1. Your State’s Snow Has Nothing On This Stuff
Source: Flickr user Amy Gahran
Colorado snowfall is like every other blizzard you’ve ever experienced—except on steroids. You haven’t really experienced fear until you’ve had to ride the brake winding through the Rocky Mountains.
While Colorado’s cities don’t rank with cities further east in terms of snow accumulation, the terrain of Colorado definitely adds a LOT to the degree of difficulty when it comes to driving. But then again, all those world famous ski slopes wouldn’t be the same without it.
2. Firefighters Are Colorado’s Real Superheroes
Source: Flickr user The National Guard
If you’re from a state where wildfires aren’t a regular occurrence, then prepare to be shocked when you come to Colorado. In 2002 alone, 15 separate wildfires were recorded in Colorado, and about one million acres of forest burned in that decade. So, if you see a firefighter in Colorado, be sure to give them some love.
3. You Don’t Need To Hide Your Weed Anymore
Source: Flickr user Chuck Grimmett
Forget about lighting incense candles to cover up the smell or getting eye drops ready to hide the redness. It’s all good. Of course, it’s led to Colorado residents becoming the proverbial butt of a series of stoner jokes, but there’s something to be said for getting the last laugh.
The recreational marijuana industry has thrived since its inception, with thousands of jobs created and millions of dollars in revenue produced. Who’s laughing now?
4. The Californians Are Invading
In 2013, it was reported that seven percent of Colorado’s population now consisted of folks who had come from California. While some have been welcoming of their neighbors from the Golden State, many have been a little irritated by the influx of Californians and their politics, accusing them of turning their red state blue in the process.
The funny thing is, people from Wyoming have been saying the same things about people from Colorado for years…
5. You’re Welcome For That Little Thing Called The Cheeseburger, World
Source: Flickr user stu_spivack
Colorado can claim credit for the invention of the cheeseburger. Well, more specifically, Louis Ballast was awarded the trademark on the name “cheeseburger” for his Denver restaurant, the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In. Who would’ve guessed it happened in Colorado?
6. If You’re In A Part Of Colorado You Don’t Recognize, It Probably Belongs To The Government
Source: Flickr user Andy Walker
Colorado is one of only 10 states where more than one-third of the land is owned by the federal government. Of course, the majority of it consists of National Forests and National Parks on the western half of the state. And, while having one third of the land owned by the Feds may sound like a lot, that doesn’t even come close to Nevada, where almost 85 percent of the land is Federal property.
7. But Colorado Used To Belong To Everyone Else
Source: Flickr user Ken Lund
The Colorado Territory that ultimately became the state of Colorado was actually pieced together from portions of four other territories. The portion of Colorado west of the Rockies was once part of Utah, and the areas of east Colorado where everyone lives were once part of Kansas.
Completing Colorado’s rectangular design was accomplished by adding portions of Nebraska to the north and New Mexico to the south. And that, my friends, is how you create a state out of thin air.
8. Nope, You Can’t Move To Mesa Verde No Matter How Cool It Looks
Source: Flickr user Kurt Thomas
The ruins of Mesa Verde National Park look like they might make a good place to set up some condominiums, but if you try to take up residence there, a park ranger will be along to shoo you off rather quickly. With more than 600 Anasazi cliff dwellings contained within the park, it is one of the best-preserved ruins in the world.
9. Real Climbers Aren’t Afraid Of Pike’s Peak
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb attracts about 150 competitors each year trying to navigate through the 156-turn, twelve-and-a-half-mile course that also has racers traveling a mile up. This course is among the most treacherous in all of racing; it is often highlighted by crashes. Not that that stops people from coming. What a story you have to tell if you make it all the way.
10. No Matter What You Think About Him, Everyone Knows Blucifer Is Pretty Badass
Source: Flickr user Eric Golub
The blue mustang at the Denver airport was actually responsible for the death of its creator in 2006 when a piece of Blucifer fell on artist Luis Jimenez and severed an artery in his leg. After his unveiling in 2008, Blucifer had several Denver residents worried that he would reflect poorly on the city, but he has also received quite a bit of support from people who thinks he looks pretty cool.
11. Colorado Teams All Get Along
Source: Flickr user BradJones9
Like many states, Colorado has professional sports teams that bear the name of the state as opposed to the name of the city they play in, like the Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rockies and Colorado Rapids.
Unlike other states, the Colorado teams have a practice of sharing stadiums with teams named for city they reside in. The Avs share the Pepsi Center with the Denver Nuggets, and in their first year, the Rockies shared Mile High Stadium with the Denver Broncos.
12. If You Can’t Find A Craft Beer You Like, You Can’t Be Looking Very Hard
Source: Flickr user Øyvind Sandåker
Aside from being the home to Coors Brewery, which is the largest brewery facility in the world, Colorado is also the home to more than 150 craft breweries – a mindboggling number. Even more mindboggling is the more than 20 million barrels of beer produced in Colorado annually.
There’s a reason. American Homebrewers Association was actually founded in Colorado by Charlie Papazian, who was giving beer-making classes to his Boulder neighbors back in the 1970s. No wonder Colorado is referred to as the place “where the beer flows like wine.”
13. Coloradans Are All Flyboys
Source: Flickr user Beverly & Pack
While most of the military branches are situated on the eastern seaboard, the Air Force Academy was planted in Colorado Springs. This seems fishy for it to be so far away, and you’d think the Rocky Mountains would be a bit of an impediment when it comes to flying.
In the end, Colorado Springs beat out locations in Illinois and Wisconsin to land the Air Force Academy, and graduates of the elder service academies regularly kid Air Force grads about having spent four years “on a ski resort.”
14. Surprise! It’s Not Actually “The Rocky Mountain State”
Source: Flickr user daveynin
Although it is popularly referred to as “The Rocky Mountain State,” Colorado is officially known as “The Centennial State.” This is because Colorado became a state in 1876 – 100 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. So “The Rocky Mountain State” is a much easier state nickname to remember for those of us that don’t like to do math.
15. Everyone Lives East Of The Mountains
Source: Flickr user flamoroux
Because the Rocky Mountains are all but uninhabitable, nearly the entire population of Colorado lives east of the Rockies. So, if you’re want to take a scenic tour of the western half of the state, don’t expect to find a series of plush hotels to put you up for the night.
16. Yeah Yeah, Colorado Turned Down The Olympics
Yes, Colorado became famous as the state that rejected the Olympics. The 1976 winter games were scheduled to take place in a series of locations around Colorado, but voters rejected a measure to provide tax dollars to finance the games, and Austria wound up as the host instead.
Hosting any form of the Olympic games is generally considered to be an honor, but considering the debt that would have resulted, maybe Coloradans made the right decision after all.
17. But The Best Athletes Are Still Bred Right Here
Source: Flickr user sagriffin305
Since the 1968 Olympics, it has been clear that high-altitude training provides a clear advantage to athletes. That’s why the US Olympic Committee ultimately opted to place its headquarters in Colorado Springs in 1978, and planted a massive training facility and campus there. This is one of the most clear-cut cases of a scientific finding being used to land a major business.
18. Not To Mention The Best Fighters
Partially due to the value of training at altitude, Colorado is teeming with MMA gyms. Many of the greatest fighters of all time trained at the Grudge Training Center in Arvada, including UFC champions Rashad Evans and Shane Carwin. And, Colorado has produced its fair share of homegrown MMA stars too, like. Donald Cerrone and Duane Ludwig (UFC record holder for the fastest knockout in any fight at six seconds).
19. “South Park” Is Real… Sort Of
Source: Flickr user Jeffrey Beall
While there is no actual city of South Park in Colorado, the television series is named after the South Park region in Park County. Several locales in the fictional town of South Park are based on very real locations in the town of Fairplay.
While, Fairplay is actually the largest town in Park County, with just under 700 residents, it is unlikely that any of those residents lead lives quite as exciting as Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny.
20. But Sorry, Greendale Isn’t
Fans of the NBC sitcom Community might be disappointed to learn that neither Greendale Community College nor the city of Greendale actually exist in Colorado. However, their disappointment will probably be tempered by the fact that NBC has agreed to pick up Community for a sixth season on Yahoo! Screen.
21. Denver Wasn’t Always The Center Of Attention
Source: Flickr user Ken Lund
Colorado City was chosen as the first capital in late 1861 but was stripped of its title as soon as the legislature was able to meet there, and realized how inadequate it was. After that, Golden City became the first federally recognized capital of Colorado—but even then, the legislators only met in Golden City to get organized and then went back to Denver to get their work done.
Finally, Denver was made the official capital of Colorado in 1867, apparently after the legislators got tired of moving to and fro between the cities.
What have you had to explain to out-of-towners about Colorado? Tell us in the comments below!