A panel will begin the renaming process for Mount Evans next week

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.

A renaming advisory board will on Tuesday begin a months-long process that could end in the renaming of Mount Evans, the state’s 14th tallest 14er that looms over metro Denver.

It’s part of a process to rename a dozen of the state’s mountains and waterways long considered offensive, controversial or both.

Other mountains that could see name changes include Kit Carson Mountain, Gore Range, and Pikes Peak. Smaller spots like Dead Mexican Gulch and Negro Creek, remote enough not to be widely known to the public, are also up for renaming.

Regardless of size, the same process, unique to Colorado, is used: members of the public can submit suggested changes, backed up with documents giving reasons. Then the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board meets to consider alternatives.

The October meeting will be the first of as many as four monthly meetings to reconsider the name of Clear Creek County’s Mount Evans, home to the highest paved road in North America with a peak at 14,264 feet.

It bears the name of John Evans, a 19th-century governor of the Colorado territory. He was found to have created the conditions that led to the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. In that raid, the US Army killed hundreds of Cheyenne and Arapahoe in Southeast Colorado.

Tim Mauck, deputy director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, envisions a process of renaming Mount Evans that will begin at an online meeting next Tuesday evening. Typically, he said those meetings are attended by the board, as well as members of the public and the media.

The process could potentially span from October until December or the beginning of next year, he said in an interview on Thursday. Over that time, during monthly meetings, first members of Northern Arapahoe, Southern Cheyenne and Arapahoe, and Northern Cheyenne tribal leaders and community members will give their input. 

At a subsequent meeting, the six people who have submitted alternative names for consideration will have as long as 15 minutes to make the case for their choice. Then, should things go according to his tentative plan, a later meeting or meetings would involve the public having the chance to weigh in and deliberate on some of the proposals. 

“There are six proposals as of today that we will eventually get into,” Mauck said on Thursday.

They are: Mount Evans (not for the governor, but for his daughter, said to be an advocate for Native American rights), Mount Blue Sky, Mount Cheyenne-Arapaho, Mount Rosalie, Mount Sisty, and Mount Soule.

The board’s work is strictly advisory. Any name changes will ultimately have to be approved by first Gov. Jared Polis, then on to the US Board of Geographic Names for final approval.

The dates for consideration for Kit Carson Mountain, as well as Pikes Peak and Gore Range, have not been set yet, according to Mauck.