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What Is Colorado Known for & Famous For
Colorado is a Western U.S state praised by many for its insanely scenic landscape and for being a great holiday destination. Apart from being a popular location for snow activities like snowboarding, skiing, and hiking, Colorado is home to bustling cities and diverse wildlife.
Colorado is known and famous for its beautiful ski resorts, monuments, nature reserves, and towering mountains. It’s also renowned for being the first state to legalize the use of marijuana, the home of the cheeseburger, a prime spot for seeing rare wildlife, and so much more.
I’ll elaborate on what makes Colorado a famous and popular tourist destination and give insight into what Colorado offers!
Denver, CO – The Mile High City
Denver is the most populated city in Colorado, with one of the most extensive city park systems in the United States, housing over 200 parks.
Denver is highly sports-oriented and also loves its arts and culture. With six professional sports teams and numerous art exhibitions, Denver is genuinely setting itself up for a rich history and legacy!
Denver got its nickname, “The Mile High City,” since it is 5,280 feet (1,609 meters) above sea level, precisely one mile. With an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, Denver makes an excellent choice for residence or vacations. Denver’s climate is quite dry, so it’s best to drink a lot of water there.
Altitude is the distance above sea level, and Colorado has a whopping average of 6,800 feet (2,072 meters) above sea level, making it the highest-altitude state in the United States.
Colorado’s high altitude may cause altitude sickness because of the lower oxygen levels, which results in flu-like symptoms. The best way to combat altitude sickness is to reduce your alcohol intake, avoid intense exercise, give your body at least a day to adjust to the high altitude, and drink a lot of water!
However, the sweeping peaks of Colorado sure give quite a view, so be sure to situate yourself near a window as you’re acclimating! There’s nothing like the snow-capped peaks surrounding the city.
Skiing & Snowboarding
Colorado is every skier and snowboarder’s wonderland with a vast selection of ski resorts and activities for people of all experience levels. According to Undercover Tourist, January and February are the best months to ski in Colorado in terms of snow depth.
January and February also happen to be the colder, less crowded months, so be sure to pack ample warm clothing if you go during these months.
Vail Ski Resort
Vail Ski Resort is one of the biggest ski resorts in the world, with 5,317 acres of terrain. Not only does Vail Ski Resort have a massive amount of skiable terrain, but there are also post-ski activities available like a spa treatment or shopping trip!
If you’re worried about the terrain being a bit much for you, worry not. There are seven back bowls with beginner terrain for those with little to no experience with snow sports.
Not only can you ski at Vail, but you can also try out one of their 90+ restaurants that’ll be sure to hit the spot after some time in the snow. Vail Ski Resort hosts a 4-day Snow Daze festival, with concerts, early season specials, and even after-dark parties. You won’t regret visiting Vail Ski Resort if you’re ever in Colorado!
Beautiful Natural Landscapes
Colorado has some of the world’s most varied landscapes, from snow-capped mountains to waterfalls – there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Colorado’s lush green forests and scenic hiking trails make for great outdoor adventures and an alternative to skiing if that’s not your thing. The landscapes in Colorado are truly breathtaking, and their diversity will always be something Colorado’s famous for!
First State To Legalize Marijuana
On November 7, 2000, the state constitution approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes (Amendment 20), and patients could grow no more than six marijuana plants.
Voters approved the use of marijuana for recreational purposes (Amendment 64) in December 2012, and Colorado established state-licensed cannabis dispensaries in 2014, making Colorado the first state to legalize the possession, sale, and usage of marijuana!
So, while you’re here, you may want to opt for a trip to a dispensary if that’s your thing.
Still, note that the amendments allow the purchase, usage, and possession of marijuana for those aged 21 and older, and consumption of any kind (eating or smoking) on public and federal land is illegal.
People aged 21 and above are permitted to have no more than 2 ounces (56.7 grams) of marijuana, and possession of over 2 ounces (56.7 grams) can result in fines or charges. So, be sure to treat it like alcohol and be respectful and safe.
The Colorado Trail is a long-distance hiking trail of 485 miles (780 kilometers) between Denver and Durango, divided into 33 segments.
With over five significant rivers, six national forests, six wilderness preserves, and eight mountain ranges, the entire trail can take 4 to 6 weeks to complete. The Colorado Trail is massive and has a vast range of terrain suitable for people of all hiking experiences and skills.
