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Colorado - the state of the century in the Rocky Mountains

Endless prairies, majestic mountains, rushing rivers and deserts. Dinosaur fossils, Indian art, ancient rock dwellings, narrow-gauge railways, perfect ski slopes and numerous natural wonders. This is Colorado. The state in the western to central part of the USA where adventure dreams come true.

Table of Contents
Colorado in numbers, data and facts | Geographical location and extent | Hotels, Apartments and Vacation Rentals | Warm hot summers and cold snowy winters | Population of Colorado | The 10 Biggest Cities of Colorado | Colorado for tourists | Tickets for attractions and activities | Economy and Infrastructure | Colorado Politics | A trip into the history of the state

Aurora | Colorado Springs | Denver | Routes to Indian Summer | Ski areas

Colorado is part of the Mountain States and the highest state in the United States with a mean altitude of 2,073 meters. The state, which is traversed by the Rocky Mountains, is also called the State of the Century because it emerged from the Colorado Territory exactly one hundred years after the Declaration of Independence in 1876.

The state owes its name with its breathtaking natural beauties to the Colorado River, which carries reddish ("colorado") mud with it.

Colorado in numbers, data and facts

  • surface: 269,601 km2
  • Residents: 5.607.154 (2017)
  • Member of the USA since: August 1, 1876
  • Time zone: UTC-7 MST
  • Highest elevation: Mount Elbert (4401 meters)
  • Deepest point: Arikaree River (1021 meters)
  • Average height: 2073 meters
  • Capital: Denver
  • State motto: Nile sine numine


Geographical location and extent

Colorado is located in the western part of the USA and is enclosed by a total of seven states. While the state borders in the north on Wyoming and in the east on Nebraska and Kansas, in the south lies the border with New Mexico. Colorado is only separated from Texas by the relatively small strip of land of the Oklahoma Panhandle and after all, there is no real common border with Arizona at all. The two states only meet at the southwestern corner of Colorado.

Colorado is one of the three states in the United States that does not have a natural state border. Instead, its extent was determined almost exclusively along lines of longitude and latitude. The state is roughly rectangular and ranges roughly from 37 ° N to 41 ° N and 102 ° W to 109 ° W.

Colorado is one of the four-corner states of the USA

Together with New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, the century state belongs to the "Four Corners", the four-corner states of the USA. This constellation is unique and marked with a special monument.

Colorado is crossed by the southern Rocky Mountains in the center and in the west. The most important mountain ranges in the state are the San Juan Mountains in the southwest, the Sawatch Range in the center, the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and the Front and Sangre de Christo Range. These wide mountain ranges also created some valley basins in the state. The Colorado Plateau is west of the Rockies.

In addition, the continental divide runs through the century-old state in which with the Colorado River, the Arkansas River and the Rio Grande three of the most important rivers in North America, each with a length of over 2,000 kilometers, have their headwaters. Colorado has a total of 2,183 natural lakes, many of which are in and around Rocky Mountain National Park. The largest natural lake in the century state is the Grand Lake.

The Rocky Mountains

Anyone talking about Colorado must also be talking about the Rocky Mountains, which are located in Canada and the United States. The southern Rocky Mountains run through the state in the center and in the west. Among other things is the highest mountain of the Rocky Mountains in the century state. The mountain range is a popular travel destination for campers, hikers, nature lovers and mountaineers.

The great plains

The Great Plains are a vast steppe landscape that runs through the center of the United States. They begin east of the Rockies and are known as the High Plains within the century state. At 1,021 meters, they form the lowest point in Colorado on the border with Kansas.

Hotels, apartments and holiday homes

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Warm hot summers and cold snowy winters

Colorado has a continental climate with warm, sometimes hot summers and cold, snowy winters. Those who visit the state can look forward to 300 days of sunshine a year. The annual rainfall is around 400 to 500 millimeters per year. The temperature differences between day and night are extreme. Especially in summer it is often very hot and dry during the day, but it gets very cold at night.

Population of Colorado

In 2017, the estimated population of Colorado was 5,607,151 people. That is a few more than in the 2010 Census, when only 5,029,196 inhabitants were counted. Population growth in Colorado is above average, particularly in the Douglas and El Paso counties, which are south of Denver.

The majority of the population are whites (81.3 percent), followed by blacks or African-Americans with 4 percent, Asian Americans with 2.8 percent and Indians with 1.1 percent. 7.2 percent of the population fall under Other and 20.7 percent describe themselves as Hispanics.

In addition, people with German roots in Colorado make up the largest group at 22 percent. Mexican ancestors make up 18 percent of the population, while people of Irish and English roots make up 12 percent of the population. The official language in the century-old state is English, but a lot of Spanish is spoken, especially in the south.

