Explore the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument


This 53,804-acre site in Eagle County commemorates Camp Hale’s pivotal role in World War II as a training center for the 10th Mountain Division and recognizes the surrounding area’s ties to Colorado’s thriving ski industry.


  • Camp Hale National Monument preserves the history and wilderness where the 10th Mountain Division trained for alpine warfare in WWII.
  • Veterans of the 10th Mountain Division founded many of Colorado's iconic ski resorts after the war.
  • The monument will conserve the habitat, promote outdoor recreation, and engage with Tribal Nations.

The Creation of an Alpine Training Ground

Camp Hale was established in 1942 to prepare the 10th Mountain Division for the harsh conditions of mountain battlefields. Troops learned to survive and fight in freezing temperatures across rugged, snowy terrain as they trained in skiing, mountaineering, and winter warfare. This specialized preparation aimed to equip soldiers to take on German troops in the Apennine Mountains of northern Italy.

The challenging environment of Camp Hale, situated at an elevation of 9,200 feet, helped transform the 10th Mountain Division into an elite fighting force. However, the Ute Tribes originally inhabited these lands before relocation by the U.S. government in the 1800s. President Biden has prioritized collaborating with Tribal Nations in managing the monument to honor their connection to the area.

The story of the 10th Mountain Division is told in a film that can be viewed at the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail.

Founding the Ski Industry

After Camp Hale closed in 1965, veterans returned to Colorado to apply their alpine skills in civilian careers. These soldiers became instrumental in founding or managing over 60 ski resorts across the state, including Aspen, Vail, and Arapahoe Basin. Their expertise in teaching, marketing, and designing slopes and lifts transformed the state into an international ski destination.

The name “10th Mountain” lives on today in operations like the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association. This nonprofit manages 34 backcountry mountain huts allowing access to remote public lands for backcountry skiing and hiking. The legacy of the 10th Mountain Division is deeply interwoven with Colorado’s identity and prosperity as an outdoor recreation hub.

Conservation Through the Antiquities Act

In designating Camp Hale as a national monument in October 2022, President Biden invoked the Antiquities Act, which enables presidents to quickly protect federal lands of historic or scientific value. National monuments often later become national parks through congressional action. The Grand Canyon and Arches National Parks are two such examples.

Creating Camp Hale National Monument reflects the Biden administration’s commitment to conservation, especially of culturally significant sites. Other national monuments designated in Biden’s first term include Nevada’s Avi Kwa Ame and Texas’ Castner Range. Collectively, these preservation measures aim to safeguard key landscapes and heritage for future generations.

Outdoor Adventure Across the Seasons

Beyond commemorating the past, the Camp Hale National Monument designation opens new avenues for the public to explore and enjoy this Rocky Mountain haven. Summer offers miles of hiking and biking trails, including the Continental Divide Trail, dazzling wildflower displays, thrilling whitewater rafting, and serene camping under the stars.

As autumn’s glow fades, visitors can strap on snowshoes or cross-country skis to venture into snow-blanketed forests and meadows straight out of a winter wonderland. And, of course, the monument provides quick access to some of Colorado’s most iconic downhill skiing and snowboarding at resorts like Vail and Beaver Creek.

Promoting Environmental Education

Camp Hale also serves as an outdoor classroom for visitors of all ages and abilities to learn wilderness skills and conservation values. Organizations like the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Wilderness Education Association (WEA) lead backcountry courses in the region focused on environmental ethics and safety protocols for recreating sustainably.

Integrating such educational programming aims to inspire the next generation of public land stewards. From school field trips to family excursions, Camp Hale offers living history to engage all who wish to understand the monument’s cultural heritage and stunning natural diversity.

Looking to the Future

The designation of Camp Hale as a national monument marks only the first phase of plans to welcome visitors while preserving its rich ecology and history. Goals for enhancing the visitor experience include expanding roads and parking near trailheads and viewpoints, providing informative signage and exhibits, and improving access for visitors with disabilities.

At the same time, monument management will focus on habitat restoration projects to assist local wildlife populations and tribal consultations to ensure indigenous voices help guide decision-making. Ongoing community partnership and public involvement will remain vital for upholding Camp Hale as a shared legacy for all Americans.


How can I visit Camp Hale National Monument?

Camp Hale National Monument encompasses over 53,000 acres of the White River National Forest, an important wildlife habitat. Visitors can access the monument year-round via Hwy 24 near Leadville. Stop at the Forest Service Ranger Station for maps and permits.

What outdoor activities can I enjoy there?

Hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, bird watching, wildflower viewing, whitewater rafting, and more! The monument also provides quick access to downhill ski resorts.

How accessible is the monument?

Most recreational sites require moderate to strenuous physical exertion over steep, uneven terrain. Upcoming projects aim to improve accessibility with more paved roads, trails, and facilities.

Can I learn about the 10th Mountain Division’s history?

Yes! Interpretive exhibits highlighting Camp Hale’s military history are located along Highway 24. Check with the Forest Service about ranger-guided programs and self-guided history tours.

How can I help preserve Camp Hale?

Practice Leave No Trace ethics when visiting, participate in habitat restoration volunteering, make financial donations to the managing organizations, and provide public input on the management plan.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.