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State Guide

The State of Colorado is a state located in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States of America. Colorado may also be considered to be a part of the Western and Southwestern regions of the United States. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the state population was 4,861,515 in 2007, a 13.03% increase since the U.S. Census 2000. Denver is the capital as well as the most populous city of Colorado. Citizens of Colorado are known as Coloradans.


The State of Colorado is defined as the geoellipsoidal rectangle that stretches from 37°N to 41°N latitude and from 102°03'W to 109°03'W longitude (25°W to 32°W from the Washington Meridian). Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah are the only three U.S. states that have only lines of latitude and longitude for boundaries and that have no natural borders.

The summit of Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet (4,401 m) elevation in Lake County is the state's highest point and the highest point in the entire Rocky Mountains. Colorado has more than 500 mountain peaks that exceed 4,000 meters (13,123 ft) elevation. Colorado is the only U.S. state that lies entirely above 1,000 meters (3,281 ft) elevation. The point where the Arikaree River flows out of Yuma County, Colorado, and into Cheyenne County, Kansas, is the lowest point in the State of Colorado at 3,315 feet (1,010 m) elevation. This crossing point holds the distinction of being the highest low point of any U.S. state.

Nearly half of the state is flat in stark contrast to Colorado's rugged Rocky Mountains. East of the Southern Rocky Mountains are the Colorado Eastern Plains of the High Plains, the section of the Great Plains within Colorado at elevations ranging from 3315 to 6562 feet (1010 to 2000 m). The states of Kansas and Nebraska border Colorado to the east. The plains are sparsely settled with most population along the South Platte and the Arkansas rivers. Precipitation is meager, averaging from 12 to 18 inches (300 to 450 mm) annually. There is some irrigated farming, but much of the land is used for dryland farming or ranching. Winter wheat is a typical crop and most small towns in the region boast both a water tower and a grain elevator.

The bulk of Colorado's population lives along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Front Range Urban Corridor. This region is partially protected from prevailing storms by the high mountains to the west.

To the west lies the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains with notable peaks such as Longs Peak, Mount Evans, Pikes Peak, and the Spanish Peaks near Walsenburg in the south. This area drains to the east, is forested, and partially urbanized. During the drought of 2002 devastating forest fires swept this area.

The Continental Divide stretches across the crest of the Rocky Mountains. To the west of the Continental Divide is the Western Slope. Water west of the Continental Divide drains west into the Sea of Cortez via the Colorado River.

Within the interior of the Rocky Mountains are several large parks or high broad basins. In the north, on the east side of the Continental Divide is North Park. North Park is drained by the North Platte River, which flows north into Wyoming. Just south but on the west side of the Continental Divide is Middle Park, drained by the Colorado River. South Park is the headwaters of the South Platte River. To the south lies the San Luis Valley, the headwaters of the Rio Grande, which drains into New Mexico. Across the Sangre de Cristo Range to the east of the San Luis Valley lies the Wet Mountain Valley. These basins, particularly the San Luis Valley, lie along the Rio Grande Rift, a major geological formation, and its branches.

The Rocky Mountains within Colorado contain 51 peaks that are 14,000 feet (4,267 m) or higher elevation, known as fourteeners. The mountains are timbered with conifers and aspen to the tree line, at an elevation of about 12,140 feet (3,700 m) in southern Colorado to about 10,500 feet (3,200 m) in northern Colorado; above this only alpine vegetation grows. The Colorado Rockies are snow-covered only in the winter; most snow melts by mid-August with the exception of a few small glaciers. The Colorado Mineral Belt, stretching from the San Juan Mountains in the southwest to Boulder and Central City on the front range, contains most of the historic gold- and silver-mining districts of Colorado.

The Western Slope is generally drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Notable to the south are the San Juan Mountains, an extremely rugged mountain range, and to the west of the San Juans, the Colorado Plateau, a high desert bordering Southern Utah. Grand Junction is the largest city on the Western Slope. Grand Junction is served by Interstate Highway I-70. To the southeast of Grand Junction is Grand Mesa, the world's largest flat-topped mountain. Further east are the ski resorts of Aspen, Vail, Crested Butte, and Steamboat Springs. The northwestern corner of Colorado bordering Northern Utah and Western Wyoming is mostly sparsely populated rangeland.

From west to east, the state consists of desert-like basins, turning into plateaus, then alpine mountains, and then the grasslands of the Great Plains. The famous Pikes Peak is just west of Colorado Springs. Its lone peak is visible from near the Kansas border on clear days.

Colorado is also one of only four states in the United States to share a common border (Four Corners), along with Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. At this intersection, it is possible to stand in four states at once.


The climate of Colorado is quite complex compared to most of the United States. The typical south-north/cooler-warmer variation in other states is not generally applicable in Colorado. Mountains and surrounding valleys greatly affect local climate. As a general rule, with an increase in elevation come 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; the foothills form a transitional zone between the two.

Eastern Plains

The climate of the Eastern Plains is a semi-arid continental climate (Koppen climate classification BSk) of low humidity and moderately low precipitation, usually from 10 to 15 inches (250 to 380 mm) annually. The area is known for its abundant sunshine and cool clear nights, which give this area the highest average diurnal temperature range in the United States. In summer, this area can have many days above 95 °F (35 °C) and sometimes 100 °F (38 °C) or more. Temperatures in excess of 115 °F (46 °C) in the northeast corner of the state are not uncommon, although 105 °F (41 °C) is the maximum in the front range cities above 5000 ft (1500 m). In those areas, −25 °F (−31.7 °C) is the all-time record low. About 75% of the precipitation falls within the growing season, from April to September, but this area is very prone to droughts. Most of the precipitation comes in the form of thunderstorms which are often severe, and the form of major snowstorms that happen most often in the early Spring and in late Autumn, and sometimes Winter, from low pressures that bring the right conditions. Otherwise, Winters tend to be drier and cold, even though it's known for having a number of mild days in many Winters. In much of this region, March and April are the snowiest months. April and May are normally the rainiest months, while April is the wettest month that has the most combination of rain and snow. The Front Range cities closer to the mountains tend to be warmer in the winter due to chinook winds which warm the area, sometimes bringing temperatures up to 60 °F (16 °C) or higher in the winter. The average July temperature is 57 degrees in the morning and 87 degrees in the afternoon. The average January temperature is 15 degrees in the morning and 43 degrees in the afternoon, although the daily high may be 60 one day and 0 the next.

West of the plains and foothills

West of the plains and foothills, the weather of Colorado is much less uniform. Even places a few miles (kilometers) apart can experience entirely different weather, depending on the topography of the area. Most valleys also have a semi-arid climate, which becomes an alpine climate at higher elevations. Generally, the wettest season is in the winter in Western Colorado while June is the driest month, which is the opposite of precipitation patterns in the east. The mountains have cool summers with many days of high temperatures around 60 °F (16 °C) and 70 °F (21 °C), although frequent thunderstorms can cause a sudden drop in temperatures. Summer nights are cool, and cold at the highest altitudes which can sometimes bring snow even in the middle of the summer. The winters bring abundant, powdery snowfall to the mountains which the skiers love, although even in the winter, there can be many days with abundant sunshine in between major storms. The Western Slope has high summer temperatures similar to those found on the plains while the winters tend to be slightly cooler due to the lack of any warming winds which are common in the plains and Front Range. Other areas in the west have their own unique climate. The San Luis Valley is generally dry with little rain or snow, although the snow that falls tends to stay on the ground all winter.

Extreme weather

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. While not as common as some of the states to the east, much of the Eastern Plains are prone to tornadoes, and there have been some damaging tornadoes there. An example is the 1990 Limon F3 tornado which devastated the city. Floods are also a factor in the plains, not just from the thunderstorms, but also due to heavy snow in the mountains followed by a warm, dry period which swells rivers with melted snow.


The highest temperature ever recorded in Colorado was 118 °F (48 °C) on July 11, 1888, at Bennett, while the lowest was -61 °F (-52 °C) on February 1, 1985, at Maybell.


The region that is today the State of Colorado has been inhabited by Native Americans for more than 13 millennia. The Lindenmeier Site in Larimer County contains artifacts dating from approximately 11200 BCE to 3000 BCE. The Ancient Pueblo Peoples lived in the valleys and mesas of the Colorado Plateau. The Ute Nation inhabited the mountain valleys of the Southern Rocky Mountains and the Western Rocky Mountains. The Arapaho Nation and the Cheyenne Nation moved west to hunt across the High Plains.

The United States acquired a territorial claim to the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains with the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803. The U.S. claim conflicted with Spain's claim that a huge region surrounding its colony of Santa Fé de Nuevo Méjico was its sovereign trading zone. Zebulon Pike led a U.S. Army reconnaissance expedition into the disputed region in 1806. Pike and his men were arrested by Spanish cavalry in the San Luis Valley the following February, taken to Chihuahua, and expelled from México the following July.

The United States relinquished its claim to all land south and west of the Arkansas River as part of the U.S. purchase of Florida from Spain with the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. México finally won its independence from Spain in 1821, but it surrendered its northern territories to the United States after the Mexican-American War with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. The United States divided the area of the future Colorado among the Territory of New Mexico and the Territory of Utah organized in 1850, and the Territory of Kansas and the Territory of Nebraska organized in 1854.

Most American settlers traveling west to Oregon, Deseret, or California avoided the rugged Rocky Mountains and instead followed the North Platte River and Sweetwater River through what is now Wyoming. On 1851-04-09, Hispanic settlers from Taos, New Mexico, settled the village of San Luis, then in the New Mexico Territory, but now Colorado's first permanent European settlement. Gold was discovered along the South Platte River in western Kansas Territory in July 1858, precipitating the Pike's Peak Gold Rush. The placer gold deposits along the rivers and streams of the region rapidly played out, but miners soon discovered far more valuable seams of hard rock gold, silver, and other minerals in the nearby mountains.

The Provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson was organized on 1859-10-24, but the new territory failed to secure federal sanction. The election of Abraham Lincoln for U.S. President on 1860-11-06, led to the secession of six slave states and the threat of civil war. Seeking to augment the political power of the free states, the Republican led U.S. Congress hurriedly admitted the eastern portion of the Territory of Kansas to the Union as the free State of Kansas on 1861-01-29, leaving the western portion of the territory, and its gold fields, unorganized.

Thirty days later on 1861-02-28, outgoing U.S. President James Buchanan signed an act of Congress organizing the free Territory of Colorado. The original boundaries of Colorado remain unchanged today. The name Colorado was chosen because it was commonly believed that the Colorado River originated in the territory. Early Spanish explorers named the river the Rio Colorado for the reddish-brown silt the river carried from the mountains. In fact, the Colorado River did not flow through the State of Colorado until House Joint Resolution 460 of the 66th United States Congress changed the name of the Grand River to the Colorado River on 1921-07-25.

The United States Congress passed an enabling act on 1875-03-03, specifying the requirements for the Territory of Colorado to become a state. On 1876-08-01 (28 days after the Centennial of the United States), U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation admitting the State of Colorado to the Union as the 38th state and earning it the moniker "Centennial State". The discovery of a major silver lode near Leadville in 1878, triggered the Colorado Silver Boom. The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 envigorated silver mining, but the repeal of the act in 1893 led to a major collapse of the mining and agricultural economy of the state.

Colorado women were granted the right to vote beginning on 1893-11-07, making Colorado the first U.S. state to grant universal suffrage by popular vote. By the 1930 U.S. Census, the population of Colorado exceeded one million residents. The state suffered through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, but a major wave of immigration following World War II boosted Colorado's fortune. Tourism became a mainstay of the state economy, and high technology became an important economic engine. Colorado's population exceeded 4.3 million at U.S. Census 2000.

Three warships of the United States Navy have been named USS Colorado. The first USS Colorado was named for the Colorado River. The later two ships were named in honor of the landlocked state.


The state's most populous city, and capital, is Denver. The Denver-Aurora-Boulder Combined Statistical Area, home to 2,927,911 people, contains more than two-thirds of the state's population. Residents of Colorado are properly referred to as Coloradans, although the term Coloradoans is still used.

As of 2005, Colorado has an estimated population of 4,665,177, which is an increase of 63,356, or 1.4%, from the prior year and an increase of 363,162, or 8.4%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 205,321 people (that is 353,091 births minus 147,770 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 159,957 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 112,217 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 47,740 people.

The largest increases are expected in the Front Range Urban Corridor, especially in the Denver metropolitan area. The state's fastest growing counties are Douglas between Denver and Colorado Springs also experienced a building boom, and Park 40 miles southwest of Denver, both had been suburbanized or grew by 5 times in population in the 1990s and early 2000s. Large numbers of new residents in the state originate from California, which some locals felt their state was "Californicated" in the 1990s (esp. Denver resembled more of Los Angeles) when real estate home prices, lower cost of living and a healthier economy in growth rates drew in over 100,000 Californians at the time, and there are others moved in from East Coast states. The center of population of Colorado is located just north of the town of Critchell in Jefferson County.

Colorado has one of the highest proportions of Hispanic citizens of any U.S. state; only five states have a higher percentage. Denver and some other areas have significant Mexican populations, while southern Colorado has a large number of Hispanos, the descendants of early New Mexican settlers of colonial Spanish origin. The 2000 U.S. Census reports that 10.52% of people aged 5 and over in Colorado speak Spanish at home. Colorado, like New Mexico, is very rich in archaic Spanish idioms.

Colorado has a history of African-Americans communities which are located in northeast Denver in the Montbello, Green Valley Ranch, and Colfax Park areas. The state has sizable numbers of Asian-Americans of Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Southeast Asian and Japanese descent. The Denver metropolitian area is considered more liberal, diverse and progressive than much of the state when it comes to political issues and environmental concerns, as the Denver area rapidly grows in size, sprawl and population in the last 40 years.

According to the 2000 Census, the largest ancestry groups in Colorado are German (22%) including of Swiss and Austrian nationalities, Irish (12.2%), and English (12%). Persons reporting German ancestry are the largest group in the state and are especially strong in the Front Range, the Rockies (west-central counties) and Eastern parts/High Plains. Denver and nearby areas on the Front Range has sizable Scandinavian, Italian, Slavic and Jewish American communities, partly a legacy of gold rushes in the late 19th century (1861-1889).

There were a total of 70,330 births in Colorado in 2006. (Birth Rate of 14.6). Although Non-Hispanic Whites constituted 73.5% of the population they accounted for only 48.90% of all the births. The first time in state history with the statistic of non-Hispanic whites have less babies. But 14.06% of the births happened to parents of different races (About two-thirds to White-Latino parents). Westernmost counties where the majority of residents are adherents of Mormonism there's a slightly higher percentage of families with children and those of under age 18.

Colorado has a higher number of younger persons in median age: 33, according to the 2000 Census report. Large numbers of married couples in professional careers with young children move to the state in a belief it's a better place to raise a family. Colorado is also a major retirement destination by senior citizens in search of a warmer climate, recreation activities and the higher altitude in most of Colorado is said to provide health benefits for those with respiratory diseases.


Colorado, specifically the city of Colorado Springs, serves as the headquarters of numerous Christian groups, most of them Protestant. Focus on the Family is a major conservative Christian organization headquartered in the state. Catholicism is popular among many Coloradans, and is becoming more so with the influx of Latino immigrants. Colorado is similar to other Western states in its high percentage of religiously unaffiliated residents.

According to the American Religious Identification Survey, conducted in 2001 by The Graduate Center at the City University of New York, Colorado's population is distributed among the following religious groups:

  • Christian Self-Identifications – 68%
    • Roman Catholic – 23%
    • Christian – 9%
    • Baptist – 8%
    • Methodist – 5%
    • Lutheran – 5%
    • Episcopalian – 3%
    • Presbyterian – 3%
    • Pentecostal – 2%
    • Churches of Christ – 2%
    • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – 2%
    • Protestant – 2%
    • Jehovah's Witness – 1%
    • Seventh-day Adventist – 1%
    • Evangelical – 1%
    • Non-denominational – 1%
  • Non-Religious/Atheist/Agnostic – 21%
  • Buddhist – 1%
  • Jewish – 1%
  • Other Religions – 3%
  • Refused To Answer – 6%


Colorado also has a reputation for being a state of very active and athletic people. According to several studies, Coloradoans have the lowest rates of obesity of any state in the US.[25] As of 2007 the 17.6% of the population was considered medically obese, and while the lowest in the nation, the percentage had increased from 16.9% from 2004. Colorado Governor Bill Ritter spoke that “As an avid fisherman and bike rider, I know first-hand that Colorado provides a great environment for active, healthy lifestyles,” although he did highlight the need for continued education and support to slow the growth of obesity in the state.


