Best Tree for Colorado: 17 Top Performers (With Pros & Cons)

Colorado is known for its alpine desert climate, with abundant blue skies and moderate temperatures throughout the year. While most tree species thrive in this environment, there are certain types that may flourish more than others.

Check out this list of the 17 best trees to grow in Colorado for details on their mature height, appearance, drought tolerance, and other defining attributes!

1. Black Walnut

A mature black walnut tree in a park in the summer.

These deciduous trees grow tall, averaging 70 to 80 feet, and live about 150 years!

These eastern U.S. native trees produce large green fruit that contains edible walnuts in late September and October.

They have beautiful leaves that create texture in the summer months and provide bountiful shade.


  • Easy growing
  • Edible fruit
  • Attracts wildlife


  • Large messy fruit
  • Large size
  • Deciduous 

2. Colorado Blue Spruce

Four healthy young Colorado blue spruce trees growing on a tree farm.

With Colorado right in the name, the Colorado blue spruce sure is a good choice! Being native to the state and region, this evergreen species is a unique pine variety that is more blue than green.

They can grow 75 to 100 feet tall and have a lovely organized structure. Plant them in full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours per day). They can handle drought and extreme temperatures well. 


  • Evergreen
  • Well-formed shape
  • Drought tolerant


  • Sharp needles
  • Prone to needle cast disease, canker, and needle blight

3. Sycamore

A large sycamore tree in full leaf viewed from below.

The American sycamore is a deciduous tree with large leaves. It is native to the eastern U.S., has unique bark, and makes interesting fruit.

Growing 75 to 100 feet tall, it is beautiful with its flaking white and gray bark that is visible when the leaves drop in the fall.

It prefers full sun and produces spiky round fruits in September and October that are unique but can be messy. 


  • Unique bark
  • Tolerant of extreme climates
  • Easy growing
  • Grows quickly


  • Spikey fruit
  • Invasive root system
  • Susceptible to anthracnose and fungal diseases

4. Eastern Red Cedar

Feathery foliage and small, blue berries of Eastern red cedar.

Found growing naturally in the eastern U.S. and southeastern Canada, this type of juniper is beautiful with a lush green canopy and flakey brown-red bark.

Growing small blue fruit and averaging about 50 to 75 feet tall, it makes a great evergreen privacy planting that grows relatively slowly. 


  • Extremely resistant to drought
  • Tolerant of varying soil types and pH levels


  • Can harbor apple tree rust disease
  • Not resistant to deer and other wildlife 

5. Serviceberry

A lovely serviceberry tree in full bloom.

A smaller-sized tree that has lovely white flowers that seem more abundant than its leaves in the spring, this eastern U.S. native makes a lovely specimen tree for your landscape.

It averages 10 to 25 feet tall and produces red berries once the flowers are pollinated in the spring. 


  • Attracts pollinators
  • Beautiful flowers
  • Drought tolerant


  • Preferred by deer
  • Short bloom window
  • Grows countless root suckers

6. Ginkgo 

The trunk and foliage of a ginkgo biloba tree.

This unique non-native choice is known for its leaves that are a light green fan shape. A ginkgo tree is always fun to plant and look at!

It grows to an average size of 25 to 50 feet tall and can be planted as a lovely specimen tree. It does produce berries in the spring that are known to give off a less-than-favorable odor. 


  • Unique look
  • Slow growing
  • Highly disease and insect resistant 


  • Fruit can be messy and odorous
  • Seeds are toxic to pets

7. Sugar Maple

A large sugar maple tree in fall making a carpet of dropped leaves.

With an autumn leaf drop of colors that impress all who see it, you’ll be in awe when the months turn cold and the leaves begin to change!

A large-sized tree averaging 90 to 120 feet at maturity, this tree will live for hundreds of years. Plant it for shade as it loves full sun but provides a lovely canopy to rest under when the days get hot.

It is native to the northeastern U.S. but does well in many climates being adaptable to many environmental stressors. 


  • Autumn leaf colors
  • Fast growing
  • Moderate drought resistance


  • Samaras can be messy
  • Limbs can be weak and brittle
  • Leaf drop can be messy 

8. Oak

A large white oak tree in early autumn.

Different varieties of oak trees grow across the country with many varieties being evergreen or deciduous.

Most evergreen varieties have small leaves that are highly drought tolerant, like the coast live oak, valley oak, and cork oak.

The Shumard oak, willow oak, white oak, and bur oak are all deciduous and are more susceptible to varying temperatures. They can grow tall, averaging between 50 and 150 feet tall depending on the variety. 


  • Lives a long time
  • Strong
  • Multiple species available to grow


  • Acorns can be messy
  • Some have spikey leaves

9. American Elm

A large American elm tree viewed from below.

The American elm has serrated leaves with deep veins that make the leaf unique for its shape and beautiful golden yellow leaf drop in the fall!

It is called the American elm because it is most commonly found growing in the eastern U.S. It prefers ample sunlight but has delicate leaves that prefer light shade.

They grow tall and wide, averaging 100 feet tall and 50 to 60 feet wide. 


