Sunday, November 2, 2014

Colorado; The Mother of Rivers

Flag of Colorado, the 38th US State
Colorado (Arabic: كولورادو, Persian: کلرادو, Urdu: کولوراڈو) is a U.S. state encompassing most of the Southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. Colorado is part of the Western United States, the Southwestern United States, and the Mountain States. Colorado is the 8th most extensive and the 22nd most populous of the 50 United States. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Colorado was 5,268,367 on July 1, 2013, an increase of 4.76% since the 2010 United States Census. 

The state was named for the Colorado River, which Spanish explorers named the Río Colorado for the ruddy (Spanish: colorado) silt the river carried from the mountains. On August 1, 1876, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation admitting Colorado to the Union as the 38th state. Colorado is nicknamed the "Centennial State" because it became a state in the centennial year of the United States Declaration of Independence. 

Colorado is bordered by the northwest state of Wyoming to the north, the Midwest states of Nebraska and Kansas to the northeast and east, on the south by New Mexico and Oklahoma, on the west by Utah, and Arizona to the southwest. The four states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona meet at one common point known as the Four Corners, which is known as the heart of the American Southwest. Colorado is noted for its vivid landscape of mountains, forests, high plains, mesas, canyons, plateaus, rivers, and desert lands. 

Mount Elbert, Colorado, United States of America
Denver is the capital and the most populous city of Colorado. Residents of the state are properly known as "Coloradans", although the archaic term "Coloradoan" is still used, albeit rarely. 


Colorado is notable for its diverse geography, ranging from alpine mountains, arid plains and deserts with huge sand dunes, deep canyons, sandstone and granite rock formations, rivers, lakes, and lush forests. The borders of Colorado were originally defined to be lines of latitude and longitude, making its shape a latitude-longitude* quadrangle which stretches from 37°N to 41°N latitude and from 102°03'W to 109°03'W longitude (25°W to 32°W from the Washington Meridian). Colorado, Wyoming and Utah are the only states which have boundaries defined solely by lines of latitude and longitude. 


Colorado is also known as "The Switzerland of America". The summit of Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet (4,401 m) in elevation in Lake County is the highest point of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains. Colorado is the only U.S. state that lies entirely above 1,000 meters (3,281 ft) elevation. The point where the Arikaree River flows out of Yuma County, Colorado, and into Cheyenne County, Kansas, is the lowest point in Colorado at 3,317 feet (1,011 m) elevation. This point, which holds the distinction of being the highest low elevation point of any state, is higher than the high elevation points of 18 states and the District of Columbia. 

The Calhan Paint Mines on the Colorado Eastern Plains

A little less than one half of the area of Colorado is flat and rolling land. East of the Rocky Mountains are the Colorado Eastern Plains of the High Plains, the section of the Great Plains within Nebraska at elevations ranging from roughly 3,350 to 7,500 feet (1,020 to 2,290 m). The Colorado plains are usually thought of as prairies, but actually they have many patches of deciduous forests, buttes, and canyons, much like the high plains in New Mexico as well. Eastern Colorado is presently mainly covered in farmland, along with small farming villages and towns. Precipitation is fair, averaging from 15 to 25 inches (380 to 640 mm) annually. Corn, wheat, hay, soybeans, and oats are all typical crops, and most of the villages and towns in this region boast both a water tower and a grain elevator. As well as the farming of crops, Eastern Colorado has a good deal of livestock raising, such as at cattle ranches and hog farms and irrigation water is available from the South Platte, the Arkansas River, and a few other streams, and also from subterranean sources, including artesian wells. However, heavy use of ground water from wells for irrigation has caused underground water reserves to decline. 

Front Range 

Most of Colorado's population resides along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Front Range Urban Corridor between Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Pueblo, Colorado. This region is partially protected from prevailing storms that blow in from the Pacific Ocean region by the high Rockies in the middle of Colorado. The only other significant population centers are at Grand Junction and Durango in western and southwestern Colorado, respectively. 

The San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado
Continental Divide 

The Continental Divide of the Americas extends along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. The area of Colorado to the west of the Continental Divide is called the Western Slope of Colorado. Drainage water west of the Continental Divide flows to the southwest via the Colorado River and the Green River into the Gulf of California. 

Within the interior of the Rocky Mountains are several large so-called "parks" or high broad basins. In the north, on the east side of the Continental Divide is the North Park of Colorado. The North Park is drained by the North Platte River, which flows north into Wyoming and Nebraska. Just to the south of North Park, but on the western side of the Continental Divide, is the Middle Park of Colorado, which is drained by the Colorado River. The South Park of Colorado is the region of the headwaters of the South Platte River. 

Southern Region 

In southmost Colorado is the large San Luis Valley, where the headwaters of the Rio Grande are located. The valley sits between the Sangre De Cristo Mountains and San Juan Mountains, and consists of large desert lands that eventually run into the mountains. The Rio Grande drains due south into New Mexico, Mexico, and Texas. Across the Sangre de Cristo Range to the east of the San Luis Valley lies the Wet Mountain Valley. These basins, particularly the San Luis Valley, lie along the Rio Grande Rift, a major geological formation of the Rocky Mountains, and its branches. 

Peaks of the San Juan Mountains, Colorado, USA

To the west of the Great Plains of Colorado rises the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. Notable peaks of the Rocky Mountains include Longs Peak, Mount Evans, Pikes Peak, and the Spanish Peaks near Walsenburg, in southern Colorado. This area drains to the east and the southeast, ultimately either via the Mississippi River or the Rio Grande into the Gulf of Mexico.The Rocky Mountains within Colorado contain about 53 peaks that are 14,000 feet (4,267 m) or higher in elevation above sea level, known as fourteeners. These mountains are largely covered with trees such as conifers and aspens up to the tree line, at an elevation of about 12,140 feet (3,700 m) in southern Colorado to about 10,500 feet (3,200 m) in northern Colorado. Above this only alpine vegetation grows. Only small parts of the Colorado Rockies are snow-covered year round.Much of the alpine snow melts by mid-August with the exception of a few snowcapped peaks and a few small glaciers. The Colorado Mineral Belt, stretching from the San Juan Mountains in the southwest to Boulder and Central City on the front range, contains most of the historic gold- and silver-mining districts of Colorado. Mount Elbert is the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains. The 30 highest major summits of the Rocky Mountains of North America all lie within the state. 

Colorado Western Slope 

The Western Slope of Colorado is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries (primarily the Green River and the San Juan River), or by evaporation in its arid areas. Prominent in the southwestern area of the Western Slope is the Grand Mesa and the high San Juan Mountains, a rugged mountain range, and to the west of the San Juan Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, a high arid region that borders Southern Utah. The Colorado River flows through Glenwood Canyon and then through an arid valley made up of desert from Rifle to Parachute, through the desert canyon of De Beque Canyon, and into the arid desert of Grand Valley, of which the city of Grand Junction is located. 

Grand Junction, the largest city in western Colorado
The city of Grand Junction, Colorado, is the largest city on the Western Slope, Grand Junction and Durango are the only major centers of television broadcasting west of the Continental Divide in Colorado. Most mountain resort communities publish daily newspapers. Higher education on the Western Slope can be found at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Western State College of Colorado in Gunnison, Fort Lewis College in Durango and Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs. 

Grand Junction is located along Interstate 70, the only major highway of Western Colorado. Grand Junction is also along the major railroad of the Western Slope, the Union Pacific, which also provides the tracks for Amtrak's California Zephyr passenger train, which crosses the Rocky Mountains between Denver and Grand Junction via a route on which there are no continuous highways. 

To the southeast of Grand Junction is the Grand Mesa, said to be the world's largest flat-topped mountain. Other towns of the Western Slope include Glenwood Springs with its resort hot springs, and the ski resorts of Aspen, Breckenridge, Vail, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, and Telluride. 

The northwestern corner of Colorado is a sparsely populated region, and it contains part of the noted Dinosaur National Monument, which is not only a paleontological area, but is also a scenic area of rocky hills, canyons, arid desert, and streambeads. Here, the Green River briefly crosses over into Colorado. 

Colorado National Monument
From west to east, the land of Colorado consists of desert lands, desert plateaus, alpine mountains, National Forests, relatively flat grasslands, scattered forests, buttes, and canyons in the western edge of the Great Plains. The famous Pikes Peak is located just west of Colorado Springs. Its isolated peak is visible from nearly the Kansas border on clear days, and also far to the north and the south. 

The desert lands in Colorado are located in and around areas such as, the Pueblo, Canon City, Florence, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, San Luis Valley, Cortez, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Ute Mountain, Delta, Grand Junction, Colorado National Monument, and other areas surrounding the Uncompahgre Plateau and Uncompahgre National Forest. 

Colorado is one of four states in the United States that share a common geographic point the Four Corners together with Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. At this intersection, it is possible to stand in four states at once. 


The climate of Colorado is more complex than states outside of the Mountain States region. Unlike most other states, southern Colorado is not always warmer than northern Colorado. Most of Colorado is made up of mountains, foothills, high plains, and desert lands. Mountains and surrounding valleys greatly affect local climate. 

Center pivot irrigation in Yuma County, Colorado
As a general rule, with an increase in elevation comes a decrease in temperature and an increase in precipitation. Northeast, east, and southeast Colorado are mostly the high plains, while Northern Colorado is a mix of high plains, foothills, and mountains. Northwest and west Colorado are predominantly mountainous, with some desert lands mixed in. Southwest and southern Colorado are a complex mixture of desert and mountain areas. 

Eastern Plains 

The climate of the Eastern Plains is semiarid (Köppen climate classification: BSk) with low humidity and moderate precipitation, usually from 15 to 25 in (380 to 640 mm) annually. The area is known for its abundant sunshine and cool, clear nights, which give this area a great average diurnal temperature range. The difference between the highs of the days and the lows of the nights can be considerable as warmth dissipates to the space during clear nights, the heat radiation not being trapped by clouds. 

In summer, this area can have many days above 95 °F (35 °C) and often 100 °F (38 °C). On the plains, the winter lows usually range from 25 to −10 °F (−4 to −23 °C). About 75% of the precipitation falls within the growing season, from April to September, but this area is very prone to droughts. Most of the precipitation comes from thunderstorms, which can be severe, and from major snowstorms that occur in the winter and early spring. Otherwise, winters tend to be mostly dry and cold. 

The signature of Chinook arch over Denver, Colorado
In much of the region, March is the snowiest month. April and May are normally the rainiest months, while April is the wettest month overall. The Front Range cities closer to the mountains tend to be warmer in the winter due to chinook winds which warm the area, sometimes bringing temperatures of 70 °F or higher in the winter. The average July temperature is 55 °F (13 °C) in the morning and 90 °F (32 °C) in the afternoon. The average January temperature is 1 °F (−8 °C) in the morning and 48 °F (9 °C) in the afternoon, although variation between consecutive days can be 40 °F (4 °C). 

West of the Plains and Foothills 

West of the plains and foothills, the weather of Colorado is much less uniform. Even places a few miles apart can experience entirely different weather depending on the topography of the area. Most valleys have a semi-arid climate, which becomes an alpine climate at higher elevations. Humid microclimates also exist in some areas. Generally, the wettest season in western Colorado is winter while June is the driest month. 

The mountains have mild summers with many days of high temperatures between 60 and 85 °F (16 and 29 °C), although thunderstorms can cause sudden but brief drops in temperature. The winters bring abundant, powdery snowfall to the mountains with plenty of sunshine between major storms. The western slope has high summer temperatures similar to those found on the plains, while the winters tend to be slightly cooler due to the lack of warming winds common to the plains and Front Range. Other areas in the west have their own unique climate. 

A Wildfire rage on in Black Forest Colorado, June 2013
Extreme Weather 

Extreme weather changes are common in Colorado, although the majority of extreme weather occurs in the least populated areas of the state. Thunderstorms are common east of the Continental Divide in the spring and summer, yet are usually brief. Hail is a common sight in the mountains east of the divide and in the northwest part of the state. The Eastern Plains have had some of the biggest hail storms in North America. 

The Eastern Plains are part of the extreme western portion of Tornado Alley; some damaging tornadoes in the Eastern Plains include the 1990 Limon F3 tornado and the 2008 Windsor EF3 tornado, which devastated the small town. The plains are also susceptible to occasional floods, which are caused both by thunderstorms and by the rapid melting of snow in the mountains during warm weather. Denver's record in 1901 for the number of consecutive days above 90 °F (32 °C) was broken during the summer of 2008. The new record of 24 consecutive days surpassed the previous record by almost a week. 

Much of Colorado is a very dry state averaging only 17 in (430 mm) of precipitation per year statewide and rarely experiences a time when some portion of the state is not in some degree of drought. The lack of precipitation contributes to the severity of wildfires in the state, such as the Hayman Fire, one of the largest wildfires in American history, and the Fourmile Canyon Fire of 2010, which until the Waldo Canyon Fire of June 2012, and the Black Forest Fire about a year later, was the most destructive wildfire in Colorado's recorded history. 

Yampa River Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado
However, some of the mountainous regions of Colorado receive a huge amount of moisture from winter snowfalls. The spring melts of these snows often cause great waterflows in the Yampa River, the Colorado River, the Rio Grande, the Arkansas River, Cherry Creek, the North Platte River, and the South Platte River. 

Water flowing out of the Colorado Rocky Mountains is a very significant source of water for the farms, towns, and cities of the southwest states  of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, as well as the Midwest, such as Nebraska and Kansas, and the southern states of Oklahoma and Texas. A significant amount of water is also diverted for use in California; occasionally (formerly naturally and consistently), the flow of water reaches northern Mexico. 

The lowest temperature in Colorado was recorded in Maybell

The highest ambient air temperature ever recorded in Colorado was 118 °F (48 °C) on July 11, 1888, at Bennett. The lowest air temperature was −61 °F (−52 °C) on February 1, 1985, at Maybell. 


Despite its mountainous terrain, Colorado is relatively quiescent seismically. The U.S. National Earthquake Information Center is located in Golden. 

On August 22, 2011, a 5.3 magnitude earthquake occurred nine miles WSW of the city of Trinidad. No casualties and only small damage was reported. It was the second largest earthquake in Colorado. A magnitude 5.7 earthquake was recorded in 1973. 

Lindenmeier Archaeological site,  Fort Collins, Colorado

The region that is today the state of Colorado has been inhabited by Native Americans for more than 13,000 years. The Lindenmeier Site in Larimer County contains artifacts dating from approximately 11200 BC to 3000 BC. The eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains was a major migration route that was important to the spread of early peoples throughout the Americas. The Ancient Pueblo peoples lived in the valleys and mesas of the Colorado Plateau. The Ute Nation inhabited the mountain valleys of the Southern Rocky Mountains and the Western Rocky Mountains, even as far east as the Front Range of present day. The Apache and the Comanche also inhabited Eastern and Southeastern parts of the state. At times, the Arapaho Nation and the Cheyenne Nation moved west to hunt across the High Plains. 

The U.S. acquired a territorial claim to the eastern Rocky Mountains with the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803. This U.S. claim conflicted with the claim by Spain to the upper Arkansas River Basin as the exclusive trading zone of its colony of Santa Fé de Nuevo Méjico. In 1806, Zebulon Pike led a U.S. Army reconnaissance expedition into the disputed region. Colonel Pike and his men were arrested by Spanish cavalrymen in the San Luis Valley the following February, taken to Chihuahua, and expelled from Mexico the following July. 

Map Showing results of the Adams-Onis Treaty
The U.S. relinquished its claim to all land south and west of the Arkansas River and south of 42nd parallel north and west of the 100th meridian west as part of its purchase of Florida from Spain with the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. The treaty took effect February 22, 1821. Having settled its border with Spain, the U.S. admitted the southeastern portion of the Territory of Missouri to the Union as the state of Missouri on August 10, 1821. The remainder of Missouri Territory, including what would become northeastern Colorado, became unorganized territory, and remained so for 33 years over the question of slavery. After 11 years of war, Spain finally recognized the independence of Mexico with the Treaty of Córdoba signed on August 24, 1821. Mexico eventually ratified the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1831. The Texian Revolt of 1835–1836 fomented a dispute between the U.S. and Mexico which eventually erupted into the Mexican-American War in 1846. Mexico surrendered its northern territory to the U.S. with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the conclusion of the war in 1848. 

