Explore the Wild Side of Colorado with Care
A Colorado adventure wouldn't be complete without taking a few days to experience western Colorado - what locals would say is the best side of the state. "West Slope, Best Slope" is a phrase you may hear while traveling between our neighboring cities. But even locals can forget the abundance of day-trip excursions and opportunities to refresh and recharge right in their own backyard.
Instead of languishing at home or planning a trip afar to points unknown, consider filling your Western Slope vacation with a satisfying blend of activities in Montrose, Ridgway, Ouray, Telluride, and Crested Butte. Each of these places has something special to enjoy, both closer to town and farther afield in the scenic areas that surround them.
The western Colorado secret is out and increased visitation can be problematic for our fragile region made up of mountains and mesas. Before you visit, acquaint yourself with Leave No Trace principles and do your part to care for Colorado.
Maintaining and protecting our health is a priority during the on-going pandemic. Wherever your travel plans take you, please be a responsible traveler and avoid exposing yourself or others to unnecessary health or safety risks.
Here are some ways to stay safe while having fun:
KEEP YOUR DISTANCE
Distance makes the heart grow fonder when you’re using it to help everyone stay healthy and well. Keep your distance to prevent spreading germs — or catching them yourself.
KEEP IT CLEAN
Regularly use hand sanitizer and wash your hands for 20 seconds. When paying for goods or services, make cashless payments whenever possible. And do your best to avoid touching things others may have come into contact with, like counters, railings, and gas pumps.
STAY HOME IF YOU'RE SICK
You'll enjoy your visit more when you're feeling up-to-par and not exposing others to germs can make a huge difference in stopping the spread of illness in our communities.
PREPARE FOR YOUR ADVENTURE
Weather, health concerns, and other natural events can all affect how places in Colorado are able to welcome visitors. Check websites or social media before you leave so you’re aware of the latest travel advice and are following local guidelines. This includes restroom closures in parks or natural areas. It’s also smart to carry TP, hand sanitizer, and towels with you on your journeys. (And make sure you know what to do when answering the call of nature on a trail.)
HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
Have a Plan B in case your intended travel plans turn out to be a little less than ideal. Use resources like AllTrails, COTREX, and Google reviews to curate a list of less-trafficked trails and locations you’d like to explore. A little preparation can go a long way in making sure you get the most out of those coveted weekends and vacation days.
Care for Colorado
Western Colorado and it's wild and pristine landscapes are something we treasure. Help keep it that way by considering some things that you can do while recreating:
STAY BACK FROM THE PACK
Find your way to less-visited and off-peak destinations to minimize downtime and maximize your connection with special places.
STICK TO THE TRAIL
With 39,000 marked trails and 13,000 designated campsites in Colorado, there’s no need to create new ones. Stick to established trails and campsites and camp at least 200 feet from lakes, rivers, and streams. Resist the temptation to create shortcuts or stray from designated trails. Doing so will protect plants and the homes of the true wilderness 'locals.'
TRASH THE TRASH
It's simple - if you pack it in, pack it out. Better yet, leave the places you visit cleaner than you found them. Even food waste is litter so be sure to place it in the nearest waste bin. Wash yourself, pets, and dishes at least 200 feet from waterways and use biodegradable soap.
LEAVE IT AS YOU FOUND IT
Leave plants, rocks, and historical items as you find them so others experience the joy of discovery. Any of our 750 different species of wildflowers will live forever in a photo. Snap away, but only with a camera. Colorado is beautiful all on its own. Building structures or campsites on public land isn’t cool.
Treat all living things with respect. Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them.
BE CAREFUL WITH FIRE
Colorado’s low humidity has its perks but can create dry, dangerous conditions. Always check for local fire restrictions and keep campfires small and manageable to avoid sparking wildfires. When putting out a fire, water it until you can handle the embers. Never let a fire burn unattended.
Use care when smoking in Colorado’s dry climate. Always put cigarettes out completely and don’t leave your butts behind.
KEEP WILDLIFE WILD
Keep yourself and wildlife safe by keeping your distance. Feeding wildlife is a bad idea because it can alter natural behaviors and expose wildlife to predators or even euthanasia.
Keep your furry buddies leashed when enjoying dog-friendly trails and pack out their waste.
SHARE THE TRAIL
Be considerate when passing others on trails and yield to the uphill hiker and biker – they need the momentum. Part of the beauty of nature is its calming silence. Be sure to silence your cell phone before stepping into nature and talk softly without using the speaker function. Do not play music from your device on the trail, it disrupts wildlife and the experience for others on the trail.