Colorado Life Zones: Seasons, Plants, & Animals

KEY Influences in Colorado:

Elevation: how high a place is above sea level

Climate: how hot or cold it gets and how much precipitation falls there

PrecipitationWater that falls to the ground in the form of rain, snow, hail, or sleet.

Elevation and Life Zones

Shortgrass Plains4,000-6,000 ft above sea level

Semidesert Shrublands (West CO) : 5000-7,000 ft above sea level

Foothills Life Zone: 6,000 to 8,000 ft. above sea level

Montane Life Zone: 8,000 to 10,000 ft above sea level

Subalpine Life Zone: 10,000 to 11,500 ft. above sea level

Alpine Life Zone: 11,500 ft above sea level and above

Riparian Life Zones: anywhere near major lakes, ponds, streams, or rivers

Elevation and Temperature

    The higher in elevation you go the colder the temperature gets. For example, the subalpine life zone is a lot higer in elevation than the western semidesert shrublands. So, it will be much cooler up in the subalpine and alpine.

   You might think it would be the opposite since you get closer to the sun the higher up in elevation you go.

But, there is less air at the higher elevations and less atoms to heat up and bounce off each other. 

Lower in elevation there are a lot more atoms in the air to absorb the suns energy and make it hotter.


Summer in the Semidesert Shrublands
Summer in the Alpine

Review of the basics

Elevation and Precipitation (rain or snow)

    The higher in elevation you go the more precipitation falls there. The lower elevations of Colorado like the semidesert shrublands and the Great Plains get little precipitation.  The higher elevations like the montane forests, subalpine, and alpine life zones are closer to the clouds and catch more moisture (water) from the clouds.  Since the elevations like the subalpine and alpine life zones are lot higher (colder and get more precipitation), the water in the clouds turns to lots of important snow.

   In fact the mountains collect so much rain and snow from the clouds that they create a large shadow where very little rain falls on the much of the lower plains on the eastern side of the mountain. This is called a rain shadow. Sometimes large storm systems will circulate around or travel south down the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains and dump lots of rain and snow along the eastern foothills. However, in general most of the rain and snow falls on the higher parts of the western and central parts of the mountains, leaving the shortgrass plains on the eastern side of the state dry.

Improve your experience

Do you need to Oxygen?

Ski, board, bike, hike - or float - at altitude?

In the mountains, altitude can literally take your breath away.

Feeling the altitude?
Take a deep breath of Oxygen.
Pure recreational oxygen  helps elevate your mountaintop experience in a safe, healthy way when you're at, or adjusting to, higher elevation.
USE: PulseOximeter to see the before and after affects when you are at altitude.
Whether you're skiing, snowboarding, biking, hiking or floating at altitude, breathing  oxygen - at the beginning, middle and end of your day - immediately helps offset the negative effects of altitude, so you feel more like you again.
Sports and outdoor enthusiasts use the compact, oxygen-packed on-the-go boost to maximize their journey into thinner air.

Recreational Oxygen: Pocket-size or portable recreational oxygen helps:

  • Reduce the effects of altitude, including feeling tired and short of breath
  • Restore mental clarity and alertness at elevation
  • Optimize athletic performance at higher altitudes
  • Speed up muscle recovery, and reduce soreness, after skiing, hiking or biking

When your body is adjusting to a higher elevation without the proper concentration of oxygen, you may experience mental fogginess, tiredness, shortness of breath during exertion or even difficulty catching your breath when you're at rest.


Whether you need oxygen for high-altitude hiking or want to make the most out of your next big ski trip, including Oxygen on your packing list can help you make it to the top.

Get a big-time boost with bottled oxygen for climbing, biking, skiing and snowboarding - especially when you're at 3,000 feet and beyond.


How Much Oxygen to Breathe at High Elevations

Whatever your reason for traveling to the top of the world, Oxygen is here to help you make the most of your adventure.

Here's a general guide to help you know how many deep breaths of pure recreational oxygen you may need during various high-elevation activities:

  • Vacationing at 3,000+ feet - 50+ breaths daily, as needed
  • Hiking and Biking at 3,000+ feet - 100 breaths daily, as needed
  • Hiking and Biking above 5,000+ feet (Machu Picchu or Pike's Peak)- 5+ breaths every 20 minutes, as needed
  • USE A O-Meter to instantly check your Oxygen levels! Breathe as needed.

People with any type of health or medical condition should consult their physician prior to the use of recreational oxygen products.

Anyone experiencing altitude sickness should seek immediate medical assistance.

ALL Recreational Oxygen products are intended for recreational, intermittent use only, not to be used as medical or life-saving products.

Prolonged use is defined as uninterrupted intake for more than eight hours. O2 is designed for healthy, active people who want a quick oxygen supplement - at elevation and beyond. Give yourself a lift with Oxygen .

Use it ONLY when you need it...set your expectations right.