Sitting in the central part of the United States and covering a large part of the Rocky Mountains and Colorado Plateau, Colorado is the eighth biggest state in America, covering an area of more than 104,000 square miles. It's also the 21st most populous state of all, with over 5.6 million people calling Colorado home. The state has borders with Utah, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, as well as touching part of Arizona in its southwestern corner. Colorado is located in the Mountain Time Zone and is well-known for its huge range of landscapes, including mountains, plains, plateaus, canyons, forests, and more. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.



Colorado was named after the Colorado River that runs through it, which was originally called the 'Rio Colorado' by Spanish settlers. Nicknamed the Centennial State, Colorado officially became a state 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. It had been a territory since 1861, having been inhabited by Native Americans thousands of years prior to colonization. For a long time, the area was under Spanish control, but eventually became part of the United States.

One of the most important geographical aspects of any location is its elevation, which is the term that denotes an area's position in relation to sea level. The elevation of Colorado is particularly special as it is the highest state of all, with a mean elevation of 6,800 feet (2,070 m). The second highest state is Wyoming, with a mean elevation 100 feet (30 m) lower than Colorado. Colorado is also known for having one of the largest elevation spans in the United States, with 11,123 feet (3,390 m) separating its highest and lowest points.

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2.Highest and Lowest Elevations in Colorado

Highest and Lowest Elevations in Colorado
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The highest point in the state of Colorado is Mount Elbert, which is also the highest summit in the Rocky Mountains. Mount Elbert is located near the center of the state in the San Isabel National Forest. Named after a Colorado statesman named Samuel Elbert, Mt Elbert has an elevation of 14,440 feet (4,401.2 m) and is the second highest mountain in the contiguous United States after Mount Whitney in California. It’s a popular climbing location and is home to many plants and animals including black bears, marmots, mule deer, elk, and many different kinds of birds.

The lowest point in the state of Colorado can be found at the Colorado-Kansas border. The Arikaree River runs through this area as part of its 156 mile route through the Great Plains region of North America. The Arikaree River is a tributary of the Republican River and is mostly located within Colorado. Near the border with Kansas, this river has an elevation of 3,317 feet (1,011 m). It was named after the Arikara Native Americans and has been given Natural Area status in the state of Colorado, playing home to many different birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians.

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3.Other Key Elevation Points in Colorado

Other Key Elevation Points in Colorado
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Another unique aspect of Colorado’s elevation is that this state is home to the highest incorporated town or city in the entire United States. An old mining town named Leadville can be found in Lake County amidst the Rocky Mountains and has an elevation of 10,152 feet (3,094 m) which helped to earn it the nicknames of 'The Two Mile High City' and 'Cloud City'. The city has a small population of around 2,700 people but attracts many more as a prime tourist spot due to its unique mining history and status as the highest town in the nation.

Due to the fact that the state of Colorado has a relatively high elevation in general, many of its major cities are also located at very high points, especially when compared to other big cities around the United States. The state capital of Denver, for example, has earned the nickname ‘Mile High City’ due to its elevation of 5,280 feet (1,609 m), which is approximately one mile. Other major cities around the state include Colorado Springs, which has an elevation of 6,033 feet (1,839 m) and Aurora, which has an elevation of 5472 feet (1,668 m).

Due to its many mountainous areas, Colorado is also known for being one of the top skiing destinations in the United States and many of its ski resorts are famous all around the country and beyond. The elevation of these resorts is extremely high. Aspen, for example has an elevation of 8,000 feet (2,438 m), Vail stands at a height of 8,022 feet (2,445 m), Steamboat Springs has an elevation of 6,732 feet (2,052 m), and Telluride has an elevation of 8,750 feet (2,667 m).

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Colorado Elevation

More Ideas: Ouray County Ranch History Museum

Colorado’s Ouray County Ranch History Museum preserves and protects the area’s ranching history, with a focus on the 1880’s, when Ouray boomed as a mining town and ranches grew to serve the residents, who flocked to the area to work in the mines. The museum is located in the historic Ridgway Depot, where it shares space with the Ridgway Railroad Museum.

Exhibits feature the stories of real-life ranch families, and many of the museum’s artifacts have been donated by the families whose life stories are on display. Exhibits on ranch life include displays of a typical turn of the century ranch kitchen, with cooking and home-making artifacts, old stoves and ice chests. A display of a typical ranch bedroom and living room include old photographs, documents, clothing and furnishings, and Western art. One display is dedicated entirely to the tools of the trade, and includes an old gas pump, farming equipment and horse-drawn buggy.

Guests learn about daily ranch life, from spring calving to fall roundups, and about the communities that sprang up to serve ranch families, such as the local one-room schoolhouse, the nearby Colona School, which was also the museum’s previous home. In addition, the museum explores the early history of rodeo as a sport, which took shape when local ranchers would meet to show off their roping and riding skills.

