National Register of Historic Places

Colter's Hell

West of Cody

Date Added to Register

Tuesday, August 14, 1973

Smithsonian Number


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Colter's Hell is an almost inactive geyser district occurring over approximately one square mile of terrain occupying and fanning out from the mouth of the Stinkingwater River Canyon. The geyser activity has been dwindling during historic times but there are several accounts of its appearance during a more active period. John Colter, explorer and fur trapper, provided verbal descriptions based upon his exploration of the area during his winter journey of 1807-1808. Another ''mountain man'', Joseph Meek, was in the area in 1830 and left a description of the place. Another description of Colter's Hell came through the remembrances of Chief Plenty Coups of the Crow nation about the Chief's childhood during the 1840s when his village camped above the banks of the Stinkingwater River and he and the other Crow children watched the geysers play. Colter's Hell is significant for its relationship to a man who figures prominently in the nation's history and legends, and as the first location within Wyoming to be subjected to recorded exploration by a white man.

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources