Description - Colorado is a diverse region of mountains, plateaus, canyons and plains. The eastern half of the state has flat, high plains and rolling prairies gradually rising westward to the foothills of the Front Range. The western spine of the Rocky Mountains of the state contains the Continental Divide, which runs from north to south and bisects the state's watersheds. The western half of the state consists of alpine terrain interspersed with wide valleys, rugged canyons, high plateaus and deep basins.
The state's altitude is one of its distinctive features making it, on average, the nation's highest state. The lowest elevation is 3,350 feet at the Arkansas River near the town of Holly. The highest peak is Mount Elbert at 14,431 feet high, or 2.72 miles above sea level. Mount Elbert is the 14th highest peak in the United States, including mountain peaks in the state of Alaska. In addition, there are 54 mountain peaks over 14,000 feet high (the "fourteeners") and more than a thousand peaks over 10,000 feet high. No trip is complete without seeing Pikes Peak, Longs Peak, Mount Elbert and of course the most photographed peaks in the country, the Maroon Bells.
The Continental Divide, so named because waters west of the divide flow toward the Pacific Ocean and those east of the divide flow toward the Atlantic Ocean, runs from north to south through the state. West of the Continental Divide, the Colorado River, for which the state was named, flows southwest from high in the Rocky Mountains in north central Colorado toward the Gulf of California. East of the Continental Divide, the North Platte, the South Platte, the Arkansas, and the Rio Grande rivers all originate in the mountains, or plains, and flow east toward the Missouri River, southeast to the Mississippi River and then south to the Gulf of Mexico.
Attractions - The major destination resorts in include; Aspen, Vail, Beaver Creek, Snowmass, Telluride, Steamboat, Durango, Glenwood Springs, Breckenridge, Keystone, Winter Park, Crested Butte and Copper Mountain. Every visitor should visit; Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, and Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.
Vast sections of the state are managed by the National Forest Service, including White River, San Juan, Rio Grande, Uncompahgre, Gunnison, Grand Mesa, Routt, Arapaho, Roosevelt, Pike, and San Isabel National Forests. There are many wilderness areas within these forests.
Larger cities include Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Pueblo, and Alamosa.
Recreation - There are numerous and varied outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the state. The world-class resorts of Aspen, Vail and Telluride are among the better-known ski areas. Cross-country skiers, snowmobiliers, and snowshoers enjoy trails through snow shrouded pine forests and make use of several huts systems for backcountry adventuring. Crisp white snow contrasts with deep blue skies to create the perfect winter outdoor recreation playground.
Rivers and streams swell in spring as the melting snow begins its journey to the oceans. White water rafters and kayakers brave tumultuous rapids while the less adventurous enjoy more placid river sections and riverside picnic grounds and campgrounds.
Hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, camping, mountain biking, fly fishing, mountaineering and rock climbing are popular summer outdoor recreation activities. Families pile into cars and campers to experience the scenic byways, which cross 12,000-foot mountain passes and even reach the tops of 14,000-foot peaks (the "fourteeners") like Pikes Peak.
Location - Western United States - about 1500 miles from the Atlantic seaboard and 1000 miles from the Pacific Ocean, 500 miles from the Mexican border and 700 miles from the Canadian border. Denver International Airport is the main port of entry for air travelers. Interstates 70 and 76 bring visitors from the east and west while Interstate 25 runs north and south.