95 Interesting Facts About Colorado

Interesting and fun facts about Colorado state USA

Below, let’s learn many interesting and fun facts about Colorado, “The Centennial State”.  Also, read these fun facts about Denver, Colorado’s capital and largest city!

Colorful Colorado is known for its picturesque and varied landscapes, which have inspired many artists and musicians alike.

General Facts About Colorado

  • Colorado is located in the western and southwestern region of the US.
  • Colorado is also at the western edge of the Great Plains and northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau.
  • The state is bordered by Wyoming to the north, Nebraska to the northeast, Kansas to the east, Oklahoma to the southeast, New Mexico to the south, and Utah to the west. A small section of its border in the southeast is only 33.7 mi (54.3 km) from the Texas border.
  • The Four Corners Monument is at the southwestern corner of Colorado. In that spot, the corners of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah meet.
  • At 104,157 m² (269,837 km²), Colorado is the 8th largest state in the US, sitting between Nevada and Oregon in terms of size.
  • Colorado is the same size as New Zealand. Costa Rica could fit into the state of Colorado five times.
Plaque on the ground showing four states at the Four Corners Monument
Four Corners Monument
  • Colorado is one of the three states that are rectangular in shape, along with Utah and Wyoming.
  • The state’s population is 5.85 million, making Colorado the 21st most populous state in the nation, sitting between Wisconsin and Minnesota in terms of population.
  • Colorado was traditional inhabited by numerous Native American peoples, including the Ancestral Puebloans, Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Shoshone, and Ute. Their descendents today make up 1.1% of the population.
  • Denver is the state capital and the largest city in the state of Colorado. With a population of 733,000, it is the 19th largest city in the US, similar to Seattle or Washington DC in size.
  • Denver sits at the point where the north-south Highway 25 meets the east-west Highway 70.
  • Called the “Mile High City”, Denver really is a mile high. It is the third highest capital in the US, after Santa Fe (New Mexico) and Cheyenne (Wyoming).
Buildings of Denver, Colorado, with Rocky Mountains in the background
Denver with the Rockies in the background
  • Residents of Colorado are referred to as Coloradans or Coloradoans, while residents of Denver are called Denverites.
  • In 2017 and 2018, US NEWS named Colorado Springs the #2 and #1 best place to live in the USA. The city is known for its amazing parks, including Garden of the gods, waterfalls, caves, festivals. There are also lots of great things to do with kids in Colorado Springs.
  • Colorado is nicknamed “The Centennial State” as a result of the region becoming a state 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
An iconic mountain peak in Ute Mountain Tribal Park, Colorado
Ute Mountain Tribal Park in southwest Colorado
  • The state has also been dubbed “Colorful Colorado” for its vivid landscape of high plains, mountains, mesas, forests, rivers, canyons, plateaus, and deserts.
  • The two-letter abbreviation of Colorado is CO.
  • Colorado’s state flower is the white and lavender columbine, while the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep is Colorado’s state animal (which is also the provincial mammal of Alberta, Canada).
  • The Latin state motto of Colorado is “Nil sine numine” which translates to both “Nothing without providence” and “Nothing without the deity”. The state motto originates from the Latin poem Aeneid, which was written by the ancient Roman poet Virgil.
The flag of Colorado
The Colorado state flag
  • Colorado’s state flag features three horizontal stripes; the top and bottom are blue, while the middle stripe is white. The blue represents the skies and the white represents the snowcapped mountains. On top of the white stripe is a circular red-shaped “C”, which is filled with a golden disk. The gold represent the state’s abundant sunshine and the red represents the state’s ruddy soil.

