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Colorado – Rocky Mountains and Beyond

The state of Colorado is hard to categorize. Is it located in the American West, Southwest or rather the nation’s central region? The square-shaped state of 4.7 million inhabitants really has many facets, especially geographically. The difference is most obvious in the capital Denver, located in an extensive flat plains but situated before the magnificent range of the Rocky Mountains, which is reachable within a half-hour drive from the city. The state’s highest point is Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet above sea level, the lowest (on the border to Kansas) at 3,315 feet.

Colorado’s climate is comparatively cool and dry, partly due to the relatively high elevation throughout the state, which is never below 3,000 feet. Generally, one has to differentiate between the Eastern Plains and the Rocky Mountains in the western part of the state. The east is characterized by low precipitation, sunny days and clear nights. The summers are hot, with highs reaching on occasion up until the 100s. Great temperature changes (of up to 50 degrees) from one day to the other are not unusual. In the western, more mountainous part, the climate depends on the individual topography.

Populated by various peoples for 13,000 years, Colorado was part of the region annexed to the US through the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. With the discovery of gold in 1858, Colorado became the target of many diggers, especially along the South Platte River. In 1876, Colorado was admitted to the Union as a full state; thus the state’s nickname “The Centennial State”.

Northeast Colorado

The northeastern region is often referred to as “Colorado’s Outback” due to its abounding natural beauty, extensive plains and only sparse settlements. The largest town is Sterling with only slightly more than 11,000 inhabitants. Historically, the region was one of the major pass-through routes from east to west, by pioneers, soldiers, and gold-seekers. The Pony Express also passed through here. The region boasts a wide array of natural beauty with crystal-clear lakes, wide grassland prairies, and extensive farmland. Hunting is especially popular in the region. You can find deer, geese, ducks, turkeys or even pheasants and antelope.

Denver Area

Denver, despite being one of the youngest American metropoles, has a lot to offer, and the metropolitan area contains almost 3 million people, which is roughly two thirds of the whole state’s population. Denver is located on the foot of the Front Range of the Southern Rocky Mountains. Denver’s nickname is “Mile-High City” since its elevation is equal to one mile (5,280 feet). Founded during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, one can still somewhat sense a spirit of rugged pioneerism among the residents. Culturally, Denver houses some fine museums and art galleries, most notably the Denver Art Museum, built according to plans of world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. The Performing Arts Complex is the second largest in the nation.

Denver is an ideal starting point for trips into the Rocky Mountains. In winter, skiing and snowboarding are the major attractions.

Rocky Mountains

In the winter, the natural reason to visit the Rockies are the great winter sports conditions. Aspen and Vail are two of the best known ski resorts in the world. Numerous Hollywood stars and other celebrities come here to slide down the slopes together with thousands of “normal” tourists. There are also many other resorts that are not as crowded as the two mentioned, e.g. Ski Cooper or Loveland. But the winters in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are not only reserved for skiers and snowboarders. Snowshoe traipsing in the large wooded areas or trips with snowmobiles or on horse and dog sleighs, as well as ice skating on the frozen lakes are other splendid options. In summer, hiking, wildlife camping, and climbing are included in the wide array of potential activities.

The Rocky Mountains National Park in the northern Front Range region of the Rockies spans 265,770 acres. The park houses 359 miles of hiking trails, 150 lakes, and all in all 450 miles of rivers and creeks. Longs Peak is the most popular climb. Many hiking trails start from the crystal-clear Bear Lake. Throughout the park, numerous vacation accommodation opportunities are provided. Whether you are looking for romantic, rustic-style log cabins, camping sites in the wilderness, or luxurious and modern hotels or condos, Colorado has them all. It all depends on what you choose.

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