What Is the State Song of Colorado?

A.M. Boyle
A.M. Boyle
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Colorado actually has two state songs. The most well-known state song of Colorado, by A. J. Flynn, is entitled “Where the Columbines Grow,” The second state song of Colorado is titled “Rocky Mountain High,” written and composed by folksinger John Denver.

In May of 1915, the state general assembly adopted “Where the Columbines Grow” as the state song of Colorado. Author, composer, and well-known educator A. J. Flynn, Ph.D., created the song and all its parts. The song itself focuses on the natural beauty that is so abundant in the great state of Colorado. It consists of three stanzas and a chorus that is repeated three times. Each line of the song extols aspects of nature and wildlife in Colorado but focuses primarily on the ever-present beauty of the columbine.

Columbine, officially known as aquelegia coerulea, is a wildflower that generally blooms in late spring. It is also the state flower of Colorado, and the variety known as Rocky Mountain Columbine, otherwise called Colorado Blue Columbine, grows copiously in the mountains and valleys of Colorado. The flower itself is a light blue and white and has a trumpetlike shape with five layered petals. Butterflies, honeybees, and hummingbirds find this particular wildflower extremely attractive. The beautiful flower, while delicate in appearance, is actually quite hardy and enduring, which is most likely why it was chosen as the state flower and serves as the focus of the state song of Colorado.

Over the years, “Where the Columbines Grow” has been challenged as the representative state song. The most notable challenge came in 1997 when the folksinger and songwriter John Denver died in a tragic airplane crash. At that time, a group of fourth-grade students from a small elementary school in Colorado began a very persistent letter-writing campaign to have the state song of Colorado changed to “Rocky Mountain High,” as written and sung by John Denver. Finally, in 2007, instead of changing the state song, the state senate, by joint resolution, determined that “Rocky Mountain High” should be accepted as a second song.

The song “Rocky Mountain High” tells the tale of a young man coming into a state of grace and self-awareness through the natural beauty he encounters in the mountains of Colorado. While the original state song, “Where the Columbines Grow,” focuses primarily on the magnificence of nature found in Colorado, the second state song of Colorado, “Rocky Mountain High,” focuses on the life-changing effect such incredible beauty can have on a person. The two songs, therefore, actually complement each other in theme.

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Discussion Comments


My son is at CU Boulder and when we went to the last basketball game, they sang "Come on Over to Colorado." It was by Rory Lewis. Then as we were driving home back to Jackson Hole where we live, we heard "Colorado" by the Rory Lewis band on Sirius radio and we love it. It seems that if the "state song" is not what these other people are saying, but what students and the radio are calling the official state song. That is all I really wanted to say. I just thought you folks might want to hear this.


The official state song of Colorado is "Colorado" by Rory Lewis Band.


I have lived in Colorado for 15 years and have never heard of the song, "Where the Columbines Grow." It is hard to live here and not notice these flowers but I never realized there was a state song named after them.

Most people have heard of "Rocky Mountain High" whether they live in Colorado or not. Personally I think this song is very appropriate for the state song. The title and words are both self explanatory and most people would immediately connect this with the state song of Colorado.


How fascinating that a group of fourth graders could have such an influence regarding the state song of Colorado. They should feel pretty proud of their accomplishment. I can certainly understand why this state has more than one state song.

I have always been a fan of John Denver, and Colorado Rocky Mountain High is undoubtedly one of my favorites. This song does a wonderful job of explaining how awesome the Rocky mountains are. It is something that can be hard to put into words, but the lyrics and melody of this song come closer than anything else.


I have never lived in Colorado, but visit there almost every year and never get tired of the natural beauty in this state. I can see why the state song and the Colorado state flower feature the Columbines.

This pretty flower is seen just about everywhere you look in the spring and even into early summer. The pretty blue flowers are a beautiful contrast to the evergreen trees and match the clear blue sky.

I have always commented on how the sky in Colorado seems to be such a pretty color of blue and it has the same hues as the Colorado Blue Columbine.

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