Mountain Treasures in Colorado




Arapaho Princess Treasure – Long ago, the Spaniards buried eight burro-loads of 50 lb gold bars somewhere in the stone cliffs above the Purgatory River about 5 miles east of Las Animas. It is said that the gold bars were buried about 300 feet away from a strange arrangement of rocks, one of which was in the shape of a doll and stood about 30 feet high. The burial site was near an early 1800s village in the foothills. However, before any of the gold could be spent or moved, the Spanish were killed and the treasure has never been recovered.

Chacuaco Canyon Treasure -In 1858, there was a wagon train traveling through the southeast part of Colorado, in what is now Las Animas County, which was carrying 1,500 pounds of gold Ingots. Suddenly, the wagon train was attacked by a group of outlaws and renegade Indians. At first, the wagon train prevailed, driving off the would-be thieves and, in an effort to elude their tormentors; the travelers detoured through Chacuaco Canyon.

However, the outlaw gang continued to pursue the wagon train with a vengeance. Three members of the wagon train quickly loaded the gold ingots onto six mules and led the loaded animals to a rock outcropping along a nearby creek. While the three were hiding the gold, the outlaws caught up with the wagon train and, furious, they slaughtered each and every member of the party.

Wagon train in winter by Nick Eggenhofer

Wagon train in winter by Nick Eggenhofer

While the massacre was taking place, the three men escaped to a Mexican nearby village. However, when they returned to retrieve the gold, they were killed by Ute Indians before ever reaching their destination.

To this day, the treasure has never been found.

Update! June, 2009 – From one of our readers, Legends of America has learned that though the facts of our tale are partially incorrect, the legend of the treasure is true. Doing his own research for a number of years, our reader has determined the “real story” and has located the vast majority of the treasure which included small gold bars with Spanish insignias.

Devil's Head Mountain, Colorado

Devil’s Head Mountain, Colorado

Devil’s Head Mountain -Devil’s Head Mountain, thirty miles north of Woodland Park, can be seen for 75 miles as it towers over the vast forest and scenic meadows. The area surrounding the landmark is filled with wild gulches, mysterious caves, and thick timber. In the late 1800s, the area was rife with outlaws, due to its many opportunistic hideouts. There are numerous tales of buried treasure in the Devil’s Head vicinity just waiting to be found. While you are there, you can enjoy the area’s multiple jeep roads, trails, and days of exploring. At the summit, is the last operating fire lookout tower along Colorado’s Front Range. The tower was built in 1912 with materials packed up the mountain by mules. The tower offers a magnificent 360-degree view of the surrounding Pike National Forest. The easiest way to get there is to go west from Sedalia on Rt 67, then south on Rampart Range Road, then ten miles to the Devil’s Head access road.

Butch Cassidy, 1893

Butch Cassidy, 1893

Irish Canyon -In the late 1800’s Irish Canyon was a popular hideout of outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, Matt Warner, Isom Dart, and many others as they spent time in the Browns Park vicinity in Moffat County. Supposedly, $30,000 in silver coins remains buried somewhere in the canyon.

While you are looking for the treasure, you can also enjoy many excellent trails, hiking, and mountain opportunities. You can also visit the Irish Canyon Rock Art Site, where you can see the Fremont rock art from an elevated platform.

Moffat County is in the extreme northwest part of Colorado. Irish Canyon is northwest of Maybell. From Maybell, take US-40 to Colorado 318. Turn northwest onto 318 and continue to Moffat County Road 10N, which runs through the canyon.

Round Mountain -Long ago, a party of four French Canadians were said to have been trapping on the Snake River near Round Mountain. However, the Canadians were discovered by American trappers who took their furs and traps and ran them off. The four traveled south into western Colorado and one of them found a gold nugget in the headwaters of the Gunnison River.

Here, they spent the next month successfully panning the gravel in the creek beds. Ute Indians discovered the Frenchmen and attacked them. In the running battle, which lasted several days, three Frenchmen were killed. The fourth managed to escape over Cochetopa Pass (just west of Saguache). Sensing that his pursuers were closing in, he buried the gold on Round Mountain with the hopes of later returning for it. The Indians caught and killed the lone French-Canadian near the summit of Poncha Pass. The treasure has never been found and the story endures hundreds of years later.

The Ten-Cent Treasure -Many years ago, a wagon train from the Denver mint, loaded with new dimes destined for Phoenix, Arizona disappeared somewhere between a Crawford ranch and Montrose. Four to six wooden kegs of new dimes were loaded on four separate wagons traveling as a group. Several years later, treasure hunters found the remains of four wagons at the rim of a canyon where a side wash fell off into the river ravine. Though they were able to gather several gallons of dimes along the Gunnison River near the north rim of Black Canyon, more treasure awaits the finding.


By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated February 2020.

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