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Colorado State Names (Etymology of Names)

Colorado Name Origin and State Nicknames

Rocky Mountains

CO 3D Map: State Name OriginColorado is a state encompassing most of the Southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. Colorado is part of the Western United States, the Southwestern United States, and the Mountain States. Colorado is the 8th most extensive and the 22nd most populous of the 50 United States. Colorado is bordered by the northwest state of Wyoming to the north, the Midwest states of Nebraska and Kansas to the northeast and east, on the south by New Mexico and Oklahoma, on the west by Utah, and Arizona to the southwest.

The word Colorado is Spanish for the "color red," and refers to the muddy Colorado River

Colorado Nicknames

  • Centennial State
  • Colorful Colorado
  • Columbine State
  • Highest State- disused
  • Mile-high State - disused
  • Switzerland of America- disused
  • Buffalo Plains State- disused
  • Lead State - disused
  • Rocky Mountain State- disused
  • Silver State - disused
  • Treasure State - disused

Origin of Colorado State Name

Colorado come from the Spanish, "ruddy"or "red." The early Spanish explorers in the Rocky Mountain region named a river they found the Rio Colorado for the reddish silt that the water carried down from the mountains.

The name of the state, Colorado, has its origin in the Spanish language, as the word for "colored red". This was the name chosen for Colorado as a Territory in 1861 by Congress.

When Colorado became a territory in 1861, the Spanish word was used as a name because it was commonly thought that the Rio Colorado originated in the territory. This was not the case, however. Prior to 1921, the Colorado River began where the Green River of Utah and the Grand River of Colorado converged outside of Moab, Utah, and the United States Geological Survey identified Green River of Wyoming as the Colorado's actual headwaters. The Rio Colorado did not actually flow through Colorado until 1921, when House Joint Resolution 460 of the 66th United States Congress changed the name of the Grand River.

Colorado Nicknames

Colorado has been nicknamed the "Centennial State" and is also called "Colorful Colorado." An epithet now reserved for Denver, the "Mile High City"

Centennial State

Colorado has been nicknamed the "Centennial State" because it became a state in the year 1876, 100 years after the signing of our nation's Declaration of Independence.

Colorful Colorado

Colorado also is called "Colorful Colorado" presumably because of our magnificent scenery of mountains, rivers and plains. This phrase has decorated maps, car license plates, tourist information centers and souvenirs of all kinds!

Columbine State

The white and lavender Columbine, Aquilegia caerules, was adopted as the official state flower on April 4, 1899 by an act of the General Assembly. Columbine is symbol for Spirit

Silver State

Because of the abundant silver mines, it also laid claim to The Silver State, but which Nevada disputed its right to as early as 1871.

Lead State

The minerals of the state also led to, according to some unconfirmed reports, The Lead State.

Switzerland of America

It also tried for Switzerland of America, but four other states (Maine, New Jersey, New Hampshire and West Virginia) disputed this one.

Treasure State

Colorado tried for Treasure State, but Montana wanted that

Mile-high State and Highest State

Its high elevation has led to the state occasionally being known as the Mile-high State (although that's an epithet now reserved for Denver, the "Mile High City") and the Highest State.

Buffalo Plains State

From the roaming bison herds led to The Buffalo Plains State.

Colorado Slogans

  • Colorful Colorado
  • Where the Columbines Grow
  • Rocky Mountain High
  • Ski Country USA
  • Enter a Higher State
  • Pike's Peak or Bust (1858-1861)
  • Fresh Air and Fond Memories Served Daily

Colorado Postal Code

  • CO

Colorado Resident's Name

  • Coloradan - Official (recommended by US GPO)
  • Coloradoan - Official, unofficial or informal alternates
State Names
State Names & Nicknames
The etymologies of some US state names are more obvious than others, derived from the Spanish or French tongue. Though, more than half of the US state names come from Native American tribal languages, with several still a mystery to scholars and historians.
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