64% of the people living in the state of the century belong to a Christian church. Most of them are Protestants. Roman Catholic residents account for 16 percent, and Mormons account for 2 percent in Colorado. The non-Christian faiths make up 5 percent. According to the Pew Research Center, 29% of Colorado residents are non-religious.

Most major cities are located along a north-south line in the state. In the west there are almost only small towns.

The 10 largest cities of Colorado

  1. Denver (600,158)
  2. Colorado Springs (416,427)
  3. Aurora (325,078)
  4. Fort Collins (143,986)
  5. Lakewood (142,980)
  6. Thornton (118,772)
  7. Pueblo (106,595)
  8. Arvada (106,433)
  9. Westminster (106,114)
  10. Centennial (100,377)

Figures according to the 2010 census.

Colorado for tourists

Colorado has numerous attractions to offer its visitors that will make the hearts beat faster. If you want, you can walk in the footsteps of the gigantic dinosaurs in the state of the century, visit hot springs, explore the state with the nostalgic train, experience historical places, ghost towns, casinos and amusement parks, ski and immerse yourself in the unique nature of the state.

On the trail of the dinosaurs through Colorado

Colorado has a rich cultural heritage that was shaped by the Indians and the conquest of the west by the whites. The oldest historical sites in the state, however, date back to millions of years ago. Because once the largest land animals of all time roamed the area of ​​today's Colorado and there are numerous opportunities to discover traces of Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, Diplodocus and many other dinosaurs from this time.

The Dinosaur National Monument

The well-known dinosaur monument is located in the northwest of Colorado in the southeastern foothills of the Uinta Mountains. The eastern part of the National Monument is in Colorado, but the world-famous dinosaur quarry with around 1,500 dinosaur fossils in the rock face of the Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall is in Utah. The Dinosaur National Park with the Canyon Visitor Center in Colorado is perfect for experiencing the wonderful nature of the state. Vacationers can go bird watching, camping, swimming, hiking, canoeing, rafting, fishing and much more. Just a few miles from Denver is Dinosaur Ridge, home to one of the world's most remarkable collections of natural dinosaur tracks and fossils.

In the footsteps of cowboys and Indians through the Wild West

Without exception, Colorado is a fantastic destination for those who have always wanted to experience the Wild West and learn more about times gone by. There are still mining sites and many abandoned ghost towns in Gilpin County (Apex, Nevadaville and Russell Gulch), among others.

For those interested in Indians, the Mesa Verde National Park, the Hovenweep National Monument and the Anasazi Heritage Center in the southwest are worthwhile places to go. Galleries, festivals, museums and places such as the Ute Indian Museum and the Koshare Indian Museum as well as the panoramic road "Trail of the Ancients" are also worth a visit.

Also very nice are the Lariat Loop Scenic and Historic Byway, which runs through Denvers Mountain Park. During the trip you can visit the grave and museum of Buffalo Bill, the Hiwan Homestead Museum, the Colorado Railroad Museum and the famous mountain park "Red Rocks".

Numerous historical forts from the time of the conquest of the West, such as Bent's Old Fort on the Santa Fe Trail, the forts Garland and Uncompahgre and the Museum of Northwest Colorado with one of the best cowboy collections in the country round off the attractions for those interested in the Wild West Century state from.

The Silverton Heritage Pass also grants access to the three main mining attractions in Silverton. It includes tours of the Mayflower Gold Mill and the Old 100 Mine.

With the nostalgic train through Colorado

In Colorado, numerous historic railways from the 1970s and 1980s run on the railways that are now operated as museum railways.

Including the:

  • Durrango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in the San Juan Mountains
  • Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad on the Coloradian-New Mexican border
  • Georgetown Loop Railroad in Georgetown

The most beautiful routes

  • Narrow gauge railway line between Cripple Creek and Victor: The seven-kilometer journey on the narrow-gauge railway leads past former gold rush locations and through the historic village of Victor.
  • Cumbres & Tolec train ride: The 103-kilometer route between Antonito in Colorado and Chama in New Mexico is considered the longest and highest narrow-gauge train route in North America. The open sightseeing car is a fantastic way to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the century-old state.
  • Narrow gauge railway line between Durango & Silverton: This beautiful train ride in an originally restored passenger car from 1880 takes you past abandoned mines, pristine forests and the wild Animas River and stops in the old gold rush town of Silverton, among other places. Gold and silver used to be transported on the historic route.
  • Georgetown Loop Historic Gold Rush Railway Park: The historic narrow-gauge railway between Georgetown and the Silver Plume Depot is one of the main attractions in Georgetown. The railway from 1884 takes you from one place to another in around an hour and a quarter. If you want, you can also take part in a mine tour.
  • Southern Railroad, Leadville, Colorado: Leadville brings Colorado mining and railroad history to life. And that with a breathtaking view of the Arkansas River Valley.
  • Manitou and Pikes Peak Rack Railway: The rack railway to the 4,300 meter high Pikes Peak is the highest rack railway in the world and offers a great view. The operation is currently closed, but the railway is to be reopened with new technology in 2021.
  • Royal Gorge Scenic Railway: The small funicular with its open carriages offers a great view of the mountains of Sangre de Cristo and the region around Royal Gorge.
  • Royal Gorge Route Railroad: A train from the 1950s takes you through one of the most spectacular canyons in the USA and with a magnificent view.

