It was a cow town. Right on the eastern edge of the front range. It was where the great plains ended and the sight of the Rocky Mountains were in full view. If you woke up at the right time you would be able to see the sun rising against the range as it warmed up the snowy caps on top.
Greeley was not on the list to visit for many folks who came to the state but it was for me. There sat the University of Northern Colorado where I spent my college years. There’s reasoning why I went there but that will be for another time. The point of this story is that it gave me four years in the beautiful state of Colorado.
The eastern half of the state is wide open. Extensions of western Nebraska and Kansas that reach right up to the mountains. Once you hit those rocks it’s straight up until you hit the sky.
I lived out on the east coast for awhile in my 20’s. I spent a bit of time rummaging around the Adirondacks and Appalachian mountains. They are quite beautiful and scenic, but they are not the Rockies.
In comparison, I always had a hard time calling them mountains. Those out east are more like hills to me. The massive expansion of what is the Rocky Mountain Rage is huge. I remember hiking one of the 46 peaks in the Adirondacks and I was running as I was nearing the top. This was, I think, Giant Mountain and I was nowhere near out of breath during my assent. The lack of altitude was nice but I made me realize something, these were not mountains like I was use to.
Mountains that I grew up climbing were massive beasts that took your lungs and threw them against their treeless tops. They made you work for every single step you took as you walked through the pines, up past the tree line, and finally ended as you reached the summit before the afternoon rains came and chased you back down.
This is not a shame on any of the mountains back east. They are beautiful and majestic in their own right. Many of our countries early songs were written about them. No, this is just to show you how massive and wonderful these peaks in Colorado are.
On the foot of the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains sits what has become a strip of developments that chain from Colorado Springs all the way up through Denver to Fort Collins. Over the years people have came to this area to take in what nature has given us in those mountains. Is it overcrowded and getting a little stuffy? Yes, as far as I can tell it is. However, this boom has created an outdoor industry that rivals anything else in North America.
The western slopes exit you from the Rockies to the western half of the United States. There you will find things a little more sparse but just as beautiful. Eating a Colorado peach this past month? It was probably from the western slope of Colorado. A beautiful piece of earth that extends into Utah.
Colorado is an active state. People now fish and kayak the streams that come down through the mountain passes. They hike the endless trails. In the winter they ski thorough groomed and even ungroomed slopes that are speckled throughout the state. These are just a few of the activities the state provides. Colorado has become a destination for all seasons.
All of these opportunities has had an effect on the populous. The state has for years now been the lowest ranked in the nation for obesity. Their healthcare is in the top 10. As for the economy, it’s also in the to 10 in many categories. Companies have been flocking there for decades due to the location, work force, and educational opportunities.
As for education, the state boasts a great many good high schools and universities. Regis University, University of Denver, and Colorado College are competitive private institutions that pull from all across the country. The Colorado School of Mines is also one of the top technical schools in the country. Right there in the back yard of Coors Brewing if that tells you anything.
Colorado State in Ft. Collins has a top notch veterinary program. It is settled in a very fun and hospitable mountain town. Well, it’s just off the mountains but I always felt Ft. Collins have the vibe of a mountain town.
Finally, you have my alma mater, the University of Northern Colorado. Might I say it has TWO National Championships in football. Because, two is always better than one and they were won in Division II. In Division II there is a playoff system so there is no sharing of titles. One champion to reign over all.