Explorers and Mountain Men

The early 1800’s brought many adventurers to the Pikes Peak region.  But they weren’t brought here to see these magnificent rocks.  The leading attractions were “close but no banana.”

Pikes Peak beckoned as the “highest peake” and the bubbling waters of the mineral springs[Link back here when you do Mineral Springs] in nearby Manitou merited all the attention.

But in 1842, Mountain Man Rufus Sage happened onto this rocky paradise and adored it for it’s natural beauty.  He wrote in his book Rocky Mountain Life of the wildlife, the amazing climate of the area and the wildflowers that blanketed the ground.  The bestselling book made the area a bestseller as well.

Adventurer Rufus Sage

Jacob Spaulding and his cave

Shortly after, a trapper named Jacob Spaulding  happened onto the area on their way to California.  After not being able to find their way through the mountains, they wintered in the garden area. They barely kept from starving to death when heavy snow fell in November of 1848.


They survived the winter - but barely - by discovering a cavern inside North Gateway Formation.  Is that cavern still there?  Yes and no - check out more on the cavern HERE.

The Dutchman and the Utes

In 1850, a Dutchman from Iowa, seeking his fortune in gold, broke down and spent the winter in the garden area.  John Huiskamp camped with the Ute Indians that winter and, when spring came, he joined them up Ute Pass and into the South Park area. 

Back to History

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