When we left Ogallala, NE, we were excited! Within a few minutes we would finally arrive in Colorado, a state that for many years I had only dreamed about visiting. Although Rob had been here before, it was many, many years ago when he was a teenager so he was looking forward to it as well.
It was a cloudy and overcast day as we traveled southwest along I-76. When we crossed the CO border, I kept waiting for that “ah ha” moment when suddenly a majestic snow capped mountain would appear on the horizon but that never happened. Darn those clouds! When we finally arrived at St. Vrain State Park (see our review) in Firestone, CO, our base for three nights, I immediately started whining “where are the mountains? We came all this way to see the Rockies. Why can’t we see them?” Not once, not twice, maybe three times these words tumbled out of my mouth! Poor Rob! Good thing he has become an expert at ignoring me!
But luckily eventually the clouds disappeared over the next day or two and there out our window were the snow capped, magnificent Rockies. OMG! Totally awesome! Little did I know at the time that this was just a preview of the gorgeous scenery we would see during our month long stay in this beautiful state.
Here are some fun facts about Colorado:
- Known as the Centennial State, Colorado, which is Spanish for “colored red”, has two state nicknames – the “Centennial State” because it became the 38th state of the United States in 1876 (one hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence) and “Colorful Colorado” because of the state’s magnificent scenery of mountains, rivers and plains.
- It has the highest elevation of any state, with more than 1,000 Rocky Mountain peaks over 10,000 feet high and 54 towering above 14,000 feet, more than any other state in the US.
- Colorado has the highest mean altitude of all the states.
- Colorado has more microbreweries per capita than any other state and Colorado was one of the first states (along with Washington state) to legalize cannibis (marijuana) for recreational use. Hmmm, maybe all that is what causes a “Rocky Mountain High”? I always thought it was the altitude…
- Colorado’s southwest corner borders Arizona, New Mexico and Utah the only place in America where the corners of four states meet.
- Pikes Peak Cog Railway is the highest cog railway train in the world.
- Katherine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful” after being inspired by the view from Pikes Peak.
- The highest suspension bridge in the world is over the Royal Gorge near Cañon City. The Royal Gorge Bridge spans the Arkansas River at a height of 1,053 feet.
- The United States federal government owns more than 1/3 of the land in Colorado.
- Colorado has almost as many dead towns (about 500) as live ones (650). Mining booms and busts left the mountains littered with more than 300 ghost towns.
- The 13th step of the state capital building in Denver is exactly 1 mile high above sea level.
- The highest paved road in North America is the Road to Mt. Evans off of I-70 from Idaho Springs. The Road climbs up to 14,258 Ft. above sea level.
- The first license plate on a car in the United States was issued in Denver, Colorado in 1908.
- Denver is home to one of four current active US Mints and is the largest single coin producing facility in the world.
- Contrary to the promise of pristine Rocky Mountian air, Denver is one of the smoggiest cities in the US.
- No U.S. President or Vice-President has hailed from Colorado.
- A golf ball flies on average 10 percent farther in Colorado than other states because of the altitude. It flies even farther at higher altitudes (above 7,000 feet).
We spent October 2nd to October 28th roaming around the “Front Range urban Corridor” and making day trips up into the “Front Range” mountains. With the risk of snow (yes, we did get some), it was a tough time of year to be exploring a state that has the highest average elevation in the country. That did curtail some of our activities and kept us from heading up into the mountains and further west across the Continental Divide, but that didn’t matter, Colorado quickly won a special place in our hearts! Our next few posts will describe all the “high” points.