State: Colorado – CO

Geography map of colorado

Published on June 8th, 2015 | by Brandon Ramsey in Geography


Colorado is part of the Western and Southwestern United States. It is is the 8th most extensive and the 22nd most populated of the 50 members of the United States. The Census Bureau has estimated that the population is 5,355,866 as of July 2014 which is an increase of 6.50% compared to the 2010 census.

Today we’ll examine the geography, climate, and tourist attractions that this place has to offer. Before we move into those elements of the article though, let’s examine some key information about this location:

  • Capital: Denver
  • Motto: Nil Sine Numine “Nothing Without Providence.”
  • Nickname: “Centennial State”
  • Bird: Lark Bunting
  • Fish: “Greenback Cutthroat Trout”
  • Flower: “Rocky Mountain Columbine.”
  • State Flag
  • Official Website: Colorado.gov

map of colorado in the United States

A Broad Overview

This state’s borders encompass the South Rocky Mountain, in addition to the Colorado Plateau and the western side of the Great Plains. It was named after the river of the same title which was itself named by Spanish travelers when they saw how the river created a slit in the mountains.

It was formed into a territory on February 28, 1861 and on August 1, 1876 President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation that admitted Colorado into the Union. It received the name “The Centennial State” because it was admitted 28 days after the centennial of the United States Declaration of Independence.

map of colorado

It is bordered by Wyoming to the north, Nebraska to the northeast, Kansas to the east, Oklahoma to the southeast, New Mexico to the south, Utah to the west, and Arizona to the southwest. The location in the southwest corner of the state is known as one of the “Four Corners.” This is where the boundaries of four states meet. A monument is built here to mark the location.

The sights are quite varied, ranging from high plains, to mesas, to canyons, plateaus, rivers, and deserts. The capital of Denver is the most populated city, and citizens of the state typically refer to themselves as “Coloradoans.” Sometimes, the term “Coloradan”is used as well.

CO Geography and Climate Information

The geography in this place is known for being extremely diverse, which makes for a lot of great sights in one area. You’ll find everything from mountains, to plains, to deserts and more. Let’s explore the various types of landscape here:

1. Mountains

The highest point here is the summit of Mount Elbert, which is 14,440 feet in elevation, and is located in Lake County. The entire surface area of the state is over 1,000 meters in elevation, the only place of its kind.

2. Plains

Slightly less than half of the area here is composed of flat land. East of the Rocky Mountains are the Eastern Plains of the High Plains. While these plains are considered prairies, they actually have areas of forests, buttes, and canyons. The east is composed of farmlands and villages. Crops here include corn, wheat, hay, soybeans, and oats.

3. The Western Slope

The Western slope is where you can find the Grand Mesa, in addition to the Green River and San Juan river, which are responsible for draining the area. The Colorado River flows through here and into the desert of the Grand Valley, which is where the city of Grand Junction is located.

This entire area is a hotspot for both the population, and the geography of the area. In particular, the Western Slope is located near Glenwood Springs, the ski resorts of Aspen, and plenty more.

The climate here is far more sophisticated than most other places in the U.S. For example, the south is almost always hotter than the north. Most of the area is made up of mountains, foothills, high plains, and deserts. These features create an extremely varied climate.

Generally, any location with a higher elevation is going to have a lower average temperature and an increase in rainfall. If we take the Eastern Plains for example, this area is classified as a semiarid climate with low humidity and a moderate amount of rainfall.

Moving west, the weather becomes more complicated. Since the geographic classifications change constantly in this region, even a few miles can change the climate. For example, the valleys have a semiarid climate, while the higher elevations bring an alpine climate. Some areas also play host to humid microclimates.

Extreme weather conditions certainly do occur in the area. Thunderstorms are common, along with hail. Most of these things avoid populated areas, but there are small towns that are hit hard by things like tornadoes and wildfires. Recent memory has seen some of the worst wildfires in the history of the state including the Waldo Canyon Fire and the Black Forest Fire.

Things to See and Do in Colorado

Thinking about taking a trip here? Here are some places you absolutely must visit:

1. Rocky Mountain National Park

In this one place you can find mountains, lakes, and incredible wildlife. There are hiking trails, camping options, and activities that encompass everything from climbing, to horseback riding and fishing. The best time to visit is in June when the conditions are perfect. Most people will visit during July and August so in this way you could beat the crowds.

2. Pikes Peak in The Pike National Forest

This mountain climbs 14,110 feet into the air and can be reached through an intense drive which is also part of an annual car rally. When you reach the peak, you’ll be able to see as far as Denver and New Mexico on a clear day. When Katherine Lee Bates visited this peak, she was inspired to write “America the Beautiful.”

3. Mesa Verde National Park

This place houses some of the most famous Native American ruins in the U.S. There are cliffside homes and other various types of structures scattered throughout the park. Guided tours are offered to showcase these unique pieces of history.

4. United States Mint

In Denver is one of the six locations where U.S. currency is made and distributed. A visit here offers free tours where people can learn about how money is made, and the history behind it. Reservations are required for tours, but you can make preparations online.

Are you hungry for more knowledge? Check out these Colorado state facts to satisfy your need for more information, and don’t forget to tell us about your experiences here in the comments below!

printable map of colorado



About the Author
Brandon Ramsey

Brandon Ramsey is the head author and editor of The Time Now Blog. Be sure to follow us via social media!


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