Most American settlers traveling overland west to the Oregon Country, namely the new goldfields of California, or the new Mormon settlements of the State of Deseret in the Salt Lake Valley, avoided the rugged Southern Rocky Mountains, and instead followed the North Platte River and Sweetwater River to South Pass (Wyoming), the lowest crossing of the Continental Divide between the Southern Rocky Mountains and the Central Rocky Mountains. In 1849, the Mormons of the Salt Lake Valley organized the extralegal State of Deseret, claiming the entire Great Basin and all lands drained by the rivers Green, Grand, and Colorado. The federal government of the U.S. flatly refused to recognize the new Mormon government, because it was theocratic and sanctioned plural marriage. Instead, the Compromise of 1850 divided the Mexican Cession and the northwestern claims of Texas into a new state and two new territories, the state of California, the Territory of New Mexico, and the Territory of Utah. On April 9, 1851, Mexican American settlers from the area of Taos settled the village of San Luis, then in the New Mexico Territory, later to become Colorado's first permanent Euro-American settlement. 

The Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado, USA
In 1854, Senator Stephen A. Douglas persuaded the U.S. Congress to divide the unorganized territory east of the Continental Divide into two new organized territories, the Territory of Kansas and the Territory of Nebraska, and an unorganized southern region known as the Indian territory. Each new territory was to decide the fate of slavery within its boundaries, but this compromise merely served to fuel animosity between free soil and pro-slavery factions. 

The gold seekers organized the Provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson on August 24, 1859, but this new territory failed to secure approval from the Congress of the United States embroiled in the debate over slavery. The election of Abraham Lincoln for the President of the United States on November 6, 1860, led to the secession of nine southern slave states and the threat of civil war among the states. Seeking to augment the political power of the Union states, the Republican Party dominated Congress quickly admitted the eastern portion of the Territory of Kansas into the Union as the free State of Kansas on January 29, 1861, leaving the western portion of the Kansas Territory, and its gold-mining areas, as unorganized territory. 

Territory Act 

Thirty days later on February 28, 1861, outgoing U.S. President James Buchanan signed an Act of Congress organizing the free Territory of Colorado. The original boundaries of Colorado remain unchanged today. The name Colorado was chosen because it was commonly believed that the Colorado River originated in the territory. In 1776, Spanish priest Silvestre Vélez de Escalante recorded that Native Americans in the area knew the river as el Rio Colorado for the red-brown silt that the river carried from the mountains. In 1859, a U.S. Army topographic expedition led by Captain John Macomb located the confluence of the Green River with the Grand River in what is now Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The Macomb party designated the confluence as the source of the Colorado River. 

On April 12, 1861, South Carolina artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter to start the American Civil War. While many gold seekers held sympathies for the Confederacy, the vast majority remained fiercely loyal to the Union cause.

Sand Creek Massacre Site, USA
In 1862, a force of Texas cavalry invaded the Territory of New Mexico and captured Santa Fe on March 10. The object of this Western Campaign was to seize or disrupt the gold fields of Colorado and California and to seize ports on the Pacific Ocean for the Confederacy. A hastily organized force of Colorado volunteers force-marched from Denver City, Colorado Territory, to Glorieta Pass, New Mexico Territory, in an attempt to block the Texans. On March 28, the Coloradans and local New Mexico volunteers stopped the Texans at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, destroyed their cannon and supply wagons, and ran off 500 of their horses and mules. The Texans were forced to retreat to Santa Fe. Having lost the supplies for their campaign and finding little support in New Mexico, the Texans abandoned Santa Fe and returned to San Antonio in defeat. The Confederacy made no further attempts to seize the Southwestern United States. 

In 1864, Territorial Governor John Evans appointed the Reverend John Chivington as Colonel of the Colorado Volunteers with orders to protect white settlers from Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors who were accused of stealing cattle. Colonel Chivington ordered his men to attack a band of Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped along Sand Creek. Chivington reported that his troops killed more than 500 warriors. The militia returned to Denver City in triumph, but several officers reported that the so-called battle was a blatant massacre of Indians at peace, that most of the dead were women and children, and that bodies of the dead had been hideously mutilated and desecrated. Three U.S. Army inquiries condemned the action, and incoming President Andrew Johnson asked Governor Evans for his resignation, but none of the perpetrators was ever punished. This event is now known as the Sand Creek massacre.In the midst and aftermath of Civil War, many discouraged prospectors returned to their homes, but a few stayed and developed mines, mills, farms, ranches, roads, and towns in Colorado Territory.

Sedgwick County Courthouse, Julesburg, Colorado
On September 14, 1864, James Huff discovered silver near Argentine Pass, the first of many silver strikes. In 1867, the Union Pacific Railroad laid its tracks west to Weir, now Julesburg, in the northeast corner of the Territory. The Union Pacific linked up with the Central Pacific Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, to form the First Transcontinental Railroad. The Denver Pacific Railway reached Denver in June the following year, and the Kansas Pacific arrived two months later to forge the second line across the continent. In 1872, rich veins of silver were discovered in the San Juan Mountains on the Ute Indian reservation in southwestern Colorado. The Ute people were removed from the San Juans the following year. 


The United States Congress passed an enabling act on March 3, 1875, specifying the requirements for the Territory of Colorado to become a state. On August 1, 1876 (28 days after the Centennial of the United States), U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation admitting Colorado to the Union as the 38th state and earning it the moniker "Centennial State". 

The discovery of a major silver lode near Leadville in 1878 triggered the Colorado Silver Boom. The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 invigorated silver mining, and Colorado's last, but greatest, gold strike at Cripple Creek a few months later lured a new generation of gold seekers. Colorado women were granted the right to vote beginning on November 7, 1893, making Colorado the second state to grant universal suffrage and the first one by a popular vote (of Colorado men). The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893 led to a staggering collapse of the mining and agricultural economy of Colorado, but the state slowly and steadily recovered. 

The USS Colorado
Colorado became the first western state to host a major political convention when the Democratic Party met in Denver in 1908. By the U.S. Census in 1930, the population of Colorado first exceeded one million residents. Colorado suffered greatly through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, but a major wave of immigration following World War II boosted Colorado's fortune. Tourism became a mainstay of the state economy, and high technology became an important economic engine. The United States Census Bureau estimated that the population of Colorado exceeded five million in 2009. 

Three warships of the U.S. Navy have been named the USS Colorado. The first USS Colorado was named for the Colorado River. The later two ships were named in honor of the state, including the battleship USS Colorado which served in World War II in the Pacific beginning in 1941. At the time of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, this USS Colorado was located at the naval base in San Diego, Calif. and hence went unscathed. 


The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Colorado was 5,268,367 on July 1, 2013, a 4.8% increase since the 2010 United States Census. Colorado's most populous city, and capital, is Denver. The Denver-Aurora-Boulder Combined Statistical Area with an estimated 2011 population of 3,157,520, has 61.90% of the state's residents. 

Colorado Population Density Map
The largest increases are expected in the Front Range Urban Corridor, especially in the Denver metropolitan area. The state's fastest-growing counties are Douglas and Weld. The center of population of Colorado is located just north of the village of Critchell in Jefferson County. 

According to the 2010 United States Census, Colorado had a population of 5,029,196. Racial composition of the state's population was: 
  • 81.3% White American (70.0% Non-Hispanic White, 11.3% White Hispanic) 
  • 4.0% Black or African American 
  • 1.1% American Indian and Alaska Native 
  • 2.8% Asian American 
  • 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 
  • 7.2% Some Other Race 
  • 3.4% Multiracial American 
People of Hispanic and Latino American (of any race made) heritage, made up 20.7% of the population. According to the 2000 Census, the largest ancestry groups in Colorado are German (22%) including of Swiss and Austrian nationalities, Mexican (18%), Irish (12%), and English (12%). Persons reporting German ancestry are especially numerous in the Front Range, the Rockies (west-central counties) and Eastern parts/High Plains. 

Colorado Racial Breakdown of Population
Colorado has a high proportion of Hispanic, mostly Mexican-American, citizens in Metropolitan Denver, Colorado Springs, as well as the smaller cities of Greeley and Pueblo, and elsewhere. Colorado is well known for its strong Latino culture and presence. Southern, Southwestern, and Southeastern Colorado has a large number of Hispanos, the descendants of the early Mexican settlers of colonial Spanish origin. In 1940, the Census Bureau reported Colorado's population as 8.2% Hispanic and 90.3% non-Hispanic white. The Hispanic population of Colorado has continued to grow quickly over the past decades. By 2012, Hispanics made up 21% of Colorado's population, and Non-Hispanic Whites made up 69%. 

