Long before recorded history, native hunters tracked bison and now-extinct mammoths and mastodons through what is now Colorado.
The first permanent settlements that we know about appeared in the southwest part of the state thousands of years ago; their ancestors built the structures that can now be seen at Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde features an elaborate four-story city carved in the cliffs by the Ancestral Pueblo people between 600 and 1300 A.D. The mystery surrounding this ancient cultural landmark is the sudden disappearance of the thousands of inhabitants who created the more than 4,000 identified structures.
Many other Native American cultures later lived in this area, including the Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes.
Spanish conquistadors arrived in Colorado in the 1500s; they were the first European visitors to the area.
Spanish explorers named the river that ran through the area Colorado; for the Spanish-speaking explorers, the word Colorado meant “colored red,” for the river’s muddy, red hue. It eventually became the name of the territory.
In 1858, the discovery of gold in Cherry Creek (present-day Denver) attracted the first U.S. settlers to the area, and in 1876 Colorado officially became the 38th state.
The Rocky Mountains are huge part of the Colorado landscape. The Rockies are a large mountain range located in the western part of North America in the United States and Canada. The “Rockies” as they are also known, pass through northern New Mexico and into Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.
The Largest Cities in Colorado Are:
- Colorado Springs
- Fort Collins
Fact #1: Denver happens to be the capital and the biggest city in Colorado
Fact #2: Colorado has the highest average elevation of any U.S. state. Its capital, Denver, is nicknamed the “Mile-High City” because it sits at approximately 5,280 feet above sea level—in fact, The 13th step of the state capital building in Denver is exactly 1 mile high above sea level.
Fact #3: The United States Air Force Academy is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Fact #4: The Continental Divide, a natural boundary that separates North America’s river systems, is in Colorado. Water that falls west of the divide flows to the Pacific Ocean; water that falls to the east heads to the Atlantic Ocean.
Fact #5: The highest paved road in North America (and one of the highest in the world), the Mount Evans Scenic Byway was constructed for tourists and stretches from the Idaho Springs Visitor Center to the summit of Mount Evans.. The Road climbs up to 14,258 Ft. above sea level.
Fact #6: Colorado is nicknamed the Centennial State because it became a state the same exactly 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Just for fun, see if you can answer these questions.
What is the capital of Colorado? Is it Colorado Springs, Lakewood, Fort Collins, or Denver?
Denver is the capital of Colorado.
Which mountain range runs through Colorado? Is it the Smokey Mountains, the Rocky Moountains, or the Himalayan Mountains?
The Rocky Mountains run through western Colorado.
What is Colorado's nickname?
It’s called the Centennial State.
What is Denver's nickname? Is it the Windy City, the Mile High City, the Emerald City, or Motor City?
Denver’s nickname is the Mile High City.
If you have time, you can write a story of your own.
Here are a couple of story ideas you can choose from.
Idea #1: You can write a brief story about some of the cool things you learned about Colorado.
Idea #2: Imagine you were riding in a car on the highest highway in North America. What would it be like? What would you see, and how do you think you might feel in the high altitude?
To help you write a great story, we have some helpful hints and timely tips.
Check out “10 Tips for Writing Better Essays.”
Here's a riddle for you:
What are mountain climbers' favorite kind of stories?