Soldierstone – Saguache, Colorado - Atlas Obscura
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Saguache, Colorado

Soldierstone

Hidden high on a remote mountain peak is a humbling and mysterious Vietnam war memorial. 

High above the small Rocky Mountain town of Saguache is a mysterious memorial devoted to the forgotten soldiers and civilians from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, France, Africa, and other nations who fought with America during the war in Vietnam. 

The Soldierstone memorial is a 10-foot granite monolith, inscribed with quotes in various languages and the words valor, courage, and sacrifice etched in large letters. The monolith is surrounded by a triangular half wall of dry-stacked stone, and beyond the wall lie a number of small, flat markers nearly hidden amid native grasses and wildflowers. Some of the smaller ground markers are engraved with sayings of the Montagnard — the indigenous mountain people of Vietnam’s highlands. Despite being located in a national forest on public land, the remote memorial has been kept almost secret for most of its existence.

Tucked away in a stand of trees, the memorial sits at an elevation of 11,425 feet just off the Colorado Trail on Sargents Mesa. It is surrounded by the vast expanse of the mesa, and views of nearby mountain ranges, in the heart of open-range cattle country. Because of the remoteness of the location—it’s accessed via small dirt roads and a hike through difficult terrain—it offers a peaceful and serene experience, and doesn’t receive many visitors.

This is as planned. The memorial was created by retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and Vietnam veteran Stuart Allen Beckley, working with a stonecutter. He devoted the final years of his life to the project, carefully scouting out the perfect spot in the Rio Grande National Forest near the Colorado Trail. His dream was to place it in the high Rockies, accessible to veterans and those affected by the war, but secret enough to shield it from vandals and protect the surrounding environment. 

Beckley finally received permission from the U.S. Forest Service, and the memorial was completed in 1995. Beckley passed away later that year, and though he was not able to attend the unveiling ceremony, he lived to see his dream of honoring those who lost their lives in Southeast Asia realized. 

Know Before You Go

From the town of Saguache: 26.3 mi - about 1 hour and 16 minutes. Head west on Denver Ave toward 8th St 72 ft2. Take the 1st right onto 8th St 180 ft3. Take the 1st left onto CO-114 W/Gunnison AveContinue to follow CO-114 W10.5 mi4. Slight right onto County Rd EE38 2.5 mi5. Turn left to stay on County Rd EE38 1.8 mi6. Turn right onto Ward Gulch Rd 2.1 mi7. Turn right onto County Rd 33JJ 8.3 mi8. Continue onto Forest Rd 855 1.0 mi. NOTE: experienced backpackers who wish to access Soldierstone from the Colorado Trail should plan for an overnight backpack (at minimum) and to filter water. The monument is a 14.9-mile trek (one-way) hiking southbound from Marshall Pass Trailhead in the San Isabel National Forest. This high-elevation leg of the CT hugs the Continental Divide, and has an elevation gain of 3,184 feet up, and a downhill elevation loss of 2,405 feet. The Colorado Trail Foundation, The Colorado Trail Guidebook and The Colorado Trail Databook are excellent sources of information to plan your trip.

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