by erosion at the summit.[5][6]

The Spanish Peaks were designated a National Natural Landmark in 1976 as one of the best known examples of igneous dikes.[7]

They were an important landmark on the Santa Fe Trail. The mountains can be seen as far north as Colorado Springs (102 miles [164 km]), as far west as Alamosa (85 miles [137 km]), points south to Raton, New Mexico (65 miles [105 km]), and points east of Trinidad (up to 30 miles [48 km]).

The Spanish Peaks Wilderness area of 17,855 acres (28 sq mi; 72 km2) encompasses the summits of both Spanish peaks. Hiking is popular in the wilderness area.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Spanish Peaks".
  2. ^ Evans, Frances P. (August 1958). "The Mystic Huajatolla". Trail and Timberline. Colorado Mountain Club: 103.
  3. ^ Chronic, Halka (1998). Roadside Geology of Colorado. Mountain Press Publishing Company. p. 36. ISBN 0-87842-105-X.
  4. ^ "Igneous Petrology of the Spanish Peaks". February 2012.
  5. ^ Penn, B. S. (1994). An Investigation of the temporal and geochemical characteristics and petrogenetic origins of the Spanish Peaks intrusive rocks of south-central Colorado (Thesis). Colorado School of Mines. p. 199.
  6. ^ Penn, B.S.; Lindsey, D.A. (2009). "40Ar/39Ar dates for the Spanish Peaks intrusions of south-central Colorado". Rocky Mountain Geology. 44 (1): 17–32. doi:10.2113/gsrocky.44.1.17.
  7. ^ "National Registry of Natural Landmarks" (PDF). National Park Service. June 2009.

External links[edit]