A cotton candy sunset over Electric Peak

Electric Peak is the tallest mountain in the Gallatin Range and rises to 10,969 feet.

Electric Peak got its name during the first climb in 1872 by the United States Geological Survey. Members of the Hayden Survey led by Henry Gannett experienced electrical discharges from their hands and hair after a lightning strike on the summit.

The best way to see Electric Peak is by hiking its trail, which is a 20.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail. It’s not an easy hike. If you are an experienced hiker, you could do it in a day, but for most folks, plan on a 2 or 3 day hiking and camping adventure.

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Thomas Moran - Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone - 1872

oil on canvas mounted on aluminium, 213 × 266.3 cm (83.9 × 104.8 in)

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., United States

Thomas Moran’s vision of the Western landscape was critical to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. In 1871 Dr. Ferdinand Hayden, director of the United States Geological Survey, invited Moran, at the request of American financier Jay Cooke, to join Hayden and his expedition team into the unknown Yellowstone region. Hayden was just about to embark on his arduous journey when he received a letter from Cooke presenting Moran as “an artist of Philadelphia of rare genius”. Funded by Cooke (the director of the Northern Pacific Railroad), and Scribner’s Monthly, a new illustrated magazine, Moran agreed to join the survey team of the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871 in their exploration of the Yellowstone region. During forty days in the wilderness area, Moran visually documented over 30 different sites and produced a diary of the expedition’s progress and daily activities. His sketches, along with photographs produced by survey member William Henry Jackson, captured the nation’s attention and helped inspire Congress to establish the Yellowstone region as the first national park in 1872. Moran’s paintings along with Jackson’s photographs revealed the scale and splendor of the beautiful Yellowstone region more than written or oral descriptions, persuading President Grant and the US Congress that Yellowstone was to be preserved. Moran’s impact on Yellowstone was great, but Yellowstone had a significant influence on the artist, too. His first national recognition as an artist, as well as his first large financial success resulted from his connection with Yellowstone. He even adopted a new signature: T-Y-M, Thomas “Yellowstone” Moran. Just one year after his introduction to the area, Moran captured the imagination of the American public with his first enormous painting of a far-western natural wonder, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which the government purchased in 1872 for $10,000. For the next two decades, he published his work in various periodicals and created hundreds of large paintings. Several of these, including two versions of The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1893–1901 and 1872) and Chasm of the Colorado (1873–74) are now on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


1 | A High Country Lodge

2 | Park Scene Quintessential 

3 | Iceberg Lake from Trail Ridge Road

4 | Sheer Peaks Rise above Dream Lake 


Maj. Stephen H. Long, commanding an exploring party sent out by President Madison in 1819, first sighted Longs Peak. Park area frequented by Arapaho and Ute Indians.


Rufus B. Sage, another explorer, visited the area and later published earliest known description in “Rocky Mountain Life, or Startling Scenes and Perilous Adventures in the Far West During an Expedition of Three Years.”


Joel Estes, the first white settler, entered the park and in 1860 built the first cabin.


Charles F. Estes, first white child born in the park.


First ascent of Longs Peak. The climb was made by William N. Byers, Maj. J.W. Powell, and five other men.


Rocky Mountain Jim, adventurer and frontiersman, settled in area.


Earl of Dunraven, famous English sportsman, first visited this area.


The Hayden Geographical Survey, under Dr. E.V. Hayden, worked in this region.


First stage established between Longmont and Estes Park.


Albert Bierstadt, famous artist, first visited the region.


First wedding in the park: Anna Ferguson and Richard Hubbell.


First hotel built by Earl of Dunraven.


First public school established and held in Elkhorn Lodge.


The Denver, Utah & Pacific Railroad built to Lyons and projected to Pacific Ocean through Fall River and Milner Passes by Milner, chief engineer for the company.


Bear Lake fire.


Big Thompson Canyon road completed.


Automobile stage line established between Estes Park and Loveland.


Automobile stage line established between Estes Park and Lyons.


Fall River road begun. Completed in 1920.


Rocky Mountain National Park Act approved January 26.


Bear Lake road completed.


State of Colorado ceded exclusive jurisdiction to Federal Government.


Never Summer Range area added to the park.


Trail Ridge road opened.