Colorado bestrides the Rocky Mountains with a foot in two different Americas. Its eastern edge is firmly planted in the rolling plains of the nation’s agricultural heartland. Yet at its western border, 385 miles away, Colorado is a land of lonely buttes and mesas amid the picturesque plateaus of the desert. In between is the mountainous terrain where the Rockies, which stretch all the way from New Mexico into Canada, reach their greatest height. Colorado has an average elevation of 6,800 feet, with some 1,100 peaks soaring more than 10,000 feet high, and 53 peaks above 14,000 feet — making it literally the state nearest heaven. And although its scenery has made it a magnet for tourists from all over the world, until the 1860′s it was hardly known.