Mount Sopris, Colorado
© Jason Hatfield/Tandem Stills + Motio
Rocky Mountain high. Mount Sopris, Colorado
The rising sun hits the twin peaks of Mount Sopris in this autumnal scene, in Colorado's Elk Mountains, in the Rockies. Known as East Sopris and West Sopris, the two summits are both 12,965 feet in elevation, towering over the town of Carbondale, in the Roaring Fork Valley. It's a common misconception that Mount Sopris was a volcano but, although magma built up beneath its surface, it never erupted. Instead, it crystallized about 10,000 feet beneath the Earth's surface, creating a massive rock-covered dome. Erosion by rain, melting snow and glacial ice then shaped it into this twin-peaked giant over tens of millions of years.
Mount Sopris was a hallowed site for Indigenous peoples, including the Ute tribes who have historically inhabited the region. The Roaring Fork and Crystal Valleys served as seasonal dwellings and hunting territories for the Parianuche and Yampa bands of the Ute people. The mountain continues to be a beloved emblem of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, drawing in visitors and adventurers alike.