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So you dream about powder days, you loved that rafting trip you went on last year, and you can’t stop looking at mountainscape photos on Instagram…what does it all mean? Turns out that mountain lifestyle isn’t just the stuff of dreams. Life in a Colorado mountain town encompasses a special corner of culture in the Centennial State that thrives on outdoor adventure. If you find yourself relating to the following signs, then you might just belong in a Colorado mountain town.

1. You’re way more into the Old West aesthetic than modern architecture.

Barn - Larry Lamsa - Flickr - OutThere Colorado
Photo Credit: Larry Lamsa (Flickr)

Maybe it’s the stories of reflective glass or the miles of interstate traffic on the way to the mountains, but city life isn’t really doing it for you any more. Might be time to trade the dress shoes in for hiking boots, and head westward.

2. You’ve been wanting to try backcountry skiing but haven’t had the time to take an avalanche course.

Backcountry Avalanche course - Western State Colorado University
Backcountry Avalanche course. Photo courtesy of Western State Colorado University.

That wanderlust is whispering in your ear that you’re ready to take your skiing to the next level beyond the resort. Not only will you meet lots of adventure buddies in Colorado’s mountain towns that are ready to explore, but you’ll also find yourself in the right environment to finally take that avalanche course to learn about reading the snow, making smart decisions, and (if needed) conduct a rescue in the backcountry.

3. You wish you could go climbing more often.

Climbing - Hartman Rocks - Western State Colorado University
Climbing at Hartman Rocks. Photo courtesy of Western State Colorado University.

When you take out the extensive commute to your favorite climbing routes, you have much more time to explore and hone your skills. Whether it’s on rocks, summits, or ice, you’ll have much more opportunity to reach new heights to achieve selfie-worthy views.

4. You crave quiet time in the mountains.

401 Trail in Crested Butte, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Western State Colorado University

Whether it’s by hiking, mountain biking, or running, getting away from it all might mean just walking out the back door onto a local trail.

5. Your friends call you “Old Man River”.

Jae Seuer with Jacob Ronder and Greysen Lincoln catching fish.
Greysen Lincoln catching fish on the Gunnison River. Photo courtesy of Western State Colorado University.

You’ve started to tie your own flies, and you always have a fly rod with you wherever you go… In a Colorado mountain town, there are endless opportunities to cast to your heart’s content over world-class waters, including rivers, lakes, and (gulp!) ice.

6. One of your big goals is to hit that 100 ski day mark this year.

Village at Creste Butte Mountain Resort
The winter scene at the base of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Photo courtesy of Western State Colorado University.

Living within close proximity to world-class ski resorts has its advantages—buy a season pass early for the best deals.

7. From the windows of your car, you look longingly at every river that you pass.

Paddling Taylor Canyon - Western State Colorado University
Paddling Taylor Canyon. Photo courtesy of Western State Colorado University.

In a Colorado mountain town, you’ll find time not only to raft, kayak or canoe, but also to immerse yourself in river culture at the Super Bowl of whitewater festivals in FIBArk in Salida each June.

8. You look up to ski patrol and local search and rescue officials.

The Classic Air Medical helicopter approaches Emily Ensminger on the top of Highlands Bowl in Aspen, Colorado. Photo Credit: Stephen Martin.

The men and women involved in mountain search and rescue ops are certifiably awesome. With the proper training and knowledge, you could have the opportunity to volunteer with local search and rescue. The great outdoors can be dangerous; help find those who get hurt or lost.

9. You’re a gear hound who always finds the best deals.

Students find deals in Western’s Wilderness Pursuits gear room. Photo courtesy of Western State Colorado University.

Mountain towns are full of gear deals. The great outdoors can also be expensive; at annual gear swaps, you’ll learn to turn one mountain man’s trash into treasure.

10. You’re committed to environmental sustainability.

Biology course at Western State Colorado University. Photo courtesy of Western State Colorado University.

Because of their remote locales and all of the goods they need to import, Colorado mountain towns are hyper aware of the impact of their environmental footprints. If you’re looking for a community of folks who are just as passionate as you are about sustainability, you’ll find them in a mountain town.

11. You’re applying for college.

Mad Jack statue and Taylor Hall viewed from front parking lot.
Mad Jack statue and Taylor Hall viewed from front parking lot at Western State Colorado University. Photo courtesy of Western State Colorado University.

At Western State Colorado University in Gunnison—located on the Western Slope just 28 miles south of Crested Butte (a.k.a. Colorado’s Last Great Ski Town)—students can do all of the above while majoring in programs such as Recreation & Outdoor Recreation, Environment & Sustainability, and Wildlife Biology.

For instance, Western’s Wilderness Pursuits program offers students affordable gear to rent, multi-day excursions, introductory classes, and free clinics for enjoying the valley’s ample rivers, mountains, trails, and sunshine. The Western Mountain Rescue Team is the primary search-and-rescue unit in the county. Western’s innovative Mountain Sports program offers student-athletes training, travel, and intercollegiate competition in skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, trail running, and road cycling. And a student-run movement for a zero-waste campus is well underway at what Elevation Outdoors magazine rated the “West’s Top Adventure College.” If you’re ready to jump into and immerse yourself in Colorado mountain town life, Western State Colorado University might just be the place for you.

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