The First People of the Cañon and the Pikes Peak Region
American Indian Territories
The first historic records concerning Colorado were written by the Spanish explorers. The boundaries are not exact but many tribes were known to spend time in Colorado. The mountains were considered Ute territory. The Ute People have no migration story and they know that they have lived here forever. Many different people from the 1500s to the late 1800s occupied the eastern plains. Spanish records document that the Comanche, Apache and the Kiowa lived on the plains before the Cheyenne and Arappaho made it their home.
Place Names Reflect History
Cheyenne Mountain is named after the Cheyenne Indian People. Cheyenne Mountain was noted as a good place to gather teepee poles. Cheyenne and Arapho people may have been attracted to the Cañons because waterfalls offer spiritual inspiration.
Almagre is a Spanish Name. The name Almagre (AL-MA-GREY) pays tribute to the original Spanish name for Pikes Peak. In 1779, Governor Don Juan Bautista de Anza of New Mexico first mapped "La Sierra Del Almagre." Almagre means red earth and is descriptive of the pink-colored rocks of these mountains. Our spelling of the word Cañon with the ñ is also a tribute to our early Spanish heritage.
Pikes Peak is named after Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike. Pike was sent west by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana Purchase. In November of 1806 he made an unsuccessful attempt to climb the mountain that now bears his name.
Ute Indian People called Pikes Peak by the name Tavakiev (Sun Mountain). Sun Mountain was a very spiritual part of the Southern Ute territory. It was honored because it is the first of all of the high peaks of Colorado to greet the morning sun.
The Park's Beginnings
In 1885, the citizens of Colorado Springs voted to purchase 640 acres in North Cheyenne Cañon from Colorado College to be used as a recreation area. In 1907, the city's founder, General William J. Palmer donated 480 acres in the upper Cañon, including Helen Hunt and Silver Cascade Falls, along with the "High Drive," that leads to Bear Creek Regional Park. Fred Chamberlain also donated land to the park.
Known for its stunning rock formations, waterfalls, evergreens and wildflowers, hiking paths, picnic grounds and bubbling Cheyenne Creek, North Cheyenne Cañon Park was dubbed by the Park Commission in 1909 as "by far the grandest and most popular of all the beautiful cañons near the city." In 1992, the Starsmore Discovery Center opened its doors to the public. The 1918 stone house was moved to the mouth of North Cheyenne Cañon and its transition to a visitor center was made possible with assistance and donations from the Starsmore family and Friends of Cheyenne Cañon. The Center features nature exhibits, a climbing wall and educational programs. North Cheyenne Cañon Park today remains a popular destination for hikers, picnickers, rock climbers and those who enjoy the view of rugged granite walls, towering pines, rushing waterfalls and the always captivating Cheyenne Creek.