The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the total state product in 2006 was $230 billion. Per capita personal income in 2003 was $34,561, putting Colorado eighth in the nation. To see a 2004 per capita personal income comparison table on a state basis. The state's economy broadened from its mid-19th century roots in mining when irrigated agriculture developed, and by the late 19th century, raising livestock had become important. Early industry was based on the extraction and processing of minerals and agricultural products. Current agricultural products are cattle, wheat, dairy products, corn, and hay.

The federal government is also a major economic force in the state with many important federal facilities including NORAD, United States Air Force Academy and Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs; NOAA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder; U.S. Geological Survey and other government agencies at the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood; the Denver Mint, Buckley Air Force Base, and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver; and a federal Supermax Prison and other federal prisons near Cañon City. In addition to these and other federal agencies, Colorado has abundant National Forest land and four National Parks that contribute to federal ownership of 24,615,788 acres (99,617 km²) of land in Colorado, or 37% of the total area of the state. In the second half of the 20th century, the industrial and service sectors have expanded greatly. The state's economy is diversified and is notable for its concentration of scientific research and high-technology industries. Other industries include food processing, transportation equipment, machinery, chemical products, minerals such as gold and molybdenum, and tourism. Colorado also produces the largest amount of beer of any state. Denver is an important financial center.

Colorado has a flat 4.63% income tax, regardless of income level. Unlike most states, which calculate taxes based on federal adjusted gross income, Colorado taxes are based on taxable income - income after federal exemptions and federal itemized (or standard) deductions. Colorado's state sales tax is 2.9% on retail sales. When state revenues exceed state constitutional limits, full-year Colorado residents can claim a sales tax refund on their individual state income tax return. Many counties and cities charge their own rates in addition to the base state rate. There are also certain county and special district taxes that may apply.

Real estate and personal business property are taxable in Colorado. The state's senior property tax exemption was temporarily suspended by the Colorado Legislature in 2003. The tax break is scheduled to return for assessment year 2006, payable in 2007.


Colorado has significant energy resources. According to the Energy Information Administration, Colorado hosts seven of the Nation’s 100 largest natural gas fields and two of its 100 largest oil fields. Conventional and unconventional natural gas output from several Colorado basins typically accounts for more than 5 percent of annual U.S. natural gas production. Substantial deposits of bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite coal are also found in the State. Colorado's high Rocky Mountain ridges offer wind power potential, and geologic activity in the mountain areas provides potential for geothermal power development. Major rivers flowing from the Rocky Mountains offer hydroelectric power resources. Corn grown in the flat eastern part of the State offers potential resources for ethanol production. Notably, Colorado’s oil shale deposits hold an estimated 1 trillion barrels of oil – nearly as much oil as the entire world’s proven oil reserves. Oil production from those deposits, however, remains speculative.

Special tax districts

Some of the special tax districts are:

  • The Regional Transportation District (RTD), which affects the counties of Denver, Boulder, Jefferson, and portions of Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, and Douglas Counties
  • The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a special regional tax district with physical boundaries contiguous with county boundaries of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties
    • It is a 0.1% retail sales and use tax (one penny on every $10).
    • According to the Colorado statute, the SCFD distributes the money to local organizations on an annual basis. These organizations must provide for the enlightenment and entertainment of the public through the production, presentation, exhibition, advancement or preservation of art, music, theater, dance, zoology, botany, natural history or cultural history.
    • As directed by statute, SCFD recipient organizations are currently divided into three "tiers" among which receipts are allocated by percentage.
      • Tier I includes regional organizations: the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Zoo, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. It receives 65.5%.
      • Tier II currently includes 26 regional organizations. Tier II receives 21%.
      • Tier III has over 280 local organizations such as small theaters, orchestras, art centers, and natural history, cultural history, and community groups. Tier III organizations apply for funding to the county cultural councils via a grant process. This tier receives 13.5%.
    • An eleven-member board of directors oversees the distributions in accordance with the Colorado Revised Statutes. Seven board members are appointed by county commissioners (in Denver, the Denver City Council) and four members are appointed by the Governor of Colorado.
  • The Football Stadium District (FD or FTBL), approved by the voters to pay for and help build the Denver Broncos' stadium INVESCO Field at Mile High
  • Local Improvement Districts (LID) within designated areas of southeast Jefferson and Boulder counties
  • Regional Transportation Districts (RTA) taxes at varying rates in Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Gunnison County
  • Occupational Privilege Taxes (OPT or Head Tax) Denver and Aurora both levy an OPT on Employers and Employees
    • If any employee performs work in the city limits and is paid over US$500.00 for that work in a single month, the Employee and Employer are both liable for the OPT regardless of where the main business office is located or headquartered.
    • In Denver, the Employer is liable for US$4.00 per employee per month and the Employee is liable for US$5.75 per month.
    • In Aurora, both Employer and Employees are liable for US$2.00 per month.
    • It is the Employer's responsibility to with hold, remit, and file the OPT returns. If an Employer does not comply, they can be held liable for both portions of the OPT as well as penalties and interest.


