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Mount Elbert: Highest Mountain in Colorado

Fast Facts About Mount Elbert


Mount Elbert, Colorado's highest mountain, is also the highest mountain in the Rocky Mountains.

A mountain climber passes a clump of columbines, the Colorado state flower, on the Mount Elbert Trail.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green Mount Elbert: Highest Mountain in Colorado

Mount Elbert, Colorado's highest peak, towers above the upper Arkansas River Valley.

Photograph copyright Stewart M. Green Martha Morris on Mount Elbert's summit.

A happy hiker enjoys the expansive views on the lofty summit of Mount Elbert.

Photograph copyright Stewart M. Green

Elevation: 14,440 feet (4,401.2 meters)
Prominence: 9,073 feet (2,765 meters)
Location: Sawatch Range, Colorado
Coordinates: 39°07′03.90″ N 106°26′43.29″ W
First Known Ascent: H. W. Stuckle (Hayden Survey), 1874


Fast Facts:

  • Mount Elbert is not only the highest mountain and highest Fourteener in Colorado but is also the highest mountain in the 3,000-mile-long Rocky Mountains, a mountain chain which stretches from Canada to Mexico. Mount Elbert is also the second highest peak in the contiguous lower 48 states after 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in California and is the fourth most prominent peak in the lower 48 states.
  • Mount Elbert is named for Samuel Hitt Elbert, the territorial governor of Colorado in 1873. Elbert came to Colorado in 1862 as secretary for Governor John Evans. He married Evans' daughter in 1865, then served in the territorial legislature before being appointed governor by President Ulysses S. Grant. Elbert served one controversial year before being replaced. He later served 20 years on the Colorado Supreme Court.
  • The first recorded ascent was by H.W. Struckle of the Hayden Survey in 1874.
  • Mount Elbert, long considered to be 14,433 feet above sea level, gained seven feet to 14,440 feet in an elevation survey conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1993.
  • Mount Elbert has been climbed not only by foot, but also by mule, horse, jeep, ATV, and even a helicopter, which briefly landed with a news photographer who deposited an evening edition of the Denver Post at the summit cairn.
  • During the 1970s a group of Mount Massive aficionados decided that Elbert's northern neighbor was more deserving of the honor of Colorado's highest peak. They repeatedly stacked rocks onto Massive's summit cairn in an attempt to surpass Mount Elbert. Elbert supporters would then climb the mountain and tear the cairn down. Eventually the supporters tired of the game and gave up the fight.
  • After the Colorado Avalanche hockey team won the Stanley Cup in 2001, Avs vice-president Mark Waggoner, an avid peak-bagger, toted the famed trophy to the top of Mount Elbert. "This is a dream come true," Waggoner told reporters on his cell phone after reaching the summit at 10:15 in the morning. "This is an exciting and proud moment for all of us. It's a beautiful, clear day. We can see for 100 miles."

For more information:

Leadville Ranger District, San Isabel National Forest
810 Front Street
Leadville, CO 80461
(719) 486-0749

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