First visited by Spanish explorers in the 1500s, the territory was claimed for Spain by Juan de Ulibarri in 1706. The U.S. obtained eastern Colorado as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the central portion in 1845 with the admission of Texas as a state, and the western part in 1848 as a result of the Mexican War.

Colorado is named after the Colorado River. Its name means “colored red” in Spanish. The river was named because of the many colorful rock formations seen in the state’s mountains and western plateaus. Colorado’s nickname is the “Centennial State” because it joined the Union on the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

During an 1806 blizzard, Zebulon M. Pike tried to climb to the top of the best-known Rocky Mountain peak in Colorado. It was 14,110 feet above sea level. However, his crew didn’t have enough warm clothing or rations and was forced to turn back. The mountain’s peak was named “Pike’s Peak” after him and was described as unscalable by Pike. 14 years later, in 1820, Dr. Edwin James accomplished what Pike couldn’t; he reached the top.

“Pikes Peak or Bust!” Prospectors wrote that on their wagons in 1859 as they headed for gold mines in Colorado. The state’s mountains and plateaus are filled with gold, silver, and other minerals. Today, however, petroleum, is the state’s most important mineral product.

Colorado has the highest mean elevation of any state, with more than 1,000 Rocky Mountain peaks over 10,000 ft high and 54 towering above 14,000 ft. Pikes Peak, the most famous of these mountains, was discovered by U.S. Army lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike in 1806.

Once primarily a mining and agricultural state, Colorado’s economy is now driven by service industries, including medical providers and other business and professional services. Colorado’s economy also has a strong manufacturing base. Primary manufactures are food products, printing and publishing, machinery, and electrical instruments. The state is also a communications and transportation hub for the Rocky Mountain region.

The farm industry, primarily concentrated in livestock, is also an important element of the state’s economy. Primary Colorado crops are corn, hay, and wheat. Breathtaking scenery and world-class skiing make Colorado a prime tourist destination. The main tourist attractions include Rocky Mountain National Park, Curecanti National Recreation Area, Mesa Verde National Park, the Great Sand Dunes and Dinosaur National Monuments, Colorado National Monument, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument.


Fun Factscolorfulcolorado

1. Colorado’s nickname is the “Centennial State” because it joined the Union on the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

2. Many restaurants claim to have invented the cheeseburger, but it was Colorado resident Louis Ballast of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In in Denver who named it. He trademarked the term in 1935.

3. At 53 square miles, Denver International Airport is twice the size of Manhattan.

4. Colorado Springs is home to the United States Olympic Committee’s flagship training center, but Colorado is the only U.S. state that’s ever turned down an Olympic bid. Denver originally won the bid for the 1976 Winter Olympics, but the state’s voters later rejected it due to infrastructure costs and environmental concerns. Innsbruck, Austria, ended up hosting.

5. In their early years, the Denver Broncos had a fight song. “Hail, Mighty Broncos, Pride of the West. Like the mountains tow’ring high, over the rest.”

6. In 1982, Stegosaurus was named Colorado’s official state fossil.

7. The Colorado Alligator Farm in the San Luis Valley is the world’s only high-altitude alligator colony at 7,664 feet above sea level.

8. No U.S. President or Vice-President has hailed from Colorado.

9. Trinidad, Colorado is known as the “Sex Change Capital of the World.” It’s been estimated that Dr. Stanley Biber performed 65 percent of the world’s sex change operations from 1969 to 2003. Dr. Marci Bowers, a transgender surgeon, took over his practice in 2006, but moved it to California in 2010.

10. One thing natives are still divided about: If they’re officially called “Coloradans” or “Coloradoans.” Some politically minded citizens prefer “Coloradicals.”

11. More than 160,000 people participate in the Loveland Valentine Re-Mailing Program each year. The Loveland Chamber of Commerce and the United States Post Office have teamed up for the past 68 years to enable people to send valentines to their loved ones through the Sweetheart City. For the first two weeks of February each year, over 60 volunteers hand-stamp each card with a specially designed seal.

12. Constructed in 1905, the Kit Carson County Carousel in Burlington, Colorado, is the oldest wooden merry-go-round in the United States. It is also the only antique carousel in the country to still have its original paint on both the animals and the scenery panels. It’s open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day—and ride admission is only 25 cents!

13. Thirsty? Colorado has more microbreweries per capita than any other state.

14. The Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, Colorado, is credited with being the inspiration for the haunted hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining. The Stanley capitalizes on its spooky heritage by selling a Ghost Adventure package—complete with a K2 Meter and REDRUM mug—to guests.

15. One half of the scenic state of Colorado is public land preserved in national parks and national forests creating a beautiful outdoor playground of visitors.