All around Steamboat there is folklore about the mountains and the springs. One of the more famous stories, passed down from the Ute tribe, is the story of Sleeping Giant.
This story is based on the shape of Elk Mountain, as it looks like a person is asleep to the west of Steamboat.
The story goes like this:
Long ago there was a giant who lived among the people of the Yampa Valley. The giant was granted immortality as long as he did not harm anyone.
But an ogre came to the Yampa Valley to attack the people that lived there. The giant felt that it was his duty to protect the people he loved, so he enticed the ogre to go to Steamboat Lake, where the ogre fell into quicksand and died. The people were saved but the giant had broken his oath, so he was cursed to eternal rest. To protect his resting spot, all of the people of Yampa Valley surrounded him with rattlesnakes, so no one was able to disturb him. That’s why there are rattlesnakes at the base of Sleeping Giant today!
This is the story that I was taught while in elementary school in Steamboat, at least.
For a news story on the Sleeping Giant, click here.
For the full story, click here.