John Colter


John Colter

His Years in the Rockies

Burton Harris
Introduction by David Lavender

184 pages


March 1993


$14.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

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 1807-8 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, and 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."

This Bison Book edition includes a 1977 addendum by the author and a new introduction by David Lavender, who considers Colter's remarkable winter journey in the light of current scholarship. 

Author Bio

David Lavender is the author of Bent's Fort, One Man's West, Westward Vision: The Story of the Oregon Trail, and California: Land of New Beginnings, also available as Bison Books.


"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 [A] solid contribution which is not likely to be superseded in our time."—Journal of American History

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