A year in photos: What Colorado looked like in 2021

· Dec. 21, 2021, 12:34 pm
Selfie time for cowboys on rodeo night in Rocky Ford on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, at the Arkansas Valley Fair.

This year, CPR News again traversed Colorado to tell the stories of the people who live here, and to cover the news as it happened. From Kremmling to Cortez, Denver to Durango, and Meeker to Rocky Ford, our reporters and photographers covered harvests, fires, snow days, train trips, and a mass shooting, and everything in between — all against the backdrop of the pandemic. We combed through our work and chose a few photographs that tell a story of their own.


A backcountry snowboarder starts hiking just past avalanche warning signs on the north side of Loveland Pass on New Year’s Eve 2020 to get in turns off the Continental Divide. Read and listen: Why the pandemic and a weak snowpack mean you need to stay on your ‘A-Game’ in Colorado’s backcountry.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Adam and his friends met for oysters and wine at Angelo's Taverna in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood to celebrate his birthday, just a few days after indoor dining was allowed again. Jan. 5, 2020. Read and listen: Colorado dials back coronavirus restrictions, allowing larger crowds at gyms and restaurants.
Jordan Wieda, managing director at Biochar Now, walks between stacked logs and heavy machinery on the company’s lot in Berthoud on Jan. 11, 2021. Read and listen: How scrap wood startups could help Colorado fight wildfires.
Freshman state Rep. Naquetta Ricks takes a selfie with Colorado Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright after she was sworn in during the Colorado General Assembly’s opening day Wednesday, Jan. 13. Ricks’ family fled the nation of Liberia when she was a child to escape a coup. She’s the first African immigrant to serve in Colorado’s legislature. Read and listen: Republicans launch objections to leadership, rules on first day of state legislature.
Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address at a socially-distanced U.S. Capitol, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Read: ‘Our democracy will prevail’: Biden sworn in as 46th U.S. president.
Visitors at the Denver Art Museum, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2021. Read and listen: For Coloradans returning to museums during COVID, unexpected perks like fewer crowds and a chance to dress up.


Student Abigail Bothwell adjusts classroom lights for a video shoot at RMSEL. Read and listen: On the fence about COVID vaccines? These teens want to talk to you.
Sharon Hay, of Arvada, gets her first COVID-19 vaccination at the National Western Complex in Denver on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. SCL Health partnered with dozens of community organizations including The Center for African American Health, The Senior Hub and The Center on Colfax, as well as the city and state, to create this pop-up clinic designed to get vaccinations into vulnerable seniors from underserved communities. Read and listen: Large-scale clinics part of plan to vaccinate underserved communities in Colorado.
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Chef Frank Bonanno at his Denver restaurant Luca, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. He survived COVID-19, but he lost his sense of smell. That sense is slowly returning, but it turned his professional life and home upside down. Read and listen: Coronavirus stole chef Bonanno’s taste and smell. Science is working on why.
Wendy Shu waits to take the Oath of Citizenship on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services offices in Centennial. Read and listen: COVID changed everything, including how Colorado immigrants become American.
2 Below Zero scenic sleigh rides on the edge of Frisco, Colo. Feb. 25, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
2 Below Zero scenic sleigh rides on the edge of Frisco, Colo. Feb. 25, 2021. Read and listen: Coronavirus Spelled A Long And Very Uncertain Year For Colorado Businesses Built On Tourism.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Jeannie Davis sits with a portrait of her parents, Dottie and James, inside her home in Aurora. Feb. 26, 2021. Read and listen: Friends and family remember lives that Colorado lost to the coronavirus.


