Arapaho Indians shared knowledge of Rocky Mountain National Park

In 1914, one of the most unusual events in Northern Colorado’s history was an invitation tendered to two Arapaho elders living on the Wind River Reservation by the Colorado Mountain Club. Gun Griswold and Sherman Sage were selected by Colorado Mountain Club during a trip to the reservation. It was believed that these individuals had lived in the Estes Park region before it was settled.

The purpose of the invitation was to have them take a two-week long pack trip through the mountains and to record what they could remember about the area, especially names and events. During their progress, they documented Arapaho names for local landmarks. The elders, interpreter Tom Crispin, host Oliver Toll and wrangler Shep Husted crossed the Continental Divide four times.

Oliver Toll kept a detailed journal of the trip and 48 years later, published his journal as “Arapaho Names and Trails.” The first edition came out in 1962 and the second improved edition was published in 2003. It links the past occupation of the area by Indians to the present.

They rode their horses into what would become Rocky Mountain National Park to a ranch in Upper Beaver Meadows. They climbed up over Trail Ridge down to Poudre Lakes and then up to the crater at Specimen Mountain. The party crossed the Continental Divide at Milner Pass.

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