If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably realized I’ve been home for a bit. Home for me is Colorado, USA. Colorado’s one of the hottest states in the U.S. at the moment; one of the top places young people want to move. The migration is major, bringing both skilled and unskilled workers in large numbers to my home.
I can’t blame them; as I tell my friends and family when they ask about my travels, I’ve now seen a lot of places around the world. And the more places I see, the more convinced I am that Colorado is one of the better ones.
Here’s why I believe that:
300 Days of Sunshine a Year
I learned a great Italian word the other day: Meteopatico. It means that your mood depends on the weather. Colorado is a great place to be if you’re meteopatico. Although we’re not a tropical climate, or a season-less one, Colorado has great weather. And even when it’s cold, the sky is usually a brilliant, clear blue. This is a point of pride for every Coloradan. We are good friends with the sun.
Americans (estadounidenses para mis amigos latinoamericanos) are generally some of the friendlier people in the world, I’ve found. Some peoples, like the Thais and the Nepalis, definitely have us beat, but I think, in general, we belong near the top of the list.
And Coloradans, it seems, are some of the friendliest in the U.S. As a native, I‘m increasingly outnumbered in my own home. Most of the people I meet these days are migrants from other states. And they all say the same thing: “Everyone is so friendly around here!”
I guess I’d agree; but for me, that’s just normal.
An Outdoors Culture
Recently, I took my friend Abbi to climb the First Flatiron, an iconic Boulder landmark. The approach trail to the First is about three quarters of a mile, with a decent elevation gain. The trail was swarmed with people, and as Abbi stopped to catch her breath, she commented: “this is crazy. This is the most popular trail, and it’s far from easy!”
Abbi’s from Wisconsin. “People just don’t do stuff like this back home,” she said. I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s just a culture here, this is what people do.”
“I know!” she raved. “It’s awesome.”
I agree Abbi, I agree.
Hand-in-hand with the outdoors culture, most people here are fit and active. Whether it’s running, cycling, skiing or climbing, almost everyone here has a “thing.” Put it this way: if you stay in shape by going to the gym, you’re boring here.
Athletic wear is high fashion here in Colorado. GQ calls Boulder “the worst-dressed city that looks the best naked,” and you better believe people here lean into that label.
The good weather, frequent exposure to the outdoors, and lack of pretentiousness in day-to-day activities makes almost anywhere in Colorado a relaxing, welcoming place to be. The next two items on our list probably contribute to those chill vibes, as well.
Sorry Germany, but Colorado has you beat on beer.
Every time I go traveling, I drink the cheapest local beers; the $0.50 Chang or the 1 Euro Peroni… whatever I can do to save the budget. Traveling’s not cheap, after all.
It’s always fine, I always have a good time, and you can usually get pretty drunk for under $10, almost anywhere. I could drink like this at home, I always think. Maybe when I go back I’ll only drink cheap domestics.
I would save a lot of money if I could follow this strategy. But without fail, the first time I’m in a bar in Colorado, asked for a beer, I order an $8 craft.
Colorado Craft Beer is just that good.
With hundreds of local breweries ranging from nationwide distribution to basically-made-in-the-backyard, there’s no end to the good beer in our state. It comes in every type, every variety, every strength… want a dark stout beer that tastes like girl scout cookies? We got that. Want to drink an IPA that tastes like pure hops? We got plenty of those. Want to drink your fancy Belgian beers? Got those too.
Heck, we even got Coors. Made right here in the Rockies. It’s local, too.
(Although I’ll definitely make fun of you if I catch you drinking it).
Of course, Colorado’s not famous for the beer these days, but for the weed. We’ve had legal weed since 2012, when we were the first state in the U.S. to legalize recreational use and sale of marijuana. Now this trend is more common across the U.S., with nine states and the District of Colombia allowing recreational sale and usage.
So, we’re not quite as unique as we used to be. But Colorado still maintains a reputation as a stoner’s paradise; a reputation it largely deserves. With beautiful weather, bountiful outdoors, and friendly, liberal people, what would you have to be paranoid about??
If someone in Colorado asks if you smoke, they’re probably not talking about cigarettes.
I’ll let the photos do the talking here:
And although my chosen photos show more expensive, technical, and skilled outdoors activities, you can experience Colorado without needing to do anything too complicated, dangerous, or expensive.
The Beauty is Accessible To Everyone
I’m an alpinist. I like hiking for days, schlepping gear, and taking technical routes up peaks.
But I know that I’m in the minority. Very few people have the time, the money, and the dedication to go play in the mountains the way I do.
Colorado has a really nice balance of entry-level and elite challenges in the outdoors. Want to see the view from the top of a 14,000+ foot peak (14er)? You can drive to the top of Pikes Peak or Mt. Evans. And if that leaves you feeling a little unfulfilled, you can try hiking Grey’s and Torrey’s a pair of easy walk-ups near Denver. While some things are very accessible, other summits, rivers, and adventures simply can’t be done without leaving civilization behind.
As I told my friend Abbi on our climb of the First Flatiron the other day; there’s always someone more badass than you in Boulder. But that’s no excuse not to get into the easier activities.
And if you do want to get into the more technical stuff? The friendly, outdoorsy people are usually more than willing to help you.
This trait can’t be overvalued, in my opinion. People here are open to new ideas, want to preserve their environment, and are willing to take community action to be the change they want to see.
Need an example? Look at the legalization of marijuana. The public was in favor of it, so a clever ballot proposal was designed which taxed pot sales heavily, and the put the tax revenue towards our public schools. Awesome, innovative thinking which has brought big on-paper prosperity to Colorado.
Now if only we could apply that innovation and forward thinking to our transportation problems…
Not every person in Colorado is active and liberal. Of course not. We cannot ever accurately sum up millions of people in 1,000 words.
I know plenty of other people who would cite a completely different list of reasons for why Colorado’s great. Feel free to make your counter-arguments in the comments. I might argue, if I’m feeling feisty.
But if we disagree, don’t you worry, I won’t be around here for long anyways 😉