The 2000 United States Census found that 10.5% of people aged five and over in Colorado speak only Spanish at home, with the 2009 estimate being roughly 14%. Colorado also has a large immigration presence all throughout the state, which has led to Colorado cities being referred to as "Sanctuary Cities" for illegal immigrants as well. Colorado has the 4th highest percentage of undocumented people in the U.S., only behind Nevada, Arizona, California, and tied with Texas. An estimated 5.5–6.0% of the state's population is composed of illegal immigrants. Also, over 20% of the state's prisoners are undocumented inmates. Colorado, like New Mexico, is very rich in archaic Spanish idioms. 

Colorado also has some large African-American communities located in Denver, in the neighborhoods of Montbello, Five Points, Whittier, and many other East Denver areas. A relatively large population of African Americans are also found in Colorado Springs on the east and southeast side of the city. The state has sizable numbers of Asian-Americans of Mongolian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Southeast Asian and Japanese descent. The highest population of Asian Americans can be found on the south and southeast side of Denver, as well as some on Denver's southwest side. The Denver metropolitan area is considered more liberal and diverse than much of the state when it comes to political issues and environmental concerns. 

Colorado Rocky Mountain Church, Colorado, USA
There were a total of 70,331 births in Colorado in 2006. (Birth Rate of 14.6). In 2007, non-Hispanic whites were involved in 59.1% of all the births. Some 14.06% of those births involved a non-Hispanic white person and someone of a different race, most often with a couple including one Hispanic. A birth where at least one Hispanic person was involved counted for 43% of the births in Colorado. As of the 2010 Census, Colorado has the seventh highest percentage of Hispanics (20.7%) in the U.S. behind New Mexico (46.3%), California (37.6%), Texas (37.6%), Arizona (29.6%), Nevada (26.5%), and Florida (22.5%). Per the 2000 census, the Hispanic population is estimated to be 918,899 or approximately 20% of the state total population. Colorado has the 5th largest population of Mexican-Americans behind California, Texas, Arizona, and Illinois. In percentages, Colorado has the 6th highest percentage of Mexican-Americans behind New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada. 


Major religious affiliations of the people of Colorado are 64% Christian, of whom there are 44% Protestants, 19% Roman Catholics, 3% Latter Day Saint/Mormon, 2% Jews, 1% Muslim, 1% Buddhist and 0.5% Hindu. The religiously unaffiliated make up 25% of the population. 

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Catholic Church with 811,630; non-denominational Evangelical Protestants with 229,981; and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 142,473. 

The University of Colorado Hospital is ranked best in state

Colorado also has a reputation for being a state of active and athletic people. According to several studies, Coloradans have the lowest rates of obesity of any state in the US. As of 2007, 18% of the population was considered medically obese, and while the lowest in the nation, the percentage had increased from 17% from 2004. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter commented: “As an avid fisherman and bike rider, I know first-hand that Colorado provides a great environment for active, healthy lifestyles,” although he highlighted the need for continued education and support to slow the growth of obesity in the state. 



Identifies museums (defined for this context as institutions including nonprofit organizations, government entities, and private businesses) that collect and care for objects of cultural, artistic, scientific, or historical interest and make their collections or related exhibits available for public viewing. Non-profit and university art galleries are also included. Museums that exist only in cyberspace (i.e., virtual museums) are not included. 

The Argo Gold Mine and Mill in Idaho Springs, Colorado
Notable museums in Colorado include:

  • Adams County Museum 
  • A.J. Eaton House Museum 
  • American Mountaineering Museum 
  • American Numismatic Association Money Museum 
  • Anasazi Heritage Center
  • Animas Museum 
  • Argo Gold Mine and Mill 
  • A.R. Mitchell Memorial Museum of Western Art
  • Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
  • Arvada Flour Mill Museum 
  • Aspen Art Museum 
  • Astor House Museum 
  • Aurora History Museum 
  • Avery House 
  • Barney Ford House Museum 
  • Bee Family Centennial Farm Museum 
  • Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site 
  • Big Timbers Museum 
  • Black American West Museum
The Bowles House in Westminster, Colorado
  • Boulder History Museum 
  • Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Bowles House (Westminster, Colorado)
  • Breckenridge Welcome Center
  • Broomfield Historical Depot Museum
  • Broomfield Veterans Memorial Museum
  • Brush Area Museum and Cultural Center
  • Buell Children’s Museum
  • Buena Vista Heritage Museum
  • Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
  • Byers-Evans House Museum
  • Cable Center
  • Castle Rock Museum
  • The CELL Centennial Village Museum
  • Center of Southwest Studies
  • Cheyenne Mountain Heritage Center
  • Children's Museum of Denver
  • Clara Hatton Gallery
  • Clear Creek History Park
  • Climbing Tree Children's Museum
  • Clyfford Still Museum 

