The Legend of the Deadly Colorado Slide-Bolter

Photo Credit: stewmangroup (iStock).

While Bigfoot is seen frequently in Colorado (believe it or not, Colorado has one of the highest Bigfoot sighting rates around), another infamous Colorado creature is far more terrifying – the Slide-Bolter. Reported by mountain residents frequently throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, this beast was said to resemble a finless dolphin, with small eyes, a massive mouth, and hand-like hooks on the end of its tail flipper. Oh…and it was the size of an entire hillside.

The Legend of the Deadly Colorado Slide-Bolter

As you might imagine, finding an image of the Slide-Bolter is near impossible, so I drew this for you. Think you can do better? Sketch it up and send it to for a chance to have it included in this piece.

What made this beast problematic? It was reported to slide down steep slopes, gobbling up entire groups of people in one big gulp. Using the moveable hooks on its tail to fasten itself to a peak or cliff, the Slide-Bolter would eventually release, using its momentum to swoop through a space on a path of destruction before finding another steep hill to latch onto in preparation for another attack.

As legend has it, a park ranger responsible for maintaining a swath of land in the San Juan Mountains took it upon himself to foil this beast, planting a fake tourist filled with explosives in a valley beneath Lizard Head, a 13,119-foot summit. Like clockwork, the Slide-Bolter slid down the mountain, swallowing the trap before exploding. The blast was allegedly powerful enough to level a large portion of the surrounding area, including half of the town of Rico, and that was the end of the Slide-Bolter – or at least one of the Centennial State’s Slide-Bolters. The official head count of this creature remains unknown.

As one might suspect, debate about the legitimacy of the Slide-Bolter is quite one-sided with most blaming the legend on the destructive nature of landslides and avalanches being mythified. After all, aside from the tales passed down from yesteryear, there’s not much evidence that a Slide-Bolter exists – or that it ever has. It certainly defies logic. Considering that most of the reports came during a time which new residents were first discovering the treacherous nature of the Rocky Mountains, it’s probably safe to chalk this one up as an attempt to explain a natural phenomenon that was simply not yet understood.


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