A number of Interstate and U.S. Highways serve Colorado: I-25, I-70, I-76, I-225, I-270, US 6, US 24, US 34, US 36, US 40, US 50, US 84, US 85, US 87, US 138, US 160, US 285, US 287, US 350, US 400, US 491, and US 550.

Commercial Airports in the State of Colorado
  • ALS - San Luis Valley Regional Airport
  • ASE - Aspen-Pitkin County Airport
  • CEZ - Cortez Municipal Airport
  • COS - City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport
  • DEN - Denver International Airport[33]
  • DRO - Durango-La Plata County Airport
  • EGE - Eagle County Regional Airport
  • FNL - Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport
  • GJT - Grand Junction Regional Airport
  • GUC - Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport
  • HDN - Yampa Valley Airport
  • MTJ - Montrose Regional Airport
  • PUB - Pueblo Memorial Airport
  • TEX - Telluride Regional Airport

Amtrak Passenger Railroad Routes through the State of Colorado

  • California Zephyr:  Chicago, Galesburg, Omaha, Fort Morgan, Denver, Winter Park, Granby, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Salt Lake City, Reno, Sacramento, and Emeryville
  • Southwest Chief:  Chicago, Galesburg, Kansas City, Topeka, Lamar, La Junta, Trinidad, Albuquerque, Gallup, Flagstaff, Needles, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles

Communities in the State of Colorado with Regional Bus Service

Alamosa, Aurora, Boulder, Brush, Colorado Springs, Delta, Denver, Durango, Englewood, Frisco, Fort Collins, Fort Morgan, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Greeley, Lamar, Limon, Longmont, Montrose, Pueblo, Rocky Ford, Springfield, Sterling, Trinidad, Vail, and Walsenburg

Government and Politics

State government

Like all U.S. states, Colorado's constitution provides for three branches of government: the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The governor heads the state's executive branch. The Colorado Supreme Court is the highest judicial body in the state. The state legislative body is the Colorado General Assembly, which is made up of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House has 65 members and the Senate has 35. Currently, Democrats are in control of both chambers of the General Assembly. The 2005 Colorado General Assembly was the first to be controlled by the Democrats in forty years. The incumbent Governor of the State of Colorado is August William "Bill" Ritter, Jr. (D).

Many Coloradans are transplanted citizens (over half of them were Californians in the 1990s), and this is illustrated by the fact that the state has not had a native-born governor since 1975 (when John David Vanderhoof left office) and -- until Bill Ritter's election in November 2006 -- had not elected one since 1958, in the person of Stephen L.R. McNichols. Vanderhoof ascended from the Lieutenant Governorship when John Arthur Love was given a position in Richard Nixon's administration in 1973.) Bill Ritter (D), a humanitarian missionary worker in Africa and former Denver District Attorney, defeated former congressman and banker Bob Beauprez (R) in the 2006 gubernatorial election.

Federal politics

Colorado is considered a swing state in both state and federal elections. Coloradans elected 17 Democrats and 12 Republicans to the governorship in the last 100 years. In presidential politics, Colorado supported Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992, and supported Republican presidential nominee Robert J. Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000. George W. Bush won the state's 9 electoral votes in the 2004 election, by a margin of 5 percentage points with 51.7% of the vote, considerably less than the 9% margin Bush won by in 2000. However this can be largely attributed to the 5% of the vote Ralph Nader won in 2000.

Colorado politics has the contrast of conservative cities such as Colorado Springs and liberal cities such as Boulder. Democrats are strongest in metropolitan Denver, the college towns of Fort Collins and Boulder, southern Colorado (including Pueblo), and a few western ski resort counties. The Republicans are strongest in the Eastern Plains, Colorado Springs, Greeley, some Denver suburbs, and the western half of State (including Grand Junction). The fastest growing parts of the state particularly Douglas, Elbert, and Weld Counties, in the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Area, are somewhat Republican.