Ranch vacation in Colorado

And if that's not enough, you can experience the spirit of the old wild west on a ranch vacation in the land of cowboys and Indians. If you want, you can ride on tourist ranches over pastures and into the terrain, herd and round up cattle, practice using the lasso and take part in equestrian competitions, nights out and family rodeos. The offers range from pure work farms to real luxury resorts.

Many of the ranches, many of which are located in the great plains in the east but also in the mountains of the Rocky Mountains, also offer additional activities such as a special children's program, mountain biking, hiking, swimming or even hot air balloon rides.

Cultural Monuments and Landmarks in Colorado

Colorado has a rich cultural heritage and numerous historical artifacts. There are a total of two National Historic Sites (Bent's Old Fort near La Junta and Sand Creek Massacre), four National Historic Trails (California Trail, Old Spanish Trail, Pony Express Trail, Santa Fe Trail), 15 National Historic Landmarks and a total of 1,551 in the century-old state Structures and Sites Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also worth seeing is the wooden carousel in Kit Carson County with its 46 hand-carved wooden animal figures. It is the only one of its kind that still has the original color on the animals and backdrops.

A nationally significant collection of 20th century decorative art can be found in the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art. For those interested in art, a visit to Steamboat Springs and the Denver Art Museum, which houses an important exhibition of Native American handicrafts, is also worthwhile. Also unique is the Red Rocks Amphitheater near Denver, where many greats in the music industry such as the Beatles, U2 and Bruno Mars have performed.

National parks and natural landmarks in Colorado

Colorado is home to more than 960 species of animals, and there are numerous opportunities to hike, climb, camp, ride a horse, or mountain bike. White water sports such as kayaking, paddling or rafting can be practiced in the state's rivers.

Thousands of kilometers of well-preserved hiking trails run through the mountains, forests and plains of the century-old state, and the beautiful national parks in particular are an absolute must for nature lovers visiting Colorado.

List of national parks in Colorado

There are four national parks in Colorado:

List of national monuments in Colorado

There are eight national monuments in the state of the century:

  • Browns Canyon National Monument
  • Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
  • Chimney Rock National Monument
  • Colorado National Monument
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
  • Hovenweep National Monument
  • Yucca House National Monument

List of national forests in Colorado

11 national forests invite you to explore in the state:

  • Arapaho National Forest
  • Grand Mesa National Forest
  • Gunnison National Forest
  • Pike National Forest
  • Rio Grande National Forest
  • Roosevelt National Forest
  • Routt National Forest
  • San Isabel National Forest
  • San Juan National Forest
  • Uncompahgre National Forest
  • White River National Forest

The NPS also identifies a total of fifteen National Natural Landmarks for Colorado and a National Recreation Area with the Curecanti National Recreation Area.

Skiing in Colorado

The Rocky Mountains are by far the best-known paradise for winter sports enthusiasts in the USA and, at 15,783 hectares, offer the largest area of ​​ski slopes in North America. The powder snow there is just as legendary as the record-breaking snowfall and the many wonderful mountain resorts that invite you to an unforgettable winter holiday in the state.

List of ski resorts in Colorado

There are numerous well-known ski areas in the century-old state that are popular with tourists and locals alike:

  • Arapahoe Basin
  • Aspen Highlands
  • Aspen Mountain
  • Beaver Creek Resort
  • Breckenridge Ski Resort
  • Buttermilk
  • Copper Mountain
  • Crested Butte
  • Durango Mountain Resort
  • Eldora
  • Howelsen
  • Keystone
  • Loveland Ski Area
  • monarch
  • Powderhorn
  • Silverton
  • Ski Cooper
  • Snowmass
  • Solvista
  • Steamboat
  • Sunlight
  • Telluride
  • Vail
  • Winter park

Tickets for attractions and activities

Tickets for attractions and activities in Colorado can be found at

Economy and Infrastructure

Colorado is one of the most economically successful states in the USA with an impressive density of companies that are active in scientific research and the high-tech industry. The state of the century is rich in mineral resources, some of the largest oil and gas fields are located there, it is rich in shale gas and the state is also the largest molybdenum producer on earth. Sheep and cattle are mainly raised in the mountains. The cultivation of corn, wheat, potatoes, alfalfa, fruit, wine and sugar beet also play a role. The largest universities include the three locations of the University of Colorado System.