Whether you decide to hike the entire trail or not, ensure you bring essentials like sunscreen, bug spray, water, etc. You can take a day hike, backpack, or mountain bike along the trail at your own pace and even bring your dog along! Since dogs aren’t allowed for 6 miles of Segment 1, you can either begin at a different starting point, skip the segment, or meet up with your dog at the start of Segment 2.
Colorado’s National Parks offer remarkable views and the most varied wildlife you could come across, along with the opportunity to explore the beautiful surroundings. Whether you rock climb, hike, or cycle is up to you. Colorado’s National Parks will not disappoint!
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain is a world-renowned national park recognized for its extraordinary scenery, dozens of mountain peaks, and evergreen forests. With 415 square miles (265,807 acres) of terrain and a range of mountains, Rocky Mountain is truly a sight to behold. Not only is Rocky Mountain picturesque, but there are also wildlife viewings and hiking trails available!
At Rocky Mountain National Park, you can experience fishing, camping, and mountain climbing while taking in a fantastic view. The park is open all year round, so feel free to go on a trip to Rocky Mountain whenever you’re in Colorado!
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Great Sand Dunes is a 30 square mile (19,200 acres) sandbox you can hike, camp, horse ride, or picnic in!
Great Sand Dunes National Park makes a fantastic holiday destination with nature walks and insanely high dunes and peaks (750 to 14,000 feet or 228.6 to 4,267.2 meters tall), especially if you have kids.
Great Sand Dunes offers a Junior Ranger program with several activities for kids aged 3 to 12, and kids even get a badge once they complete the program!
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is somewhere it would be best to camp for a few days. Multiple public and private campgrounds are available and with various ranger-led programs, visiting Great Sand Dunes is well worth your time.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde (meaning Green Table in Spanish) was established in June 1906 to preserve 700 years’ worth of archaeological sites built by Ancestral Puebloans. Over 4,000 archaeological sites are in Mesa Verde, giving us insight into the history of America and what the culture entailed.
Not only does Mesa Verde have a rich history and well-preserved ruins, but you can also go on private or group tours through the park.
There’s something for everyone to enjoy with restaurants, gift shops, stargazing, hiking, and cliff dwellings. Mesa Verde also has a pet-friendly lodge, making it an excellent choice for a getaway!
Claret Cup Cactus – The State Cactus
The Claret Cup Cactus was declared the state cactus of Colorado on March 7, 2017. With the effort of four girls from the Douglas County Girl Scout Troop, Governor John Hickenlooper signed House Bill No. 14-1024 at the State Capitol, adopting the Claret Cup Cactus as Colorado’s state cactus.
The Claret Cup can be found in various habitats and is deemed one of the easier cacti species to grow. The fruit of the Claret Cup Cactus is edible, so feel free to give it a taste!
Colorado’s landscapes and parks are home to various wildlife, from mountain lions to wolves and black bears to elk. With 960 species, Colorado has one of the most varied wildlife populations in North America.
The animals are safe and free to roam in their protected habitats, namely the National Parks, where you can book a viewing to see these beautiful creatures.
Not only does Colorado have a diverse land animal population, but many bird species love soaring above the Coloradan mountains. Although there are plenty of bird species in Colorado, red-tailed hawks and bald eagles seem to steal the spotlight!
Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is one of Colorado’s best parks, with an endless amount of activities anyone can enjoy. You can go on a horseback ride, tour on a segway or jeep, or take a drive in the comfort of your car. Several trails are available (paved, specialty, and dirt trails), and Garden of the Gods has disability access, so there’s something for everyone!
With a Trading Post that has a gift shop, bathroom, Starbucks coffee, and a restaurant, you can make a day of visiting the Garden of the Gods. Mountain biking is permitted within the designated mountain biking section, and you’re allowed to bring your dog, granted they’re on a leash!
Pikes Peak & Cog Railway
The Pikes Peak & Cog Railway was completed on October 20, 1890, by Zalmon G. Simmons after he rode a mule to the top of Pikes Peak but claimed the journey there was horrible.
Zalmon said the view of the mountain was beautiful, so he decided to take on the strenuous task of making the mountain accessible by rail transport. That way, anyone could experience the beauty of Pikes Peak without the grueling journey.