The two current U.S. Senators from Colorado are Wayne Allard (R), and Ken Salazar (D). The state has seven U.S. Congressional districts, based on the 2000 Census.

Cities and Towns

Colorado has 271 incorporated municipalities and 83 active United States Census Designated Places.


Colorado is divided into 64 counties, including two counties with consolidated city and county governments.


Colleges and universities in Colorado:

  • Adams State College
  • Aims Community College
  • Arapahoe Community College
  • Art Institute of Colorado
  • Colorado Christian University
  • Colorado College
  • Colorado Community College Online
  • Colorado Mountain College
  • Colorado Northwestern Community College
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Colorado State University System
    • Colorado State University
    • Colorado State University-Pueblo
  • Colorado Technical University
  • Community College of Aurora
  • Community College of Denver
  • Denver Seminary
  • Fort Lewis College
  • Front Range Community College
  • Heritage College & Heritage Institute
  • Iliff School of Theology
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Jones International University
  • Lamar Community College
  • Mesa State College
  • Metropolitan State College of Denver
  • Morgan Community College
  • Naropa University
  • National Technological University
  • Nazarene Bible College
  • Northeastern Junior College
  • Otero Junior College
  • Pikes Peak Community College
  • Pueblo Community College
  • Red Rocks Community College
  • Regis University
  • Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
  • Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Trinidad State Junior College
  • United States Air Force Academy
  • University of Colorado System
    • University of Colorado at Boulder
    • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
    • University of Colorado Denver
  • University of Denver
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • Western State College

Metropolitan Areas

The United States Census Bureau has defined seven Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), seven Micropolitan Statistical Areas (μSAs), and one Combined Statistical Area (CSA) in the State of Colorado.

Military facilities

  • Buckley Air Force Base
  • Fort Carson
    • Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site
  • Peterson Air Force Base
    • Cheyenne Mountain Directorate
  • Pueblo Chemical Depot
  • Schriever Air Force Base
  • United States Air Force Academy

Protected areas

National Parks in Colorado:

  • Arapaho National Recreation Area
  • Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  • Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
  • Colorado National Monument
  • Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
  • Curecanti National Recreation Area
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
  • Hovenweep National Monument
  • Mesa Verde National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail
  • Pony Express National Historic Trail
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
  • Santa Fe National Historic Trail
  • Yucca House National Monument


Professional sports teams

Colorado is the least populous state with a franchise in each of the major professional sports leagues. The state is able to support the teams because it contains a large metropolitan area with a higher population than any other city within 550 miles (885 km). Therefore, many of the residents in the surrounding states support the teams in Denver, as shown by the reach of the Broncos' radio network.

Club Sport League
Colorado Rockies Baseball Major League Baseball
Denver Broncos Football National Football League
Colorado Avalanche Ice hockey National Hockey League
Denver Nuggets Basketball National Basketball Association
Colorado Rapids Soccer Major League Soccer
Colorado Mammoth Lacrosse National Lacrosse League
Denver Outlaws Lacrosse Major League Lacrosse
Colorado Chill Basketball National Women's Basketball League
Colorado Crush Arena football Arena Football League
Aurora Cavalry Basketball International Basketball League
Colorado 14ers Basketball NBA D-League
Colorado Crossover Basketball International Basketball League
Colorado Springs Sky Sox Baseball Minor League Baseball (AAA)
Colorado Eagles Ice hockey Central Hockey League
Rocky Mountain Rage Ice hockey Central Hockey League
Colorado Rapids U23's Soccer USL Premier Development League
Colorado Springs Blizzard Soccer USL Premier Development League
Colorado Springs Sabers Soccer Women's Premier Soccer League
Denver Diamonds Soccer Women's Premier Soccer League

Travelling to or from Colorado ?

Find flight to or from Colorado with an Online Travel Agency. Get lodging information or make reservations with a Local Online Hotel. Plan ahead and reserve a car with a Local Car Rental Agency.

Are you relocating to Colorado ?

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Goods & Services in Colorado.

Find out the little necessities in life like, Grocery Stores, Department Stores, Gas Stations, Dry Cleaners, Nail Salons, Fast Food, Auto Repair, Plumbers, Shopping Centers and Post Offices.