Symbols & Emblems

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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 was influenced by the participation of Colorado school children and their teachers in the legislative process. 

State Flag       State Seal

State Name & Nickname

The name of our state, Colorado, has its origin in the Spanish language, as the word for "colored red". This was the name chosen for Colorado as a Territory in 1861 by Congress. Colorado has been nicknamed the "Centennial State" because it became a state in the year 1876, 100 years after the signing of our nation's Declaration of Independence. 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!

State Motto

Nil Sine Numine

The Latin phrase "Nil Sine Numine" was adopted as part of the Territorial Seal. At recurring intervals, discussion has ensued concerning interpretation of this Latin phrase which commonly translated is "Nothing without Providence." Others say it is "Nothing without God." In the early mining days of the State, the unregenerate said it meant "nothing without a new mine." In a strict sense, one cannot possibly get "God" from "numine," because 'God' is a purely Anglo-Saxon word. The word "numine" means any divinity, god or goddess. The best evidence of intent of Colorado's official designers and framers of the resolution for adoption of the seal is contained in the committee report wherein clear distinction was made between "numine" and "Deo" and it is specifically states that the committee's interpretative translation was "Nothing without the Deity."

State Animal

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Ovis canadensis, was adopted as the official state animal on May 1, 1961 by an act of the General Assembly. The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep is found only in the Rockies, usually above timberline in rugged mountainous areas. The male sheep is three to three and a half feet tall at the shoulder and 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. The bighorn sheep was named for its massive horns which curve backward from the forehead, down, then forward. On the ram the horns can be as much as fifty inches in length. It is unlawful to pursue, take, hunt, wound, or kill the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep except as provided by law.

Citation: Senate Bill 294, 1961; Colorado Revised Statute 24-80-911. 

State Amphibian

Western Tiger Salamander

The governor signed HOUSE BILL 12-1147 on March 16, 2012. Bill took effect August 8, 2012.

CONCERNING THE DESIGNATION OF THE WESTERN TIGER SALAMANDER AS THE STATE AMPHIBIAN.

State amphibian. THE WESTERN TIGER SALAMANDER (AMBYSTOMA MAVORTIUM) IS HEREBY MADE AND DECLARED TO BE THE STATE AMPHIBIAN OF THE STATE OF COLORADO.

State Bird

Lark Bunting

The Lark Bunting, Calamospiza melanocoryus Stejneger, was adopted as the official state bird on April 29, 1931. The Lark Bunting is a migrant bird. Flocks arrive in April and inhabit the plains regions and areas up to 8,000 feet in elevation. They fly south again in September. The male bird is black with snowy white wing patches and edgings, tail coverts and outer tail feathers. In winter the male bird changes to a gray brown like the female bird, 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.

Citation: House Bill 222, 1931; Colorado Revised Statute 24-80-910

State Cactus

Claret Cup Cactus

The governor signed HOUSE BILL 14-1024 on March 7, 2014. Bill took effect August 6, 2014.

CONCERNING THE DESIGNATION OF THE CLARET CUP CACTUS AS THE STATE CACTUS.

State cactus. THE CLARET CUP CACTUS (ECHINOCEREUS TRIGLOCHIDIATUS) IS HEREBY MADE AND DECLARED TO BE THE STATE CACTUS OF THE STATE OF COLORADO.