The Colorado Governor's Mansion in Denver, Colorado
  • Colorado Governor's Mansion 
  • Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo Museum 
  • Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum 
  • Colorado Railroad Museum 
  • Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame 
  • Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center 
  • Colorado Springs Historical Military Museum 
  • Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum 
  • Comanche Crossing Museum
  • Conejos Museum 
  • Cortez Cultural Center 
  • Cozens Ranch and Stage Stop Museum 
  • Creamery Arts Center
  • Creede Historic Museum
  • Creede Underground Mining Museum
  • Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum
  • Cripple Creek District Museum
  • Cross Orchards Historic Site
  • Crowley County Heritage Center
  • CU Art Museum 
  • CU Heritage Center
Denver Art Museum- DAM, in Denver, Colorado, USA
  • Cussler Museum 
  • Delta County Historical Museum 
  • Denver Art Museum 
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science 
  • Denver Firefighters Museum 
  • Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys
  • Dikeou Collection 
  • Dillon Schoolhouse Museum 
  • Dinosaur Depot Museum 
  • Dinosaur Journey Museum 
  • Dinosaur National Monument 
  • Dinosaur Ridge
  • Dougherty Museum
  • Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
  • Durango Discovery Museum 
  • Edwin Carter Discovery Center 
  • Elbert County Museum 
  • El Pomar Carriage Museum 
  • El Pueblo History Museum 
  • Enos Mills Cabin Museum and Gallery
Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Fort Collin, Colorado
  • Erie-Wise Homestead Museum 
  • Estes Park Museum
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument 
  • Foothills Art Center
  • Forney Transportation Museum
  • Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Science Center 
  • Fort Francisco Museum 
  • Fort Garland Museum 
  • Fort Lupton Museum 
  • Fort Morgan Museum 
  • Fort Uncompahgre Living History Museum 
  • Fort Vasquez Museum 
  • Four Mile Historic Park 
  • Fred Harman Western Art Museum 
  • Frisco Historic Park 
  • Frontier Historical Museum 
  • Galloping Goose Historical Society Museum 
  • Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center 
  • Gateway Auto Museum
A High Bridge of the Georgetown Loop Railroad, Colorado
  • Georgetown Energy Museum 
  • Georgetown Loop Historic Mining & Railroad 
  • Park Gillaspie House
  • Gilpin History Museum 
  • Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures 
  • Golden History Center 
  • Golden Pioneer Museum
  • Hinsdale County Museum 
  • Grand County Museum 
  • Greeley Freight Station Museum 
  • Greeley History Museum
  • Hahns Peak Museum 
  • Hamill House Museum 
  • Hayden Heritage Center Museum 
  • Hazard House Museum
  • Healy House Museum and Dexter Cabin 
  • Heritage Museum and Visitor Center 
  • Heritage Park Museum
  • Hinsdale County Museum
The History of Colorado Center in Denver, Colorado
  • History Colorado Center
  • Hiwan Homestead Museum 
  • Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum 
  • Hotel de Paris Museum
  • Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Society Museum
  • Hoverhome Humphrey History Park & Museum
  • InfoZone News Museum 
  • Jack Dempsey Museum and Park
  • Johnstown Parish House Museum 
  • Kauffman House 
  • Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art 
  • Kit Carson Museum 
  • Koshare Indian Museum 
  • The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar 
  • Lace House (Blackhawk, Colorado) 
  • Lafayette Miners Museum 
  • Lakewood Cultural Center 
  • Lakewood Heritage Center
  • Leanin' Tree Museum of Western Art
The Longmont Museum and Cultural Center Longmont
  • Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum 
  • Little Green Schoolhouse 
  • Little Thompson Valley Pioneer Museum
  • Littleton Historical Museum
  • Lomax Placer Mine
  • Longmont Museum & Cultural Center
  • Louden-Henritze Museum of Archaeology 
  • Louisville Historical Museum
  • Loveland Museum & Gallery 
  • Lucretia Vaile Museum 
  • Lula W. Dorsey Museum 
  • Luther E. Bean Museum 
  • Lyons Redstone Museum 
  • Madden Museum of Art
  • Manitou Cliff Dwellings 
  • May Natural History Museum of the Tropics
  • McAllister House Museum 
  • McCarty Fickel Home
  • MacGregor Ranch
The Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
  • McIlvoy House 
  • Meeker Home 
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Miramont Castle 
  • Mizel Arts & Culture Center 
  • Mizel Museum 
  • Molly Brown House 
  • Molly Brown Summer House 
  • Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine
  • Montrose County Historical Museum 
  • Moraine Park Museum and Amphitheater 
  • Morrison Natural History Museum 
  • Mountain Bike Hall of Fame 
  • Mountain Top Children’s Museum
  • Museo de las Américas 
  • Museum of Colorado Prisons 
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Denver 
  • Museum of Friends 
  • Museum of Northwest Colorado 
  • Museum of Outdoor Arts
The National Mining Hall of Fame Museum, Leadville
  • Museum of the West 
  • National Mining Hall of Fame
  • Nederland Mining Museum 
  • Northern Drylanders Museum
  • Notah Dineh Trading Company and Museum 
  • Old Colorado City History Center 
  • Old Homestead House Museum 
  • Old Town Museum and Emporium
  • Otero Museum
  • Ouray County Museum 
  • Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum 
  • Overland Trail Museum
  • Paleo Pelagica Museum
  • Pearce-McAllister Cottage 
  • Peterson Air and Space Museum 
  • Pikes Peak Radio & Electronics Museum 
  • Pikes Peak Heritage Center 
  • Pikes Peak Museum 
  • Pioneer Historical Museum
The Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum, Colorado
  • Pioneer Museum 
  • Pioneer Town Museum 
  • Plains Conservation Center
  • Platteville Pioneer Museum 
  • Plumb Farm Learning Center
  • ProRodeo Hall of Fame 
  • Pueblo Railway Museum 
  • Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum
  • Rangely Outdoor Museum 
  • Red, White and Blue Fire Museum
  • Ridgway Railroad Museum 
  • Rifle Creek Museum 
  • Rio Grande County Museum and Cultural Center 
  • Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site 
  • Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center 
  • Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame 
  • Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum
  • Rosemount Museum 
  • Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center
South Park City, an open air museum, Park County, Colorado
  • Saguache County Museum 
  • Salida Museum
  • Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center 
  • San Juan County Historical Society Museum 
  • San Juan History Museum 
  • San Luis Museum and Cultural Center 
  • San Luis Valley Museum 
  • Shelby American Collection 
  • Southeastern Colorado Heritage Center 
  • Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum 
  • South Park City Spirit of Flight Center 
  • Springfield Museum 
  • Stanley Museum in Estes Park 
  • Steamboat Art Museum 
  • Steelworks Museum of Industry and Culture 
  • Stiles African American Heritage Center 
  • Summit Ski Exhibit Telluride Historical Museum
The University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
  • Thomas House 
  • Tracks and Trails Museum 
  • Transportation of the West Museum 
  • Tread of Pioneers Museum 
  • Trinidad Children's Museum 
Trinidad History Museum 
  • Turner Farm
  • Underhill Museum 
  • University of Colorado Museum of Natural History 
  • Ute Indian Museum 
  • Ute Mountain Tribal Park 
  • Ute Pass History Park 
  • Veterans History Center Museum 
  • Victor Lowell Thomas Museum 
  • Vintage Aero Flying Museum
  • Walsenburg Mining Museum 
  • Western Colorado Center for the Arts 
  • Western Museum of Mining & Industry 
  • Wheat Ridge Historical Park
The Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum
  • Wheeler/Stallard Museum 
  • White River Museum 
  • The Wildlife Experience 
  • Windsor Museum 
  • Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum 
  • World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame 
  • World's Wonder View Tower 
  • WOW! Children's Museum
  • Wyman Living History Museum
  • Yampa Historical Museum 
Fine Arts 


The American state of Colorado has many music scenes and venues, especially in the larger cities like Denver and Colorado Springs. Colorado's orchestras include the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

3OH!3 at Bamboozle in 2008
Folk and traditional music in Colorado has been an intricate part of the local popular culture in the last century. The Colorado Bluegrass Music Society exists to promote Coloradan bluegrass music, and publishes a magazine called Pow'r Pickin'. 

Local bands and musicians as well as those often associated with Colorado include: 
  • 16 Horsepower (Alternative/Country/Rock) • 
  • 3OH!3 (Pop) 
  • 3 The Hard Way (Hip-Hop) 
  • Air Dubai (Alternative Hip-Hop) 
  • All (Punk) 
  • Antonia Brico (Classical) 
  • The Apples in Stereo (Indie/Pop) 
  • A Shoreline Dream (Rock) 
  • The Astronauts (Surf) 
  • Big Gigantic (Instrumental Electronica) 
  • Big Head Todd and the Monsters (Rock/Blues) 
  • Breathe Carolina (Electronic Rock) 
  • Calm (music group) (hip hop) 
  • Cephalic Carnage (Grindcore/Death Metal) 
  • Christie Front Drive (Post-hardcore, Indie, Emo) 
  • Churchill (Acoustic/Bluegrass/Folk Rock) 
  • The Congress (Rock) 
  • The Czars (Rock/Alternative) 
  • Dethcentrik (Industrial metal) 
  • DeVotchKa (Indie/Alternative - Post Rock) 
  • Dianne Reeves (Jazz)
Firefall at a performance in Longmont, Colorado, USA
  • Dressy Bessy (Indie) 
  • Drop Dead, Gorgeous (Rock) 
  • Earth, Wind & Fire (R&B/Soul/Funk/Disco/Jazz/Rock) 
  • Elephant Revival (Folk) 
  • Fear Before the March of Flames (Rock) 
  • Firefall (Rock) 
  • Five Iron Frenzy (Ska) 
  • Flobots (Rap-Rock) 
  • The Fluid (Rock) 
  • The Fray (Adult Contemporary/Soft Rock) 
  • Frogs Gone Fishin' (Funk) 
  • The Gamits (Pop/Punk) 
  • Ginger Baker (Jazz) 
  • Glenn Miller (Jazz) 
  • Havok (band) (Metal) 
  • Hazel Miller (Rock/Jazz/Folk) 
  • Hit and Run (band) (Bluegrass) 
  • Idlewhile (Indie/Americana) 
  • India.Arie (R&B/Soul) 
  • Jill Sobule (Folk)
The Lumineers performing at Sasquatch in 2013
  • John Denver (Folk) 
  • Judy Collins (Folk) 
  • Leftover Salmon (Jam) 
  • The Lumineers (Folk/Alternative) 
  • The Minders (Indie) 
  • Meese (Alternative) 
  • Mark Brooks 
  • Matt Pike 
  • Mike Johnson (guitarist) 
  • Mr. J. Medeiros (Hip-Hop) 
  • Nathaniel Rateliff 
  • Neighborhood Bully(Pop/Rock) 
  • The Northern Way (Pop/Rock) 
  • OneRepublic (Pop/Rock) 
  • Opera Colorado (Opera) 
  • Paper Bird (Americana/Folk) 
  • Philip Bailey (R&B/Funk) 
  • Playalitical (Rap/Hip-Hop) 
  • The Photo Atlas (Pop/Rock) 
  • Pretty Lights (Electronic)
The Samples in concert, September 25, 1993
  • The Procussions (Hip-Hop) 
  • Reverb and The Verse (Hip-Hop/Electronic) 
  • Rivulets (Indie/Singer-Songwriter) 
  • Ron Miles (Jazz) 
  • Roper (Pop/Punk) 
  • Rose Hill Drive (Rock) 
  • Sally Taylor (singer-songwriter) 
  • The Samples (Jam/Rock) 
  • SHEL (Folk/Pop) 
  • Single File (Pop) 
  • The Symbols (Pop/Rock/World) 
  • Slim Cessna's Auto Club (Alternative/Country/Rock) 
  • The String Cheese Incident (Jam) 
  • Thinking Plague (Avant/Progressive) 
  • Tickle Me Pink (Pop) 
  • Time (rapper) (indie hip hop) 
  • Tommy Bolin (1960s-1970s) 
  • Vaux (Alternative, 1990s-2000s) 
  • Velvet Acid Christ (Electronic/Industrial, 1990s-2000s) 
  • Wovenhand (Alternative/Country/Rock)
Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado, Boulder
  •  Yonder Mountain String Band (Bluegrass) 
  • Zephyr (Punk) 
Notable music venues in Colorado include:

