Colorado
© Mike Norton (Colorado)

Iconic Ecosystems in Colorado

Iconic ecosystems are those that "say Colorado" - rugged alpine, mountains clad in spruce-fir and aspen, wooded foothills, and rolling prairies.  Read on to learn more about these quintessential Colorado habitats.

Iconic Ecosystems in Colorado

  • Alpine Tundra

    When people think of Colorado, they often picture snow-covered alpine peaks. Yet this system covers only about 3% of Colorado's landscapes. Alpine tundra occupies the highest elevation band - usually above 11,000 feet.

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  • Spruce-Fir Forests

    Spruce-fir forests are found throughout the Colorado Rockies, and occupy the elevation band just below alpine, commonly known as upper treeline.

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  • Aspen Forests

    A fall drive (late September-early October) along the western slope of Colorado provides a spectacular display of large clonal patches of aspen stands; each stand will have a characteristic color varying from yellows to reds. This is the only time of year that you can easily see that aspen stands are really one individual with multiple trunks. This ecological system covers approximately 5% of Colorado's landscapes.

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  • Shortgrass Prairie

    People who envision only mountains when they think of Colorado would be surprised to learn that shortgrass prairie is actually one of the largest ecological systems in our state. Prairie systems, in conjunction with the associated wetland systems, represent one of the nation's richest areas for large mammals.

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