Colorado traffic jam Photo Credit: milehightraveler (iStock).

Photo Credit: milehightraveler (iStock).

Think Colorado consists of only sunshine, wildflowers, powder days, and mountain sunsets? Think again. Once you encounter some aspects of Centennial State life, it might have you tucking your tail and heading for the border faster than the weather can seem to switch from pleasant to treacherous on any given day.

1. I-70 traffic: Sometimes, I-70 traffic through the mountains can be fine. Many times, it can be absolutely horrendous. Whether it's due to mudslides shutting down massive sections of the road or stop-and-go post-ski day traffic in sub-zero temperatures that could literally kill you if you run out of gas, one bad experience on I-70 is enough to have you swearing off the state forever.

2. Limited trailhead parking: Want to hit that popular trailhead in perfect conditions on a sunny day? Be ready to start your drive at 2 AM, still relying on a bit of luck to land a spot in the parking lot. Nothing can be more mood-deflating than having your sight set on a great day of outdoor recreation, only to have to change plans last minute due to overcrowding. Should you have hit the road even earlier? Sure – now you know that. But it's still extremely frustrating when outdoor recreation plans fall apart before your eyes.

3. Smoke season: Welcome to the five-season era of Colorado, where 'smoke season' tends to sneak its way in there at any given point of the year – a side effect of massive wildfires in the West that can bring all outdoor recreation to a halt. And unlike spring or fall, smoke season isn't limited to a single time of the year. It may pop-up once, or twice, or more, stretching for a week to months at a time. Smoke season might not even be the result of a local fire, but caused by smoke traveling across many states to turn the Colorado skies grey during the day and the sunsets a fiery orange. Oh... you moved to Colorado to hike and explore the mountains? Once that smoke rolls in, you better get that mask your wore during the pandemic out again – and even then, that might not be enough.

4. Paying $200 for a lift ticket: Thankfully, many resorts are now offering great deals for people that think ahead and purchase a season pass, but if that's not you, good luck not regretting a hefty ticket price at the lift ticket box office day-of (some are now close to $300!).  If you're hoping to save some money and maintain your sanity, my recommendation is to head to one of the cheaper, independent hills to get your annual single-day skiing fix. The snow is roughly the same and seeking a cheaper price is a great excuse to try somewhere new.

5. Hour-long lift lines: Whether you're paying $200 a day to ski or you've got a season pass, waiting an hour at the bottom of a slope for a trip up the mountain is frustrating beyond belief. We've all seen the massive lines that seem humorously long on social media, but there's no humor to be found when you're stuck in that line waiting while your goggles fog and your fingers freeze. Hit the slopes on a weekday to skip the lines at major resorts or visit a smaller or independent resort to skip some of the crowds.

6. The mountain town housing market (or just the housing market, in general): Long gone are the days of living cheap in Colorado. Whether you're looking to rent or buy, expect to pay quite a bit more than you would have paid just a few short years ago. Looking to rent or buy in a mountain town? Good luck even finding a potentially viable option. Rising costs and lack of affordable inventory have made it tough for people without a million dollars to call these coveted spots home.

7. Wild weather that could literally kill you: Snow driving is the least of your concerns in Colorado, though if you want to have any fun during winter, expect to be partaking in that oft-dreaded activity alongside massive cliff-drops without guardrails. Outside of its blizzards, Colorado has whipping winds, mudslides, flooding, hail, and persistent dryness that can lead to dust storms and wildfires so large that they're hard to comprehend.

8. People disrespecting the trail: Leaving the dog poop behind? Blasting Taylor Swift on a personal speaker? Feeding wildlife? Not following 'right-of-way' rules? Initials carved into tree trunks? Taking shortcuts? Smoking during a fire ban? The list of pet peeves about irresponsible trailgoers shared by many of the state's outdoor recreation enthusiasts goes on. Sure, some people simply don't know the rules. For those in that category – here's a quick guide that will help. However, those that know the rules and choose not to follow them... it's hard not to get a bit irked at that.

9. Safety seems to be sliding fast: Did you know violent crime in Colorado is on a relatively steep incline, especially compared to national statistics? Recent data from the FBI appears to show that Colorado just had its most violent year since 1995 and based on feedback from our readers, it shows. It's also worth noting that a 2022 'safest cities' report published by WalletHub that compared data related to home & community safety, natural disaster risk, and financial safety across 182 major American cities featured no Colorado spots in the top 100 safest spots. If safety is truly sliding, it might have Coloradans looking elsewhere fast.