The state of the century has a good infrastructure. The road network with a length of around 140,000 kilometers has been expanded for long-distance traffic over a distance of almost 15,000 kilometers. This is particularly true of the interstate highways that connect the major centers of Colorado with one another. The motorway ring around the greater Denver area is the most important traffic junction. From there, interstate highways start in five directions.

The Colorado rail network is 4,800 kilometers long and is served daily by two pairs of long-distance Amtrak trains. Trips on the California Zephyr and the Southwest Chief are particularly recommended.

Denver International Airport is the largest airport in the USA in terms of area and the aviation hub of United Airlines. From Colorado Springs there is also a connection to the hubs in the direction of Los Angeles, Dallas and Minneapolis. Other major regional airports are Gran Junction, Gunnison, Durango and Aspen.

Colorado Politics

Colorado was once considered the Republican catchment area, but as the state capital Denver began to urbanize, it became more and more of a swing state over time. The most conservative and main source of Republican strength in the century-old state is Colorado Springs, while Denver is dominated by the Democrats. Colorado currently has three Republicans and a majority of four Democrats in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, Colorado is represented for the current term by a Senior Senator from the Democrats and a Junior Senator from the Republicans. The current governor is the Democrat Jared Polis. His predecessor, John Hickenlooper, will run for Democrats in the 2020 presidential election.

Along with Washington, Colorado is a US state that has legalized cannabis as a stimulant and allows the cultivation, sale and possession of marijuana in small quantities.

A trip into the history of the state

The first known settlement of today's Colorado dates back to around 400 AD. At that time, the western foothills of the Indian Fremont culture settled as far as the east of Colorado. Members of the Anasazi culture lived 1,000 years before the arrival of the first Europeans in what is now the Mesa Verde National Park and built impressive structures there, such as the Cliff Palace.

It is not known exactly when the first European set foot in what is now Colorado and began exploring it. It is believed that it was the Spaniards at the beginning of the 17th century. The southeastern part of the century state was claimed in 1706 by Juan de Uribarri for the Spanish kingdom. The western parts of Colorado also remained the territory of the Spaniards (New Spain), even if the Americans acquired parts of Colorado in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase from France and from 1806 penetrated into the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains as part of the Pike Expedition.

Permanent settlement on a larger scale did not take place until 1830, when Bent’s Fort was built on the Santa Fe Trail. The fort was an important trading post between the whites and the Native Americans. In 1851, San Luis was the first permanent settlement in what is now the state.

The gold rush created tension between Indians and whites

The relationship between the Indians and the whites was initially friendly in the High Plains. That changed, however, in the mid-19th century when gold was found in California and more and more settlers flocked to the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains in search of wealth. Tensions heightened when gold was found at the confluence of South Platte and Cherry Creek in what is now Denver in 1858.

The settlers established larger settlements on the river and in the surrounding mountains, and the region around Black Hawk, Central City, Nevadaville and Idaho became the center of the gold rush in 1860. Denver City was founded in 1858 and finally renamed Denver in 1865. The establishment of the first Colorado Territory occurred in 1861. After the rail network for the railroad company was expanded in 1870, Colorado finally became the 38th state of the United States in 1876. The silver boom reached Colorado in 1879.

The incorporation into the Union caused disputes with the Cheyenne and Arapaho, who had originally been granted the area in the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851. They defended themselves against this and attacked stagecoaches and also murdered individual settlers. In retaliation, the Colorado Cavalry penetrated an unfortified Indian village on November 29, 1864 and murdered 133 men, women and children there. The slaughter went down in history as the Sand Creek Massacre and resulted in five more years of armed conflict that ended with the defeat and resettlement of the Indians on reservations. Then came the economic crisis. It severely affected Colorado, many cities became ghost towns, others such as the popular winter sports resorts Aspen, Breckenridge and Vail found new sources of income in tourism. Rocky Mountain National Park, a major Colorado tourist attraction, opened in 1915.

Rampage in Colorado

Colorado has landed in international headlines over and over again for the past twenty years due to shooting sprees. Colorado gained notoriety on April 20, 1999 when fifteen people died and 24 injured during the rampage at Columbine High School near Littleton. In 2004, a resident of the town of Granby destroyed thirteen houses with a self-armored and armed bulldozer, causing more than seven million dollars in damage. Another rampage occurred on July 12, 2012 in the city of Aurora during a theatrical screening of the film "The Dark Knight Rises". Twelve people were shot dead and 58 others injured in the Aurora rampage.