As many may have already noticed, Colorado is getting crowded. Over 100,000 new residents moved to our state in the last year. According to tax return data from the Internal Revenue Service, 46% of people moving in Colorado are out-of-staters making their way in. Each month almost 9,000 people claim Colorado as their new home. With the Centennial state quickly becoming a destination location, native Coloradans have some advice to share with newcomers that will help keep our state and our community happy, healthy and thriving. If you’re new to the home of the Rockies, here are a few things you should know about this great state from natives to newcomers.
Weed — Not Everyone Does it
“How’s the weed?” is a question that a lot of native Coloradans will answer with an eye roll. Just because Colorado was one of the first states to legalize marijuana use, a surprisingly small percentage of Colorado’s adult population actually smokes. According to a survey conducted by the Colorado Health Department in 2014 less than 14% of Colorado adults smoked weed, and that was after recreational sales of marijuana became legal. So if you’re moving to Colorado to get a little more green in your life, don’t expect every Colorado native to know where the nearest dispensary is.
Weather — Layers are Key
If you’re new to Colorado, we hope you didn’t put your off-season clothes in storage. The key to comfort here is dressing in layers. It’s not uncommon to start the day in snowboots and end it in flip flops experiencing all four seasons in one day. Thanks to the cartoon television series “South Park,” which is based in a Colorado town where the characters live in an ever present snow, many non-Coloradans expect we stay in our parkas all year round. In actuality, Colorado gets an average of 115 days of clear sunshine a year. How else would we do all our hiking?
Directions — Towards/Away from the Mountains
Forget everything you’ve ever learned about directions, because “east” and “west” are not terms that Coloradans are familiar with. The sun rises away from the mountains and sets in the mountains. If you’re asking for directions expect something like this, “hop on I-25 and head toward the mountains for about six miles.” If you take a Coloradan out of Colorado, it’s likely they’ll be completely lost.
Casa Bonita — Like Disneyland with Mexican Food
If you’re a native Coloradan, you’ve likely visited Casa Bonita one time or another. If you’re a freshly-deemed Coloradan, let us assure you “South Park” didn’t make this place up. Many of us grew up begging to go here for our birthdays, and while the cliff diving show is pretty exciting on your first few visits, many Colorado natives have one piece of advice — don’t go there hungry (their words, not ours). Because although you have to order food to gain entry, it’s not exactly what it’s known for. Nonetheless, Casa Bonita is a Colorado landmark for sure.
Wildlife — Moose, Bears, and Deer – Oh My!
Depending on where you’re coming from, you might be a little startled the first time you look outside your tent and see a six foot tall, 900 pound moose. If you’re living anywhere near the foothills, moose, deer, and bears are more than a common sight to see chillin’ on your lawn or strolling down the road. In cities like Boulder it is required to own and use a bear-proof trash can, but don’t worry they’re mostly harmless and there are plenty of resources that will teach you how to deal with Colorado wildlife encounters to ensure that humans and wildlife alike can live happy and healthy. If you want more information check out Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The Rocky Mountains — Keep Paradise Pretty
If you’re new to Colorado, welcome to paradise. You’ve officially entered the home of the Rocky Mountains, a source of greatest pride for most Coloradans. If you’re not big on hiking or camping, it won’t be long until you’re lured in by the majesty of the Rockies. Rocky Mountain National Park had 3,443,501 visitors in the year 2014. That being said, when mother nature gives you a new adventure every weekend, give back to her by keeping the forest free of anything it didn’t produce itself. There is a strict, but unofficial, “leave no trace” rule when it comes to our great state’s natural habitats. Find out more about Leave No Trace.
Altitude — Getting Acclimated
If you’ve just arrived in Colorado and you’re feeling nauseous, dizzy, short of breath, or as if you’ve just run a marathon, don’t worry, it’s normal. In case you didn’t do your research, Denver really is a mile above sea level and getting adjusted to the altitude is something every new Coloradan has to go through. You didn’t suddenly become a light-weight drinker; our high altitude means alcohol will have a stronger affect on you, and you didn’t lose your knack for baking; our low air pressure just requires longer bake times. Just give it some time and drink lots of water. The air is much thinner and dryer than wherever you came from, so your body needs more water than usual. For more information on dealing with Colorado’s altitude check out these high altitude tips.
Rocky Mountain Oysters — A Colorado Delicacy
We hate to ruin the fun, but don’t trust every “chicken nugget” your Coloradan friend tries to feed you. A Rocky Mountain Oyster is not a shellfish, and it’s certainly not the chicken nugget your friends might be trying to pass it off as, but we’ll leave it at that. If you do want to try the Colorado delicacy, two great spot that also come packed with CO history are the Buckhorn Exchange (it boasts Colorado’s liquor license number one and has an insane past) and The Fort. Both warrant a trip regardless if you have a ballsy taste for adventure (sorry).
Halloween — It’s Cooler in Colorado
If you had the luxury of trick-or-treating in places like California or Texas, you’re in store for something much cooler in Colorado. Colorado Halloweens will give you the chills in a different way. The average high temperature in Denver for the month of October is 66 degrees Fahrenheit with an average low of 33. It’s best if you can work a jacket somewhere into your costume design.
Craft Beer — It’s a Thing Here
While Colorado is the proud home of Coors, we are also proud to say that we are one of the leading states in craft breweries. With 284 craft breweries and counting, we rank third for the state with the most craft breweries. With your first few ventures into a Colorado bar you might find yourself surrounded by beer snobs, but hey, with breweries like New Belgium, Odell’s, Avery and hundreds others can you blame us? Check out a full list of Colorado breweries and get yourself a cold one to celebrate — You’re a Coloradan!
Check out some more Colorado fun facts at the Colorado Vacation Directory.