For anyone curious, here is the breakdown of ranked peaks in each state, but it could be argued that not all are mountains. The breakdown is interesting, as is the differences in elevation.
These are ranked peaks only.
Colorado = 53
Utah = 0
Colorado = 584
Utah = 17
Colorado = 676
Utah = 72
Colorado = 468
Utah = 114
Colorado = 530
Utah = 196
Colorado = 624
Utah = 408
Colorado = 731
Utah = 603
Colorado = 461
Utah = 889
Colorado = 209
Utah = 1249
Colorado = 48
Utah = 727
Colorado = 0
Utah = 231
Colorado = 0
Utah = 19
Colorado = 4381
Utah = 4525
Since the states are not the same size, here are the number of peaks per square mile.
Per Square Mile
Colorado = 0.042 peaks per square mile.
Utah = 0.055 Peaks per square mile.
Elevations and Rise
The elevation differences between the peaks are also interesting. Colorado definitely has more peaks above timberline, even though the timberline is overall quite a bit lower in Utah.
Timberline in Utah ranges from around 9000 feet to about 11,400 feet, while in Colorado it ranges from around 10,300 feet to over 12,000 feet. On average it seems to be around 10,800-11,000 feet in Utah and 11,700-11,900 in Colorado (why this is, I don't know).
Some peaks that are only 9ers in Utah still have an alpine appearance while in Colorado none of them do. Only a few 10ers in Colorado have an alpine appearance and even most 11ers do not.
Even though the timberline is lower in Utah, Colorado still has a lot more alpine areas than Utah. The Uinta Mountains are said to be the largest contiguous area above timberline in the Lower 48 (though some sources say it is the Beartooths), but that's really the only really large area above timberline in Utah. The other areas are much smaller in area.
I estimate that there are 1407 ranked peaks in Colorado are above timberline, compared to 252 in Utah. There's a big difference there.
Another interesting difference is that most ranges in Utah are fault block rather than folded mountains like they are in Colorado. This means that Utah's ranges are overall steeper and have a greater rise above the valley floor. In Utah there are a lot of mountains that rise more than 6000 feet above the valley floors, while in Colorado, there are much fewer.
Access is another interesting difference. Utah mountains overall have a lot less private property to worry about. The only large areas with access issues are the Oquirrh Mountains, the south side of the Raft River Mountains, and the mountains on the bombing ranges (which sadly have some pretty spectacular mountains). In Colorado, most ranges have at least some access issues. I can't think of many that don't.
Colorado's highest mountains are overall easier to reach than Utah's. While most 14ers are day climbs for the average climber, in Utah all but one of the 13ers (and most of the 12ers) require 20-40 mile hikes round trip. The sole exception is Tokewanna Peak, but it is still a very long one day climb for most mortals. I'd say that it is the equivlant to doing Holy Cross or Longs in a day. And that's by far the closest Utah 13er to the road!
In winter, the access issues are even more different. Colorado has a lot of 13ers and 14ers that can be done in a day in winter. Utah has no winter 13ers that can easily be done in a day and most 12ers are multi day trips in winter. The only 12ers that are reasonable for the average climber to do in a day are Delano and a few in the La Sals. The closest Utah 13er to a trail head in winter (Gilbert Peak) requires a trip of at least 30 miles.
This is really where Colorado shines. Overall, Colorado politicians treasure and support public lands and wilderness. In Utah it is the opposite. In fact I find the attitude among most politicians to be really disgusting. Most politicans there despise public lands and consider then to be a hinderance. It is sad. That reason alone is enough to live in Colorado rather than Utah.
Anyway, I live only minutes from the border of both states and figure I have more than 5000 days that I have hiked and climbed split among both states. As of now, I have climbed more peaks in Utah than Colorado, but that will probably change in a few years since I live on the Colorado side of the border.
When it comes to the outdoors and climbing, Utah is my favorite. When it comes to the appreciation of those lands, Colorado is my favorite.
If anyone is curious as to why I choose Utah as being my favorite over Colorado, it is because of the uniqueness of the canyon country that tips the balance for me. Colorado does have more alpine mountains; no one could reasonably argue against this. The Colorado mountains though aren't very unique in the world, while the Utah canyon country is. Colorado does have a canyon country too (I live in it), but it isn't quite as diverse, extensive, or spectacular as Utah's.
Utah is my favorite climbing and hiking state, while Colorado is 2nd.
Alaska, Washington, California, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana all have more spectacular alpine mountains than Colorado or Utah. I still prefer the two latter states though.
Alaska has by far the most spectacular alpine mountains in the US, but the weather is miserable there for most of the year. Most of the year you would be lucky to even see the mountains.
Washington (I am from Washington) has the most spectacular alpine mountains in the Lower 48, but the weather and climbing conditions are miserable for nine months out of the year.
Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana have spectacular alpine mountains, but are not as diverse and there isn't as much variety. They have no real canyon country either. On a cold January day, if I lived in Montana and wanted to go somewhere snow free and warm for a break, I would have to go a really long way to find that. Where I live now, I can be somewhere snow free and warm in a few hours, even if it is chilly here. Utah and Colorado both offer a lot of variety.
California is as at least as diverse as Utah and more diverse than Colorado. Plus it has great alpine mountains, beaches, desert scenes, impressive forest, etc. California though has one huge disadvantage over Utah and Colorado. The disadvantage of California is that it is California. I like to visit California on occasion, but I'd much rather live in Utah or Colorado.
Last edited by Scott P
on Wed Jan 06, 2021 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'm slow and fat. Unfortunately, those are my good qualities.