Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument

Designated on Oct 12, 2022 to protect its important prehistoric, historic, natural and recreational values

President Biden used his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish the 53,804-acre Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument on National Forest System lands in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, preserving the area’s important historic, prehistoric, natural and recreational values.

The national monument designation builds on years of efforts from the descendants of the 10th Mountain Division, Colorado veterans, federal, state and local elected officials, many surrounding communities, conservation and outdoor recreation advocates, and local business owners, to recognize and preserve this area.

Monument highlights include:

U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division

  • Old military photo.The peaks and valleys within this monument forged the elite soldiers of the famed 10th Mountain Division—the Army’s first and only mountain infantry division. The 10th Mountain Division helped free Europe from the grip of Nazi control in World War II.
  • At its height, Camp Hale sprawled across nearly 1,500 acres and contained 1,000 buildings, including 245 barracks that could house more than 15,000 soldiers as well as parade grounds, recreation areas, gunnery ranges, a combat range, ski hills, stockade, motor pool, railyards, and an extensive road and bridge network.
  • The 10th Mountain Division soldiers trained in mountain warfare techniques including mountain climbing, alpine and Nordic skiing, cold-weather survival as well as various weapons and ordnance deployment. The 10th Mountain Division deployed three army regiments during World War II, including to the Battle of Riva Ridge in the northern Italian Apennine Mountains which involved a daring assault that required soldiers to scale a 1,500-foot cliff, during the dark of night, and defeat five elite German divisions in the final months of the war.
  • Camp Hale and its surroundings in the Tenmile Range were used to train the 10th Mountain Division, the 38th Regimental Combat Team, the 99th Infantry Battalion and others in mountain and winter warfare. In the late 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency trained various special mission teams at Camp Hale, including nearly 170 Tibetans for operations in China against the communist government. 

The Roots of the Ski Industry

  • Monument designation is pivotal to preserving the story of 10th Mountain Division veterans who, after their return from World War II, applied their experiences and skills learned in the Camp Hale and Tenmile Range area to establish America’s skiing industry.
  • Veterans of the 10th Mountain Division founded or managed more than 60 ski resorts upon their return from deployment, some in the same mountains where they had trained.
  • Other veterans from Camp Hale would go on to become trailblazers in conservation and outdoor education and recreation; David Brower was the first executive director of the Sierra Club; Paul Petzoldt founded the National Outdoor Leadership School; and Fritz Benedict founded the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association, which manages a network of 30 mountain huts for backcountry skiers, mountain bikers, and hikers, including three in the continental divide area of Camp Hale and Tenmile Range.
  • By the early 1900s several mines began shipping gold, silver, lead, and copper ore from the region. Perched on the side of Mt. Royal at an elevation of 9,600 feet the Masontown mining site once included a mill, numerous mine shafts, and a boarding house and homes to accommodate several hundred workers. Today, visitors to the area will observe remnants of the mill site, including bricks from foundations along with miscellaneous containers and pieces of metal equipment, along the Masontown Trail in the northern end of the Tenmile area.

Sacred Lands to Sovereign Tribal Nations

  • The Camp Hale and Tenmile Range area is rich in ancient human history, bearing the marks of centuries of habitation by Indigenous peoples.
  • For thousands of years, the Ute people traveled to the Pando Valley when winter snows melted as part of an annual migration circuit to hunt game and collect medicinal plants. The area also served as an important transportation corridor for those traveling to sacred hot springs in Glenwood Springs, and the traditional Ute trail lies under the road that runs along the Eagle River today.
  • Forced from much of their homelands when precious minerals were discovered, their history serves as a stark reminder that the United States’ commitment to its highest ideals of democracy, liberty, and equality has too often been imperfect, particularly for Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples.
  • The Camp Hale and Tenmile Range area remains culturally important to the Ute people, who return to their homelands to pray, hold ceremonies, honor their ancestors, and hunt, fish, and harvest plants for medicinal purposes, ceremonial use and basketry.

World Class Outdoor Recreation Opportunities

  • Upclose of skier.The area is well known for its outstanding winter recreation opportunities, including backcountry skiing and snowmobiling.
  • The Tenmile Range includes the part of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, which includes ten peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation, and Quandary Peak which at 14,265 feet, is one of Colorado’s iconic and most visited “Fourteeners.”
  • Other popular recreation activities include hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, hunting and fishing.

Unique Geology, Alpine Ecosystems and Rare Plants and Wildlife

  • The monument’s high peaks and alpine valleys contain rare and fragile alpine tundra ecosystems that include species that are uniquely adapted to high altitudes such as the ice grass, found only in ephemeral pools caused by snowmelt among boulders and high-altitude lakes.
  • The area provides vital  habitat corridors for the federally listed Canada lynx and is home for the boreal toad, Colorado’s only alpine species of toad and a Forest Service sensitive species.
  • Spruce and McCullough Creeks hold populations of green lineage Colorado River cutthroat trout, also a Forest Service sensitive species.
  • The area also provides habitat for mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, bald eagle, white-tailed ptarmigan, hoary bat, olive-sided flycatcher, Pacific marten, pygmy shrew, boreal owl, and northern goshawk, and many species of birds.
  • Waterfalls descend the slopes, including Continental Falls, Mohawk Basin Falls, and McCullough Gulch Falls. There are also several unique geological features including the Spruce Creek rock glacier, and a geologically significant formation that provides a rare, three-dimensional look at the internal geometry of ancient exposed Pennsylvanian algal mounds as well as unusual gravity-driven tectonics.    


Other Forest Service-managed national monuments: