Fisher’s Peak, the highest of the Raton Mesas along the Colorado/New Mexico border, has for generations been the sentinel watching over the residents of the City of Trinidad. For centuries, travelers knew when they saw this iconic landmark, they had arrived or were leaving the colorful state of Colorado. Historical legend tells of a German artillery officer, Captain Waldemar Fisher, for whom the Peak was named, who commanded a battery in the Army of the West that camped at its foot in 1846. On their way to Santa Fe during the Mexican American War, Fisher had apparently unsuccessfully attempted to climb this massive mountain to gain his bearings along the Santa Fe Trail.
The Peak’s volcanic cliffs, formed by horizontal lava flows more than a million years ago, is surrounded by miles of creek corridors, and acres of forest, wetlands and grasslands. Local populations of elk, mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat and others are supported by the intact nature of the property. As a private ranch, the wildlife was managed through hunting and habitat improvement. Unfortunately, because it was privately owned, residents and visitors of the area could not access the very property the city identified with. That is soon to change.
After months of collaboration between The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, The City of Trinidad, GoCo Colorado and others, a plan that was in the works for several years culminated on Sept. 5, 2019, when Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order that will make Fisher’s Peak the 42nd and the second largest state park in Colorado. The 19,200-acre ranch will be open to outdoor adventure, but will be protected by a conservation easement to prevent future development and to protect its natural resources, addressing ecological priorities as well as outdoor recreation areas for camping, cycling, hiking, hunting and fishing. The hope is that the land will be open to the public in the fall of 2021.