1. Please back away from the wildlife.
Sure, your #ElkSelfie in Rocky Mountain National Park might get you a few more likes on Instagram, but is it worth getting gored to death by a bull during rut?
2. Green chile is not chili.
When your server at the Cherry Cricket asks if you’d like it smothered, it’s best to comply. But, don’t expect it doused in a brown sludge of ground beef and kidney beans. Instead, expect even the most mediocre dish to be elevated to a higher plane of spicy, smokey, porky gloriousness.
3. Altitude is real.
Some people have no issue with the altitude, but others feel it as soon as they’re off the plane. Altitude sickness causes headaches, nausea, fatigue, and a general feeling of “Holy crap, why do I feel hungover?” So maybe let’s hold off on climbing Mt. Elbert until you’ve acclimatized for a day or two.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Your body needs more water at altitude, so you’ve probably noticed feeling perpetually thirsty. But don’t worry about buying bottled water from King Soopers. Here’s a Nalgene; fill it up from the tap. Our Rocky Mountain snowmelt yields some of the best tasting municipal water in the country. Bonus points for reducing your plastic consumption.
5. Everyone uses sunblock and you should, too.
Did I mention it’s a mile closer to the sun here?
6. Mother Nature will likely be drunk.
Patio beers and grilling out in January? Mountain snow or plains tornadoes in June? Not uncommon. In early May we had thundersnow and school delays in the morning, then 60s by afternoon. What should you pack? Hell if I know, better bring it all.
7. We have the best concert venue in the world.
Two words: Red. Rocks.
8. Ignore the pronunciations you learned in Spanish class.
For inexplicable reasons that would make your high school Spanish teacher cringe, Buena Vista is pronounced “BYOO-nah VIS-tah”, Del Norte is “Del NORT”, Salida is “suh-LYE-duh” and Monte Vista is “MON-tuh VIS-tuh”. In tomorrow’s lesson we’ll cover the French and Ute linguistic butchery of Cache la Poudre, Ouray, Tabeguache, and Weminuche. And if you’re really advanced, we might go over how Sawatch, Saguache, and Sahwatch are pronounced exactly the same.
9. It’s impossible to get lost on the Front Range.
Just know where the mountains are. You’re more likely to get directions as “towards the mountains” or “away from the mountains” instead of west or east.
10. Biblical plagues of locusts have nothing on our springtime invasion of miller moths.
As soon as temperatures warm in May and June, these swarms of fuzzy flying assholes arrive from the eastern plains, terrorizing all in their path. Go ahead, seal your entire home in duct tape and shrink wrap — they WILL find a way in. And regardless of how dead they seem, they will explode to life, fly directly into your face, then carry off your children.
11. Rocky mountain oysters are NOT shellfish.
Google it. Or just go the the Buckhorn Exchange and place your order with the other tourists.
12. Go easy on the booze.
Drinking at altitude can do some damage. If you expect to get an early start on your outdoor adventure, avoid the dreaded high altitude headache by paying attention to three critical letters on the brewery chalkboard: ABV.
13. Denver is not a mountain town.
Ignore the snowcapped panorama you’ve seen from Sunday Night Football broadcasts — Denver is a city on the plains and sometimes the mountains are barely even visible. Want to really get in there? I-70 Westbound.
14. Lightning kills people.
In the summer, afternoon thunderstorms are a routine occurrence and one of the worst places to be is hiking above treeline. So get an early start on your Bierstadt climb and if a local warns you to descend, you should probably listen. Or you could just wait until the hair on your neck stands up.
15. Oh, you only came here to buy weed?
You do know we have a few other things to do, right?