It’s no secret that outdoor sports like hiking, climbing and skiing have traditionally struggled with inclusivity. From magazine ads to the athletes we follow to the often prohibitive cost of gear, Colorado’s favorite pastime — recreating outdoors — can seem inaccessible or unwelcoming to many.
We’ve rounded up five organizations based or operating in Colorado that are doing important work to make the outdoors more inclusive and accessible for all.
Big City Mountaineers
How To Get Involved: Donate or sign up to volunteer at bigcitymountaineers.org
The Lowdown: If you’ve experienced the transformative power of Mother Nature, you know how important it is to expose kids to the outdoors early in life. Big City Mountaineers, based in Golden, helps 1,000 under-resourced kids each year get out on wilderness expeditions. These experiences outdoors focus on improving self-esteem, sense of responsibility, group communication and decision making skills. Big City Mountaineers operates from coast to coast.
Brown Girls Climb
How to Get Involved: Follow @browngirlsclimb on Instagram to learn about the diverse women doing amazing things on the rock and to learn about events and membership opportunities.
The Lowdown: Climbing is a sport that’s often very male and very white. Women of color owned, Brown Girls Climb is working to change that perception by increasing diversity and visibility in climbing. The company helps to create accessible and affordable climbing memberships for self-identified women of color, leads community events in the space and provides climbing specific justice, equity, diversity and inclusion corporate trainings.
How to Get Involved: Learn more and donate at coblackpackers.com.
The Lowdown: There’s no denying it, outdoor gear is expensive. It provides a huge barrier for many on getting into activities like backpacking. Colorado Springs based Blackpackers is working to make the outdoors more accessible by providing free (or subsidized cost) gear, excursions and education. The organization also works to create a pipeline for individuals to find careers in the outdoor industry through volunteer opportunities, internships and jobs.
The Lowdown: Outdoor recreation is often portrayed in a way that doesn’t include the experiences of everyone who enjoys our natural places. Latino Outdoors is a national organization working to create Latinx leaders in conservation and outdoor education and to broaden the narrative of what it means to be an outdoors-person. Latino Outdoors’ Colorado chapter is also women-run.
Outdoor Afro Colorado
How to Get Involved: Learn more, donate and check out the Colorado meet-ups at outdoorafro.com.
The Lowdown: Outdoor Afro works to inspire Black connections and leadership in the outdoors. Each year, the organization engages 40,000 people across the country. Outdoor Afro’s local chapters focus on meet-ups to encourage Black experiences in the outdoors. Colorado has two chapters: Boulder led by Taiysha Adams and Denver led by Jason Swan.