The future is already brighter in Colorado, a state which has led the charge in sustainability. For those who want to travel greener, the Centennial State has the infrastructure in place so electric vehicles can travel without range anxiety. And when you choose to visit cities powered by 100 percent renewable energy, such as Glenwood Springs and Aspen, you help lower your travel footprint. It’s also easy to enjoy the state’s pristine wilderness and unexpected gems responsibly by staying on the trails and respecting the road ahead. Read on to learn how to Do Colorado Right.
Itinerary / 4 DAYSPLAN YOUR TRIP
Once you arrive at the Denver International Airport (DEN), opt for a sustainable way to get around town by taking the RTD Rail to Union Station, which deposits you steps away from your hotel, the LEED-certified Kimpton Hotel Born, which has a 91 walkable score. Once you’ve dropped your bags, walk Downtown Denver and pop back over to Union Station to have a quick bite at ND StreetBar while renting an electric car on the Turo app for the next leg of your trip.
Head over to RiNo (River North Art District) via one of Lime or Lyft’s e-scooters to view murals that explore Native American and Latin American roots, as well as cultural issues. Catch a show at Red Rocks, the world’s only naturally occurring and acoustically perfect venue, which also has composting, recycling, and other sustainable initiatives. Have dinner at Uchi Denver for sustainably sourced seafood and ingredients from local farms, including Altius Farm, an urban farm with one of the largest rooftop aeroponic gardens in the country that’s located right above the restaurant. Follow your meal with after-dinner drinks at OMF (Our Mutual Friend) Brewery, which has strong ties with local hop and barley growers and shrinks its carbon footprint by offering a wide selection of 100-percent, Colorado-grown beers.
Start your second day with an early morning stroll in the Denver Botanic Gardens. Next, grab an early lunch at the Market Hall at the Source Hotel or the Comal Heritage Food Incubator in the RiNo district before setting out for another mini road trip. Drive into the Rocky Mountain National Park on Trail Ridge Road, first introduced nearly a century ago as the “scenic wonder road of the world.” Traversing 49 miles between Estes Park in the east and Grand Lake in the west, the highway boasts a full 11 miles of travel above the treeline. Once back in the city, settle into a table at the wind-powered restaurant El Five for responsibly sourced tapas or Duo, which believes in giving back to the community, living wages, and locally sourced food.
Drive through Frisco, Leadville, and Twin Lakes, where you’ll overnight at Limelight Hotel. But before you settle in too much, dine at Cache Cache, where locally sourced ingredients take precedence.
DAY 4Glenwood Springs
Along with Aspen, Glenwood Springs is one of the state’s cities powered by 100 percent renewable energy. Plus, sustainability is part of its heritage with geothermal power historically used to heat buildings, melt snow, and preheat municipal water supplies. To get a taste of the past and put yourself a short drive from everywhere you want to be, stay at the history-steeped and recently renovated Hotel Colorado, which first opened in 1893.
Connecting Glenwood Springs to Aspen, the paved Rio Grande Trail follows the Roaring Fork River and is where you’ll spend the afternoon biking. (Rentals are available in town.) Over the entire 42-mile course, the rails-to-trails project gains around 2,100 feet making for a generally pleasant ride. If you’re feeling ambitious, try cycling the portion from Glenwood Springs to Carbondale, which takes roughly 2.5 hours roundtrip. Back in Glenwood Springs, stroll over to the Glenwood Hot Springs, just steps from the hotel. Soak in the world’s largest hot spring pool or take a short drive to the eco-friendly Iron Mountain Hot Springs.