Pop quiz: Do you know what the “Front Range” is? How about a “14er?”
Those are just two of the terms to have in your back pocket when you visit Colorado. Being up on the local lingo is always a good way to have an authentic experience, of course, whether you’re traveling around the world or across the country.
But that’s just one part of living like a local. Colorado has some values that make it unique, especially when it comes to sustainability. After all, the Centennial State is—and always has been—ahead of the curve on eco-everything. Here’s what to know.
What to pack
Begin your eco-friendly journey to Colorado even before you get there: Pack reusable water bottles and hot-drink tumblers—it’s not only a simple way to limit waste, but you’ll keep beverages colder (or hotter) for longer than single-use plastic ever could.
Also, bring sunglasses—Colorado has more than 300 days of sunshine every year! And don’t forget the sunscreen; Denver is literally the Mile High City, so you’ll be that much closer to the sun. Of course, the mountains are at an even higher elevation; don’t underestimate how quickly you can get sunburned.
Coloradans love to take impromptu hikes, so bring a daypack (along with hiking boots or sturdy shoes). You’ll also want to take a rain jacket and a fleece or vest; mountain climates can fluctuate widely, even in summer. And don’t forget a bathing suit; in Colorado, it’s not uncommon to stumble upon a natural hot spring or refreshing waterfall, so you’ll want to be ready!
What to expect
Limiting waste is part of the state’s DNA, so by following suit, you’ll truly be living like a local. Those water bottles you brought? In your hotel, you may well find refillable water stations and water carafes rather than bottles…take advantage! (And don’t forget that with the high altitude and dry climate, you should start drinking water as soon as you arrive—and don’t stop.)
Also, support eco-friendly businesses. One example: Denver’s Lacuna Juice and Yoga, which is completely plastic-free and working toward zero waste. Another forward-thinking company is Unravel Coffee (which has locations in Denver and Breckenridge); even to-go cups are reusable mason jars.
And be sure to adhere to the Leave No Trace/Care for Colorado principles. Pack out what you pack in. Stick to trails when hiking, and leave things as you find them (including any beautiful wildflowers you see). Be careful with fire, don’t approach or feed wildlife, and silence your cell phone. Not only is it less disruptive to the creatures (who are more attentive than you may realize), but it will help you disconnect and listen to nature’s sounds, so you’ll adapt more quickly to the Colorado way of life!
Colorado lingo to know
Ok, here are the answers to that pop quiz—and some other key phrases.
- Front Range: The mountains and cities that run along Interstate 25, like Denver, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs.
- 14er: A mountain taller than 14,000 feet, of which Colorado has 58. (Hint: There are also 637 “13ers”—far more than any other state—and they’re less crowded than 14ers…but just as spectacular!)
- Mud Season: Late spring, when melting snow makes for great fishing and whitewater rafting.
- Four Corners: Where Colorado intersects with Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah in the southwestern corner, close to the city of Cortez.
- High Country: A general term referring to the state’s gorgeous mountains, where you’ll definitely want to spend some time!
Study up on all the ways to live like a local in Colorado!