Colorado Day: What is It and What To Do

Colorado Day 2022

It’s pretty fitting that Colorado day is celebrated in the summer because let’s face it—Coloradoans love being outside. The season or day doesn’t really seem to stop us, but celebrating Colorado Day on August 1 is just another excuse to get outside and indulge in the natural beauty that our—sorry native Coloradoans we’re going to call it OUR state, don’t hate us—state has to offer. Whether it’s world-class hiking and skiing, swimming in pristine blue lakes, or visiting historic landmarks, we as a proud Colorado-based team never miss the opportunity to get out there and enjoy the scene—or cause one. 

Nothing beats the original Colorado flag, but Booyah colors do look good on you, CO.

What is Colorado Day? 

Colorado Day commemorates the anniversary of Colorado becoming a state of the U.S. Union on August 1, 1876. If you’re a good little mathematician then you’ll know that this year Colorado will be celebrating its 146th birthday! You may have also noticed that the year Colorado became a state was exactly 100 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence—this is why we’re known as the Centennial State.

Colorado day has been celebrated since 1907 and today the state-wide observance invites residents and tourists alike to participate in various cultural and outdoor activities.

Life in 1876

Putting things into perspective is always fun. Here are a few things that happened the year Colorado became a state.

  • Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.
  • The first transcontinental rail trip arrives in San Francisco 84 hours after leaving New York.
  • The Battle of Little Bighorn takes place, often referred to as Custer’s Last Stand—a generous name considering a more accurate one would be Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull give US forces a beatdown.
  • Wild Bill Hickock is killed while playing poker in a saloon in Deadwood.

Let’s just say things were a little different back then. 

Colorado History

While Colorado, the state, is turning 146 years old, the land’s history goes back much further. Indigenous peoples have lived in what is now Colorado for more than ten thousand years. From the Rocky Mountains to the Mesa to the High Plains, Indigenous people of the Ancestral Puebloans, Apache, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Shoshone, and Ute have shaped the state’s land and culture. 

Thanks for the statehood, President Grant! Credit: Pixabay

In the era of European exploration and colonization, Colorado was claimed by the Spanish Empire. Traces of this period are apparent today, with many place names derived from the Spanish language. The name Colorado itself can be interpreted to mean “ruddy” or “colored red” in Spanish. The name was inspired by the vibrant hue of the red sandstone along the Colorado River. 

The United States’ exploration of Colorado started in the early 19th century. And with the discovery of valuable metal resources, the region experienced a boom in mining that brought many settlers. A gold rush in particular influenced the development of Colorado society in the mid-1800s. In fact, Booyah’s home city of Denver was actually born out of a gold rush mining camp. Not long after this boom, Colorado officially became a state through a proclamation signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, the 50-dollar bill guy.

Today, Colorado stands out for its incredibly diverse landscape and some of the world’s most beautiful natural landmarks. This geography has also shaped our culture. You can find us skiing down the Rocky Mountain slopes, hiking through the Red Rock canyons, camping by the Sand Dunes, taking a dip in some hot springs, or rafting along the mighty Colorado River pretty much year-round.

What To Do This Summer in Colorado

This Colorado Day, there are countless ways to celebrate. But why restrict your fun to a single day? There are tons of amazing things to explore and experience across our state throughout the whole summer. Here are some of our recommendations for Colorado Day and summer as a whole.

Free entry to State Parks

This year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is making access to all State Parks free on August 1st. You heard that right. Zero dollars—no Ulysses Grants! It’s the perfect opportunity to visit any one of Colorado’s 42 state-run parks or the expansive 71,000 acres of State Forest including, Stagecoach in the verdant Yampa Valley, Steamboat Lake with its diverse wildlife, and the blooming Vega mountain meadows. 

History Colorado Center’s Colorado Day Festival

On August 1, 2022, the History Colorado Center in Denver is hosting a free festival to celebrate Colorado Day. The day’s activities will include a petting zoo and gold panning for the kids and live music and dance performances for folks of all ages. In addition to these special activities, entry to the History Colorado Center’s exhibits, as well as a number of other affiliated museums, will be free of charge. 

Admire the Pueblo cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde, one of the most unforgettable places in CO. Credit: Wallace Bentt/Unsplash

Easily the most impressive of Colorado’s man-made landmarks are the Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park. The incredibly preserved archaeological sites—recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site—were constructed as early as the 12th century and were built into the steep cliffs by the Ancestral Puebloan people, who farmed on top of the mesa. 

We particularly recommend Cliff Palace, the largest of the dwellings in the national park. It’s an unmissable experience, especially if you are in the Southwest.

Ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Just over an hour from Denver, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway is a unique experience that harkens back to the days of the gold rush. One of two remaining cog trains in the United States—and the world’s highest cog railway—this historic (and recently refurbished) railway takes passengers on an 8.9-mile journey that ascends over 14 thousand feet to the Pikes Peak summit. The views along the way are breathtaking and at the peak, there is a welcoming visitor’s center with a panoramic lookout, gift shop, and cafeteria. If you do get the opportunity to take this one-of-a-kind train ride, be sure to try one of their tasty donuts at the summit.

Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods is a National Natural Landmark in the heart of Colorado Springs. Located about 70 miles from Denver, the Garden of the Gods has a more than fitting name: otherworldly sandstone structures rise out of a lush green landscape for miles. There are many ways to explore the park, including hiking and horseback riding trails, mountain climbing, bike routes, and vehicle and segway tours. To top it off, the Garden of the Gods is open to the public and free to access.

Colorado Is Your Oyster

Unbeatable Colorado beauty. Credit: Mike Scheid/Unsplash

The team at Booyah is grateful to be based in Colorado every day, but Colorado Day just gives us an extra opportunity to brag about our geographically and culturally rich environment. We invite you to join us in celebrating this August 1 by partaking in one of the many activities and adventures Colorado has to offer, but if you can’t make it in August, the state is always buzzing with a growing culture and of course, outdoorsy activities.

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