Colorado’s Rocky Mountains have proven to be an ideal get away from the hustle and bustle of city life in Denver. With fresh air and unmatched views, escaping from the city heat for a weekend away in the mountains is the best way to unwind. However, these alpine escapes aren’t a vacation for everyone. For many, they are home — a place where locals have raised children, started businesses and bought homes. They require respect, admire compassion, value community and expect the same from visitors. We spoke to four High Rockies’ locals to gain a unique perspective on how Denver dwellers can better enjoy their mountain vacation. 

Mind the pace

Trail Ridge Road. Photo by Kyle Cooper

“We’re not in a hurry to get where we’re going,” said local Tabernash native and business owner Ben Lynch. “Vacations need to leave their Denver attitude in Denver and get on mountain time.” In the alpine world rush hour, deadlines, alarm clocks and urgency are nowhere to be found. Be aware of slower in-town speed limits, people lingering in the street, slower restaurant service and an overall lack of impatience.

Mind the hours

“Up here business hours work around time with family and friends, not the other way around,” said long time Vail resident and business owner Carey Anderson. “If you’re looking for a 24-hour lifestyle you’ve come to the wrong spot.” Denver, much like New York, Chicago or any major city provides 24-hours of action. Twenty-four hour grocery stores, liquor stores and a night life that goes long into the morning hours. This is not the case for our favorite mountain getaways, where some of the rowdiest bars take last call at midnight, grocery stores close at 11 p.m. on a weekend and Sunday’s offer more closed signs than open.

Mind the attire

dog hiking colorado, Cori Anderson, 303 Magazine

Photo by Cori Anderson

“You don’t have to wear a five-star dress to get a five-star meal up here,” said business owner and Grand Lake resident Bob Scott. “Casual is the key, we like it that way.” It is expected that a night-out in the city involves tight jeans, high heels, button down shirts and bright dresses. Those expectations can be left behind when dining or drinking in the mountains. Even the finest of restaurants don’t necessarily merit a change from the days hiking attire. Be aware of the perpetually casual environment, this is a world where one can enjoy the finer things in hiking boots and joggers.

Mind the environment

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Hanging Lake. Photo by Darian Simon

“Don’t litter and don’t disrespect our environment, you may get away with that in Denver but it’s not an option up here,” said Winter Park native and local business owner Sioux Kugi. The natural environment intertwines with reality and everyday life in the Rockies. Many residents work for the National Park or make a living from the land. Mountain town residents have an extreme respect for the natural world that backs up to their back door and they expect visitors to do the same.

It’s difficult to switch perspectives. We become stuck within our individual agendas, expectations and identities. Regardless of these pre-existing hangups, changing one’s mindset is an invaluable skill. Remember that the next time you visit one of our enchanted mountain towns.