Peak Nomenclature

Many peaks do not have names. They go by "Peak XXXX", where XXXX is the peak's elevation, as read from the topographic map. This becomes the peak's default name.

On some occasions, I will give a peak a name (for purposes of my website) if I feel there is justification to do so. These names are unofficial, of course. In the page's narrative, I will describe the peak and its usual other "names", so that confusion should be minimal.

I enjoy researching what I can and sometimes uncover an older reference to the peak or the range, and may use that name. Some names simply get lost in history.

I don't do this lightly. I don't name peaks after my cat or wife or favorite candy bar. Here are my guidelines:

  • Whenever possible, any historical name that may have been dropped due to lack of usage, is used herein, with a note about its history.
  • If the peak is the highpoint of a range, but has no name itself, it gets called "Yadda-yadda Range Highpoint", or sometimes just "Yadda-yadda Peak".
  • Any local names for the peak, even if unofficial, will be used here. Local names matter, and deserve wider recognition.
  • Other unofficial names will be used here if I sense the names were given thoughtfully. For example, Sage Gustafson Peak and Francis Rodgers Peak are named after summit shrines or plaques bearing these names, and were obviously done with thought.
  • If there is a significant landmark on or near the summit, then its name can be adapted for the peak. For example, Whiskey Spring Head, the (current) highpoint for the city of Phoenix, got its name from the nearby Whiskey Spring, whose font is on the north slope of the peak. This name was given to the peak by John Mitchler. See, I'm not the only one that does this.
  • If the peak lies near some place of historical significance, then that name can be adapted for the peak. I did this for Mormon Flat Peak.
  • Sometimes, the USGS will place a benchmark on a nearby sub-summit, leaving the summit unnamed (and unmarked). That name can be adapted for the summit. For example, see South KP Peak. The USGS does not always deliberately place benchmarks on the highest peak. They may choose a lower summit for practical needs.
  • If there is an abundance of places nearby all with the same (or similar) name, then that name can be adapted for the peak. See Santa Maria Peak.
  • If there is some implied naming scheme for peaks in the area, I will follow that scheme. For example, Sidewinder Trail Vista follows a scheme where the highpoint is named after the nearby trail, and High Mesa is named for a nearby stock tank, which seems to be a theme for the nearby hills.
  • Regarding Lidar: for peaks that go by a printed summit elevation figure, that number becomes the peak's de-facto name (barring any other better ideas). So if a map shows 4,534 on a summit, then that is now Peak 4534. Some of these peaks may actually have a different summit elevation if the refined 1-meter Lidar says so.
    • In cases where there is already a printed summit elevation on the map, I retain that for the peak's name, but note its "true" elevation in the metadata with an alert that it was determined by Lidar. See Peak 2073 as an example.
    • In cases where there is no summit elevation printed on the map, then I feel free to assign its Lidar-derived elevation as the peak's name. See Peak 6059 as an example.

I don't mind the "Peak XXXX" nomenclature, but it is uncreative and purely a placeholder name. I also don't expect all peaks will get names as there are just too many peaks. I don't expect my names will become official down the line and am always open to information of a previous unknown (to me) name.

I do get a little annoyed with the lack of creativity in the names, though, mainly the repeated use of such names as "Black", "Red", "Pine", "Granite", and so on. For example, accoring to Lists of John, there are 25 peaks named Granite (or some variation) in Arizona. There are nearly 100 peaks with "Red" in its name, including over 30 named "Red Hill". Often, these names are misleading, but all are just lazy.