May 16  |  Our Communities

23 Words Only Coloradans Can Pronounce

If you’re a visitor or newcomer to Colorado, it’s easy to mispronounce some of the state’s landmarks and towns. But how could you not, with words like Saguache, Towaoc, and Cache La Poudre? Not to mention, we pronounce a few well-known words, like Buena Vista, Limon and Delhi, a bit…differently. And the pronunciation of the state’s name is even up for debate amongst locals!

To help you sound like a true Coloradan, consult our pronunciation guide! We’re covering all the words with surprising (and uniquely Coloradan) pronunciation.



Arriba, Colorado
Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Beall, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This eastern Colorado town is not pronounced like the Spanish word for “up.” Instead, the first syllable is emphasized, as in ”AIR-i-buh.”



Some initially think “ar-VAY-duh” or “ar-VAW-duh,” but this city north of Denver is pronounced “ar-VA-duh,” similar to how you would say Nevada.



This may seem obvious to us NoCo residents, but this town has a silent “o” and doesn’t rhyme with “cloud.” It is instead pronounced “BURR-thud.”


Buena Vista

Forget everything you learned in Spanish class when saying the name of this south-central mountain town. Believe it or not, Buena Vista is pronounced “BYOO-nuh VIS-tuh” here in Colorado!


Cache La Poudre

Cache La Poudre Colorado

In our guide to the Cache La Poudre, we detailed just about everything you need to know about this 126-mile river winding through Northern Colorado — including its pronunciation, which has stumped visitors for decades. Pronounced “kash la POOH-der,” the name “Cache La Poudre” is French and translates to “hide the powder.”


Cañon City

Due to the tilde over the “n,” Cañon in Cañon City is pronounced “CAN-yon,” named after the Royal Gorge, the massive canyon just west of the city. Fun fact: its nickname, “the Climate Capital of Colorado,” refers to the area’s unique geography and 5,300-foot elevation protecting it from harsh weather conditions.



Speaking of weather conditions, Chinook winds are occasional warm, dry winds that blow down the eastern sides of interior mountain ranges. There’s a lot to learn about these westerly winds in western North America, including the pronunciation of the word Chinook, which in this context is “chin-NUKE.”



The pronunciation of the state itself is up for interpretation! While there are up to five different ways to say the name, according to linguist Rich Sandoval, the two most common are: “caw-luh-RAD-oh” and “caw-luh-ROD-oh.” The former is more common amongst natives to the area, while the latter is said amongst newcomers (and is arguably more accurate to its Spanish pronunciation). The real question is: which do you say?



Coors Brewery Colorado

While you’re more likely to find beer from a microbrewery in Northern Colorado, we can’t forget that the first Coors brewery is just down the road in Golden. And while many mistakenly say “cores,” it is actually pronounced “COO-ers,” with a stretched out “oo” sound.


Crested Butte

There’s no ifs, ands or “buttes” about it — the popular skiing destination (including the town and its namesake mountain) of Crested Butte is pronounced “bewt.”


De Beque

Don’t let the “que” fool you — this quaint, historic community in western Colorado is pronounced “duh-BECK.”



Unlike the capital city of India, which sounds like “deli,” the Colorado town of Delhi is pronounced “dell-HI” with a long “i” sound.


Del Norte

Del Norte, Colorado
Photo Courtesy of C caudill1, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t you dare pronounce the “e” at the end of “Norte” when saying this town in south central Colorado! It is simply “del nort.”



While you may be thinking Limón (lee-MON), like the Spanish word for lemon or the province in Costa Rica, the Limon in Colorado is actually pronounced “LIME-on.”



Not to be confused with the Kentucky city pronounced LOO-ee-vil, our Louisville is a bit more phonetically straightforward: “LEWIS-ville.”



Just like the culture in Colorado, the pronunciation of this city is a bit more laid-back. Apparently, Lyons should be pronounced “lee-OWN” like the city in France, but instead, we say “lions” like the animal.



Olathe, Colorado
Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Beall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Most people know the town of Olathe for its production (and celebration!) of sweet corn. But many may not realize Olathe is actually pronounced “oh-LAY-thuh” — not “oh-layth.”



Included as one of the stops on our Colorado road trip itinerary, the town of Ouray is a tiny Gold Rush town known as the Switzerland of America and the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Colorado. And Coloradans know it is pronounced “YOU-ray” — not “OO-ray.”



A Native American word meaning “blue earth,” Saguache is a tiny town in southern Colorado. And the pronunciation is a tough one! It’s actually “suh-WATCH.”



Known as the “Heart of the Rockies,” Salida is nestled along the Arkansas River in Central Colorado. While technically it should be pronounced “suh-LEE-duh,” the town is most commonly called “suh-LIE-duh.”



Tejon Street Colorado Springs, CO
Photo Courtesy of Postoak at English Wikipedia., CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve driven through Colorado Springs, you’ve likely driven on Tejon Street, the largest and most famous in the city. And it’s pronounced “TAY-hone” with an “h” sound.



This small unincorporated town in the southwest corner of the state is pronounced “TOY-yock.”



Uncompahgre is many things — a river, a peak and a national forest — and difficult to pronounce. But the right way to say it is “un-come-POG-ray.”

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