Terrain and Topography

The camp is located on the Spanish Peaks 7.5 minute quadrangle map. The camp's elevations range from 8300ft. to about 9000ft. The general terrain is timbered and hilly with valleys extending out of the mountain. There are small streams in some of these valleys with various types of timbered forest surrounding them. These forests are very diverse, containing many types of trees and shrubs.

 

The area is also abundant with plants, wild flowers, and wild animals. Precautions must be taken for there are bears, raccoons, and other small scavenger animals in the area. A clean campsite utilizing bear bags, no food in the tents, and trash taken out of the campsite each day will help assure that there are no problems with the animals. They will walk through the campsite, but finding no food or smells of food, they will wonder off.

 

Many of the plants in the area have herbal uses according to local elderly people. The area is considered semi arid, but the camp usually gets afternoon showers throughout the summer. The temperature can vary greatly, and the thermometer has been known to drop into the mid 30's even in June, July, and August. The hiking and backpacking trails utilized by the camp of the areas mountains high as 13,600ft. There are also a few "Fourteeners" nearby (within 50 miles).

 

Spanish Peaks has an interesting historyand spectacular geology! The unique dikes formed thousands of years ago through the action of platonic folding. There are two places in the world where these types are formed.  Russia and our very own Spanish Peaks

 

 

 

Bears

 

There are no hard and fast rules to insure protection from a bear. Bear behavior differs under different conditions. The bears you may encounter while visiting the Forest are wild animals and they can be dangerous.

 

Here are a few tips designed to help you prevent bear trouble during your visit:

 

  • Bears have an excellent sense of smell and are attracted by food odors. Don't leave food where they can get to it. While car-camping, keep your food in your vehicle, preferably in the trunk, at night or when you are away from the campsite.

     

  • While camping in the wilderness or in the backcountry, hang your food pack in the trees when you leave your site and at night. As a rule of thumb, remember that if an average sized person can touch the suspended pack, so can a bear.

     

  • Don't let an island campsite lull you into a false sense of security. Bears are very good swimmers.

  • Keep a clean campsite. Burn all food scraps and left-over grease. Don't dispose of left-overs in the wilderness latrine. 

  • Bears will find them and destroy the latrine in the process.

     

  • If you should leave your campsite, tie your tent flaps open. Bears are naturally inquisitive and may want to tour your temporary home. If the tent is closed, they may make a new doorway.

     

  • NEVER store food in your tent. Bears will use their sense of smell and find any snack or candy bar you may try to hide.

     

  • If a bear does wander into your campsite, don't panic. They are usually easily frightened away by some loud noises. Try yelling or banging some pots together. NEVER feed or try to touch a bear. They may nip or cuff.

     

  • If a bear refuses to leave or becomes hostile, move to another campsite.

     

  • Researchers have found very little evidence of black bears attacking humans. However, in the unlikely event that you are confronted by a bear, remain calm and slowly back away. If the bear continues to advance, try to fight back as best you can. Often a series of blows over the nose will stop the bear. Researchers have also found that pepper spray (capsaicin - an irritant used by mail carriers to repel dogs) has been effective in repelling bears when it's sprayed into their eyes.

Bears are a natural part of the Forest. If you have the misfortune to have your camp raided by one, before you get mad at the bear, look around your camp and ask, "Did I invite it?".

 

 


THE SPANISH PEAKS 
A LEGENDARY HISTORY

 

     Las Cumbres Espanolas (The Spanish Peaks) in southeast Colorado have been among the most important landmarks of the Southwest, guiding Indians, Spanish, French and Settlers. TheUte, Apache, Comanche and earlier Indian tribes named the double mountains Wahatoya, or "Breasts of the World". They held them in religious awe as home of the Rain Gods and others, and the deposit of God's treasures. The ancient Aztecs of Mexico City believed the Peaks were a source of hidden gold.

 

     The first Europeans to view and explore the Spanish Peaks region traveled north from Santa Fe in 1706, 100 years before Zebulon Pike discovered Pike's Peak. After the 1803 Louisiana Purchase and Pike's exploration of the new territory, trappers and traders headed into the new territory. The Santa Fe Trail was established in 1821 and the Spanish Peaks were guideposts to early travelers to Santa Fe, Taos, and the west coast. One branch of the Santa Fe Trail, "The Taos Trail" passed north of the Spanish Peaks along the Huerfano River, up Oak Creek and over the Sangre de Cristo Pass to the San Luis Valley and south to Taos. The usual trail either cut off from Bent's Old Fort near LaJunta CO (Mountain Route), or through Southwest Kansas (Cimarron Crossing, or "the dry cutoff"), southwest toward Santa Fe (south of the Peaks). Explorers and mountain men like Kit Carson, John Freemont, John Gunnison, "Wild Bill" Hickock, Buffalo Jones, William Bent and Zane Grey were frequent travelers through the area.

 

     About 3 miles from Walsenburg up the winding Bear Creek Canyon Road enroute to camp, you pass the remains of "Cameron", an old coal mining town of the early 1900's (now a ghost town). All that remains are the concrete foundations of a town that once had 3,000 to 4,000 people. Most of the frame houses and buildings at the site were moved to Walsenburg when the coal mining ceased after about 15 to 20 years.

 

     About halfway to camp, 50 ft. off the road and hidden behind huge granite and sandstone boulders is an ancient Indian "Picto-graph", carved in rock in the shape of two pine trees, the only sign that perhaps Indians actually stayed overnight in this "Forbidden Valley". Further up the canyon you become aware of the phenomenon of hundreds of world famous "Dikes" formed millions of years ago by molten magma forced into underground rock crevices, and now exposed by erosion. Directly above the Scout Ranch, at the base of the "Cirque" is an old deserted miner's cabin, and nearby the opening of three mine shafts where a man and his son prospected for gold in the early 1930's. They were unsuccessful, but geologists say the quartz-granite rock of the Peaks indicates that gold could exist in the area. Scout "Assault Teams" make weekly excursions to the cabin and mines, and into the "Cirque".

 

     The "Cirque" provides another fascinating, mysterious view at certain times in early morning and late evening. The low sun in the morning shining across the edges of the "Cirque" cast shadows of the head of an Indian maiden, then turning to a Screaming Indian warrior as it rises. Then as the sun sets in the evening, it forms the head of a miner in the "Cirque". The visions last for only a minute or two but can be viewed and photographed by alert campers.

 

     When certain atmospheric conditions are present, strange cloud formations encircle the peak, appearing to be layers of pancake shape, sometimes four or five high. The Spanish Peaks area is truly a Legendary Land.

 

If you would like to know more about the history or the geology

of the Spanish Peaks - check out this website:

www.sangres.com/mountains/spanpks

 

 

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