The Sawatch Range is a high and extensive mountain range in central Colorado located just west of Leadville, which includes eight of the twenty highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains, including Mount Elbert, at 14,440 feet elevation, the highest peak in the Rockies. The range forms a portion of the Continental Divide and in general the peaks are high, massive, and relatively gentle in contour. While some peaks are rugged enough to require technical climbing, most can be climbed by a simple, yet strenuous hike.
The range gets its name from the Native American word Sahwatch or Saguache which in the mid-1800’s appeared on several maps naming a lake, a river, a mountain pass and town in the vicinity of this range. The meaning of the name is “Water of the Blue Earth”. Hall’s History of Colorado says, “Saguache means blue earth or water of the blue earth, referred to springs where blue earth was found twenty miles from the town of Saguache.”
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