  • Sprawling habit makes great shade
  • Autumn leaf color
  • Strong branches are not prone to breaking


  • Susceptible to Dutch elm disease and other diseases and pests
  • Large size 

10. Ohio Buckeye

A branch of an Ohio buckeye tree with developing nuts.

The Ohio buckeye is known for its buckeye seeds that are used for crafts and jewelry. Native to the northeastern U.S., it has unique five-tipped leaves that turn a beautiful crimson red in the fall.

It prefers partial shade as an understory tree and won’t do well in full intense sun. It has lovely light yellow flowers that mature into the unique buckeyes people love. 


  • Unique flowers and leaves
  • Autumn leaf colors
  • Can tolerate shade


  • Fruit can be messy
  • All parts of the tree are highly toxic if ingested

11. Japanese Lilac Tree

A group of Japanese lilac trees in full bloom.

The Japanese lilac tree is a tree to be reckoned with! It has beautiful blooms with a strong fragrance that will add so much to your landscape.

Native to eastern Asia, it prefers full sun and can tolerate poor soil conditions. In the shade, it can become hindered by powdery mildew in some environments.

It only grows to be 20 to 30 feet tall, so it makes a great ornamental planting. 


  • Pretty fragrance
  • Lovely flowers
  • Very adaptable


  • Susceptible to powdery mildew, blight, and pests
  • Short life span

12. Crabapple

Several crabapple trees in full bloom.

A small variety that flowers and fruits in abundance, this is a great tree to plant if you enjoy inviting wildlife to your yard.

Being a universal pollinator to all apple varieties, they can be beautiful and functional.

Found throughout North America, these native trees don’t have an origin story but can be found thriving across the continent. 


  • Universal pollinator for apples
  • Beautiful flowers
  • Small size 


  • Messy fruit
  • Countless suckers
  • Susceptible to multiple pests and diseases

13. Rocky Mountain Juniper

Rocky Mountain juniper branches close up.

Native to Colorado, Texas, and British Columbia, this type of juniper has a blue hue to it and will grow only to be 20 to 30 feet tall and about 12 feet wide.

It is slow growing and salt and drought tolerant, but it does not like high-humidity environments. 


  • Drought and salt tolerant
  • Easy to grow
  • Pretty color


  • Susceptible to blight and cankers
  • Poor humidity tolerance
  • Grows slowly 

14. Honey Locust

A honey locust tree with golden leaves in autumn.

Locust trees are known for their large spikes that grow from the trunk and branches, so beware that this tree isn’t child friendly!

It has unique tiny leaflets that turn a beautiful yellow-golden color in the fall. Native to the middle and eastern U.S., the honey locust prefers full sun and thrives in almost any soil environment. 


  • Autumn leaf color
  • Unique bark
  • Easy to grow


  • Large spikes on the trunks and branches
  • Small leaflets can be messy
  • Large bean pods add interest but can be messy

15. Fir

A close look at the branches of a healthy fir tree.

There are multiple types of fir trees to choose from, and they all offer slightly different looks while being well formed and evergreen.

Their needles are short and almost feel like rubber, but they are easily affected by extreme heat and other inclement weather conditions. They are deer resistant and make great privacy plantings.

Fir tree species are native to the mountainous regions of North America, including Colorado, and prefer full sun to grow their best. 


  • Uniform shape
  • Evergreen
  • Soft needles
  • Beneficial to local ecosystems and wildlife


  • Can be susceptible to insects and weevils
  • Not drought tolerant
  • Can become weak

16. Hickory

A hickory tree in early fall as viewed from below.

With exfoliating bark like no other species, deciduous hickory trees have interesting features to enjoy even after their leaves drop in the winter.

Growing to a height of 50 to 80 feet, they can be grown in most yards providing bountiful shade as well as a focal point for your landscape.

Native to the eastern U.S. and parts of Canada, they enjoy amply sun but thrive in partial shade. 


  • Unique exfoliating bark
  • Autumn leaf change
  • Provides ample shade


  • Fruit can be abundant and a nuisance
  • Bark can be messy
  • Susceptible to pests and diseases

17. Pine

A mature ponderosa pine tree beside a dirt road.

With an array of pine varieties to choose from, there is surely a variety for you! There are a few varieties that are native like the bristlecone, blue spruce, ponderosa pine, and many more.

They can grow anywhere between 50 and 150 feet tall and live for hundreds, even thousands of years!

Their needles tolerate drought well and can handle the most extreme temperatures making them easy to grow and only susceptible to a few issues. 


  • Highly tolerant to drought and extreme conditions
  • Evergreen
  • Provides shade


  • Drops pine cones
  • Can be messy
  • Extrudes sap
  • Some loose copious amounts of needles

Closing Thoughts 

It can be difficult to decide what tree to plant in your yard, especially when it’s going to be there for your lifetime in most cases!

Hopefully, this list helps you weigh the pros and cons of each type of tree, giving you a place to begin when deciding.

Plant one, or plant a few — you can’t go wrong with any of these great trees when growing in Colorado!