Diners behind a modified school-bus-door-turned-coronavirus-shield at Steamworks Brewing in Durango. The aesthetic aligns with the restaurants’ building, which used to be an auto repair shop. Follow CPR's coronavirus in Colorado coverage.
Reyna, at left holding boxes of food for distribution, is a volunteer with Compañeros. Read and listen: Undocumented immigrants hard-hit by the pandemic have few places to go for help. Compañeros in Durango has flipped that around.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Imam Muhammad Kolila washes himself before evening prayer at the Downtown Denver Islamic Center in Whittier. March 2, 2021. Read and listen: For this Denver imam, the pandemic has helped his faith grow.
Sophia Herzog is preparing to swim the 50-meter butterfly, 100-meter breaststroke, 200-meter individual medley and the 400-meter freestyle at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, starting in late August. Read and listen: When coronavirus postponed the Tokyo games, this paralympian kept swimming with high schoolers in Salida.
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Snow falls on plowed fields with freight train cars in the distance near Johnson's Corner in Weld County in March, 2021. Follow the CPR News Climate Team.
Maggie Montoya, center, and co-workers are led to safety by police after a gunman opened fire inside a King Soopers grocey store in Boulder on Monday, March 22, 2021. In photos: shock and grief in Boulder after a gunman kills 10 at a neighborhood grocery store.
A bullet casing flies over the head of firearms instructor Robert Butler of Kenaz Tactical Group, and student Jennifer Huang of Los Angeles, during a class at the Pike’s Peak Gun Club east of Colorado Springs on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. Read and listen: Before it’s even introduced, Colorado gun owners want Dems to know they oppose an assault weapons ban.
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Hanna Bull, her husband Aviv and Miriam the dog in the backyard of her mother’s home in Longmont on March 29. 2021. Read and listen: 3 businesses tell us about the economic vibe in Colorado right now.


Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Bill and Linda Ragland are both vaccinated, but they took a free COVID-19 test outside of Coors Field anyway before they found their seats for opening day. April 1, 2021. Read and listen: On Opening Day, the pandemic took a backseat as baseball returned to Colorado.
Kate Hartman is a 7th grader in Denver who has struggled with mental health issues in the past, and like many students her age, felt sad and isolated after schools closed during the pandemic. But she got help, and used quarantine to develop coping strategies. She loves to bounce on her trampoline, play with her dog Emmy and teach herself ukulele. Read and listen: ‘All Kinds Of Trauma’: Students are returning to school, but are we ready to help them cope?
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Jordan Sien, a special education and interventionist at Carmody Middle School in Jeffco Public Schools, practices a kickboxing move at the Train Fight Win gym on Santa Fe Drive in Denver, Tuesday, April 6, 2021. Read and listen: ‘How do you get to the end of the year?’: Teachers gear up for the final push even after this pandemic year took a massive mental health toll.
A container of Monkey Spunk flowers at Rollup Dispensary on Washington Street in Denver on Friday, April 9, 2021. Read and listen: Concerns over teens and high-potency marijuana have no easy answers at statehouse.
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Tracy Kellet of Colorado Springs performs during a sold-out “CO Show” at the Comedy Fort in Fort Collins on Wednesday night, April 15, 2021. Comedian David Rodriguez persuaded investors to open the club on College Avenue during the pandemic. Read and listen: Open a comedy club during a pandemic, whaddya, crazy? This Fort Collins comic has the last laugh.
Sleeping on a North Broadway sidewalk beneath a mural painted on a boarded up business window on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
Heather Hernandez, center, opted to quit her job at a nursing home in the fall to help her 10 kids full time with schoolwork after they began to struggle with classes during at-home schooling in Denver. From left: Julian, 9, Samuel, 12 and Diana, 8, on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Read and listen: COVID-19 forced women and mothers from the workforce and some can’t go back.


Tenacious Unicorn Ranch co-owner Penny Logue uses a jackhammer to tamp down dirt around a recently installed fencepost on April 28, 2021.Dan Boyce/CPR News
Tenacious Unicorn Ranch co-owner Penny Logue uses a jackhammer to tamp down dirt around a recently installed fencepost on April 28, 2021. Read and listen: In Custer County, owners of Tenacious Unicorn Ranch pack heat and build a fence in the face of harassment.
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A door detail from “Home Sweet Home” by Manuel Cordero and Tania Valenzuela in the exhibit “SOMOS: On Domestic Violence, Resilience and Healing” at Museo de las Americas in Denver. Read and listen: Many experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. Museo de Las Americas wants to talk about it.
Jesse Olivas’s granddaughter Aleena plays on a swing in the family’s yard at the Evergreen Mobile Home Park in Milliken on May 14. The neighborhood was inundated by the September 2013 Big Thompson River floods. Read and listen: Colorado is committed to solving environmental injustices. But first, we have to agree on what those are exactly.
Drag queens Dixie Krystals, right, and Lala Shearz wave to motorists on Colfax Avenue to attract attention for the COVID-19 vaccination clinic being offered by LGBTQ advocacy group One Colorado at the Center on Colfax, May 19, 2021. The Center offers support and resources for Colorado’s LGBTQ community. The clinic was open to anyone. Read and listen: Million-dollar drawings, drag queens and free beer: How effective are COVID vaccine incentives?

