When most people think of Colorado, they think of mountains, mountains, and more mountains. And to some extent, this is accurate. But a lot of people don’t realize that Colorado also has deserts, plains, and lots of sunshine. So, if you’re interested in the Rocky Mountain state, these are 25 fun facts about Colorado you might not know!
Colorado is the only state that lies entirely above 1,000 meters
At 4,401.2 meters (14,440 feet), Mount Elbert is the highest point in the Rocky Mountains
Roughly 70% of the population lives right up against the Front Range of the Rockies where the mountains run into the Great Plains. This is also where Denver, the capital and biggest city, is located.
Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado has the largest sand dunes in North America.
The 30 highest major summits of the Rocky Mountains all lie within Colorado
Because the state is relatively far south compared to other famous mountain ranges (like the Alps), the tree line is a lot higher. In southern Colorado you will find trees up to 3,700 meters (12,000 feet) and in northern Colorado the tree line is at roughly 3,200 meters (10,500 feet).
Due to rapid changes in elevation, Colorado covers a wide variety of climates in a relatively compact area. From desert valleys all the way up alpine tundras, the weather is strongly affected by the mountainous topography.
Colorado is the only state to have turned down the Olympics. In 1976, residents voted against hosting the Winter Olympics due to the cost and pollution that would result.
The highest paved road in North America is the road to the summit of Mount Evans at 4,346 meters (14,258 feet)
The name Colorado is derived from Spanish and means “colored red”, which refers to the silt carried by the Colorado River out of the mountains.
The 13th step of the state capitol building (in Denver) is exactly 1 mile above sea level.
Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the US at 3180 meters (10,430 feet)
Katherine Lee Bates was inspired to write the song “America the Beautiful” after seeing the view from Pikes Peak.
The San Juan Mountains in the southwestern portion of the state are some of the most rugged in the continental US (along with the Northern Cascades in Washington).
Colorado contains 75% of the land area in the continental United States that rises above 10,000 feet (3,048 meters)
Peaks that rise above 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) are referred to as fourteeners by locals. Colorado has 52 of them.
Royal Gorge Bridge is one of the highest suspension bridges in the world at 291 meters (955 feet).
Known as the Four Corners, the southwest edge of Colorado is the only point in the US where 4 states meet.
Colorado is nicknamed the Centennial State because it entered statehood on the 100th anniversary of US independence.
The lowest point in Colorado is at 1,011 meters (3,317 feet). This is higher than the highest points in 18 states.
Pikes Peak Cog Railway is one of the highest cog railways in the world.
Grand Mesa, in the eastern portion of the state, is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world at about 1,300 km2 (500 square miles)
Colorado has some of the best terrain for snowmobiling in the country and a lot of the most popular areas get more than 35 feet (11 meters) of snow per year.
Due to its high elevation, Colorado is home to some of the world’s most popular ski resorts. Also, the snow season can easily run for nearly the entire year.
In spite of being incredibly mountainous, Colorado boasts an average of 300 sunny days per year, a point of pride among natives.
Image Credits: 1. Public Domain, 2. Zach Dischner via Flickr CC BY 2.0, 3. Mike Riela via Flickr CC BY 2.0, 4. Skez on en.wikipedia via commons.wikipedia,org CC BY-SA 2.0 , 5. Donald Branum via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0, 6. robert thigpen via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0, 7. Larry Lamsa via Flickr CC BY 2.0, 8. Staplegunther at English Wikipedia via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY 3.0, 9. Bkthomson via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 3.0, 10-11. Public Domain, 12. Sandy Horvath-Dori via flickr CC BY 2.0, 13-14. Public Domain, 15. Knapp.keith via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 3.0, 16, Public Domain, 17. Jirka Matousek via Flickr CC BY 2.0, 18-21. Public Domain, 22. Great Sand Dunes National Park via Flickr CC BY 2.0, 23. Sheila Sund via Flickr CC BY 2.0, 24. Hogs555 via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 4.0, 25. Dhaval Shreyas via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0.