There’s a gift shop and cafe available at the Manitou Station, so you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee or buy a souvenir (or both) on your way up to get one of the best views in the USA!
Four Corners Monument
The Four Corners Monument is a historical landmark in Southwestern Colorado that marks the point where the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah meet. The Four Corners Monument is the only square border where more than three states meet, and the vendor market is a great place to learn more about the culture of the traditional goods on display.
Be sure to take a picture while you’re in all four states!
The visitor center and food vendors serve traditional Native cuisine that you can enjoy on a picnic at the monument!
Colorado is home to 58 mountain peaks known as fourteeners or 14ers. The Colorado Fourteeners are majestic and exceed 14,000 feet (4267.2 meters), offering breathtaking views (literally).
Since the air becomes thinner as you climb up a mountain, it can result in altitude sickness if your body struggles to accommodate the lack of oxygen in the air. So, if you decide to go on a mountain trek, it would be best to take it easy and listen to your body, and don’t push yourself further if you don’t feel good.
Climbing a Fourteener is a dignifying experience, considering the insane altitude of the peaks. If you plan on climbing a 14er, ensure you stay hydrated and be patient when allowing your body time to adapt to the height. Still, you don’t have to go all the way up, so feel free to take a stunning scenic walk along the base of one of these majestic peaks.
With hiking trails and peaks for all experience and skill levels, anyone can enjoy Colorado’s beautiful scenery.
Old West Towns
Colorado’s 1,500 historical old west towns are a sneak peek into Colorado’s history. Although they’re now considered ghost towns, the old west towns of Colorado used to be a hotspot for saloons, showdowns, and prosperity in the mining industry during the late 1800s. The Old West Towns are well-preserved and accessible for those who want a glimpse of the real American West.
A dude ranch is a term used to describe a cattle ranch converted into a tourist vacation destination. Colorado has over 30 family-friendly dude ranches with agendas packed with activities.
If you want a taste of the farm life, working ranches allow the guests to participate in everyday farm duties like collecting fresh eggs and herding the cattle! Staying at a dude ranch is a memorable experience and a breath of fresh air away from the bustling city life.
Kit Carson County Carousel
Kit Carson County Carousel consists of 46 hand-carved and painted animals manufactured between 1904 and 1933 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. There were over 2,000 carousels in America between 1885 and the 1930s, yet less than 150 remain. Today, the Kit Carson carousel still stands and is open to visitors.
The Kit Carson was robbed of three horses and one donkey in May 1981, and Kansas authorities retrieved these months after, along with other stolen antiques. So, there’s a bit more history to this fun site than meets the eye!
The Kit Carson County Carousel is a beautiful destination, and the manufacturers put an immense effort into hand-crafting the carousels. It’s a stop you should undoubtedly make when you’re in Colorado!
Ever wondered where the gruesome events in The Shining took place? Right in The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado! This 140-room hotel is famous for its role in The Shining and is a few miles from Rocky Mountain National Park.
Not only is The Stanley Hotel known for its excellent service, but there’s also talk of active paranormal phenomena. If horror and the supernatural are your things, a stay at The Stanley Hotel is for you!
Colorado has a variety of waterbodies that sailors, swimmers, kayakers, windsurfers, and fishers all love. Some famous lakes in Colorado include the Grand Lake, Prospect Lake, Chatfield Reservoir, Lake San Cristobal, and Grand Mesa Lakes.
All of these water bodies are enjoyed by many, especially those that partake in water activities! If not, the Colorado water bodies are great for family fun, camping, and enjoying the crisp air and gorgeous views.
Food Colorado is Known For
Like the wildlife and landscapes, Colorado’s cuisine is just as diverse and robust. From Rocky Mountain oysters to truffle fries, Coloradan food is something you’ll never forget, and you’ll keep wanting to come back for more!
Rocky Mountain Oyster
Rocky Mountain Oysters have a rich history in Colorado. You may be surprised to know that Rocky Mountain Oysters aren’t seafood but rather bull testicles.
Early west cattle ranchers would castrate their bulls as a form of breeding control and cook the bulls’ testicles when food was scarce, so nothing went to waste. Bull testicles became a delicacy and are loved by many Coloradans. So, be sure to grab some while you’re here to say you gave them a fair shot!
