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  • What Is the Elevation of the Timberline in Colorado?

    The timberline is defined as an imaginary boundary above which trees will not grow. It is sometimes referred to as the tree line. The exact elevation of the timberline in any specific area is determined by climate, slope aspect and the species of tree. In Colorado, the timberline varies from 11,000 feet to 12,000 feet.
    What Is the Elevation of the Timberline in Colorado?

    Colorado's High Alpine Zone

    The timberline is a tough place to live, but it is very picturesque, and can be a great place to hike on a warm day. There are many unique plants near the timberline. Hikers who venture to these elevations can experience a very stimulating landscape and get an up-close look at many features that cannot be seen from lower elevations. 

    Bristlecone Pines

    Bristlecone Pines thrive on exposed rocky slopes at elevations of 9,200 to 11,800 feet. They can be found in the southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and are usually very small, as well as twisted and picturesque. A Bristlecone specimen has been dated at an age of 4,900 years, which is currently the oldest living species of plant.

    bristlecone pine

    Limber Pine

    The Limber Pine is also very picturesque. This tree is prevalent near the timberline throughout the Colorado Rockies. They start growing at elevations of around 5,000 feet and will grow in elevations as high as 12,000 feet. These trees grow very well on ridges and slopes, and they don't require soil with a lot of nutrients. 

    limber pine

    Evergreen Trees

    Many evergreen trees can survive in Colorado at the tree line. A few examples include Lodepole Pine, Subalpine Fir, Engelman Spruce, and Blue Spruce. You won't generally find these evergreens below an elevation of 6,000 feet; some don't grow below 8,000 feet.

    Blue Spruce  

    Breathtaking Beauty in the Rocky Mountains

    The timberline within the Rocky Mountains of Colorado is breathtakingly beautiful. As you approach the tree line elevations of 11,000 - 12,000 feet, you'll see fewer types of trees than you glimpsed at lower elevations. The trees near the absolute boundary are very short, and are usually twisted and scarred by the harsh winds.

    Visit Colorado's Tree Line Elevations

    If you have an opportunity to hike or backpack in this unique backcountry terrain, you'll be able to take in the unique beauty of the Colorado timberline for yourself. Be sure you're prepared for the journey! Consider completing Colorado wilderness survival training before you go. Make sure that your skills are sharp and that you have all of the supplies and survival gear you may need. 


    Article Written By John Mattson

    John Mattson is an architectural engineer, adventure writer, and photographer who has traveled to many remote corners of the earth. He has recently self-published a colorfully photographed book of 26 diverse and extreme adventure stories titled "Dancing on the Edge of an Endangered Planet."

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