(This story originally appeared in the July/August 2012 CL issue of Colorado Life Magazine)

AS THE EARTH rolled and heaved with colossal geologic shifts, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado slowly rose into shape. For the last few million years, they’ve looked basically the same as they do now. But, during those many millennia since, other elements radically changed – rivers shifted course, forests grew and died, dinosaurs walked the valleys and disappeared, and wildlife evolved. Then humans arrived.

We permeated the Rocky Mountains slowly, as Paleo-Indians hunting mammoth, as Native Americans forming tribes and establishing territory, as settlers occupying the same lands. In this last phase, a period almost infinitesimally thin compared to time before, the mountains changed from simple but significant geologic phenomena to objects of emotion. The Rocky Mountains of Colorado became an inspiration to some, an impediment to others, a crocodile spine on the horizon looming over early wagon trains headed west. Then, in the blink of Earth’s eye, Colorado was settled and the mountains took on more meanings as peaks to be climbed, conquered and named. The mountains settled into our psyches and became part of our culture. 

Colorado’s mountains continue to inspire us, to challenge us, to awe us and simply make us happy. Even though there are hundreds of peaks in the state, we gravitate to the 54 highest summits over 14,000 feet.

Here are a few of the 14ers that we love. 

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