Colorado Facts: 25 Informative Facts About Colorado

Last updated on September 29th, 2018

Colorado is the 21st most populous and the 8th most extensive of the United States. It lies in the southwestern region of the United States. The state attained statehood on August 1, 1876, becoming the 38th state to join the union. It has seven (7) bordering states including New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska. See the full list of states and their borders here. Colorado (nicknamed: The Centennial State) has 64 counties. The state’s capital is Denver. With these facts about Colorado, let us learn more about its history, geography, people, economy and more.

25 Informative facts about Colorado

1. The Spanish were the first European visitors who arrived in Colorado in the 1500s.[15]

2. The state was named after the Colorado River. In Spanish, Colorado means “colored red.”[1,6]

3. The state is nicknamed the “Centennial State” because it joined the Union after a century of the United States Declaration of Independence.[1]

Colorado - 64 counties. the fact file
Map of the 64 counties of the State of Colorado. Source

4. The capital city of Colorado is Denver, which also happens to be its most populous city. Denver is also known as the “Mile High City” because it sits at 5,280 feet above sea level—exactly one mile.[1,6]

5. Colorado is one of the three states in the U.S. which has its boundaries solely defined by lines of latitudes and longitudes. The other two states are Utah and Wyoming. For more clarity, see the map.[1]

Map of Colorado

6. It is the only U.S. state that lies entirely above 1000 meters’ elevation. Thus, it is also the nation’s highest state.[1]

7. The Summit of Mount Elbert (14,440 feet) in Lake County is the highest point in Colorado. It is also the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains.[1]

8. Almost 70% of the state’s population resides in the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains.[1]

9. The state also has the highest low point of any state in the U.S. The point (3,317 feet) is where the Arikaree River flows out of Yuma County, Colorado into the Cheyenne County, Kansas.[1]

10. In the Western United States, a mountain peak with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet is known as a fourteener. There are 53 such fourteeners in Colorado.[2]

11. Roughly one-third of the state that lies west of the Continental Divide is referred to as the Western Slope of Colorado. The Western Slope contains 33% of the state’s land but is home to only 10% of its population.[3]

12. Water that falls west of the Continental Divide flows to the Pacific Ocean while that which falls to the east heads to the Atlantic Ocean.[15]

Continental Divide of the Americas. the fact file - Colorado facts
The Continental Divide in North America in red, among other major hydrological divides. Image source –

13. The Colorado River with its origin in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming provides water and hydroelectric power to at least 35 million people in the United States and Mexico.[4]

14. The gold rush happened in Colorado between 1858 – 59. The gold was first discovered in Colorado in 1858 in present day Englewood.[5]

15. After the formation of the territory of Colorado in 1861, William Gilpin was named the first governor of the state.[5]

16. More than a third of the land of Colorado is owned by the government of the United States. The government controls mining, grazing, and logging in this area.[6]

17. Colorado is also home to the United States Air Force Academy.[6]

18. Colorado Springs is the largest city in Colorado by area. The city is 1 mile above sea level and is situated at the base of one of the most famous American mountains, Pikes Peak.[7]

Flag of Colorado

Flag of Colorado

19. Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest lake located entirely within the state. The reservoir has a surface area of 9180 acres.[13]

20. Colorado has stricter vehicle emission regulations than many other states in the U.S.[14]

21. Colorado was offered to host the Winter Olympics but its residents turned down the offer due to the lack of infrastructure, and some environmental concerns.[12]

22. The largest flat-topped mountain in the world – the Grand Mesa – is located in western Colorado. It has an area of 500 miles.[11]

State quarter

State quarter Colorado: Colorado fact file

23. By total land area (33,531 acres), the Denver International Airport is the largest airport in the United States. The airport also has the longest commercial runway in the United States. The airport is the sixth busiest airport in the United States and the 18th busiest airport in the world. More than 5 million passengers passed through the airport in April 2018.[8,9,10]

24. The only point in the United States where the boundaries of four states (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico) meet is termed as the Four Corners. Thus, one can practically stand in four states at the same time.[16]

The Four Corners - Colorado. facts about Colorado
The Four Corners region is the red circle in this map. The Four Corners states are highlighted in orange.

25. Colorado is also one of the world’s largest molybdenum producers (a chemical element with symbol Mo and atomic number 42). It also helped the United States became the second largest producer of the element after China. Molybdenum has the sixth-highest melting point of any element.[17,18]

Colorado – Quick Facts and State Symbols

State AbbreviationCO
State CapitalDenver
Largest CityDenver
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 104,094 sq miles; Land Only: 103,718 sq miles
(Estimate July 1, 2017 from United States Census Bureau)
StatehoodAugust 1, 1876
State rank by population21st
State rank by date of formation38th
State rank by area8th
Number of Counties64
Bordering StatesArizona, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming
Official LanguageNone
Highest PointMount Elbert in Lake County
Lowest pointArikaree River at the Kansas border
3,317 ft (1011 m)
Length 280 miles (450 km)
Width380 miles (610 km)
GovernorJohn Hickenlooper
Electoral Votes9
State MottoNil sine numine (Nothing without the Deity)
State NicknameCentennial State
% Water0.36%
Nobel Prize WinnersEdward Tatum (Physiology or Medicine, 1958)
Willard F. Libby (Chemistry, 1960)
John L. Hall (Physics, 2005)
Famous peopleDutch Clark (Pro Football player)
Rich Gossage (Baseball player)
AnnaSophia Robb
State Flag

Flag of Colorado designed by Andrew Carlisle Carson.svg

State seal

Seal of Colorado.svg

State coat of arms

Colorado state coat of arms (illustrated, 1876).jpg

State quarter

Colorado quarter

ReptileWestern painted turtle

Painted turtle.jpg

State FossilStegosaurus

Stegosaurus BW.jpg

AmphibianWestern tiger salamander

Ambystoma mavortium 2006.jpg

State fishGreenback cutthroat trout


State mammalRocky Mountain bighorn sheep

Bighorn ram full curl.jpg

State BirdLark bunting

IMG 7043 lark bunting.jpg

PetColorado shelter pets

Black cat Animal Rescue GalawebDesign.jpg


Aquamarin cut.jpg


The Searchlight Rhodochrosite Crystal.jpg

CactusClaret cup cactus

Echinocereus triglochidiatusUGA0807034.jpg

State Flower

Columbine Arapahoe Pass Trail Boulder County Colorado.jpg

State TreeColorado blue spruce

Picea pungens USDA1.jpg

State Insect
Colorado hairstreak butterfly

Colorado Hairstreak, MM.JPG

Longitude102°03'W to 109°03'W
Latitude37°N to 41°N
Time ZoneMountain Time Zone
Area Codes303,719,720,970
Data SourceWikipedia,
Table last updated21 June, 2018