Symbols & Emblems

This page is still under construction. Thank you for your patience.

An image of a vintage looking Greetings from Colorado postcard.

Colorado's name has its origin in the Spanish language, as the word for "colored red." The name was chosen for Colorado as a Territory in 1861 by Congress and became a state in 1876. With statehood being 100 years after the signing of the nation's Declaration of Independence, Colorado's nickname became the "Centennial State." Colorado is also called "Colorful Colorado," presumably because of our magnificent scenery of mountains, rivers, and plains. This phrase has decorated maps, car license plates, tourist information centers, and souvenirs of all kinds!

As Colorado became a state on August 1, 1876, "Colorado Day" was born. State government and Coloradans celebrate the anniversary of statehood on the first of August each year with various events and activities.

Colorado's Motto, "Nil Sine Numine," is Latin for "Nothing without Providence or Deity." This phrase appears in the ribbon on the State Seal.

Colorado has an official state flag, a state seal, two state songs and many official emblems and symbols. These have been officially adopted by legislative action of the Colorado General Assembly or by executive order of the Governor of Colorado. The official designation of several of our symbols and emblems came to light by the participation of Colorado school children and their teachers in the legislative process. 

State Symbols & Emblems

An image of the Colorado State Amphibian, the Western Tiger Salamander.
Western Tiger Salamander

The Western Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma Mavortium), adopted March 16, 2012 (House Bill 12-1147), is the official state amphibian. Governor Hickenlooper signed the bill due to the student's efforts from Steck and Westerly Creek Elementary, the Bill Roberts K-8 School, George Washington High School, and Stanley British Primary School.

An image of the Colorado State Animal, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis), adopted May 1, 1961 (Senate Bill 294, 1961; Colorado Revised Statute 24-80-911), is the official state animal. These animals are indigenous to the Rocky Mountains and live above timberline in rocky crags and high valleys. Bighorn sheep were named because of their massive horns, which curve backward from the forehead, down, then forward. On the ram/male, the horns can be as much as fifty inches in length. The male sheep weighs up to three hundred pounds, while the female is slightly smaller. These large animals are known for their agility and perfect sense of balance. It is unlawful to pursue, take, hunt, wound, or kill the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep except as provided by law.


An image of the Colorado State Bird, Lark Bunting.
Lark Bunting

The Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocoryus Stejneger), adopted April 29, 1931 (House Bill 222, 1931; Colorado Revised Statute 24-80-910), is the official state bird, which sings a varied and pleasant song while in flight. The male bird is black with snowy white wing patches and edgings, tail coverts, and outer tail feathers. In winter, male birds change to a gray-brown like the female; however, the chin remains black, and the black belly feathers retain white edgings. The female bird is gray-brown above and white below with dusky streaks. The male bird is six to seven inches, while the female is slightly smaller. The male bird performs a spectacular courtship flight, during which he warbles and trills a distinctive mating song. Flocks arrive in April and inhabit the plains regions and areas up to 8,000 feet in elevation. They fly south again in September.


An image of the Colorado State Cactus, Claret Cup (Kingcup).
Claret Cup Cactus

The Claret Cup Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus/Kingcup), adopted August 6, 2014 (House Bill 14-1024), is the official state cactus. The Claret Cup Cactus passed due to the efforts of four girls from the Douglas County Girl Scout Troop 2518 in Castle Rock, Colorado.


An image of the Colorado State Dance, folk and square dance.
Folk/Square Dance

Information to come.


An image of the Colorado State Fish, the Greenback Cutthroat Trout.
Greenback Cutthroat Trout

The Greenback Cutthroat Trout was adopted as the official state fish on March 15, 1994, by an act of the General Assembly. The Rainbow Trout was considered the state fish from 1954 until 1994, however it was never officially adopted. The Greenback Cutthroat Trout was at one time indigenous to many small creeks, streams, and rivers throughout most of Colorado.


An image of the Colorado State Flag with a sky and cloud background.

Adopted June 5, 1911. Embodied in the flag are the colors of the national flag, the blue of Colorado skies, the gold of her metal, the white of mountain snows, and red of soil. On August 1, 1876, Colorado became the 38th State to enter the Union under the flag of the United States. More info coming...

An image of the Colorado State Flower, purple and white columbine.

The white and lavender Columbine was declared the official state flower on April 4, 1899. The law prohibits digging or uprooting the flower on public lands and limits the gathering of buds, blossoms, and stems to 25 in one day.

An image of the Colorado State Fossil, the stegosaurs.

Proclaimed by the Governor, 1982. A fourth-grade class campaigned across the state for two years to designate Stegosaurus a Colorado symbol. Their efforts culminated in an executive order by Governor Richard D. Lamm on April 28, 1982 making the Plated Dinosaur, Stegosaurus, the official state fossil.

An image of the Colorado State Gemstone, aquamarine.

Adopted 1971. More info coming...

An image of the Colorado State Grass, blue grama.
Blue Grama

Designated 1987. More info coming...

An image of the Colorado State Insect, Colorado hairstreak butterfly.
Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly

Adopted 1996. More info coming...

An image of the Colorado State Mineral, rhodochrosite, a crystal like formation..

Adopted 2002. More info coming...

An image of the Colorado State Domestic Pet, cat and dog sitting side by side.
Dogs & Cats

Domestic Dogs & Cats from Colorado Shelters/Rescues, adopted 2013. More info coming...

An image of the Colorado State Reptile, western painted turtle, with a green and yellow head and shell.
Western Painted Turtle

Adopted 2008. More info coming...

An image of the Colorado State Rock, yule marble, white with black lines throughout.
Yule Marble

Adopted 2004. More info coming...

An image to reflect the Colorado two State Songs, mountainside with lake and hillside of columbines.
State Songs

“Where the Columbines Grow,” by A.J. Fynn, adopted 1915 and “Rocky Mountain High,” adopted 2007. More info coming...

An image of the Colorado State Seal placed on a black and white State Capitol in the background.
Great Seal

Adopted by the 1st Territorial Assembly, November 6, 1861. It contains the eye of God, a Roman fasces, a bundle of birch or elm rods with a battle axe, and a band of red, white, and blue upon which appears “Union and Constitution.” The state motto, “Nil Sine Numine,” is Latin for “Nothing without Providence.” The figures 1876 indicate the year Colorado came into statehood. More info coming...

An image showing a man with a couple of burros reflecting the Colorado State Summer Sport.
Pack Burro Racing

Summer Heritage Sport, adopted 2012. More info coming...

An image of a pattern design, reflecting the Colorado State Tartan.
Patterns and Colors

Pattern and colors of green, blue, lavender, white, black, red, adopted 1997. More info coming...

An image of the Colorado State Tree, blue spruce on a hillside.
Colorado Blue Spruce

Adopted 1939. More info coming...

An image of the Colorado State Winter Sport, skiing and snowboarding.
Skiing and Snowboarding

Adopted 2008. More info coming...