It’s no secret that Colorado is home to a ton of mountain peaks with some reaching elevations over 14,000 feet. If you’ve ever wondered just how many peaks there are in the Centennial State, we’ve got somewhat of an answer. Keep in mind that calculating the number of peaks can be quite difficult, as different people tend to have different standards for what constitutes an official peak, often depending on a data point called “prominence.”
Let’s start with the 14ers.
While fourteeners are the most iconic and talked about mountains in the Centennial State, their official number is still up for debate. The number of 14ers found in Colorado ranges from 52 to 74 depending on who you’re talking to.
According to the official U.S. Geological Survey, there are 59 points that are recognized as reaching an elevation of 14,000 feet or higher. This includes a “peak” called “Sunlight Spire,” which reaches 14,001 feet and requires technical class 5 climbing to reach the summit. This is the only 14,000-foot summit in Colorado that doesn’t have an easier class 4 option to reach the top.
Editor’s Note: Sunlight Spire was once thought to reach 13,995 feet, though this was later determined to be inaccurate based on a new analysis with more accurate tools of measurement.
Due to an initial inaccurate measurement of Sunlight Spire, many people think that there are 58 14ers in Colorado, though this number is also often debated as many peaks aren’t prominent enough to meet the “300-foot rule.” This rule basically states that for a peak to be considered a standalone peak and not a subpeak of another mountain, it must have a prominence of 300 feet or more. This is why some people don’t consider Mount Cameron to be an official fourteener along the four-peak Decalibron Loop (Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross) near Fairplay. The saddle between Lincoln and Cameron only drops 138 feet, so as the lower peak of the two, Cameron wouldn’t count. Keep in mind that Alaska uses a similar “3,000-foot” rule when it comes to prominence. If that’s the case, Colorado would only have 10 peaks the could be called fourteeners.
The semi-standard “300-foot rule” is why the majority of peak-baggers consider there to be 52-ish fourteeners in Colorado. The curveball here is Challenger Point, which has a prominence of 287 to 327 feet from nearby Kit Carson Peak. This means that there could be either 52 or 53 “official” fourteeners depending on where that number falls.
Granted, Colorado Mountain Club once listed that there were 54 peaks that meet the criteria for being a 14er. They didn’t count Challenger Point, but they did count El Diente and North Maroon Peak – two peaks that don’t meet the “300-foot rule.” It’s said that these peaks were included despite this detail because they require crossing difficult saddles to reach their respective summits from nearby peaks. Now, there are 53 peaks listed on their website above 14,000 feet.
Then, there’s Gerry Roach, an expert on Colorado’s mountains that thinks a bit differently. According to him, there are at least 74 14,000 peaks in Colorado with at least 40 feet of prominence. He suspects this number could be even higher – well over 100.
Debate aside, for the sake of this count, we’ll go with the most widely accepted number – 53.
What about 13ers?
As could be expected, the official number of 13ers in Colorado is also up for debate. According to Colorado mountain expert Gerry Roach, there are 584 official summits that fall between 13,000 and 13,999 feet. Granted, he also includes “Sunlight Spire” in this list, which has been determined to actually be 14,001 feet. It’s also worth mentioning that these summits are only those that are “hard ranked.” There are an additional 48 that are “soft ranked” and, according to him, a total number of 804.
What about the 12ers?
Reaching an elevation
between 12,000 and 12,999 feet, Colorado is home to 676 “hard ranked” 12ers and 70 “soft ranked” 12ers, according to Gerry Roach. There are 1,056 overall.
What about the 11ers?
Gerry Roach’s list keeps going, breaking down mountains that fall between 11,000 feet and 11,999 feet. When it comes to 11ers, Roach has totaled 711 summits, 468 of which are “hard ranked” and 51 of which are “soft ranked.” In total, there are 711 summits that Roach believes fall in this range.
What about the 10ers?
As the mountains get smaller, there’s a little less data available on how many there are, with many of the peaks lacking a name. When it comes to peaks between 10,000 feet and 10,999 feet, a website called “Lists of John” counts 530.
What about the 9ers?
The same website that counts 10ers also has a count for 9ers – 624. See the full list here.
What about the 8ers?
It’s believed that there are 731 8ers in Colorado. Keep in mind that these mountains rank from 2,936th to 3666th in elevation among all of Colorado’s peaks.
What about the 7ers?
Colorado is believed to have 461 peaks in the 7,000 to 7,999-foot range.
What about the 6ers?
Colorado is believed to have 209 peaks in the 6,000 to 6,999-foot range.
What about the 5ers?
Colorado is believed to have 48 peaks in the 5,000 to 5,999 foot range.
What about the 4ers?
While most of Colorado is above 5,000 feet in elevation, all of it isn’t. There are 7 points that reach an elevation between 4,000 and 4,999 feet.
So, how many peaks are in Colorado?
This number varies depending on who you ask. According to the aforementioned “Lists of John,” there are 4,391 peaks in Colorado. Keep in mind that this website only includes “hard-ranked” peaks. According to a website called “Peakery,” there are 4,876 peaks in Colorado. If we combine the hard-ranked peaks from “Lists of John” and include Gerry Roach’s non-hard ranked peaks, there are 5,012 elevated points in Colorado.
Much like the number of official 14ers in Colorado, the number of total peaks or elevated points also seems to vary depending on who is answering the question. Needless to say – there are a lot.
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