A movement to name Mount Sopris after the late John Denver has hit a snag.
The effort has gained momentum in recent weeks as thousands of people signed a petition to recognize the singer with the mountain near where he wrote his hit, “Rocky Mountain High.” Denver is a revered figure in Colorado — so much that it made “Rocky Mountain High” an official state song.
The peak was named after a man who led a prospecting expedition near the mountain. It’s also in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, which poses a problem for the proposal, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
The board’s executive secretary, Lou Yost, said renaming the peak could be forbidden under a federal wilderness law.
He said that based on the board’s interpretation of the Wilderness Act of 1964, applying any more new names to features in wilderness areas detracts from the wilderness experience. Exceptions could be made for safety or educational purposes, he added.
J.P. McDaniel, of Littleton, Colo., said she has received thousands of signatures supporting the plan and that she’s sending application documents to the board. Yost said he has yet to receive McDaniel’s proposal.
Denver, an Aspen resident, was killed in 1997 when the experimental aircraft he was piloting crashed into the ocean near Pacific Grove, Calif.
McDaniel said she wants the new name because it’s near the place he wrote “Rocky Mountain High.” It also overlooks nearly 1,000 acres of land that Denver donated to the public.