Colorado, United States

About Colorado

Colorado is a state of the United States of America that encompasses most of the Southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. The state has more mountain peaks with an elevation of 4,000 m (13,123 feet) or more than any other state or province in North America. Admitted to the Union on August 1, 1876, Colorado became the 38th State. Colorado ranks 8th in total area and 22nd in population among the 50 states. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the state population was 5,024,748 in 2009. Denver is the capital and largest city of Colorado. Colorado Springs is the state's second largest city and metropolitan area. The population of the Front Range Urban Corridor now exceeds 4.3 million.

Colorado Tourism and Recreation

Scenery, history, and skiing combine to make Colorado a prime tourist Mecca. Vail is the most popular ski resort center, followed by Keystone and Steamboat. Skiing aside, the state's most popular attraction is the US Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs. Nearby are Pikes Peak, the Garden of the Gods (featuring unusual red sandstone formations), and Manitou Springs, a resort center. Besides its many museums, parks, and rebuilt Larimer Square district, Denver's main attraction is the US Mint.

All nine national forests in Colorado are open for camping, as are the state's two national parks: Rocky Mountain, encompassing 265,000 acres in the Front Range; and Mesa Verde, 52,000 acres of mesas and canyons in the southwest.

Other attractions include the fossil beds at Dinosaur National Monument, Indian cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado National Monument at Fruita, Curecanti National Recreation Area, Florissant Fossil Beds, Great Sand Dunes, Hovenweep National Monument, Durango-Silverton steam train, and white-water rafting on the Colorado, Green, and Yampa rivers.

Colorado Climate

The climate of Colorado is quite complex compared to most of the United States. Unlike in other states, southern Colorado is not necessarily warmer than northern Colorado. Mountains and surrounding valleys greatly affect local climate. As a general rule, with an increase in elevation comes a decrease in temperature and an increase in precipitation. A main climatic division in Colorado occurs between the Rocky Mountains on the west and the plains on the east with the foothills forming a transitional zone between the two.

Extreme weather is a common occurrence in Colorado. Thunderstorms are common east of the Continental divide in the spring and summer, and Colorado is one of the leading states in deaths due to lightning. Hail is a common sight in the mountains east of the divide and in the northwest part of the state. The Eastern Plains have some of the biggest hail storms in North America.