August 6, 2012

Colorado – “The Centennial State”


Colorado map

Just the Facts…


bird – Lark Bunting
flower – Rocky Mountain Columbine
tree – Blue Spruce
capital – Denver
union – 38th state on August 1, 1876
population – about 5 million




The Basics 

Colorado is made up of mountains, foothills, high plains, and desert.  The Rocky Mountains run through the middle of the state.  In eastern Colorado, the Rocky Mountains become rolling hills as they transition to the Great Plains.  The very western and southern parts of Colorado are mostly high plains and desert – it is quite dry.    Colorado is home to an extreme variety weather – in fact, eastern Colorado gets more hail than any other part of America.

Colorado was admitted as a state in 1876, the 100th birthday of our country (which is why it is called “The Centennial State”).  Before it was a state, the land of Colorado was part of three different territories – Kansas, Nebraska and Utah.  Finally, it became its own territory in 1861 as a “free” territory (meaning that slavery was prohibited).

The state was named after the Colorado River – explorers thought that the Colorado River started within its borders.  The “Colorado River” was named by Spanish explorers and means “red colored water.”  It was named this because the silt carried down from the mountains makes it look reddish.   The Colorado River is a favorite for white water rafters – it is a fast moving river until it empties into Lake Meade at the Nevada border.


Its Claim to Fame

Colorado is rectangular shaped and one of three states that has no natural borders.  Its borders are determined solely by latitude and longitude lines.  Latitude lines run horizontally around the globe, and longitude lines run vertically.  They are not actual lines, but imaginary lines used for mapping the globe and determining locations around the world.    Do you have a GPS finder? Or a mapping system in your family’s car?  Those are based on latitude and longitude measurements.  Many times, bodies of water such as lakes and rivers are natural borders between states.

Colorado’s southwestern border is part of “Four Corners,” where four states meet – which is the heart of the southwest.  If you go there, you can stand in four states at once – literally!

The Continental Divide runs through Colorado.  The Continental Divide is the point at which the flow of water in America changes directions.  West of the Continental Divide, water drains to the Pacific Ocean.  East of the Continental Divide, water drains to the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.


What Makes it Tick

Historically, Colorado’s economy consisted of agriculture (both crops and herds) and mining.   Even today, eastern part of Colorado has many farms – it is similar to its neighbors, Nebraska and Kansas.

Mountains!  Colorado is home to over 50 mountains that are “fourteeners” – that is, they are over 14,000 feet tall.  Many mountain climbers try to climb all of Colorado’s Fourteener – it might takes years to accomplish such a goal!

Jolly Ranchers were invented in Colorado, as well as the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  The Jolly Rancher company was founded in 1949 – the founders chose the name in honor of western hospitality – the “ranchers” in Colorado are “jolly”!


If You Visited

If you visited Colorado, you might go skiing!  There are more than 20 ski areas in Colorado – Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge, Powderhorn, Copper Mountain, Telluride, Steamboat, Snowmass – the list goes on and on.  Have you skied in Colorado?  Which is your favorite?

You might visit Mesa Verde National Park to see the ancient Native American villages.   Hundreds of Pueblo towns have been excavated in southern Colorado – the most famous is Cliff Palace.   The Pueblo built little towns into the cliffs or inside caves.   Most of the houses in the Cliff Palace were built out of sandstone over a thousand years ago.  Since they were built into the cliff, they were naturally preserved from the elements.

You might visit the tallest sand dunes in America.  Southern Colorado is home to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, which contains the largest sand dunes in all of America.


Want to Know More? 

Check our Colorado state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.

Do you live in Colorado?  Or, maybe you have visited Colorado?  We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • What is your very favorite ski resort in Colorado?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

Do you have any photos of Colorado to share? Email them to: Or, post them to our Facebook page:

Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about Colorado.  Visit these websites to learn more: