Colorado Mountain Ranges

Colorado is the only U.S. state that lies entirely above 3,000′ (1,000 meters) in elevation and has approximately 550 mountain peaks that exceed 13,000′ (4,000 meters) in elevation.

Highest PointMt. Elbert at 14,440′ (4,401 m) elevation in Lake County. Mt Elbert is also the highest point in the Rocky Mountains of North America.

Lowest Point – 3,317′ (1,011 m) on the eastern boundary of Yuma County, where the Arikaree River flows into the state of Kansas on the eastern plains


Front Range Mountains                                          

The Front Range is the longest mountain range in Colorado, stretching approximately 180 miles north-south between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Pueblo, Colorado. From east to west, the Front Range is roughly 97 miles across. When traveling west across the Great Plains, the Front Range will be the first mountain range you encounter.

Highest Point: Grays Peak (14,278′), also the highest peak on the Continental Divide

Composition: Gneiss, Schist, and Granite

Hikes in the Front Range

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Sawatch Mountain Range

Extending southeastward for 100 miles (160 km) from the Eagle River to the city of Saguache, the Sawatch Range contains 15 peaks topping 14,000 feet (4,267 m), also known as 14er’s. The range forms a portion of the Continental Divide, and it’s mountains are high, massive, and relatively gentle in contour.

Highest Point: Mt Elbert (14,433′), the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains find’s it’s home here

Composition: Granite, sandstone, quartzite, shale, gneiss, gabbro

Hikes in the Sawatch Range

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Mosquito/Ten Mile Mountain Range

The Mosquito/Ten Mile range is a single range, but the part of it south of the Continental Divide is called the Mosquito Range, and the part north of the Divide is called the Ten Mile Range.  The range consists of faulted anticlines formed as part of the Sawatch Uplift during the Laramide orogeny approximately 65 million years ago. The mountains were originally contiguous with the higher Sawatch Range to the west but were separated during the formation of the rift valley at the headwaters of the Arkansas River approximately 35 million years ago.

Highest Point: Mt. Lincoln (14,286 ft)

Composition: granite, schist, quartzite

Hikes in the Mosquito Range

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Hikes in the Ten Mile Range

 


San Juan Mountain Range

The San Juan Mountains in the southern Rockies extends southeastward for 150 mi (240 km) from Ouray in southwestern Colorado, along the course of the Rio Grande to the Chama River in northern New Mexico, making it the largest mountain range by area in Colorado. Volcanic rocks in the San Juan Mountains constitute the largest erosional remnant of a once nearly continuous volcanic field that extended over much of the southern Rocky Mountains and adjacent areas in Oligocene and later time.

Highest Point: Uncompahgre Peak (14,309′)

Composition: Sandstone, shale, limestone, ash-flow tuff, quartz latitic lava, andesitic lava

Hikes in the San Juan Range

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Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are fault-block mountains similar to the Teton Range in Wyoming and the Wasatch Range in Utah. There are major fault lines running along both the east and west sides of the range and, in places, cutting through the range. Like all fault block mountain ranges the Sangre de Cristo’s lack foothills which means the highest peaks rise abruptly from the valleys to the east and west, rising 7,000 feet in only a few miles in some places. The mountains were pushed up around 5 million years ago, basically as one large mass of rock. The Sangre de Cristo range is still being uplifted today as faults in the area remain active.

Highest Point: Blanca Peak (14,351′)

Composition: gneiss, sandstone, limestone, dolomite

 

Hikes in the Sange de Cristo Range

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The Elk Range is missing, but I hope to visit soon.