Colorado has been good to this southern girl. I’m thrilled that I have the opportunity to live in such an amazing place, but in spite of my love for this gorgeous state, there have been times I’ve felt as if I was living in a strange land. Colorado is radically different than anywhere else I’ve lived. I was born and raised in Virginia and spent the first thirty years of my life there, yet in ways I don’t fully understand, moving here has felt like coming home.
Here are ten things I’ve learned about Colorado…
When I first visited Colorado, I was awestruck by the beauty of this state. From the snow-covered Rockies, river canyons, colorful sunsets, and the stunning wildlife, there is no shortage of natural wonders . I’ve lived here nearly two years and the first look at the Rocky Mountains each morning, still takes my breath away.
It’s common for Coloradans to experience all four seasons in a single day. The snow season can start as early as September and last through May. And just as quickly as the snow appears, it melts. Humidity is almost non-existent in the Centennial State. Did you hear that? Humidity. Is. Non-existent. With such a dry climate and an average of 300 days of sunshine every year, the colder temperatures can be downright pleasant.
It’s legal here, guys. Colorado was the first state to legalize Marijuana. And there are dispensaries EVERYWHERE. Personally, I have always been pro-legalization of marijuana. Tax it. Regulate it. Then use the revenue to fund education and programs for our homeless. It’s a no-brainer, but it still feels strange living in a state where pot is legal.
Colorado is on fire…literally. During the summer months, when everything is dry and rainfall is scarce, be prepared for the threat of wildfires. Most of the time, officials are able to control these fires before they get out of hand, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. This is my second summer in Colorado and I dread reading the news and seeing the words “there is zero percent containment and the fire is raging out of control, stay tuned for mandatory evacuations” with strong winds, zero rainfall and high temperatures for the next few weeks. Scary stuff.
Colorado is for beer lovers. Only Oregon and Vermont rank ahead of Colorado in breweries per capita. When gold was discovered in the Rockies in 1858, many brewers were making small batches and selling it to the miners. A couple of years later, our first brewery was established. Colorado and beer just go together.
If you’re a native, you pronounce the world ‘Colorado’ as “Colo-RAD-o”. Enough said.
When low-landers visit or move to Colorado, they can feel very sick. Elevation sickness is no joke. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, headaches, vomiting, insomnia, water retention, and high blood pressure. Denver, the state’s capital, stands at an elevation of 5,280 feet high. Breckenridge stands at 9,600 ft high. The good news: Your body eventually will adapt. Until then, make sure you have chapstick and sunscreen and stay hydrated.
Colorado is home to the 14ers. What the hell is a 14er? That was my question when I first moved here. Well, Colorado has 58 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet (known as “fourteeners” or “14ers” locally) — the most of any state. Hiking as many as the 14ers as possible is a goal for local hiking enthusiasts.
Biking is big, here. Whether its mountain biking, road cycling, or training at the U.S. Olympic Complex, cyclists come from all over to pedal our mountains and byways. Hundreds of biking events are held here, each year for cyclists. (Here’s a link for some great Bike Maps in Colorado.)
10. Colorado is for Everyone
If you’re a beer lover, a mountaineer, a ski bum, an outdoor adventurer, history nerd… you get the point… there is something for you in Colorado. And if you’re not amazed by everything Colorado has to offer, you may not have a soul.