Colorado holidays travel guide

Everywhere you go in Colorado people talk about elevation. Itís an obsession. How far up did you climb, how far down did you ski, how many valleys did you cycle? Sea level, thatís for wimps. And with the Rocky Mountains taking over vast swathes of this the state, you can soon see why. These peaks are everywhere. And with all those peaks come troughs, but these abound with energy too. The snowmelt of the Colorado, Animas and Arkansas Rivers bounce with rafters and kayakers coming down from their various highs. Valleys are fecund with fruit and vines, with wineries taking over towns that look like they are straight out of westerns.
Colorado is quintessentially cool. In an incredible landscape, people are super fit, super friendly and not super obsessed with living the Amercian dream. Just living.
Holidays in Colorado will present you with prairies that are crawling with cattle, horse and bison ranches, where you can stay and feel right at home on the range. And with 300 days of sun, you can ski in the morning and hike in the heat in the afternoon. And Coloradans do. Which is why it is bemusing that they legalized pot here. Hardly seemed necessary. Most people are high on life. But be warned. Itís addictive.

Colorado is...

therapy for mind, body and spirit.

Colorado isn't...

for beach bums.

Food, shopping, people & sustainability

Eating & drinking in Colorado

Farm to fork restaurants are the norm in Colorado.

Bison and elk burgers are a must for carnivores.

Colorado wine is everywhere, and very good too. Sometimes it's hard to get by the glass though.

Sliders are small portions of a main course, and a growing trend.

Local beer is everywhere and distilleries are on the up too.

Portions are vast in the US, but most people have the leftovers Ďboxedí to take home.

Sustainability in Colorado

With four national parks, eight national monuments, 41 state parks, 960 wildlife species and 6,000 miles of rivers, the numbers don’t lie: the great outdoors is Colorado’s calling card, and residents and visitors alike agree it’s worth protecting. In 2017, the Colorado Tourism Office and Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics formed a ground-breaking alliance and introduced the jointly-created seven Care for Colorado Principles which encourage consideration when travelling. As part of this partnership, they also developed a “Are you Colo-ready?” responsible travel guide for visitors.
You have heard of farm to fork. But in Colorado they do vine to wineglass, grain to glass, cherry to pie, peach to prosecco and bison to burger.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Colorado or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

People & language

You canít go too wrong in Colorado if you are an English speaker, although Spanish is also spoken by 20 per cent of the population with large Latino populations in Denver, Pueblo and in the San Luis Valley. Other than that, Colorado is predominantly white, and seems to bounce between extremes politically and socially. Driving around you will see fundamental Christian groups, military colleges, a prevalent gun culture in the form of gun fairs and shops and, at the other extreme, a very liberal, healthy society, with legal marijuana, camping culture, healthy food and skinny dipping hot springs. Maybe itís the Continental Divide effect.

Still controversial, the most politically correct term for indigenous Indian people is Native American, American Indian or, if being more specific, the full tribal name, such as Ute Indians.

Some people say Coloradoan, others say Coloradan. But the majority seem to say the latter.

A common expression is ďCan you box this for me please?Ē when you canít finish your giant portion of food and you want to take it home. This is the norm.

Have you got a Colorado wine by the glass, please? It is amazing how many Coloradan restaurants still donít serve it by the glass, favouring Californian cheapies. The more people who ask for it by the glass, the better.

Gifts & shopping

Cowboy hat. Canít have a holiday in Colorado without one. A few suppliers make them bespoke but this is rare. Saddler shops are your best bet. Cowboy boots are everywhere too.

Wine. There are wineries everywhere in Colorado. From pinots to peach wine, you are not short for choice, so leave some room in your check in luggage, and ask for bubble wrap when you purchase.

Aspen leaf products. The famous leaf is dipped and plated in gold, silver or copper and then polished, so that each vein of the leaf shimmers perfectly. Representing Coloradoís celebration of nature, and remembering its mining past.

Colorado produces a lot of wool, and many farm shops have wool products.

How much does it cost?

Day ski pass: from £12- 60

Bottle of Coloradan wine: £10-15 at winery

Half day rafting trip: £30

Rocky Mountain National Park entry fee: £19 ($25) for a 1-Day Pass - Automobile (Seven-day passes are temporarily unavailable, due to the Covid-19 pandemic)
They think in terms of relief maps not road maps in Colorado, with mountain landscapes influencing everything.

A brief history of Colorado

Although the Coloradoís mountains and plains are dominated by activity seekers, wildlife and extreme elements, it doesnít take long to see that they also very much shaped by history. There is evidence of hunting people living in the east at least 20,000 years ago, and visitors will feel connected with the Pueblo populations from as far back as AD 800 whose settlements they can still see clinging to the cliffs of the Mesa Verde National Park and in the Ute Indian reservation nearby, where you can even see remnants of their corn, farmed on the mesa plateaus. Read more

Responsible Travel would like to thank the Colorado Tourism Office for their sponsorship of this guide.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Jasen Miller] [Is/Isn't: Colorado tourist office] [Eating & drinking in Colorado: Colorado tourist office] [Sustainability in Colorado: MissMushroom] [People & language: Colorado tourist office] [How much does it cost?: Wesley Fryer]