Gone Outdoors

How Did Rocky Mountain National Park Get Its Name?

by Christina Martinez

Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses more than 415 square miles of Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Early inhabitants and explorers gave this mountain range its name more than two centuries ago.

First Reference

In 1716 the governor of York Factory, John Knight, wrote in his diary about the Rockies. According to spiralroad.com, Indians told Knight that to the west there were mountains so high, the tops of them were hard to see without clear weather.

Montaignes de Roche

The first time these mountains were referred to as "Rocky Mountains" was in 1753 in Legardeur St. Pierre's journal. In the journal, St. Pierre referred to the mountains as "Montaignes de Roche."

Cree Indians

The Cree Indians, who inhabited Canada, the Dakotas and Minnesota, also inhabited the prairies east of the Rocky Mountains. From the prairies, the Cree could see a large rocky mass, which they called "as-sin-wati." Translated, this means Rocky Mountains.

Rufus Sage

In 1843, mountain man Rufus Sage wrote about "lofty ledges" of rock that went through the clouds. This was the first account of the Rockies that reached easterners.

Becoming a National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park became a national park in 1915, when President Woodrow Wilson declared Rocky Mountain National Park the tenth national park in the United States.

About the Author

Christina Martinez has been writing professionally since 2007. She's been published in the California State University at Fullerton newspaper, "The Daily Titan." Her writing has also appeared in "Orange County's Best" magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and print journalism from California State University.

Photo Credits

  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Beverly