A cyclist on a part of Rim Rock Drive carved out of a cliff is dwarfed by sandstone walls in Colorado National Monument on May 18, 2021. The Monument celebrates its 110th anniversary on May 24. Read and listen: Happy 110th birthday, Colorado National Monument! Here’s the odd story of how you were born.

Passenger Rudolph Isaac, left, poses with Conductor Chris Lopez on the California Zephyr. Lopez was holding the “Conductor Challenge,” where people were given a complex word problem about train times. Isaac, from California, was one of the few winners, and got to go home with a “Junior Conductor” hat and railroad spike. Read and listen: We rode Amtrak’s California Zephyr train across Colorado. Here’s what we saw and who we met.
Hinkley High School baseball coach Nick Dixon, right, with his son DJ Wilson at a practice on Friday, May 28, 2021, at team’s field. Player Miguel Medina is in the background. Read and listen: As The MLB All-Star Game descends on Denver, Colorado’s Black baseball players wonder: Where have all our heroes gone?


A kayaker appears to be swallowed by the Cache la Poudre River near Rustic, June 6, 2021. Read: Colorado is scorching, but don’t expect to cool off in these rivers.
Shu Schiller, left, and her daughter, Viviana, look out at the view aboard the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway while they make the 9-mile ride to the 14,115-feet summit of Pikes Peak on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Read and listen: You can ride a train to the top of Pikes Peak again. Oh, and a new visitor center is there to greet you.
City temperatures hovered either side of 100 degrees in some parts of Denver on Monday, June 14, 2021, but that didn’t stop skateboarders from coming to the Denver Skate Park on Little Raven Street.
A Red Fox crosses Hwy 6 and the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass on Friday, June 25, 2021.
Jacob D. Spetzler/For CPR News
A camping installation with multiple air conditioners, cars and gas generators stands at a newly designated campsite up the Slate River drainage from Crested Butte on June 19, 2021. Read and listen: Limits are coming for Crested Butte’s overused camping paradise. But local workers who live there could lose out.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Members of a mounted patrol watch the miles-long procession of Colorado law enforcement and firefighting vehicles that accompanied a hearse carrying the body of Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley to Foothills Community Church in Lafayette on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Read: Friends and family remember slain Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley as joyful and humble.


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The Fourth of July parade in Westcliffe, Colorado, on Saturday, July 3, 2021.
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El Chapultepec co-owner Angela Guerrero listens to her sister and co-owner Anna Diaz talk about the reasons for the family deciding to close the landmark jazz club on Market and 20th streets on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. Read: ‘Denver’s outgrown us.’ El Chapultepec’s owners and friends explain the demise of another old school Denver landmark.
Migrant workers with the Tuxedo Corn Company harvest the first ears of the 2021 Olathe sweet corn crop on July 17, 2021. Read and listen: It’s back: Olathe sweet corn hits shelves as summer’s harvest beckons.
Colorado State Patrol and CDOT crews manage evacuees coming out of the Poudre Canyon at Ted’s Place near Fort Collins after the Larimer Sheriff’s Office ordered the canyon evacuated ahead of a flash flood Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Read: Flash flooding in Poudre Canyon overnight causes evacuations, at least one death.
Lilly the Bulldog is ready for a closeup in the Worstminster Dog Show at the 50th annual Carbondale Mountain Fair, Saturday, July 24, 2021. Read and listen: Carbondale celebrates 50 years of its mountain fest.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A tiger that once belonged to one of the characters in Netflix's Tiger King series, approaches an enclosure fence during a behind-the-scenes tour at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg. July 29, 2021. CPR journalists got a closer look than most visitors. Read and listen: Wildlife from roadside zoos and circuses, and some from Netflix’s ‘Tiger King,’ are at a rescue in Colorado.


