Follow Up


Will the Mount Evans Wilderness' name change in the wake of renaming to Mount Blue Sky?

Follow Up_Chicago Lakes in Mount Evans Wilderness
Posted at 1:38 PM, Oct 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-18 15:50:28-04

DENVER — A bill has been introduced in Congress to redesignate the name of the Mount Evans Wilderness to Mount Blue Sky Wilderness after its highest mountain was officially renamed to Mount Blue Sky about a month ago.

After Denver7 reported about the mountain's renaming, multiple people reached out to The Follow Up asking if the wilderness area would be renamed as well.

Follow Up_Chicago Lakes in Mount Evans Wilderness
Chicago Lakes in Mount Evans Wilderness, Sept. 8, 2019.

The bill that aims to do that — Senate Bill 3044, or the Mount Blue Sky Wilderness Act — was introduced by Sen. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennet, as well as Rep. Joe Neguse and Rep. Brittany Pettersen, on Monday.

It would change the reference in "a law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States," the bill reads.

Real Talk Ep. 8: Renaming Mt. Evans

The Mount Evans Wilderness is named after the second territorial governor of Colorado, John Evans. He authorized the murder of Native Americans in Colorado and was responsible for the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864, which left hundreds of Cheyenne and Arapaho men, women, and children dead, according to the Sand Creek Massacre Foundation.

The 14,265-foot mountain was also named after the early governor. The Clear Creek County Board of County Commissioners voted to rename the mountain in March 2022, which kickstarted the process to get the renaming proposal in front of the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board, which voted unanimously to recommend the renaming in November 2022, and to Gov. Jared Polis, who formally agreed with the renaming in March 2023. The U.S. Board of Geographic Names officially voted on the name on Sept. 15.

“Renaming Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky helped to honor and recognize the Tribes and advocates who worked hard to create change,” Hickenlooper said. “Now, renaming the wilderness area the peak overlooks is the logical next step — one we’re honored to spearhead.”

Mount Evans_Mount Blue Sky_Summit Lake_SButzer

State News

It's official: Mount Evans has a new name. Colorado, say hello to Mount Blue Sky

Óscar Contreras
3:13 PM, Sep 15, 2023

The name of the wilderness area didn't automatically change when Mount Evans changed to Mount Blue Sky because only Congress can authorize a change to a wilderness name.

The Mount Evans Wilderness was designated in 1980 and contains about 74,000 acres. It has about 84 miles of trails, including Hell's Hole Trail, South Chicago Creek Trail, Chicago Lakes Trail, Resthouse Meadows Trail, Captain Mountain Trail, Beaver Meadows Trail, Beartracks Lake Trail, Lost Creek Trail and Cub Creek Trail, among others.

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Hell's Hole trailhead | Sept. 27, 2021

The bill will be heard on Oct. 25 before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining.

“Tribes and local communities led the process to rename Mount Blue Sky — an important step to address the atrocities committed against the Cheyenne and Arapaho people,” Bennet said. “This legislation to rename the surrounding wilderness area is an important next step to reaffirm our commitment to Tribes and honor their legacy.”

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Governor Reggie Wassana said the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are looking forward to this renaming.

"We thank all the Colorado Congressional members for introducing the bill to help restore the wilderness area to a respectful and proper name,” Wassana said.

In addition, the Colorado Department of Transportation's website is currently referring to the road that leads drivers near the summit as the Mount Blue Sky Scenic Byway, though that name change is not official.

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