10. There's an overwhelming number of local 'bucket list' items: Many states around the country have one or two 'must-see' attractions. Colorado seems to have hundreds. Not only are there dozens of unique cities and towns spread around the state that are totally worth checking out, there are also countless natural attractions that fill in the vast wilderness space in between. Seriously, there are more than 4,000 peaks in Colorado. Try adding all of the waterfalls, lakes, rock formations, and stunning trails to that list? You can't. What about hot springs? Ski resorts? Alpine coasters? Via ferratas? Canyons? Rivers? Think you've seen it all. Look again. You're sure to find more. And all of that can be a bit overwhelming at times. It can make it hard to take a weekend off to simply relax while also knowing that adventure is out there waiting if you take the time to go and find it.

STAY INFORMED: Sign-up for the daily OutThere Colorado newsletter here

Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee is OutThere Colorado's Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to hike, rock climb, and trail run. He's on a mission to summit all 58 of Colorado's fourteeners and has already climbed more than half.

Newsletters

Get OutThere

Signup today for free and be the first to get notified on new updates.

(15) comments

Javabeary

We'd welcome ya'll leaving Colorado forever and lessen the traffic and crowding. We'll be staying to enjoy the weather, 4 actual seasons, beautiful views and vista's, strong supportive communities and neighbors.

RetiredTeacher

I agree!

Saxxon

#1 Problem is Democrats. Ever since getting control by judicial redistricting (that is, misconduct and corruption) around 2006 they've been degrading the state. The elections are completely corrupt with mail in ballots, gypsy voting and the Dominion vote rigging syatem. Griswold is the dog's hind leg broke in 2 places, claiming we gave the most secure elections. Patent lie, it's only secure for Democrats, lest you forget the 10ks ballots they just tried to give to non-citizens.

Bohica

Facts.

ColoradoHiker

Traffic, traffic and more traffic. Denver gets mentioned but what about places around Colorado that don't have the freeways to handle traffic and yet here it is, clogging our roadways as we turtle

to our jobs. Durango is a good example. It is getting unbearably crowded, yet our city officials keep approving huge massive condo projects and suburbs with hundreds upon hundreds of homes springing up, without any regard to all this traffic. It's a mess and keeps getting worse. So called elected officials who run on growth control yet promote it any chance they get. Durango is now California East. Californication lives and reigns supreme in Durango.

Jackie Treehorn

11. Transplants bringing the problems and the politics they are trying to escape from.

Daveshere77

Born and raised here. I just got back from moving to Florida about a month ago and things got even worse just in three years. I live off of wads and Ralston and there's bums,homeless, whatever the political correct word for it well they are everywhere. Oh and they aren't sober!! Cop's won't do anything. All the neighbors are sick of it.

Bohica

Well said.

Lyle

Forgot to mention: Jared Polis and all the democratic policies that are crippling our state's economy, out of control urban sprawl and incoming residents that are causing all the overcrowding, high housing, ridiculous road driving...and on and on and on.

Sojourner

Lyle -- yuppers!

shdaingerj

Praying Polis gets voted out!!! Rest we cannot control with voting unless it is actually on the Ballot! We are tired of incoming people and lost cause of housing too and food and so much more too!!

RetiredTeacher

I agree, Lyle! Polis has no clue what our state needs;

and I'm not sure he cares! We need to vote him O-U-T! 👎

jim remley

How about I 70 west of Denver and east of Grand Junction? Denver to Kansas is an easy drive. Accuracy counts

OTC

I head to Colby, KS every few months or so & if by "easy", you mean unremittingly BORING, then YES! You nailed it!!

shdaingerj

I fyou come in from New York you will be used to the snow, wind, nasty sleet, thundersnow storms and all that comes with winter too! Hurricane like weather at times! It is because of Great Lakes and Finger Lakes Region freezing well below Zero weather! That is partly why I moved here back in 1984~ I love it here. parents talked us into itm two brothers talked them into it before that in 1980!! Only one daughter lives here now up north by Weld County in Thornton( Adams County ), besides me now and no one on hubbys side! We are lucky to live in Canon City area nice weather most of the time and we have great views too, plus we live in a Berm Home which is great!! Phantom Canyon is beautiful too ,as we overlook the valley across from us!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.