An exhibit on branding displays 60 of Ouray County’s oldest cattle brands, from the 1880’s through 1944 and includes historic branding irons and saddles. The Blood, Sweat and Rhinestones exhibit focuses on the achievements of women in the sport of rodeo. Big names such as Reine Hafley Shelton, Mamie Fancis Hafley and Anna Lee Aldred all had ties to the Ouray area. The three were famous for their stunt riding and sharpshooting in Wild West shows between 1901 and 1940. Anna Aldred was the first woman in the United States to receive a jockey’s license, in 1939. A wall of fame honors local ranchers who have contributed to the ranching community in Ouray. The first class of four was inducted in 2014. Each year, the wall of fame dedicates an exhibit area to the accomplishments of the inductees.

The museum’s gift shop sells books on the history of Ouray County ranches, gift items, and photographs of local ranches by area artists, including Kathryn R. Burke.

History: Ranching in Ouray began in the 1880’s and still plays a significant role in the area’s economy. The silver and gold mine boom, the arrival of a local railway, and the opening of the area for homesteading in the late 1800’s all contributed to the growth of ranching in Ouray.

The Ouray County Ranch History Museum is a non-profit organization managed by a small board of directors and advisory board. After operating out of the first floor of the historic Colona School, the museum moved to the Ridgway Rail Depot in 2017.

The Railway Depot served as the home of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad from 1891 through the 1960’s when the last train ran. It had been a private residence until 2015 when several local donors raised funds to purchase it for use as a museum. The Railway Depot occupies a 17-acre campus, and includes a ½ mile track on which historical train equipment will offer daily rides. Both the Ranch History Museum and the Ridgway Railroad Museum share the new facility. The organizations have similar missions, and will be expanding the offerings on the campus over the next several years. To combine the history of ranching and railroading under one roof is fitting, since these two industries historically grew side by side; the success of one would not have been possible without the other.

Ongoing Programs and Education: Events at the Ouray County Ranch History Museum include an annual ranch tour, which has been taking place each July since 2016. 2018’s third annual tour will take guests on a coach bus to two Ouray area ranches, with a catered lunch and live music at the mid-day stop. A Holiday Bazaar takes place each year in November at the Ouray County Fairgrounds. The Ranch History Museum is among the non-profits who sell books, photographs and gifts at the fair to raise money for programs and operations. Past events include “If Aprons Could Talk.” The afternoon tea program displayed old cooking aprons, served tea and included a live harpist.

321 Sherman St, Ridgway, CO 81432, Phone: 970-316-1085

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More Ideas: Fred Harman Art Museum

The Fred Harman Western Art Museum is named for Fred Harman (1902-1982) who created the Red Ryder comic strip, a Western themed syndicated strip that ran for over 25 years, between 1938 and 1965. The museum is located in Harman’s hometown of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The museum is a monument to America’s infatuation with Cowboys and Indians in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and in particular the cowboy Red Rider, his horse, Thunder, and sidekick, Little Beaver.

The museum, known as a “shrine to Western history” is located on Harman’s ranch and was curated by his son, Fred Harman Junior. The main collection is housed in a classic Western ranch home and includes Harman’s cartoons, paintings and drawings, as well as Western memorabilia such as shotguns and pistols, horse bits and saddles, and Native American rugs and artifacts. Two historic log cabins have been moved to the property for restoration, along with old farm equipment and ranching tools.

The museum, which is based out of Harman’s actual Put Hill home, includes the home studio he worked in from 1963, where he completed over 500 oil paintings and bronze sculptures after retiring from cartooning. The museum also features several photographs of Harman and other famous cartoonists of the time, including several of Harman and Walt Disney, who were lifelong friends.

History: Fred Harman is perhaps most well known as the creator of the Red Ryder and Little Beaver comic strip, but was also a painter, sculptor and humanitarian. Having grown up in American’s “four corners” in the southwestern part of Colorado, Harman had a love for the American west that was reflected in his artwork.

After quitting high school early to join the Army during World War I, Harman received his first paycheck as an artist in 1922 while working for a motion picture company in Kansas City, with another cartoonist by the name of Walt Disney. The two quit to run their own company, which quickly went bankrupt. When Disney moved on to California, Harman returned to Colorado. Several fits and starts at a career in the art world took Harman back to Kansas City, to Minnesota, California and New York. He finally saw “overnight” success in 1938 when his Red Ryder comic strip was syndicated by the Scrips-Howard Newspaper company. The cartoon became so popular, that what began as a 10-year contract spread to 750 newspapers, 40 million readers, close to 40 movies, commercial products and a radio show. It was at one point the largest syndicated comic strip in the United States.

The success of the comic strip allowed Harman to retire from cartooning in 1965 and focus on his painting. Known for his subject matter of the American West, Harman founded the Cowboy Artists of America, a group of five painters based in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he had a studio. The group’s first show was at Oklahoma City’s National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1966.

