Western Wild

Dave Showalter's Conservation Photography Weblog

Colorado Mountains, From The Vault

Sangre Skyline

March 27, 2014 | 4 Comments

crestone needle, crestone peak

Crestones Panorama : Prints Available

A little digging led me to this panorama of the high Sangre De Cristo Range. I’m not sure what took me so long, it’s what my friend Todd Caudle calls a “hard drive treasure hunt.” The cool thing for me is the memory of climbing Humboldt, a pretty “easy” 14er, with friends in the dark, then watching a gold sunrise followed by an amazing cloud show. It was of our most memorable days in the mountains, anywhere. The Sangre De Cristos hold a special attraction, blocks of stone that you can see from many viewpoints in the valley far below, but you have to earn each summit. It feels special and rare to stand on one of these majestic peaks. When you click on the image, be sure to click on the larger view option below the photo to see it bigger. With mountains, bigger is better.


Just for fun, this black and white image was made with on a commercial flight while flying from Albuquerque to Denver, a really great route for mountain viewing and naming. It’s an interesting reverse view of the panorama from the San Luis Valley side. Maybe it’s the aerial perspective, but the way the foothills point straight up to the mountain tops, with each 14er and associated foothills separated by a major drainage seems quite different from other Colorado Ranges.


  • Very nice, Dave! I love the rugged geometry of that second shot. I’ve taken that ABQ-Denver flight too, and also remarked on the great views. It seems like many Coloradans underrate the Sangres a bit, especially in comparison to the San Juans and Elks, but they’re an amazing range, one I really wish I’d spent more time in.

    • Thanks Jackson! I love those other ranges too, and think the Sangres get overlooked because they don’t have so many alpine lakes for camping and lack loop hiking options. But what’s wrong with an out and back? I did a quick search about the geology of the range and now realize those aren’t foothills, just one large mass of rock. This is from that great geologic information source, Wikipedia:
      The Sangre de Cristos are fault-block mountains similar to the Teton Range in Wyoming and the Wasatch Range in Utah. There are major fault lines running along both the east and west sides of the range and, in places, cutting through the range. Like all fault block mountain ranges the Sangre de Cristo’s lack foothills which means the highest peaks rise abruptly from the valleys to the east and west, rising around 7,000 feet in only a few miles in some places. The mountains were pushed up around 5 million years ago, basically as one large mass of rock. The Sangre de Cristo range is still being uplifted today as faults in the area remain active.

  • Such a small percentage of people will ever experience the view you guys are having. Just like Jackson the view from the air is pretty awesome. Love that second image!

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