Tourism can be hard on Mama Earth. Yet it’s nature that makes Colorado such an amazing place to visit and live.
In honor of Earth Day, here are some ways to enjoy Colorado’s beauty, without tarnishing it.
1. Look — but leave no trace.
This is a mantra of Colorado campers, and visitors need to make this their religion, too. If you go camping or hiking, don’t leave even a crumb behind. Don’t toss out your food to feed the wildlife. This disrupts their health and can attract animals to areas that aren’t safe for them (or us), such as highways, towns, parking lots and campsites. Leave only your footprints behind.
A great place to watch for wildlife is up the Big Thompson Canyon. You can often see mountain goats climbing the rocks or deer bounding through the meadows. Instead of taking a rental car, book a private tour in a hybrid with the Colorado Green Ride.
2. Stay in a green hotel.
Our favorite green hotel in Colorado is the Springs Resort and Spa in Pagosa Springs. This hotel uses a geothermal heating system that comes from the on-site, natural hot springs, to heat the buildings and provide hot water to guests.
3. Even historical hotels can make the environment a priority.
The famous and luxurious Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs also makes the environment a priority. For example, it practices water and electricity reduction; it uses energy-efficient bulbs to reduce the lighting electrical load by 70 percent. As it goes through renovations, the historical Broadmoor is replacing old windows and pipes with thermal pane energy efficient windows and insulated piping. Wherever you stay, you can always reuse your towels and turn off your TVs and lights when you leave.
4. Go camping instead.
Why stay in a traditional hotel when you can stay off-the-grid in a yurt, tipi or tent? Colorado has a huge variety of campsites for people of all abilities, experiences and adventure levels. Book your campsite and compare different locations through Reserve America.
5. Stay in an Airstream
If you aren't up for sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag and need a real bed, but still want to get some quality time in nature, you can rent an Airstream through Denver-based Living Mobile.
An Airstream is super lightweight, so it won't guzzle gas like an RV does, but it still has the same amenities. Living Mobile's beautiful Airstreams are all retro and renovated; consider it hip, upcycled camping.
Our favorite campsite close to Denver (actually, in the Denver metro area, which means even less gas and a smaller travel footprint) is Chatfield State Park.
There's a wide assortment of outdoor activities in this massive, sprawling park, from sailing to fishing to hiking. You can feel like you're 1,000 miles away, without having to venture farther than 15 minutes from town. The unobstructed views of the mountain range will have you fooled.
6. Go hiking and learn about the environment firsthand.
Go on a guided hike led by a naturalism with the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education. On these hikes throughout the Pueblo Mountain Park area, you will get your heart rate up, while learning about nature in the area. Look for theme hikes, such as wildflower hikes, full moon hikes or birding hikes.
7. Looking for something a little different?
Sign up for a guided llama trek in Masonville, not far from Estes Park. These trips educate visitors about the surrounding wilderness and how the llamas help protect the environment. Even if you’re physically unable to go hiking, you can ride a llama or let it carry your pack.
All equipment and food are provided, except sleeping bags, making this an effortless excursion idea for out-of-towners.
Plus, llamas are adorable and make great photo ops. Just be careful one doesn't spit in your face.