Mount Blue Sky

Colorado's Most Loved 14er + Scenic and Historic Byway

“I am proud to join Senators Hickenlooper and Bennet in introducing this critical bill to rename this important wilderness area as the Mount Blue Sky Wilderness, taking another step forward in our work to honor the histories of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. The Mount Blue Sky Wilderness Act is a reflection of our dedication to remembrance, honor, and healing,” – Congressman Joe Neguse.

Scenic Views from Mount Blue Sky

Mount Blue Sky (formerly Mount Evans) is the highest peak in the Mount Evans Wilderness in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America at 14,265′.

Beginning in 2017 there have been several efforts initiated to begin the renaming of ‘the highest paved road in the Northern Hemisphere’ as well as the mountain itself.

Mount Blue Sky

March 15, 2022 the Clear Creek County Board of County Commissioners approved the proposal from the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma to rename Mount Evans to become Mount Blue Sky.  That recommendation was passed on to the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board, Governor Jared Polis, and the United States Board on Geographic Names.

November 17, 2022 the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board approved the recommendation to rename Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky. The recommendation was then submitted to Colorado Governor Jared Polis for approval.

February 28, 2023 Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis approved the recommendation of Mount Blue Sky and the suggested name was submitted to the United States Board of Geographic Names who has the authority to permanently change the prominent landmark’s name.

September 15, 2023 the United States Department of the Interior announced the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) voted on the final replacement name for Mount Evans in Colorado. The 25-member Domestic Names Committee (DNC) voted to change the name to Mount Blue Sky for Federal use after two nation-to-nation consultations and several years of consideration by state, county, local and Tribal governments.

October 17, 2023 the Wilderness Area name change request has been submitted as only Congress can authorize a change to the wilderness area name.

November 1, 2023 the Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways Commission approved the Mount Blue Sky Scenic and Historic Byway name change.


Why is this important?

A primary purpose of renaming is to acknowledge omissions and inaccuracies in the way our society has communicated history, and to expand our telling of the history to add pre-colonial indigenous civilization. The Tribes who have worked on the renaming the mountain have universally expressed that without educating the public on the historical reasons for the name changes, renaming itself is of little value.

Changing the name of the mountain, wilderness area, and scenic and historic byway is taking necessary steps in transitioning from an era of colonial appropriation and settlement and exposing the actions of Governor John Evans during the gold rush era, to understanding the colonial and indigenous history of Colorado’s Sand Creek Massacre in 1864, genocidal policy, and resettlement of indigenous inhabitants.

The indigenous historical interpretive work of this project is being led by indigenous participants such as the Southern Cheyenne & Arapaho; Northern Cheyenne; Northern Arapaho; Southern Ute; Ute Mountain Ute; Northern Ute; and other tribes. Collectively the tribes and affiliated stakeholders such as the Colorado Department of Transportation; Clear Creek County Government; United States Forest Service; Jefferson County Government; The Wilderness Society; Denver Mountain Parks; Colorado Division of Natural Resources; Great Outdoors Colorado; Colorado Historical Society; Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs; Clear Creek County Tourism Bureau; Idaho Springs Historical Society; and other private and public entities continue to work together to ensure historical and cultural accuracy.

“Mount Blue Sky is more than just a name—it is a way to honor the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples whose ancestors were the victims of the Sand Creek Massacre…” – U.S. Representative Brittany Pettersen

Summit Lake park from the Summit of Mount Blue Sky

The Wilderness Area

“The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are excited about the introduction of the name change of Mt. Evans Wilderness Area. We thank all the Colorado Congressional members for introducing the bill to help restore the wilderness area to a respectful and proper name,” – Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Governor Reggie Wassana.

The proposed new name recognizes the Cheyenne people, whose annual ceremony of renewal of life is called Blue Sky, and the Arapaho people, who are also known as the Blue Sky People. It is also an honor to the Ute Indian Tribes, on whose ancestral land the mountain also exists, and who like all Colorado indigenous tribes were largely deprived of their rights to exist throughout their homelands by Governor Evans genocidal Proclamations of 1864.

Clear Creek County is the gateway to the Rocky Mountains. Located just west of Denver along Interstate 70, Clear Creek has 396 square miles of public lands to explore, as well as four mountain peaks above 14,000 feet. Clear Creek is comprised of charming mountains towns Idaho Springs, Downieville, Lawson, Empire, Georgetown, and Silver Plume, which are all along the I-70 corridor. Learn more about Clear Creek County here.

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