There are eight major coal regions in Colorado. On the western slope are the Green River, Uinta, San Juan River coal regions. On the eastern slope are the Denver, Raton, and Canon City coal regions. In the central part of Colorado are the North Park and South Park coal regions. Most of the coal mined today comes from northwest Colorado in the Uinta and Green River coal regions. Historically, coal has been mined from all of these coal regions. There have been over 1,700 coal mine operations in Colorado's history (see map below).
Coal mining was first reported in 1859. The state has recorded official coal production since 1864. It was first mined from horizontal coal seams south of Boulder in the Marshall area, and in vertical coal seams in Golden. Coal is a less glamorous commodity than gold and silver, but its economic importance outshines them both. The 2010 Colorado coal production alone is valued at an estimated $1.1 billion.
In addition to coal being mined from Golden to Boulder in the 19th Century, Colorado Springs and Trinidad also saw extensive coal mining during that period. Today's important coal-bearing regions lie west of the mountains in the Colorado Plateau from the Green River coal region near Craig to the San Juan River coal region near Durango. Nearly 30,000 square miles--28 percent of the state--is underlain by coal. See the map plate for the 2005 Coal Directory
Some coal is shallow enough to the surface that it can be mined by open-pit methods, like those in Moffat County. In other places the layers extend beneath mountainous terrain, thus requiring deep underground mining, such as the mines in Gunnison and Delta counties.
The map below shows the 8 Coal Regions by color and by county. Over 1,754 historic coal mine locations are indicated.