Random Interesting Facts About Colorado

Old houses of stone built into cliffs at Mesa Verde, Colorado
Ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde
  • Rocky Mountain National Park has the highest paved road in the US, Mount Evans Road, which rises to a height of 14,130 ft (4307 m).
  • Mesa Verde is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Colorado.
  • Colorado is home to the largest flattop mountain in the world: the Grand Mesa. The mountain stands at more than 10,000 feet above sea level and spans hundreds of square miles.
  • Glenwood Hot Springs Resort in Glenwood Springs, Colorado has the largest hot spring pool in the world. In the past, the area’s many hot springs were sacred to the indigenous Ute people.
  • Legend has it that the teddy bear was invented by maids at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Spring when they patched together pieces of fabric to give to President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt when he returned from bear hunting empty handed.  
A huge, steaming hot spring pool in Colorado
Largest human-made hot spring pool in the world at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort
  • The Rio Grande, one of the longest rivers in North America, originates in Colorado.
  • The Colorado National Monument near Great Junction is one of the state’s most famous attractions. It protects iconic, towering stone monuments including the Kissing Monument and Independence Monument.
  • It is claimed that outdoor Christmas lights were invented in Denver in 1907, when merchants replaced street lights along the 16th Street Mall in LoDo (Lower Downtown) with Christmas ones.
  • Colfax Avenue is the nation’s longest commercial street, continuing 26.5 mi (42.6 km) through the cities of Aurora, Denver, Lakewood, and Golden. It is often described as “America’s longest street”, which it is not.
Lights along the street at 16th street mall in Denver, where Christmas lights were supposedly invented
Lights along 16th Street Mall in Denver
  • Colorado’s lowest point is the highest low point of any other state in the nation, 3,317 ft / 1,011 m, at the Arikaree River.
  • The state’s all-time highest temperature was 115°F (46.1°C) at John Martin Reservoir on July 20, 2019, while the lowest was -61°F (-51.7°C) at Maybell on February 1, 1985.
  • The Rocky Mountains are home to golden eagles, great horned owls, bighorn sheep, beavers, mountain lions, black bears, mountain goats, and the endangered boreal toad. The Great Plains are home to burrowing owls, rattlesnakes, bison, lark buntings, and prairie dogs.
  • The Ponderosa Pine tree, common in Colorado, has bark that smells of vanilla and butterscotch.
  • Colorado’s economy is based on mining (coal, natural gas, oil, uranium, and gold), manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture. The state produces more than 2 billion potatoes per year.
Summit of a snowy mountain, with many other Colorado peaks in the distance
Summit of Mt. Elbert, the tallest peak in Colorado
  • The 2nd American to orbit the Earth and one of the original seven US astronauts was Scott Carpenter, who was born in Boulder, Colorado.
  • The first Native American to serve in the US Senate, representing Colorado, was Ben Nighthorse Campbell, from 1993 to 2005.
  • Colorado is the only state in history to decline the offer to host the Olympics after trying to win the bid for decades. The 1976 Winter Olympics were meant to be hosted by Denver, but it was voted against by residents due the cost and pollution it could bring. The Games were held in Montreal instead.
  • Colorado is home to the oldest ski resort in the country: Howelsen Hill. It has sent more skiers to the Olympics than anywhere else in America.
  • The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics saw many Coloradan athletes competing, including Valarie Allman, Christopher Blevins, Hillary Bor, Kendall Chase, Emma Coburn, Val Constien, Elise Cranny, Colin Duffy, Amro ElGeziry, Amber English, Mason Finley, Maddie Godby, and more.
The ski resort town of Vail at night, with the ski hills visible in the background
Vail Ski Resort, Colorado
  • Lon Chaney was born to deaf-mute parents in Colorado Springs. Lon learned to communicate using facial expressions and pantomime. He went on to become one of the most famous actors in Hollywood during the silent film era, appearing in 157 films between 1913 and 1930, including the likes of The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Tim Allen was born in Denver. He’s most famously known for being the voice of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story and for starring in the film The Santa Clause.
  • John Denver of California loved Colorado. His song Rocky Mountain High is one of the state’s official songs.
  • Nobel Prize winner in chemistry Willard Libby helped to develop radio-carbon dating in 1949. Willard was born in Grand Valley, Colorado.
  • Crocs were invented by the three people in the city of Boulder in 2002.
A mosaic of famous people and things from Colorado
Famous Colorado exports Jolly Ranchers, root beer float, Tim Allen, Smashburger, Crocs, and Spyder (clockwise from top-left)
  • The root beer float was invented by Frank J. Wisner, owner of Colorado’s Cripple Creek Brewing, in 1893. He was supposedly inspired by Colorado’s snowy peaks.
  • Bill Harmsen of Golden, Colorado invented the Jolly Rancher candy.
  • Louis Ballast was the first to trademark the word “cheeseburger” at the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In in Denver, Colorado.
  • Western Union, the ski gear company Spyder, and the restaurant chains Smashburger and Red Robin are currently headquartered in Colorado.
Water fountains in Riverwalk, Pueblo, Colorado
Riverwalk in Pueblo, Colorado
  • The city of Pueblo, Colorado has banned tall dandelions and other weeds.
  • It’s apparently permitted in Boulder to challenge, taunt, or insult police officers, unless they tell you to stop.
  • Across Colorado, selling of automobiles on Sundays is not permitted.
  • In Boulder, drinking and riding a horse is against the law.
  • It’s also illegal to kiss a woman while she’s asleep in Logan County, Colorado.

