Planning Your Colorado Cannabis Road Trip

Denver is still the center of the state's cannabis scene, but there's more to Colorado.
Denver is still the center of the state's cannabis scene, but there's more to Colorado. Jacqueline Collins
Got a full tank of gas and mountains on your mind? As the snow starts melting, driving through Colorado isn't as daunting as it can be in winter, and there's heaps of fun to be had, even when most ski slopes are closed.

No matter where you go in this state, chances are good that you'll drive by a dispensary or twenty during the trip. If you're not from Colorado, there's no reason not to stop at one (or more): You're on vacation, and recreational marijuana is totally legal here (as long as you follow these rules and have a designated driver).

Still, you should know that some popular spots are more hospitable to cannabis users than others. Here's a breakdown of how to have the most cannabis-friendly fun possible during your Colorado road trip, with a mix of roadside attractions, dispensary bargains, cannabis tourism, munchies and outdoor adventures.

Border Towns
If you want to stock up immediately upon entering the state, that's fine — and pretty easy, now that many border towns have wised up to all the money they can make off eager tourists. Towns on the Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico and Utah borders have way too many dispensaries to serve their residents, because they want to serve you! Although they might be a little pricey, towns like Antonito (near New Mexico), Dinosaur (near Utah), Sedgwick (near Nebraska) and Trinidad (near New Mexico, and on the path into Colorado from Texas and Oklahoma) all have dispensaries. Our favorite destination of the bunch is Dinosaur, where you can visit Dinosaur National Monument and see amazing fossils just up the road.

If you truly want to experience Colorado's cannabis scene, you have to stop in Denver, which is the state's capital in more ways than one. Home to over 200 dispensaries and the vast majority of a limited pool of social consumption businesses in this state, Denver remains an epicenter of American cannabis despite recent legalization efforts in larger cities. Hit up popular cannabis shopping areas on South Broadway, East Colfax Avenue and Federal Boulevard before trying one of several social consumption venues or tours — or just move on to some of the state's best craft beer and food.

click to enlarge Dean Ween's Honey Pot Lounge allows legal social pot use in Denver. - JACQUELINE COLLINS
Dean Ween's Honey Pot Lounge allows legal social pot use in Denver.
Jacqueline Collins
You can't pass through Colorado's Front Range without stopping in Boulder, where the mix of weird, wealthy and wilderness creates a bubble made for stoners. After hitting up a dispensary — we recommend Karing Kind, Helping Hands Herbals and Options Medical Center — take a walk around the beautiful campus at the University of Colorado Boulder and visit the infamous area of past 4/20 celebrations, or check out popular food and shopping spots on the Pearl Street Mall or the Hill. Hiking, camping and mountain biking are minutes away in Boulder, with easy trails in Chautauqua Park conducive to stoned hiking.

Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs
Only medical marijuana sales are allowed in Colorado Springs, but recreational possession and consumption are still allowed. If you don't have any friends in the area, make the fifteen-minute drive west to Manitou Springs, where recreational sales abound — and before heading back home, fill up your gas tank at one of two Native Roots Gas n' Grass locations in Colorado Springs, medical dispensary/gas station hybrids. Only patients can purchase pot at these spots, but they're still fun to see.

For other amazing sites, explore the Garden of the Gods, then stop by one of the several cannabis consumption clubs in Colorado Springs, the only town besides Denver that's attempted to regulate social pot use. Smoking is usually prohibited, but vaporizing and dabbing are allowed.
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Herbert Fuego is the resident stoner at Westword, ready to answer all your marijuana questions.
Contact: Herbert Fuego