Five things Colorado transplants should know about springtime in the Rockies
Welcome to Colorado! If you've been here for at least three months, you've already enjoyed some of our famously indecisive weather, days that include snowy mornings and fifty-plus-degree afternoons. Although spring is officially here, in this beautiful state the transition period between winter and summer, and, similarly, between summer and winter, can be hard to pinpoint -- much less prepare for.
That "300 days of sunshine!" factoid that we natives like to throw around is definitely probably maybe true, but there are still a few other weather realities that transplants need to deal with. So I've compiled a short list of things you need to know in order to survive your first springtime in the Rockies. (Don't worry, it doesn't include buying another pair of ugly-ass shoes just for the season, even though we're the state responsible for the invention of Crocs. Sorry about that.)
Typical "spring in Colorado" apparel.
5) Bring a jacket
The high today is supposed to be 68 degrees, which is great. But I recommend taking a jacket with you whenever you leave the house at any time of year -- because our weather changes all the time. It could snow today; you never know. And even in the summer, I always have a jacket -- because while we might not have anything resembling humidity (not even a tiny bit), Colorado businesses like to spend tons of money blasting customers with arctic air when it isn't necessary.
And even when it's hot as hell outside, during pool season you can also find yourself freezing your ass off whenever the sun goes behind a cloud or a breeze comes through in the middle of July. And don't be surprised if you leave your house on a Sunday to walk your dog and end up driving two hours to go hiking in the mountains because you ran into a friend who convinced you to take a day trip.
Which brings me to a slightly off-topic but still relevant note: In Colorado, we take fitness seriously. We're actually the #1 fittest city in the nation (though somehow we slipped to #2 on the least-obese state list), so if you didn't already move here because you love hiking, skiing, snowboarding, cycling, rock climbing, Crossfit, yoga, marathon-running or playing sports in the park, now is the time to get into it. We smoke a shit-ton of weed and are still in killer shape -- so, transplants, try not to make us look fat. I'm kidding! Sort of.
You should be wearing sunscreen year-round (if you've been skiing or snowboarding in December and have come home with a crispy red nose, you already know this), but it is especially important as we get into the warmer months. The lack of moisture and higher elevation really do affect how much sun you get, and nothing says transplant quite like the "I got fried on my twenty-minute bike ride to work" sunburn.
Lip balm is also a must-have in Colorado. If you've experienced our painfully dry winters, you know this already -- but the desert-like heat is equally damaging. You want to look like you're a native? Have some kind of lip balm in your pocket, purse, car, gym bag, desk drawer, lunch box, bedside table, bathroom, etc.
Strap one of these to your backpack and bam! You're a CO native.
While we're talking about accessories, let's talk about water. Are Nalgene bottles a trend in other states? I've always wondered if having a water bottle strapped to your purse with a carabiner is a Colorado thing or what, but, seriously, you need to drink a ton of water. Especially if you're consuming alcohol or out in the sun or regularly combining both: We don't wanna see you passed out on the sidewalk at noon during Pridefest, sunburned and dehydrated. It is not a good look.
2) Rockies game traffic is real, so be prepared
If you moved here from a big city, Denver's traffic is probably a piece of cake. But lately, this place has begun to feel like L.A., and not in a cool way: I-25 is fucked no matter the time of day or what direction you're going; Cherry Creek is pretty much one giant collection of traffic cones; and Colorado Boulevard, well, forget it. LoDo, too, can be hell on earth if you ever try to drive down Market or Larimer street on weekend nights or on any major holiday. And during Rockies games, it's a shit show.
And it's not just the cars -- it's the people. Our small-town vibe already lends itself to tourists and new residents alike walking aimlessly as though they don't have anywhere to go in a hurry, and this is only amplified during Rockies games. Downtown becomes a sea of reckless purple, black and silver-wearing wanderers, a nightmare for anyone trying to do anything that doesn't involve day-drinking on a Monday.
So game day is a good time to check out the bike trails. We have lots of them (the Cherry Creek bike path is awesome and basically runs the length of Denver proper), and they are a great way to get around instead of driving through town -- and tourists. But please, say "On your left" when passing another human on a bicycle, and remember to respect your fellow cyclists.
Courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens.
1) We have other great outdoor venues besides Red Rocks
Outdoor concert season isn't really a season in Colorado -- whether you're in the city or the mountains, you can usually find people playing music outside at all times of the year. But the spring is when venues usually announce their big lineups. And while Red Rocks is great, you should know, dear transplant, that we have many other cool spots where you can see shows outside. For an excellent outdoor venue right in the middle of Capitol Hill, Denver Botanic Gardens is the place to be....and it just revealed its summer shows today, which include St. Vincent AND Mavis Staples!.
The Gardens is also a great spot to see Coloradans in their natural habitat, as dads in shorts and Chacos recline on the grassy slope while moms get their white wine on and groove to Wynonna Judd. Seriously, the people-watching at any Botanic Gardens show is a must for anyone looking for that true Colorado experience.
Be my voyeur (or better yet, let me stalk you) on Twitter: @cocodavies
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