A classic Denver omelet is made with ham, bell peppers, onions, and sometimes cheese. Historians speculate that the Denver omelet was initially a sandwich, then eventually, a breadless version emerged and became known as the Denver Omelet.
In 1935, the cheeseburger was invented in Denver, Colorado, at the first drive-thru restaurant named the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In. The owner of Humpty Dumpty Drive-In, Louis Ballast, received a patent for a cheeseburger sandwich, and it has been history ever since. Although Humpty Dumpty Drive-In has closed down, the site is now home to a granite memorial that has stood there since 1987, indicating the spot of Colorado’s first drive-in and the place where the world’s first cheeseburger was made.
Today, over 630 breweries are throughout Colorado – Coloradans love local beers! Colorado’s love and demand for beer grew as the state evolved and the industry took off. A Great American Beer Festival is held every fall in Denver and has been a tradition for over 30 years. The Great American Beer Festival is three days, and you can sample over 4,000 beers from the best breweries in the nation! So, if you like beer, head over to Denver in the Fall!
Colfax Avenue is one of Colorado’s many landmarks and is also the longest commercial street in America, over 50 miles (80.47 km) long. Colfax Avenue is home to several integral parts of history, including the State Capitol building, where the Claret Cup Cactus was declared the state cactus!
Running through Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, and Golden, Colfax consists of a collection of bars, businesses, tattoo parlors, and tons of other great spots to visit. Colfax Avenue is historic, authentic, and filled with great vibes and people.
Although Colorado has a reputation for being aesthetically pleasing, there’s way more than what meets the eye than just Colorado’s scenery. With a rich cultural heritage, Colorado is truly a state I believe everyone should experience at least once. Colorado lives up to the standard everyone holds it to, with fantastic food, drinks, people, and activities!
- Denver.org: 10 Things to Know About the Mile High City
- Illustrative Mathematics: Mile High
- Colorado.com: Colorado Travel Facts
- Colorado Climate Center: Climate of Colorado
- National Geographic: Altitude
- Undercover Tourist: Our Marvelous Month-By-Month Look at the Best Time to Ski in Colorado
- Colorado.com: Colorado Ski Resorts: Snow’s Perfect State
- Snow.com: Vail Ski Resort
- The Boston Globe: In Colo., a look at life after marijuana legalization
- Colorado Cannabis: Laws about marijuana use
- Hoban Law Group: Colorado’s History With Marijuana And Path To Legalization
- Colorado.com: Hiking the Colorado Trail
- Backpacker Magazine: Hiking Guide to the Colorado Trail
- Colorado Trail Foundation: Segments of the CT
- History Colorado: Colorado National Parks and Monuments
- Colorado.com: Quick Guide to Colorado National Parks
- Estes Park Wildlife & Activities: Rocky Mountain National Park
- U.S National Park Service: Rocky Mountain
- National Park Foundation: Rocky Mountain
- U.S National Park Service: Great Sand Dunes
- National Park Foundation: Mesa Verde
- Mesa Verde Country: Mesa Verde National Park
- Mesa Verde National Park CO: Park History
- State Symbols USA: Claret Cup Cactus
- Netstate.com: Colorado State Cactus
- Colorado Wildlife Council: Where the wildlife roam
- Responsible Travel: Wildlife in Colorado
- Garden of the Gods: Garden of the Gods Visitor Center
- Pikes Peak Region Attractions: About Garden of the Gods
- Visit Colorado Springs: The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway
- Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation: Four Corners Monument
- Visit Arizona: Four Corners Monument
- Colorado.com: What are 14ers?
- Colorado.com: Peek into the Past: Authentic Old West Towns of Colorado
- Colorado.com: Dude Ranches
- Kit Carson County Carousel: Kit Carson County Carousel
- Legends of America: The Haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado
- Colorado.com: Lakes in Colorado
- Food Network: The Best Food in Colorado
- Colorado.com: 9 Must-Eat Foods in Colorado
- Culture Trip: What is Colorado’s Fascination With Rocky Mountain Oysters?
- Britannica: Denver Omelet
- New Country 991: See Where the Cheeseburger was Invented in Colorado
- History Colorado: The First Draft: Colorado History Over a Few Beers
- The Denver Post: Why is beer so popular in Colorado?
- Denver Beer Week: Denver Beer History
- ColoradoInfo.com: Colfax Avenue
- The Colorado Trail: Hiking and Backpacking