On July, Colorado Welcome Centers will once again greet visitors to this great state.
Road trips are looking popular this summer, especially now that U.S. citizens are specifically unwelcome in Europe, and Colorado is smack-dab at the center of the country's summer-vacation map. That means we're all in this together, isolationist national policy-style.
Still, the Colorado Tourism Office's Colo-Ready etiquette suggestions go beyond the usual, in these very unusual times. It’s no longer just about staying hydrated, packing out your trash from trails and not leaving food in your cars when you’re in the mountains. Now we have new travel reminders to help keep your vacation — not to mention all of us who call Colorado home year-round — safer.
Here are just a few of them:
Wear a Mask
It’s not a political statement, it's not up for debate, and it's not about your freedoms. Masks are about keeping everyone safe; therefore, wearing one is proof that you’re not a solipsistic asshole. It’s also just common courtesy when you’re traveling around this great country of ours, so that you don't mess with the ongoing lives (and health safety) of the locals around whom you’re sightseeing. We’re not all on vacation, Clark, and Colorado’s metaphoric shitter is already full. Mask up or get out. Or quarantine yourself for two full weeks — and even then, wear the fucking mask.
Make Sure to Check Out Colorado’s Statuary
While you still can, anyway — and do it for the right reasons. Which means at some markers, say goodbye to an acceptance of historic awfulness just because it’s been set in bronze. The march of social progress has been stifled for too long by an unwillingness to act. Seeing the effect of public sentiment moving from idle and distant disapproval to productive insistence that our national walk match our talk in terms of unity and the recognition of sins past? It’s just step one, but it’s a step worth celebrating.
Patronize Local Joints
Sure, everyone likes the convenience and familiarity of your occasional Taco Bell or Chili’s or Cheesecake Factory. But seriously, those megaliths of overindulgent consumerism are going to be just fine post-pandemic. You know what may not be, without the support of both local and tourism dollars? Homegrown establishments — many of which offer better food than the crap you’ve had hundreds of times before. If you’re considering Taco Bell? Try the Curtis Park Creamery or El Taco de Mexico or Tacos Jalisco. Instead of Chili’s, patronize Pete’s or Charlie Brown's or Bastien's. If you're thinking Cheesecake Factory, well, you probably took a wrong turn on your way to a coastal Disney property. Find the local option: It’s always the better (and tastier) idea, and these days, it’s a mark of social and economic responsibility.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors Responsibly
At this point in the still-developing story of how badly America and its faltering leadership has mishandled the pandemic response, we nonetheless know a few things. One of those is that outside is much safer than inside, and that plays right into Colorado’s nature-loving wheelhouse. So, yes, get out to Rocky Mountain National Park and hike around. Climb a fourteener in the Sangre de Cristos. Camp, bike, backpack, any of it. Just do it at least six feet away from anyone else.
Remember to Pay for Parking
Some cities are still operating under a free-parking temporary mandate owing to coronavirus, but Denver went back to its hourly rates as of June 1. It was nice enjoying a 1950s-style, meterless free-for-all, but it’s not the post-apocalypse yet, and you’re not the only person in the world. (It just feels that way.) Likewise, stop signs are not suddenly mere suggestions. No, you still can’t litter. Yes, you should still respect noise ordinances and curfews and fireworks regulations and all that. Things are tense enough in the world: Behave yourselves.
...and Public Transportation, Too
The city also got a break on paying for mass transit — when it was running — during the shelter-in-place months, particularly when few other folks were out and about. RTD is still in the middle of a massive budget shortfall, though, and the pandemic has done it no favors save take it temporarily out of the news. But the free rides are over: As of July 1, fares on public transportation are reinstated and required, though service reductions will remain in place for now. Because that's just how RTD rolls.
Realize That Wildlife May Also Be Visiting
Sure, there’s always fauna up in the mountains around which visitors are advised to act responsibly, and those strong suggestions are still in place. Bears don’t care if you need to get out of the city for a while; they’ll still tear your car apart looking for that half-eaten bag of corn nuts in your console. But be aware that the wildlife has noticed the lack of human activity, and they’re taking full advantage of it. Just a couple of weeks ago, there were two deer sighted in Curtis Park; turns out they were looking into buying one of the new condos going up while complaining about gentrification.
Yes, Yes, Pot Shops
Yes, we know most of you came here for the weed. Yes, the dispensaries are still open. Get in line. No cuts.
Understand That People Are Still Scared
There’s a reason that locals were putting little messages on visitors' windshields up in Estes Park politely telling them to “go back to wherever your out-of-state license is from”: fear. And justifiably so, even if the messages left were a little indelicate. To be fair, they did invite people to come back sometime before telling them to fuck themselves all the way home. Ah, Colorado charm.
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Recognize That We’re Usually Much More Fun Than This
Live music, legendary venues, beer gardens, breweries and patio culture with mountain views…all this is waiting for you right here in Colorado. You know...in any other year.