Mount Evans may be renamed ‘Mount Blue Sky’ under state proposal

Colorado State Highway 5, which leads to the summit of Mt. Evans. July 6, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Colorado State Highway 5, which leads to the summit of Mt. Evans. July 6, 2021.

The years-long push to rename Mount Evans may be nearing its conclusion, as Clear Creek County commissioners have recommended a new name to submit for state and federal review. 

Advocates have denounced the mountain’s current name as a reminder of the murder and displacement of Native American tribes in Colorado under territorial governor John Evans, who oversaw the Sand Creek Massacre. In 2020, as Black Lives Matters protests helped fuel a renewed attention on racist symbols within the state, Gov. Jared Polis formed an advisory board that would review and recommend changes to geographic landmarks. Mount Evans was one of the names members of the board identified as having a problematic history. 

The new name for the famous 14er would be Mount Blue Sky, if approved by higher authorities. The proposed name comes from the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.

“We propose to rename Mt. Evans as Mt. Blue Sky as it signifies the Arapaho, [who were known as] the Blue Sky People, and the Cheyenne, who have an annual ceremony of renewal of life called Blue Sky,” a group of Indigenous people said in their proposal. 

Clear Creek County officials have been soliciting feedback from the community for the last several weeks and weighed several options before agreeing on Mount Blue Sky. 

“Blue Sky is a name that can contribute to the healing and be a unifying name for all of the stakeholders,” Commissioner George Marlin said at a meeting Wednesday. 

The name proposal has to survive several regulatory steps in order to be finalized. First, the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory board has to approve it and send it to Gov. Polis for consideration. If Polis approves, the United State Board of Geographic Names will then make a final decision. While these parties will keep the county’s recommendation in mind, it will also consider four other names for the mountain.

Several geographic landmarks have already been renamed since the state board was formed two years ago, and more continue to be reviewed. Earlier this year, the Department of the Interior proposed new names for 28 Colorado landmarks with an Indigenous slur in their names.