  1. Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St. 
  2. Macky Auditorium, CU-Boulder campus 
  3. Boulder Theater 
  1. 1STBANK Center 
Colorado Springs 
  1. World Arena, 3185 Venetucci Blvd. 
  2. The Black Sheep, 2106 Platte Avenue. 
  3. ZodiacVenue,230 Pueblo Ave
Denver Pepsi Center
  1. Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson St. 
  2. Magness Arena, 2240 E. Buchtel Blvd. 
  3. Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave. 
  4. Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Pl. 
  5. Bluebird Theater, 930 W. 7th Ave. 
  6. Paramount Theater, 1621 Glenarm Pl. 
  7. Gothic Theater, 3263 S Broadway 
Greenwood Village 
  1. Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre 
  1. Budweiser Events Center 
  1. Red Rocks Amphitheatre
  1. Town Park, 500 East Colorado Ave.
The exterior of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Theater venues in Colorado include: 

In Denver 
  1. Denver Center for the Performing Arts is the second largest performing arts center in the US. 
  2. The Avenue Theater is located 4 blocks from Downtown Denver, providing high-class performances. 
  3. The Theater Off Broadway is located 4 blocks south of Downtown Denver, in the Santa Fe Arts District. 
  4. Next Stage Denver 
  5. The Aurora Fox 
  6. Germinal Stage Denver 
  7. The E-vent Center 
In Fort Collins 
  1. Bas Bleu Theatre Company 
In Littleton 
  1. Town Hall Arts Center
The Chautauqua Auditorium, Boulder, Colorado
In Boulder 
  1. University of Colorado at Boulder runs several theaters, and hosts the annual Colorado Shakespeare Festival 
  2. Chautauqua Auditorium 

A number of film productions have shot on location in Colorado, especially prominent Westerns like True Grit, The Searchers and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A number of historic military forts, railways with trains still operating, mining ghost towns have been utilized and transformed for historical accuracy in well known films. There are also a number of scenic highways and mountain passes that helped to feature the open road in films such as Vanishing Point, Bingo and Starman. Some Colorado landmarks have been featured in films, such as the The Stanley Hotel in Dumb and Dumber and the Sculptured House in Sleeper. The Colorado Office of Film and Television has noted that over 400 films have been shot in Colorado. 

Bon Appetit
There are also a number of established film festivals in Colorado, including Aspen Shortsfest, Boulder International Film Festival, Castle Rock Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, Festivus film festival, Mile High Horror Film Festival, Moondance International Film Festival, Mountainfilm in Telluride, Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival, and Telluride Film Festival. 


Colorado is known for its Southwest and Rocky Mountain cuisine. Mexican restaurants are prominent throughout the state. 

Boulder, Colorado was named America’s Foodiest Town 2010 by Bon Appétit. Boulder, and Colorado in general, is home to a number of national food and beverage companies, top-tier restaurants and farmers' markets. Boulder, Colorado also has more Master Sommeliers per capita than any other city, including San Francisco and New York. 

The Food & Wine Classic held annually each June in Aspen, Colorado. Aspen also has a reputation as the culinary capital of the Rocky Mountain region.

Colorado is known for steak
Denver is known for steak, but now has a diverse culinary scene with many top-tier restaurants. 

Wine and Beer 

Colorado wines include award-winning varietals that have attracted favorable notice from outside the state. With wines made from traditional Vitis vinifera grapes along with wines made from cherries, peaches, plums and honey, Colorado wines have won top national and international awards for their quality. Colorado's grape growing regions contain the highest elevation vineyards in the United States, with most viticulture in the state practiced between 4,000 and 7,000 feet (1,219 and 2,134 m) feet above sea level. The mountain climate ensures warm summer days and cool nights. Colorado is home to two designated American Viticultural Areas of the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA, where most of the vineyards in the state are located. However, an increasing number of wineries are located along the Front Range.

John Hickenlooper, the Governor of Colorado
Colorado is home to many nationally praised microbreweries, including New Belgium Brewing Company, Odell Brewing Company, Great Divide Brewing Company, and Oskar Blues Brewery. The area of northern Colorado near the city of Fort Collins is known as the "Napa Valley of Beer" due to its high density of craft breweries. 


Colorado is one of two states to legalize both the medicinal (2000) and recreational (2014) use of marijuana. 

Amendment 64 also requires the Colorado state legislature to enact regulations for industrial hemp making Colorado the only source of hemp and hemp products within the United States. 

Medicinal Use 

On November 7, 2000, 54% of Colorado voters passed Amendment 20, which amends the Colorado State constitution to allow the medical use of cannabis. Patients can possess no more than two ounces of "usable cannabis" and not more than six cannabis plants. 

Currently Colorado has listed "eight medical conditions for which patients can use cannabis – cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, muscle spasms, seizures, severe pain, severe nausea and cachexia or dramatic weight loss and muscle atrophy." Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has allocated about half of the state's $13 million "Medical Marijuana Program Cash Fund" to medical research in the 2014 budget.

A Wheat Field in Colorado, USA
Recreational Use 

On November 6, 2012, voters amended the state constitution to protect "personal use" of marijuana for adults, establishing a framework to regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol. The first recreational marijuana shops in Colorado, and by extension the United States, opened their doors on January 1, 2014. 


CNBC's list of "Top States for Business for 2010" has recognized Colorado as the third best state in the nation, falling short to only Texas and Virginia. 

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the total state product in 2010 was $257.6 billion. Per capita personal income in 2010 was $51 940, ranking Colorado 11th in the nation. The state's economy broadened from its mid-19th century roots in mining when irrigated agriculture developed, and by the late 19th century, raising livestock had become important. Early industry was based on the extraction and processing of minerals and agricultural products. Current agricultural products are cattle, wheat, dairy products, corn, and hay. 

Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
The federal government is also a major economic force in the state with many important federal facilities including NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), United States Air Force Academy, Schriever Air Force Base located approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of Peterson Air Force Base, and Fort Carson, both located in Colorado Springs within El Paso County; NOAA, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder; U.S. Geological Survey and other government agencies at the Denver Federal Center near Lakewood; the Denver Mint, Buckley Air Force Base, and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver; and a federal Supermax Prison and other federal prisons near Cañon City. In addition to these and other federal agencies, Colorado has abundant National Forest land and four National Parks that contribute to federal ownership of 24,615,788 acres (99,617 km2) of land in Colorado, or 37% of the total area of the state. In the second half of the 20th century, the industrial and service sectors have expanded greatly. The state's economy is diversified and is notable for its concentration of scientific research and high-technology industries. Other industries include food processing, transportation equipment, machinery, chemical products, the extraction of metals such as gold (see Gold mining in Colorado), silver, and molybdenum. Colorado now also has the largest annual production of beer of any state. Denver is an important financial center. 

A number of nationally known brand names have originated in Colorado factories and laboratories. From Denver came the forerunner of telecommunications giant Qwest in 1879, Samsonite luggage in 1910, Gates belts and hoses in 1911, and Russell Stover Candies in 1923. Kuner canned vegetables began in Brighton in 1864. From Golden came Coors beer in 1873, CoorsTek industrial ceramics in 1920, and Jolly Rancher candy in 1949. CF&I railroad rails, wire, nails and pipe debuted in Pueblo in 1892. Holly Sugar was first milled from beets in Holly in 1905, and later moved its headquarters to Colorado Springs. The present-day Swift packed meat of Greeley evolved from Monfort of Colorado, Inc., established in 1930. Estes model rockets were launched in Penrose in 1958. Fort Collins has been the home of Woodward Governor Company's motor controllers (governors) since 1870, and Waterpik dental water jets and showerheads since 1962. Celestial Seasonings herbal teas have been made in Boulder since 1969. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory made its first candy in Durango in 1981. 

Corn production in Colorado
Colorado has a flat 4.63% income tax, regardless of income level. Unlike most states, which calculate taxes based on federal adjusted gross income, Colorado taxes are based on taxable income – income after federal exemptions and federal itemized (or standard) deductions. Colorado's state sales tax is 2.9% on retail sales. When state revenues exceed state constitutional limits, full-year Colorado residents can claim a sales tax refund on their individual state income tax return. Many counties and cities charge their own rates in addition to the base state rate. There are also certain county and special district taxes that may apply. 

