John Colter, His Years in the Rockies


“Because John Colter was the first white man to see the wonders which thousands nowadays visit each year in the Yellowstone, his story has historical importance of the first order.” –San Francisco Chronicle.

“The first full-blown account by one who is thoroughly familiar with the intricate geography of the country (that Colter) explored and who is capable of distinguishing between facts and guesswork…A solid contribution which is not likely to be superseded in our time.” – Journal of American History.


John Colter was a crack hunter with the Lewis and Clark expedition before striking out on his own as a mountain man and fur trader. A solitary journey in the winter of 1807-1808 took him into present day Wyoming. To unbelieving trappers he later reported sights that inspired the name of Colter’s Hell. It was a sulfurous place of hidden fires, smoking pits, an shooting water. And it was real. John Colter is known to history as probably the first white man to discover the region that now includes Yellowstone National Park. In a classic book, first published in 1952, Burton Harris weighs the facts and legends about a man who was dogged by misfortune and “robbed of the just rewards he had earned.”

ISBN – 978-0-8032-7264-4

180 Pages

University of Nebraska Press, 1952