A working cowboy himself, with a photographic memory, Harman took pride in the fact that each of his Western paintings is historically accurate. Harman’s work shows great detail, down to the reins on the horses and the knots in the lassos. The well-respected artist was one of only 75 white men to have ever been adopted into the Navajo Nation, a demonstration of their acceptance of his “Little Beaver” character, who was a young Navajo boy.

The museum is currently managed by Fred Harman Jr’s widow, who gives most of the tours herself.

Ongoing Programs and Education: Events at the museum include the annual Red Ryder round-up, which has taken place on 4th of July weekend for over 60 years, since 1949. The rodeo includes a parade down Pagosa Springs’ Main Street, an arts and crafts fair, carnival, fireworks and full schedule of rodeo events such as bull-riding, barrel racing and calf roping.

What’s Nearby: Visitors interested in the history of the American West will also enjoy the nearby Pagosa Museum. The home of the San Juan Historical Society, the museum houses Western artifacts from the turn of the century as well as Navajo rugs and quilts which tell the history of the Navajo people. An office chair belonging to the physicist Robert Oppenheimer and a saddle belonging to actor Henry Gordon are among the most loved pieces in the collection.

85 Harman Park Drive, Pagosa Springs, Colorado 81147, Phone: 970-731-5785

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More Ideas: Pagosa Springs Historical Society Museum

Named one of the greatest “little” museums in the area, the Pagosa Springs Historical Society Museum (or Pagosa Springs History Museum), packs a lot of punch in a relatively small package. Visitors who come to the museum will leave having learned a lot more about the local history.


The Pagosa Springs Historical Society Museum (previously known as the San Juan Historical Society and Museum) was started as the brainchild of Glenn Edmonds in 1970. Meant to preserve “the Good Old Days,” the History Museum was a combination effort by many of the artists and local community members that are featured on display (like Susan Hudson and Worthe Crouse). Admission has always been provided free of charge to the many visitors that stop into the museum on an annual basis, even though the museum closes seasonally.

Permanent Exhibitions

The museum focuses on a few different exhibitions, all offered on a permanent basis. The majority of the exhibits focus on specific aspects of Pagosa Springs history, like the mosasaur fossil that was found in the town, Fort Lewis, the history of the railroad and its impact on the town, the early lifestyle of the settlers of the town, local wildlife, and others are described below.

- Honoring Our Past - This exhibit focuses on Susan Hudson (also known as Traditional Woman), a local Navajo storyteller. With a collection of recorded oral history stories as well as some of the ledger quilts she has created over the years (there are usually around five of them on display on a rotating basis), Traditional Woman teaches guests about the history of the area and the people. New to the exhibit recently is a full quilt show, focusing on similar themed quilts.

- Metal Art Exhibit - Works of black smithery and artistry on featured in this metal art exhibit, by artist Worthe Crouse. Works include a metal sculpture of an eagle that is perched on top of a rock while holding a fish, a columbine, an elephant, coral, and others. These metal art sculptures also focus a keen, artistic eye on local subject matter important to the community.

- Oppenheimer Chair - The actual chair that J. Robert Oppenheimer used while he was on staff at the Los Alamos Laboratory is on display at the Historical Society Museum. J. Robert’s brother, Frank, also was on staff during the time of the Manhattan Project and he eventually settled at a ranch near Pagosa Springs.

- Henry Gordon’s Saddle - There is a large ranch and saddle exhibit at the museum as well, the majority of the artifacts belonging to Henry Gordon. Gordon was a Colorado homesteader and the nearby Gordon Creek was named for him. He died at age 101 in 1934 and is buried at Pagosa Springs.

While visiting the Historical Society Museum, many visitors also find it interesting to visit the nearby Pagosa Springs Cemetery as well. There are few headstones that actually remain intact at the cemetery. Those that were readable have been matched with their corresponding obituaries. For instance, buried on the grounds is six-year-old Gildea Grimes (10/27/1853 - 11/30/1859). It is a fascinating look at the past.

Admission to the History Museum is always offered completely free of charge.

Special Events

Throughout the year, the History Museum features a variety of different special events meant to entice guests to return to the museum and help celebrate history even further.

For instance, the summer opening of the museum is celebrated with a free to the public parking lot party and barbeque. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be served. It is one of the best ways to get to celebrate and enjoy the museum with others who share the same enthusiasm for the past and local history. Donations are not only accepted but encouraged.

The History Museum is also frequently home to rotating exhibitions and special events, like the recent Navajo Quilt exhibition. These temporary exhibits come to the museum at different times and are sent out to subscribers to the museum newsletter. Keep an eye out and sign up on the website for additional, inside information on any other special events that may be offered at Pagosa Springs History Museum.


There is a small gift shop located inside the museum. All purchases from the gift shop go back into helping support the museum and keeping admission free. The gift shop was expanded in 2018, adding additional apparel and themed merchandise that nearly doubled their selection. Donations are also welcome at the gift shop as well.

Pagosa Springs Historical Society Museum, 96 Pagosa Springs, CO, 81147, Phone: 970-264-4424

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