11 Nicknames for Colorado That You Should Know


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Mountain peaks with light snow and trees and water in front at dusk
An early morning in Red Rock Lake in Colorado, USA

Colorado is a stunning mountainous state in the United States' Mountain West region. This beautiful area is home to the Rocky Mountains, incredible ski resorts, magnificent forests, and a few of the best national parks on the West Coast.

The state boasts a rich history and is the ideal place to live and visit. Interestingly, there are also multiple nicknames for Colorado. Many of these names come from Colorado’s past and its natural qualities, such as scenic and elevated landscapes.

Interested in finding out what some of these monikers are? Then read on for 11 Colorado nicknames and their meanings.

  • 11 nicknames

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The Centennial State

The Centennial State is the official state nickname of Colorado. You’ll find this moniker on some license plates from Colorado as well as on certain government documents.

This name arose because Colorado became the 38th state in 1876, the year that America celebrated its centennial anniversary. The anniversary marked one hundred years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Centennial State is the only official nickname Colorado holds, having been voted on by legislators.

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Colorful Colorado is one of the top nicknames for Colorado thanks to its nature
Colorful Colorado is one of the top nicknames for Colorado due to its landscape

Colorful Colorado

While not an official nickname, Colorful Colorado is a well-known and frequently used Colorado state nickname. The term refers to Colorado's magnificent and colorful landscapes, including its lush green forests and crystal blue lakes.

This moniker frequently gets used in tourism campaigns and other promotional materials created by the Colorado government. There is even a sign saying "Welcome to Colorful Colorado" as you enter the state.

Colorful Colorado was also used on the United States Mint’s bicentennial commemorative quarter for the state and is the literal name of it in Spanish. The collectible coin featured images of the rocky mountains and pine trees along with the nickname.

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Sunrise over snow-capped mountain peaks and trees reflected in a lake
Colorado has the highest elevation above sea level in the USA

The Highest State

Another nickname for Colorado is The Highest State. This name came about due to Colorado having such a high elevation.

The state has the highest elevation above sea level in the US, with the highest town in Colorado sitting at 10,570 in height. The tall, snow-peaked mountains that feature on Colorado’s landscape add to the name.

Being one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, some now have other associations with Colorado and this particular nickname!

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White and brown buffalo behind a wire fence with grass in front
A buffalo herd in Colorado

The Buffalo Plains State

In the past, Colorado was covered with plains on which buffalo and bison herds lived and grazed. This expanse of buffalo plains gave Colorado the nickname The Buffalo Plains State. Over time, these animals were hunted, and unfortunately, populations became hugely reduced.

The way it harks back to Colorado’s early history is what keeps this nickname known today. Interestingly, there are proposals to reintroduce bison and buffalo on Colorado’s plains; the name may once again also have a place in Colorado culture!

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A long chairlift with people on the seats on a snowy mountain top
An alpine ski lift in Colorado

The Switzerland of America

The Colorado state nickname The Switzerland of America is slightly lesser known and comes from the fact that Colorado resembles Switzerland. Colorado and the European country both share snowy, mountainous landscapes.

They are also both incredibly popular snow sports destinations. Unlike some other winter resorts, Colorado and Switzerland specifically appeal to wealthy guests and boast an incredible ski scene.

Colorado’s Vail Ski Resort is particularly popular with upper-class guests and is ranked the most expensive ski resort in North America.

The après-ski scene of resorts in Colorado and Switzerland are similar too. You’ll find many high-end bars and restaurants, with champagne and expensive liquors being the après-ski beverages of choice.

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Snow-capped mountain peaks against blue sky with a town in front
Overlooking Leadville in Colorado with mountains in the distance

The Lead State

Colorado used to be an important lead mining state, hence the name The Lead State. Vast lead deposits were discovered across Colorado in the mid-1800s while people searched for gold.

Realizing lead was a valuable commodity, a lead mining boom commenced, with a town aptly named Leadville being Colorado’s lead mining epicenter.

Lead mining is no longer a large part of Colorado’s economy, with just one mine still in operation. However, being such a fundamental part of Colorado’s history, this nickname remains somewhat in use.

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The Silver State

This nickname relates to another of Colorado’s past mining activities. Colorado has been mining silver since 1860, although silver mining activities are minimal today.

The first silver deposits in Colorado were found in Central City-Idaho Springs. A silver rush then occurred as more deposits were discovered. The town of Leadville was later the largest silver mining site in Colorado.

However, The Silver State is not used much anymore in reference to Colorado but instead is Nevada’s official state nickname.

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Little London

Around 150 years ago, Colorado saw an influx of immigrants from the United Kingdom. This mass immigration event resulted in the Colorado state nickname Little London.

Some towns even tried to resemble London by building Victorian buildings and setting up similar businesses to those found across the pond.

While this was briefly a state nickname, it quickly became the nickname of Colorado Springs as many British immigrants chose to settle there. This high-class city still uses the nickname with the monikers The City of Millionaires and Newport in the Rockies.

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Snowy mountain peaks with trees and ice in a lake in front
Dream Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park

Gateway to the Rockies

Gateway to the Rockies is a nickname given to Colorado state and the city of Aurora.

The world-renowned Rocky Mountains, or Rockies, begin in Colorado and stretch all the way into Canada. Due to being the starting point for the US side of the Rockies, the nickname Gateway to the Rockies occurred.

There are several areas to explore in the Colorado Rockies, with Rocky Mountain National Park housing many of them.

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A cityscape with tall buildings, and trees and a lake in front
Denver Colorado cityscape

The Mile-High City

The Mile-High City is a name often given to Denver instead of being a Colorado State nickname. However, it is incredibly well-known and will make people think of both Colorado and its most populated city of Denver.

Denver got this nickname as the town sits at 5,280 feet above sea level, making its elevation one mile.

Residents of Denver are proud of this nickname, and you’ll find many mentions of it in the town. Colorado’s NFL team, the Denver Broncos, even plays at Empower Field at Mile High, which was named to give a nod to the famous moniker.

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Nil Sine Numine

Instead of being one of multiple Colorado nicknames, Nil Sine Numine is the official state motto. However, it is just as relatable to Colorado as the above nicknames. Nil Sine Numine also features on the state seal.

This Latin phrase translates to “Nothing without Providence.” While there are variations in what that represents, many think it more closely means that there is nothing without God or nothing without the guidance and care of God.

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In Conclusion

Colorado is an amazing state with a rich history and culture and breathtaking natural landscapes. Many visit Colorado and are aware of its landmarks. But common nicknames for Colorado are not always known by those who don't live there.

Hopefully, this list has shone some light on Colorado state nicknames and taught you something new about the area.

This article was edited by Loredana Elena.


Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell WRITER Currently based in Canada, I've also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and travelled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. I love finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever I go!


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