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The Worst Possible Advice to Give Someone Traveling to Colorado

Colorado Student Work
by Tim Wenger Dec 2, 2015

“You can smoke weed anywhere, just light it up!”

It’s been said that there are more dispensaries than Starbucks in Denver. This might be true, but legally you can only consume on private property in Colorado. Marijuana’s legalization here has done a lot for disproving the old stoner stereotypes of potato chips and cartoons. It’s really about enhancing activities, using an alternative medicine, and bringing in tax revenue to provide some extra funding for our public schools. It’s not about waving a joint in everyone’s face.

“Everything that happens is based in or around Denver.”

Denver is growing rapidly and has a lot to offer. It also Colorado’s largest major city. But it is far from the only activity hub, especially if your trip involves outdoor activities. If you want to get the “full Colorado experience” and see the mountains, rivers, and towns that draw so many tourists, break away from the I-25 corridor and base yourself in Steamboat Springs or Crested Butte. You’ll find everything you need to round out your trip — vibrant nightlife, creative meals from talented chefs, local craft beer, and loads of unique galleries and shops are there for the taking, all without the front range traffic.

“Don’t bother asking people for advice because everyone in Colorado is a transplant.”

The only people that say this are those that are insecure about their own transplant status. There are locals all over the place. Coloradans know their way around the state very well and are quick to shell out advice about a good trail or what time to wake up if you want to beat the I-70 rush into the mountains on Saturday morning. Talk to them; it will be much more helpful than that guidebook you borrowed from your parents.

“You’ll be fine in your Geo Metro.”

Maybe in the summer, and only on the front range. So many people in Colorado drive Subarus or trucks because you never quite know when the roads are going to go to shit because of a quick snowstorm. One of the most common sources of bickering among Coloradans is people that clog traffic because they can’t drive in the snow or are terrified on the mountain passes. Don’t be that guy. Have a decent vehicle.

“Better bring your cowboy hat and Wranglers.”

Western culture has always had, and continues to have, a significant place in Colorado culture. But for most of the state, it is not the norm. The cities and tourist-friendly mountain towns are hip and vibrant, reflecting the cultures of the people who inhabit them. Denver is becoming a hot spot for young entrepreneurs and progressive ideas. While the old west still lives, you aren’t going to be out of place if you don’t live ‘according to Hoyle.’

“Don’t get your hopes up; there are no places for tourists to legally smoke pot.”

On the other side of the spectrum, if you don’t have a friend or relative who lives here you can look into the new ‘green-friendly’ hotels. If you’re not a resident, you can buy up to ¼ ounce at a time and it is up to each individual hotel whether to allow marijuana consumption in their smoker-friendly rooms. There are also ‘party bus’ scenarios and limousines where private drivers in certified vehicles can chauffeur you around while you partake.

“Don’t worry about renting a car.”

Colorado is very spread out. The same goes for the Denver area — it’s becoming a mini-Los Angeles. While public transportation is always improving, you’ll want to have your own way to get around.

“You’ll only need to pack for the season in which you are travelling.”

The weather in Colorado is notoriously bipolar. It can be 70 degrees and sunny at noon and by 1pm storm clouds are rolling in and forecasters are calling for a blizzard. Even in summer, you should always bring a jacket and jeans.

“If you’re going to Denver, go to Casa Bonita!”

No. You should not go to Casa Bonita unless you want to have an upset stomach for the rest of the day. Blackbart’s Cave isn’t worth suffering through the food. If you want to eat at an old-school Denver classic, go to Cherry Cricket or Blue Bonnet.

“Just take I-70 west out of Denver and you’ll see everything before you get to Grand Junction.”

If you don’t venture off the freeway, you’ll miss some of the best spots in the state. Instead, head southwest on Highway 285 toward Durango, turning west onto Highway 160 at Monte Vista. You’ll pass through often overlooked mountain towns like Salida and Pagosa Springs, which are great for everything from rafting to skiing. You’ll also head into the beautiful San Luis Valley, home of Great Sand Dunes National Park and a diverse collection of small towns. Plus, you’ll skip the overpriced tourist traps of Summit County and Vail.

“It’s basically the Midwest.”

Oooooooh, that cuts deep. Other than the Oakland Raiders, not much pisses off Coloradans more than calling any part of the state west of Byers “Midwest.” Think of it instead as the gateway to the west. If you can make it through mountains, you are worthy to continue onward.

“One time is enough.”

If you are the type that actually wants to experience the places you visit, you’ll want to come back to Colorado multiple times. Visit several different mountain towns until you find one that you can’t stop thinking about, and then spend a week there. You will thank yourself.

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