Count the 14,000 Footers
Colorado has 53 peaks that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation, more than any other state in the lower 48. Only two other continental states, California and Washington, have any peaks that clear the 14,000 foot mark. Mount Elbert, rising 14,433 feet into the sky, is the tallest peak in the Rocky Mountains. Pikes Peak, perhaps the most famous in the Rocky Mountains, has an elevation of 14,110 feet.
Colorado has a very distinctive front range of mountains running from central Colorado to southeastern Wyoming. This mountain range is the first range a traveler encounters when traveling east to west across the country. When conditions are just right, Front Range summits can be seen for over a hundred miles across the Great Plains. There are six 14,000 footers on the front range, including Pikes Peak, Longs Peak and Mount Evans. Grays Peak is the highest mountain in the Front Range.
Colorado has 16 distinct mountain ranges, which are considered to be part of the Rocky Mountains. Of the 16, 14 of these ranges have at least one summit that surpasses 14,000 feet. The Front Range, which stretches 180 miles north to south, is the longest mountain range in Colorado. The Sawatch Range is home to Mount Elbert as well as some of Colorado's other tallest mountains.
Rocky Mountain Recreation
The Rocky Mountains of Colorado attract many outdoor visitors throughout the year. Skiing is popular in the winter and many mountains have ski lifts that make the trip up the mountain much easier. Ski lifts can take skiers as high as 12,000 feet in elevation and in a few ideal locations will transport skiers up a mountain well into June. Other types of outdoor recreation, such as climbing, trail running, hiking and mountain biking are all popular in the Rocky Mountains.
Rocky Mountain National Park
In 1915, the Rocky Mountain National Park of Colorado became the tenth national park. This high peaks region encompasses 415 square miles and has 20 peaks that exceed 13,000 feet. Roughly one third of the park area is above timberline, which occurs at about 11,000 feet. Visitors short on time can drive the Trail Ridge Road, which tops out at over 12,000 feet in elevation. For a lung-pumping Rocky Mountain experience, hike one of the park's 300 trails.