Colorado is the famed Rocky Mountain state where the great plains meet the slopes of the Rocky Mountains. In nearly a line from south to north up the middle of the state, the mountains rise from the 5,000 foot plains to jagged 14,000 foot peaks. Flat, grassy prairie lands dominate the eastern area, while a variety of mountains, canyons plateaus cover the western half. Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and the major populated area sits along the feet of these mountains.
Colorado is a popular tourist destination and famous for its beautiful scenery. Its name is based on the word “color” and colorful it is. With three national parks, as well as many other mountains, canyons and scenic locations, it is a place that has to be visited.
Colorado was admitted to the union on August 1, 1876, as the 38th state. It covers 104,100 square miles, making it the eighth largest state in area. As of the year 2000, the population is 4,301,261. Denver is the capitol. The highest point in Colorado is Mount Elbert at 14,433 feet. The lowest point is on the Arickaree River, on the Kansas-Colorado border, at 3,315 feet.
What to See in Colorado
Dinosaur National Monument lies in the northwest corner of Colorado, straddling the border with Utah. Originally created to preserve a rich quarry of dinosaur bones and other fossils, it was expanded to include the striking scenery of the gorge of the Green River as it passes through the Uintah Mountains. Drive the Harper’s Corner Scenic Drive to enjoy this treasure.
In the southwest corner of Colorado, ancient Indians built cliff dwellings for protection from enemies. Mesa Verde National Park preserves a large number of ancient ruins including the fantastic Cliff Palace.
Rocky Mountain National Park is just a couple hours drive from Denver, and is perched right on the tops of the Rocky Mountain Range. It includes Longs Peak at 14,255 feet in elevation, and many miles of alpine wilderness.
Near the western border of Colorado, the Dolores River has carved a breathtaking canyon named the Dolores River Gorge. Cliffs of red Navajo sandstone line the canyon for many miles as it cuts through a rugged and uninhabited part of the state. Colorado Highway 141 passes through the canyon.
Colorado is bordered by seven states: Wyoming lies to the north, Nebraska wraps around the northeast corner, Kansas is to the east, the tip of the Oklahoma panhandle touches the southeast corner, New Mexico is to the south, Utah lies to the west, and Arizona is kitty-corner to the southwest. That corner, known as Four Corners, is the only place in the United States where the borders of 4 states meet.
The Colorado River, the most important river of the American Southwest, has its origins in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It flows westward into Utah, and through such famous places as the Grand Canyon. The South Platte River flows from the Denver area towards Nebraska, and the Arkansas River drains the south east corner of the state.
Interstate 70 is the main east-west artery through Colorado, and Interstate 25 is the north-south route. They intersect at Denver. Interstate 76 heads northeast from Denver to meet Interstate 80 just across the Nebraska state line. U.S. Highway 50 crosses the state east to west, U.S. Highway 160 reaches to the southeast corner, and U.S. Highway 40 goes from Denver to the northwest corner. U.S Highway 385 crosses the prairies along the eastern boundary from north to south.