Historical Facts About Colorado

  • In the Paleozoic period, Colorado was covered in a shallow sea. By the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs, the Rocky Mountains were beginning to rise.
  • At the time Europeans arrived, it is estimated that 30,000 indigenous people lived in Colorado’s Montezuma Valley.
Montezuma Valley Overlook in Colorado
Montezuma Valley Overlook
  • Spanish settlers arrived in the state for the first time in the 1540s.
  • In 1598, Juan de Oñate formed the Spanish province of Santa Fe de Nuevo, Mexico along the Rio Grande, including parts of Colorado, Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
  • In the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, the US claimed that the area of Colorado was included in the land they had purchased, but the Spanish disagreed and kicked them out when they showed up.
  • In 1812, Mexico gained independence from Spain, and part of Colorado thus belonged to Mexico.
  • At the end of the US-Mexican War in 1848, Mexico lost the territory to the US. What is now Colorado became part of the Territories of New Mexico and Utah, and later the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska.
A church on top of a rocky hill in San Luis Colorado
Chapel of All Saints in San Luis
  • In 1851, the settlement of San Luis was built, becoming the first permanent European settlement in present-day Colorado.
  • Treaties were attempted with Native American groups in 1854, which proved unsuccessful as the Utes killed fifteen people on Christmas Day at Fort Pueblo.
  • In 1858, gold was discovered in the region presently known as Denver. The discovery brought many people to the region in search of fortune.
  • In 1867, the first stone hotel was built in Golden, Colorado.
  • On July 4, 1869, the first rodeo in the world took place in Deer Trail, Colorado.
The gold-covered dome of the Colorado State Capitol building, with the sun setting on the horizon behind it
The Colorado Capitol is covered in gold leaf, commemorating the Gold Rush
  • In 1876, Colorado became the 38th state of the US.
  • Lead carbonate ores rich in silver were discovered in 1879 near the present site of Leadville, resulting in the Colorado silver boom.
  • Arthur Lakes, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, uncovered dinosaur fossils in 1877, setting off a dinosaur bone rush in Colorado.
  • In the 1880s, people from across the US with tuberculosis moved to Colorado because it’s sunny, dry climate was said to be good for them. As a result, Denver came to be known as “The World’s Sanitarium”.
  • Katharine Lee Bates wrote the famous poem America the Beautiful after climbing Pikes Peak in Colorado in 1893.
A snowy mountain peak in Rocky Mountains of Colorado
Pikes Peak, Colorado inspired “America the Beautiful”
  • In 1894, Colorado became the 2nd state to officially allow women to vote, after Wyoming (a few others had already done it prior to statehood).
  • Denver issued its first United States Mint coins in 1906.
  • The oldest ski resort in North America, Howelsen Hill Ski Area, was opened in 1915. It started as a ski jump training area, and grew into a downhill ski area in the 1930s.
  • In August 1948, the Valley Highway construction began. It was the state’s first attempt at bringing in multi-lane highway transportation.
  • In the 1960s, major race riots took place in Colorado.
A highway in Colorado with mountains in the distance
Highway in central Colorado
  • The Family Dog Denver concert venue opened in 1967, igniting Colorado’s status as a major concert destination. Bands and musicians including The Doors, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Chuck Berry played there.
  • In 1973, the 1.7-mile Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel was opened in Colorado.
  • The desegregation of schools began in Denver in 1974.
  • Colorado experienced major growth in its technological industries during the 1980s and 1990s.
  • In 1998, the first Republican Governor (Bill Owens) in 24 years was elected to the statehouse by Colorado voters.
Aerial view of City Park in Denver with downtown in the distance
Martin Luther King statue in Denver City Park
  • In 1999, the Columbine Massacre made international headlines, when two 12th grade students murdered 12 classmates and a teacher in Columbine, Colorado.
  • There was a listeria outbreak caused by tainted cantaloupes from a Colorado farm in 2011. The outbreak sickened over 70 and killed 16.
  • In 2012, another mass shooting took the lives of 12 people, this time in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, not that far from the 1999 Columbine shooting.
  • Also in 2012, Colorado (along with Washington) became the first states to legalize marijuana.
Several statues, staircases, and park area in front of the Colorado Capitol Building in Denver
Civic Center Park in front of the Denver Capitol
  • In 2020, the government cleared a large homeless camp around the Capitol in Denver, resulting in a huge lawsuit.
  • In 2021, the Marshall Fire in Boulder County took over 1000 homes.
  • In 2022, the city’s mayor declared a state of emergency due to a large increase in the number of migrants arriving in the city.

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