Colorado Mountains

With numerous activities, and 300 days of sunshine, Colorado is a mountain lovers dream.
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With numerous activities, and 300 days of sunshine, Colorado is a mountain lovers dream.

Longs Peak in Colorado. Photo by Gregory Mayse

Colorado and surrounding states are home to some of America's most beautiful and rugged mountain ranges. Colorado alone boasts over 15 separate mountain ranges and has 54 peaks towering above 14,000 feet. Whether you want to drive, hike, climb, raft, fish, or just enjoy the views, Colorado this is the place to be. Known officially as the Southern Rockies, Colorado is truly a mountain lovers dream.

Colorado Mountain Peaks

The statistics are impressive: 54 14,000-foot mountains, over 1,000 12,000-foot mountains, and more 10,000-foot mountains than we can count. In fact, there are so many mountains in Colorado entire libraries of books have been written on them. Luckily though experiencing them is a breeze. Many of Colorado's most famous mountains are also ski resorts, where wintertime recreation is coupled with expansive 360-degree snowpacked views. Aspen, Vail, Copper, and Breckenridge are just a few of our favorite places for this.

Then there is the granddaddy of Colorado: the elusive 14er. Two separate 14ers can accessed by cars including Pikes Peak and Mount Evans. The rest either require a hike or scramble to the summit. Some of our recommendations are: Grays Peak and Torreys Peak, which are both climbable in a day and relatively easy. If you're looking for a bit more of a challenge head up to Mount Massive and Mount Elbert just outside of Leadville. And if 14,000 feet sounds too high, no sweat, there over 700 13ers in Colorado and they can be found just about everywhere. Our favorites? Just think Indian Peaks Wilderness, which is part of the Front Range and can be reached in less than an hour from Denver.

Colorado Mountain Ranges

It would be impossible to talk about peaks without mentioning the mountain ranges they are part of. Driving westward through Colorado it's impossible not to notice the sudden change from open plain, to rugged foothill, to monstrous mountains, to crumbling red rock desert. Each mile seems to have it's own unique character and personality. The largest mountain range, The San Juan Mountains, extend from southwestern Colorado into New Mexico, offering up jagged peaks, crystal clear lakes, and some of the best mountain biking in the state. The next largest is The Front Range acting as an eastern gateway to the Rockies. The Front Range is best known for its dramatic violent rise up form the long flat plains. Rocky Mountain National Park is heavily comprised of the Front Range as well. Other key ranges in Colorado include: Sawatch Range, Sangre de Cristos and Never Summer Range, which were created over 25 million years ago due to violent volcano activity.

Surrounding Regions

Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico all have impressive grandiose mountain ranges that ultimately played a key role in defining westward expansion. In Utah make sure to check out the Wasatch Mountain Range, which extends 160 miles south from the Idaho-Utah border. From a distance it is stunning how the mountains literally rise directly up from the valley floor. That impression of sudden uprising is also present in Wyoming in the Teton Range.

Further south in New Mexico it is imperative to visit the Guadalupe Mountains. The mountains are home to one of the world's largest network of underground caverns, and Carlsbad National Park.