Real estate and personal business property are taxable in Colorado. The state's senior property tax exemption was temporarily suspended by the Colorado Legislature in 2003. The tax break is scheduled to return for assessment year 2006, payable in 2007. 

As of August 2014, the state's unemployment rate is 5.3%. 


Major philanthropic organizations based in Colorado, include the Daniels Fund, the Anschutz Family Foundation, the Gates Family Foundation, the El Pomar Foundation and the Boettcher Foundation grant each year from approximately $7 billion of assets. 

Oil well near Rangely, Colorado
Natural Resources 

Colorado has significant hydrocarbon resources. According to the Energy Information Administration, Colorado hosts seven of the Nation’s 100 largest natural gas fields and two of its 100 largest oil fields. Conventional and unconventional natural gas output from several Colorado basins typically account for more than 5 percent of annual U.S. natural gas production. Colorado’s oil shale deposits hold an estimated 1 trillion barrels (160 km3) of oil – nearly as much oil as the entire world’s proven oil reserves; the economic viability of the oil shale, however, has not been demonstrated. Substantial deposits of bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite coal are found in the state. 

Colorado's high Rocky Mountain ridges and eastern plains offer wind power potential, and geologic activity in the mountain areas provides potential for geothermal power development. Much of the state is sunny and could produce solar power. Major rivers flowing from the Rocky Mountains offer hydroelectric power resources. Corn grown in the flat eastern part of the state offers potential resources for ethanol production. 


Colorado's primary mode of transportation (in terms of passengers) is its highway system. Interstate 25 (I-25) is the primary north–south highway in the state, connecting Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver, and Fort Collins, and extending north to Wyoming and south to New Mexico. I-70 is the primary east–west corridor. It connects Grand Junction and the mountain communities with Denver, and enters Utah and Kansas. The state is home to a network of US and Colorado highways that provide access to all principal areas of the state. Smaller communities are only connected to this network via county roads. 

The Main terminal of Denver International Airport
Denver International Airport (DIA) is the fourth busiest domestic U.S. airport and thirteenth busiest world airport DIA handles by far the largest volume of commercial air traffic in Colorado, and is the busiest U.S. hub airport between Chicago and the Pacific coast, making Denver the most important airport for connecting passenger traffic in the western U.S. Denver International Airport is the primary hub for low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines, with routes throughout North America. It is also the fourth-largest hub of the world's largest airline, United Airlines. DIA is a focus city for Southwest Airlines, which since commencing service to Denver in January 2006, has added over 50 destinations, making Denver its fastest-growing market. Denver International Airport is the only airport in the United States to have implemented an ISO 14001-certified environmental management system covering the entire airport. 

Extensive public transportation bus services are offered both intra-city and inter-city—including the Denver metro area's extensive RTD services. The Regional Transportation District (RTD) operates the popular RTD Bus & Light Rail transit system in the Denver Metropolitan Area. As of January 2013 the RTD rail system had 170 light rail vehicles, serving 47 miles (76 km) of track. 

Amtrak operates two rail passenger lines through Colorado, including the Glenwood Canyon route of the famed California Zephyr, one of America's legendary passenger trains. Colorado's contribution to world railroad history was forged principally by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad which began in 1870 and wrote the book on mountain railroading. In 1988 the "Rio Grande" acquired, but was merged into, the Southern Pacific Railroad by their joint owner Philip Anschutz. On September 11, 1996, Anschutz sold the combined company to the Union Pacific Railroad, creating the largest railroad network in the United States. The Anschutz sale was partly in response to the earlier merger of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe which formed the large Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), Union Pacific's principal competitor in western U.S. railroading. Both Union Pacific and BNSF have extensive freight operations in Colorado. 

The Colorado State Capitol in Denver
Colorado's freight railroad network consists of 2,688 miles of Class I trackage. It is integral to the U.S. economy, being a critical artery for the movement of energy, agriculture, mining, and industrial commodities as well as general freight and manufactured products between the East and Midwest and the Pacific coast states. 

Government and Politics

State Government 

Like the federal government and all other U.S. states, Colorado's state constitution provides for three branches of government: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches. 

The Governor of Colorado heads the state's executive branch. The current governor is John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. Colorado's other statewide elected executive officers are the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado (elected on a ticket with the Governor), Secretary of State of Colorado, Colorado State Treasurer, and Attorney General of Colorado, all of whom serve four-year terms. 

The Colorado Supreme Court, Courtroom
The seven-member Colorado Supreme Court is the highest judicial court in the state. The state legislative body is the Colorado General Assembly, which is made up of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House has 65 members and the Senate has 35. As of 2013, the Democratic Party holds an 18 to 17 majority in the Senate and a 37 to 28 majority in the House. 

Most Coloradans are native to other states (nearly 60% according to the 2000 census), and this is illustrated by the fact that the state did not have a native-born governor from 1975 (when John David Vanderhoof left office) until 2007, when Bill Ritter took office; his election the previous year marked the first electoral victory for a native-born Coloradan in a gubernatorial race since 1958 (Vanderhoof had ascended from the Lieutenant Governorship when John Arthur Love was given a position in Richard Nixon's administration in 1973). 

Broomfield, Colorado Interlocken office park

The State of Colorado is divided into 64 counties. Counties are important units of government in Colorado since the state has no secondary civil subdivisions such as townships. Two of these counties, the City and County of Denver and the City and County of Broomfield, have consolidated city and county governments. 

Nine Colorado counties have a population in excess of 250,000 each, while eight Colorado counties have a population of less than 2,500 each. The ten most populous Colorado counties are all located in the Front Range Urban Corridor. 

The El Paso County Justice Center in Colorado Springs
The 15 Colorado counties with a population of at least 50,000 are as under;
  1. El Paso County 
  2. City and County of Denver 
  3. Arapahoe County
  4. Jefferson County
  5. Adams County
  6. Larimer County
  7. Boulder County
  8. Douglas County
  9. Weld County
  10. Pueblo County
  11. Mesa County
  12. City and County of Broomfield
  13. Garfield County
  14. La Plata County
  15. Eagle County 

Pikes Peak from the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs
Metropolitan Areas 

The United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has defined one Combined Statistical Area (CSA), seven Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), and seven Micropolitan Statistical Areas (μSAs) in the state of Colorado. 

The most populous of the 14 Core Based Statistical Areas in Colorado is the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. This area had an estimated population of 2,599,504 on July 1, 2011, an increase of +2.20% since the 2010 United States Census. 

The more extensive Denver-Aurora-Boulder, CO Combined Statistical Area had an estimated population of 3,157,520 on July 1, 2011, an increase of +2.16% since the 2010 United States Census. 

The most populous extended metropolitan region in Rocky Mountain Region is the Front Range Urban Corridor along the northeast face of the Southern Rocky Mountains. This region with Denver at its center had an estimated population of 4,423,936 on July 1, 2011, an increase of +2.06% since the 2010 United States Census. 

The Lakewood, Colorado Civic Center

The state of Colorado currently has 271 active incorporated municipalities, including 196 towns, 73 cities, and two consolidated city and county governments. 

Colorado municipalities operate under one of five types of municipal governing authority. Colorado has one town with a territorial charter, 160 statutory towns, 12 statutory cities, 96 home rule municipalities (61 cities and 35 towns), and 2 consolidated city and county governments. 

The 26 Colorado municipalities with a population of at least 25,000 are as under;
  1. City and County of Denver
  2. City of Colorado Springs
  3. City of Aurora
  4. City of Fort Collins
  5. City of Lakewood
  6. City of Thornton
  7. City of Arvada
  8. City of Westminster
  9. City of Pueblo
  10. City of Centennial
  11. City of Boulder
  12. City of Greeley
  13. City of Longmont
  14. City of Loveland
  15. City of Grand Junction
  16. City and County of Broomfield
  17. Town of Castle Rock
  18. City of Commerce City
  19. Town of Parker
  20. City of Littleton
  21. City of Northglenn
  22. City of Brighton
  23. City of Englewood
  24. City of Wheat Ridge
  25. City of Fountain
  26. City of Lafayette 
Ken Caryl, Jefferson County, Colorado, USA
Unincorporated Communities 

In addition to its 271 municipalities, Colorado has 187 unincorporated United States census designated places and many other small communities. 

