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Are There Really Glaciers in Colorado?

December 2012

Colorado proclaims 14 named glaciers—and more than 100 unnamed—within state borders, but all of them seem rather, well, frozen in place. Aren’t glaciers supposed to move? As in, are these “glaciers” actually glaciers? The answer is yes—with an asterisk. Our state is home to 141 masses of ice whose size and weight cause them to flow like a very slow river—the definition of glacierhood per the National Snow & Ice Data Center. But according to W.T. Pfeffer, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, one of our most famous glaciers isn’t quite worthy of its name: Saint Mary’s Glacier, while impressive, is “just a gully that traps snow in a big drift.” Take that to your next pub trivia night.