Kyle Vinson sits in the Rathod Mohamedbhai law office in Denver. Aug. 3, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Kyle Vinson sits in the Rathod Mohamedbhai law office in Denver. Aug. 3, 2021. Read and listen: ‘I’m blessed I’m still here’: Kyle Vinson, who was arrested and beaten by Aurora police, speaks out.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Red Waldron runs operations at Blue Valley Spirits distillery, which is inside the Dean West restaurant in Kremmling. Aug. 4, 2021. Read and listen: I-70’s closure in Glenwood Canyon mixes pain and hope. Some towns are seeing a boom in business while others suffer.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A street cleaner picks up dirt on I-70 left over from a mudslide in Glenwood Canyon. Aug. 11, 2021. Read and listen: Your guide to the I-70 shutdown: When it’s reopening, how much repairs will cost and why it keeps happening.
Selfie time for cowboys on rodeo = night in Rocky Ford on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, at the Arkansas Valley Fair. In Photos: At the Arkansas Valley Fair, folks gather in person once again for a 144th time.
Ute Mountain, also known as The Sleeping Ute, looms over Cortez, Colorado, at dusk on Sunday, August 29, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Dave Warsh siphons two truckloads' worth of potatoes out of a shed on his farm in Center. Aug. 26, 2021. Read and listen: For the San Luis Valley’s potato farmers, a spud trade dispute is nothing new.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish's future prayer labyrinth in Conejos. Aug. 25, 2021. Read: At Colorado’s oldest church, an adobe labyrinth will give visitors a place to get lost in prayer.
A statue depicting an Ancestral Puebloan climbing a cliff face, at the Mesa Verde National Park Visitor Center near Cortez on Monday, August 30, 2021.


Michael Elizabeth Sakas/CPR News
Goats on the move at Sutey Ranch, outside of Carbondale, Colo. on September 15, 2021. Read and listen: Goats and their poop: Bureau Of Land Management hopes horned allies can help slow wildfire spread.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A firefighting tanker makes a slurry drop over fall aspens above Silverthorne as the Ptarmigan Fire continues to burn on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. Read: Blame it on the rain: Monsoon helped Colorado avoid summer megafires, but fire season isn’t over yet.
Midfielder Kellyn Acosta, right, during the second half as the Colorado Rapids beat Austin 3-0 Wednesday evening, September 29, 2021, at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver. Read and listen: Rapids star Kellyn Acosta carves out a role with U.S. team as World Cup nears.


The Denver Zoo opened its new African penguin habitat. On Friday October 1, 2021, the little critters were not that excited about the idea of hopping in the water, but they paid close attention to zookeeper Travis Garrett at feeding time. Read and listen: Get up close (and underwater) with the penguins at their new Denver Zoo habitat.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Aurora Police Academy cadets learn about driving fast in their cruisers. July 31, 2021. Read and listen: Who wants to be a cop in 2021? They do.
Dan Boyce/CPR News
Jim McKinney in his temporary “Hobbit House” on Oct. 5th, 2021, in Park County. Read and listen: He bought land in Park County before he could afford to build a home. So, he dug a hole there instead and lives in it.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Fremont County election judge Kay Hunsaker in Cañon City's central voting center. Oct. 27, 2021. Read and listen: She believed the election system was full of fraud. Her clerk set out to win her trust.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Greg Fisher scans inventory in Wheel Pros' Denver supply warehouse. Oct. 27, 2021. Read and listen: Supply chain woes mean Colorado’s vast market of outdoors goods are more expensive, stuck on boats and even looking different.
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Javier Toussaint, a father of five, plays with his twins, Siouxrulean (left) and Jakil (right) at a park on October 23, 2021. He is looking forward to getting his children vaccinated, especially his 11-year-old who has the sickle cell trait, which makes her more at risk of serious illness if she were to be infected with COVID-19. Read and listen: The COVID vaccine will soon be available for 5 to 11-year-olds. Here’s what Colorado parents and kids say about it.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Benjamin, 4, rides a bouncing bull in a tiny old west town at Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.
Colton McDonald at the Blue Lakes trailhead along Highway 14 near Cameron Pass on Thursday, October 14, 2021. This was the point where he set off on a 10-day backpacking trip north into the Rawah Wilderness, and was rescued by helicopter after being trapped by the Cameron Peak fire. Read and listen: Read and listen: How humans start most of Colorado's wildfires, and get away with it.