The 16 Census Designated Places in Colorado, with a population of at least 10,000, are as under; 
  1. Highlands Ranch
  2. Security-Widefield
  3. Ken Caryl
  4. Dakota Ridge
  5. Pueblo West
  6. Columbine
  7. Clifton
  8. Sherrelwood
  9. Cimarron Hills
  10. Welby
  11. Fort Carson
  12. Black Forest
  13. Berkley
  14. Cherry Creek
  15. The Pinery
  16. Edwards 
Special Districts 

The state of Colorado has more than 3,000 districts with taxing authority. These districts may provide schools, law enforcement, fire protection, water, sewage, drainage, irrigation, transportation, recreation, infrastructure, cultural facilities, business support, redevelopment, or other services. 

RTD Line D train in downtown Denver, Colorado, USA
Some of these districts have authority to levy sales tax and well as property tax and use fees. This has led to a hodgepodge of sales tax and property tax rates in Colorado. There are some street intersections in Colorado with a different sales tax rate on each corner, sometimes substantially different. 

Some of the more notable Colorado districts are: 
  • The Regional Transportation District (RTD), which affects the counties of Denver, Boulder, Jefferson, and portions of Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, and Douglas Counties 
  • The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a special regional tax district with physical boundaries contiguous with county boundaries of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties 
  • It is a 0.1% retail sales and use tax (one penny on every $10). 
  • According to the Colorado statute, the SCFD distributes the money to local organizations on an annual basis. These organizations must provide for the enlightenment and entertainment of the public through the production, presentation, exhibition, advancement or preservation of art, music, theater, dance, zoology, botany, natural history or cultural history. 
  • As directed by statute, SCFD recipient organizations are currently divided into three "tiers" among which receipts are allocated by percentage. 
  • Tier I includes regional organizations: the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Zoo, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. It receives 65.5%. 
  • Tier II currently includes 26 regional organizations. Tier II receives 21%. 
  • Tier III has over 280 local organizations such as small theaters, orchestras, art centers, and natural history, cultural history, and community groups. Tier III organizations apply for funding to the county cultural councils via a grant process. This tier receives 13.5%. 
  • An 11-member board of directors oversees the distributions in accordance with the Colorado Revised Statutes. Seven board members are appointed by county commissioners (in Denver, the Denver City Council) and four members are appointed by the Governor of Colorado. 
The Field at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Colorado
  • The Football Stadium District (FD or FTBL), approved by the voters to pay for and help build the Denver Broncos' stadium Sports Authority Field at Mile High 
  • Local Improvement Districts (LID) within designated areas of southeast Jefferson and Boulder counties 
  • Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) taxes at varying rates in Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Gunnison County 
Federal Politics 

Colorado is considered a swing state in both state and federal elections. Coloradans have elected 17 Democrats and 12 Republicans to the governorship in the last 100 years. In presidential politics, Colorado was considered a reliably Republican state during the post-World War II era, only voting for the Democratic candidate in 1964 and 1992. However, it became a competitive swing state by the turn of the century, and voted consecutively for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. 

Colorado politics has the contrast of conservative cities such as Colorado Springs and liberal cities such as Boulder and Denver. Democrats are strongest in metropolitan Denver, the college towns of Fort Collins and Boulder, southern Colorado (including Pueblo), and a few western ski resort counties. The Republicans are strongest in the Eastern Plains, Colorado Springs, Greeley, and far Western Colorado near Grand Junction. 

Mark Emery Udall, the US Senator from Col
The state of Colorado is represented by its two United States Senators: 
  • United States Senate Class 2 – Mark Emery Udall (Democratic) 2009– 
  • United States Senate Class 3 – Michael Farrand Bennet (Democratic) 2009– 
Colorado is represented by seven Representatives to the United States House of Representatives: 
  • Colorado's 1st congressional district – Diana Louise DeGette (Democratic) 1997– 
  • Colorado's 2nd congressional district – Jared Schutz Polis (Democratic) 2009– 
  • Colorado's 3rd congressional district – Scott Tipton (Republican) 2011– 
  • Colorado's 4th congressional district – Cory Gardner (Republican) 2011– 
  • Colorado's 5th congressional district – Douglas L. "Doug" Lamborn (Republican) 2007– 
  • Colorado's 6th congressional district – Michael "Mike" Coffman (Republican) 2009– 
  • Colorado's 7th congressional district – Edwin George "Ed" Perlmutter (Democratic) 2007– 
Significant Bills Passed in Colorado 

On the November 8, 1932 ballot, Colorado approved the repeal of alcohol prohibition more than a year before the federal government passed the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Adams State University, Colorado, USA
In 2012, voters amended the state constitution to protect "personal use" of marijuana for adults, establishing a framework to regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol. The first recreational marijuana shops in Colorado, and by extension the United States, opened their doors on January 1, 2014. 


Colleges and universities in Colorado: 
  • Adams State University 
  • Aims Community College 
  • Arapahoe Community College 
  • Art Institute of Colorado 
  • Belleview Christian College & Bible Seminary 
  • Colorado Christian University 
  • Colorado College 
  • Colorado Mesa University 
  • Colorado Mountain College 
  • Colorado Northwestern Community College 
  • Colorado School of Mines 
  • Colorado State University System 
  • Colorado State University 
  • Colorado State University-Pueblo 
  • Colorado Technical University 
  • Community College of Aurora 
  • Community College of Denver 
  • Denver Seminary 
Treat Hall at Johnson & Wales University, Denver, Col
  • DeVry University 
  • Emily Griffith Opportunity School 
  • Ecotech Institute 
  • Fort Lewis College 
  • Front Range Community College 
  • Iliff School of Theology 
  • Johnson & Wales University 
  • Jones International University 
  • Lamar Community College 
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver 
  • Morgan Community College 
  • Naropa University 
  • National Technological University 
  • Nazarene Bible College 
  • Northeastern Junior College 
  • Otero Junior College 
  • Pikes Peak Community College 
  • Pueblo Community College 
  • Red Rocks Community College 
  • Redstone College 
Main Hall at Regis University in Denver, Colorado
  • Regis University 
  • Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design 
  • Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • Trinidad State Junior College 
  • United States Air Force Academy 
  • University of Colorado System 
  • University of Colorado Boulder 
  • University of Colorado Colorado Springs 
  • University of Colorado Denver 
  • Anschutz Medical Campus 
  • Auraria Campus 
  • University of Denver 
  • University of Northern Colorado 
  • Western State Colorado University 
Military Installations 

Colorado is currently the home of seven major military bases and installations. 
  • Air Reserve Personnel Center 
  • Buckley Air Force Base 
  • Fort Carson (U.S. Army) 
  • Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site 
  • Peterson Air Force Base 
  • Cheyenne Mountain Directorate 
  • Pueblo Chemical Depot (U.S. Army) 
  • Schriever Air Force Base 
  • United States Air Force Academy 
Concrete ruins of a field house at the site of Camp Hale
Former Military installations and outposts include 
  • Camp Hale 
  • Camp Collins 
  • Fort Logan 
  • Lowry Air Force Base 
  • Fitzsimons Army Hospital 
Protected Areas 

Colorado is home to four national parks, seven national monuments, two national recreation areas, two national historic sites, three national historic trails, one national scenic trail, 11 national forests, two national grasslands, 41 national wilderness areas, two national conservation areas, eight national wildlife refuges, 44 state parks, 307 state wildlife areas, and numerous other scenic, historic, and recreational areas. 

Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction, Colorado
Units of the National Park System in Colorado: 
  • Arapaho National Recreation Area 
  • Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site 
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park 
  • Canyons of the Ancients National Monument 
  • Chimney Rock National Monument 
  • Colorado National Monument 
  • Continental Divide National Scenic Trail 
  • Curecanti National Recreation Area 
  • Dinosaur National Monument 
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument 
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve 
  • Hovenweep National Monument 
The Colorado Rockies baseball club at Coors Field, Col
  • Mesa Verde National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site 
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail 
  • Pony Express National Historic Trail 
  • Rocky Mountain National Park 
  • Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site 
  • Santa Fe National Historic Trail 
  • Yucca House National Monument 

Colorado has five major professional sports leagues, all based in the Denver metropolitan area. Colorado is the least populous state with a franchise in each of the major professional sports leagues. 

College Athletics 

The following universities and colleges participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I. The most popular college sports program is the University of Colorado Buffaloes, who used to play in the Big-12 but now play in the Pac-12.

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