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Why Road Trips are Greener in Colorado

With EV-friendly roads and sustainability efforts everywhere, Colorado makes for the perfect eco-conscious road trip. Here’s where to go.

Why Road Trips are Greener in Colorado

Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway disappears into the Wet Mountains

Anna Zoromski

You drive along a winding, pine tree-lined road, gazing out at craggy, snow-capped peaks: a quintessential Colorado scene. Even better, your car’s not polluting the crisp air or disturbing the wildlife; it’s fully electric. And because this scenic road has plenty of charging stations, you don’t have to worry about running out of juice.

Supporting electric vehicles (EVs) is just one way that Colorado is helping the environment. After all, transportation is the number-one contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in America. It’s one reason why current Colorado governor Jared Polis is dedicated to moving Colorado’s electric grid to 100 percent renewable sources by 2040, and is doing a lot right now to help you reduce your impact on air quality—even when you’re driving.

Plus, this is only one example of how Colorado’s helping: There’s an all-out effort across the state to Care for Colorado and care for the planet. From green towns to sustainable breweries and carbon-neutral tour companies, the Centennial State serves up myriad ways to help ensure that the experience of traveling here remains a breath of fresh air. Here’s how you can participate.

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Go electric

If you’re starting your trip in Denver, you’ll find an extensive light-rail system that you can use to get around, including from the airport to downtown. When you get there, ride the shuttle buses along the 16th Street Mall—they’re entirely electric (and free). Sometimes of course you need a car, and here, too you have options. For a rideshare or car service, look to Lyft, which added 200 Kia Niros to its Denver fleet two years ago; just use “Green Mode” to request one.

You can go electric when traveling farther afield too. Visitors can elect to rent one of Lyft’s 200+-mile-range cars for a minimum of a week through the Express Drive program (and you don’t need to use them to drive for Lyft). Or rent an EV in Denver through car-sharing service Turo for some modern motoring. Colorado’s got your back with their recently and extensively expanded fast-charging EV network: Seven of its 26 Scenic and Historic Byways are now designated as Colorado Electric Byways, which have DC fast-charging stations spaced no more than 100 miles apart.

For easy charging pit stops, Trail Ridge Road Rocky Mountain National Park near Fort Collins has a station, as does Lariat Loop outside of Denver and Collegiate Peaks near Salida. Flat Tops Trail, Grand Mesa, and Silver Thread are all EV-friendly byways paving the way to Colorado’s electric future (and present).

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Support low-impact travel

EV or not, you can help out by putting green towns and businesses on your itinerary. Colorado Tourism’s website serves up reams of road-trip itineraries that lead you to bustling cities like Colorado Springs and snake through the stunning Rocky Mountains, including the San Juan mountain range. You’ll discover innovative places like the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins; one of the world’s most eco-friendly breweries, New Belgium has focused on reducing its carbon footprint and has donated more than $26 million since 1991 to help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. And check out the Marble Distilling Company, which teamed up with Siemens to become one of the world’s most sustainable distilleries, and the Distillery Inn, in Carbondale, which not only serves up spirits made with all-natural Colorado grains, but also reuses energy to heat its luxurious hotel rooms.

Then visit villages like Vail, named the world’s most sustainable mountain resort destination for meeting and maintaining progress on 44 sustainability criteria, like environmental stewardship and energy efficiency. Drop by the Walking Mountains Science Center in nearby Avon for free guided nature walks and other experiences that highlight the importance of protecting the land. Tour towns that run on 100 percent renewable energy, like Aspen and Glenwood Springs. And appreciate the plastic bag-free environment of Steamboat Springs. Even better, when you get to many of these charming mountain towns, you can get around using free shuttles, bikes, or your feet.

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Go car-free

Here’s some great news: You don’t even need a car to have an amazing getaway in Colorado! Start in the River North Arts District neighborhood (locals refer to it as “RiNo”), where you’ll find lots to do, and it’s easy to get around by bike or scooter. The next day, look into taking the Estes Park Shuttle or the Bustang (bus and mustang…get it?) to gorgeous Estes Park; then go hiking and paddleboarding in Roosevelt National Forest, which is adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park—and just as scenic. Return to Denver and ride the CID Colorado shuttle out to gorgeous Red Rocks, where you can spend another magical car-free day in Colorado’s fresh air.

Find your perfect road-trip ramble in colorful Colorado.

Visit Colorado is the go-to resource for planning a four-season vacation filled with unparalleled adventure and responsible travel
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