Robert Browell has lived at the Hickory Village mobile home park in Fort Collins for 20 years. Read and listen: Inside two Colorado mobile-home communities fighting to avoid corporate takeovers, with very different results.
Rosie Rutherford, a resident at the Bonnel Non-Congregant Shelter in Greeley, talks about her struggles. Read and listen: As pandemic funding for Greeley shelter dries up, residents face housing instability and a return to homelessness.
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Proposition 119 campaign strategist Josh Penry, standing, center, watches election returns with other supporters at The Maven Hotel in Denver on Tuesday night, Election Day, November 2, 2021. The statewide ballot question asked voters if they want to increase the tax rate on recreational marijuana and use the new money to fund after-school programs and tutoring for underserved youth. Families would be able to choose among approved programs, which could be run by a public school or a private provider. The measure failed. Read and listen: The Colorado voter’s guide to the 2021 election.
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Dennis Veo, operations manager for the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, walks inside the Gunnison Tunnel to inspect its condition Thursday November 4, 2021. Read and listen: Come with us on a journey through the Gunnison Tunnel, which delivers water to thousands on the Western Slope.
Neal Ashforth winterizing a home in Eagle County.Sam Brasch/CPR News
Neal Ashforth, an installer at Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, suits up to add insulation to the underside of a manufactured home at the Dotsero Mobile Home Park in Eagle County, Colo. Read and listen: In Colorado, President Biden’s infrastructure bill could help low-income residents ditch fossil fuels.
Allison Sherry/CPR News
Maisha Fields, daughter of state Sen. Rhonda Fields, who lives across the street from Hinkley High School, implored parents to pay attention to their kids at a rally against youth violence, Nov. 19, 2021. Read and listen: Nearly two years into the pandemic, a rise in Aurora gun violence shows the kids are not alright.
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United States Air Force Cadet Brianna McVay, center, and fellow members of the academy’s Saber Drill Team practice in front of the cocoon housing the campus Chapel, which is being renovated. Thursday, November 18, 2021. Read and listen: Inside its 14-story ‘cocoon,’ restoration work continues on Air Force Academy chapel.


A skier on the Black Mountain Express chairlift passes by a cloud made by a snow gun at Arapahoe Basin. Read and listen: Where’s the snow? Colorado ski resorts dealing with early-season woes, but help could be on the way.
Medical assistant Jazmine Helkena, left, administers a COVID-19 vaccine during a pop-up clinic in the community center of the Villages at Gateway Apartments in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood. The event, organized by Julissa Soto, Conectores de Montbello and Kids in Need of Dentistry, provided gift bags to the first 60 kids vaccinated, as well as a visit with Santa Claus.
Ignacio residents, Marcella Gomez and Bernard Candelaria fill up their water tanks at the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s water distribution center south of Ignacio, Colorado. Long time Ignacio resident, Gomez, runs a small gift shop from her home south of town. Read and listen: Historically excluded from Colorado River policy, tribes want a say in how the dwindling resource is used. Access to clean water is a start.
David Simpich cleans a doll in his workshop at The Simpich Showcase in Old Colorado City. He created the combination doll and marionette museum in 2009 after his parents retired from the Simpich Character Dolls business they founded in the same building in 1952. The storefront, museum and gallery will close for business on December 23. Read and listen: Colorado Springs’ beloved Simpich Showcase, the long-time creators and caretakers of dolls, closes its doors.
By 6 p.m., the kitchen at Zomo Asian & American Eatery on Broadway in Englewood is moving at full throttle and the front of the house is full. Co Cay works at the wok station, bringing flames to seal in a smoky flavor to meats and vegetables. Read and listen: From dawn to dinner at a family-owned restaurant that has survived the pandemic.
Musician Freddy Rodriguez Jr. at the piano Wednesday evening, December 8, 2021, during the recording of the Colorado Matters Holiday Extravaganza at the University of Denver’s Newman Performing Arts Center. Read and listen: Together again: the Colorado Matters Holiday Extravaganza returns to the stage.

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All you need is love, at Camp Christmas in Lakewood’s Belmar Park on Thursday, December 16, 2021.

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