22. Cuerno Verde Rest Area and Information Center

Cuerno Verde Rest Area

Mile marker 36.7, junction of Highway 165 and I-25

The name Cuerno Verde, or green Greenhorn, honors a Comanche chief of the 1700s. The Spanish named him for his green-tinted leather headdress that sported a single bison horn. The Comanche called him Dangerous Man. After the Spanish in Taos killed his father, Greenhorn swore revenge. His Jupe band raided and attacked Spanish settlements throughout Comanche territory.

To stop the raids, Spanish Governor Juan Bautista de Anza led an expedition against the Comanches. In August, 1779, 600 men left Santa Fe to be joined by 200 Utes. They traveled up the San Luis Valley at night to avoid the watchful eyes of Comanche scouts. They next proceeded over Poncha Pass, through South Park , down Ute Pass and past the site of present-day Colorado Springs. The force successfully attacked a Comanche camp south of Colorado Springs. Cuerno Verde was not in that camp, as he was returning from a raid on Taos. Later, near the base of Greenhorn Mountain, de Anza encountered Cuerno Verde and 50 warriors. Anza wrote, ”They drew almost within gunshot, firing off their own muskets. In this way was recognized from his Insignia and devices the famous chief Cuerno Verde, who, his spirit proud and superior to all his followers, left them and came ahead…”

Anza trapped Cuerno Verde in a gully where the chief made “a defense as brave as it was glorious.” The Spanish gunned down Cuerno Verde and his followers. It is rumored that Cuerno Verde’s headdress was sent to the pope. Later, Anza forged peace between the Spanish and the Comanche. Today, a mountain, creek, a valley and information center are named for the chief.