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17 Things to Know Before Visiting Colorado

By: Spencer McKee

A state unlike any other, Colorado seems to be on every American's vacation list as of late. Filled with mountains, waterfalls, and tons of craft beer, the Centennial State is a pretty awesome place to visit. That being said, there are a few things you should know before you get there. From what's in a rocky mountain oyster to how to handle driving Colorado roads, here are a few things that every visitor should be aware of.

Weekend Warriors - OutThere Colorado

1. Traffic Can Be BAD


Colorado has had huge population growth in recent years and the roads have yet to catch up. Make sure to budget time for traffic when traveling, especially if you’re headed through Denver. Don’t try to ski in the morning if you’ve got a flight out of Denver at noon. You’ll miss your flight while you’re stuck in traffic on I-70. It’s also important to make sure you’ve always got a full tank of gas and have spare food and water in the car.
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - DriveeO - OutThere Colorado

2. We Drive Fast Out Here


It’s not uncommon to see a speed limit warning in a construction zone telling drivers to keep it at 75 MPH. And these roads with high speed limits aren’t just straight and flat either: folks fly over mountain roads as well.
Photo Credit: DriveeO

3. Green Chili Isn’t the Chili That You’re Used To


Green chili in Colorado is more a condiment than a soup or side dish If you see something on the menu that’s covered in a homemade spicy green chili, do yourself a favor and order it.

4. The Weather Here Can Really Be THAT Crazy


Colorado is one place where it will be sunny one moment, hailing the next, and then back to being sunny…all within five minutes. Bring layers when you’re packing.
Craft Beer Lovers - OutThere Colorado

5. Draft Beer or No Beer


Don’t go to a bar expecting a Bud Light on draft. Most places won’t have it. You’ll find a few places that will have Coors products, but you should follow the locals lead and always pick a delicious Colorado craft brew instead.

6. Keep Your Trash in the Trash Can


LEAVE NO TRACE! That’s the rule here. If you make trash, make sure that it gets to its proper home at the bottom of a trash can. If you don’t do this, expect the locals to take it personally.
Photo Credit: mynamemattersnot (Flickr)

7. Dogs are Basically People Here


You’ll have a hard time finding a more dog-friendly place in America than Colorado. They’re allowed in some bars, on most trails, and occasionally allowed on restaurant patios (especially in places like Denver).
South Park sign by Spencer McKee

8. Yes, South Park is a Real Place…Kind of


If you want to see the town the popular television show “South Park” was based on, head out to Fairplay. It’s in Park County and home to the South Park National Heritage Area. It’s a beautiful place surrounded by mountains. Be warned, the speed limit drops quickly. Follow the rules and don’t get pulled over.
Winter Park Resort 3 - Winter Park Resort - OutThere Colorado

9. You’re in Bronco Country


There aren’t too many other big NFL teams within close proximity to Colorado. Most people here are cheering for the Broncos or for whatever their hometown team was before moving to the Centennial State.
Photo Credit: Winter Park Resort.

10. There’s No Need to Fear Blucifer


If you’re flying into Denver, one of the first things you’ll notice is the massive statue of a blue horse on the side of the highway with glowing red eyes. This is just the Colorado way of welcoming you to the state.
Photo Credit: Mike Sinko (Flickr).
Hiking 401 Trail Crested Butte - OutThere Colorado

11. Brace Yourself for Altitude Sickness


In case you didn’t know, Colorado is at a higher elevation than most places in the country, and that’s not just in the mountains. Even Denver is situated at a mile above sea level. This means you’ll need to make sure you stay hydrated and don’t overexert yourself. Keep in mind that this also means alcohol will hit you harder here than it does elsewhere.
Rocky Mountain Oysters - jankgo - OutThere Colorado

12. Rocky Mountain Oysters Aren’t Actually Seafood


Sliced Bull Testicles. That’s what they are. They’re chewy and often deep-fried, kind of tasting like chicken.
Photo Credit: jankgo

13. Tan Lines Tell You All You Need To Know About Someone


You’ll notice strange tan lines on a lot of Coloradans. Instead of laying out in the sun, the people in this state opt to engage in more vigorous activities. Knee-pad lines? They’re probably a downhill biker. Goggle tans? They’ve probably been hitting the slopes. Tan lines tend to match the hobbies in the Centennial State.

14. Fancy Means Flannel


If you visit Chicago or New York City, you’ll find people going out in ties, slacks, and dress shoes. While you can definitely find places like this in Colorado, most places have a much more casual dress code. Seeing flannel and jeans downtown on a Friday night in Denver is much more common than a suit and tie.
Photo Credit: kall9

15. Your Phone Battery Will Constantly Be Dying


As you’re travelling around Colorado, you’ll have a hard time not taking pictures of every scene you see. It’s all just that beautiful. Bring a spare battery pack so you can take all of the pictures that you want.
Photo Credit: twicepix (Flickr)

16. These Hitchhikers Aren’t Trying to Murder You


Once you make your way into the Colorado mountains, you’ll see an uptick in the number of hitchhikers on the side of the road. Mostly likely, these are just some locals looking to catch a ride to the top of a hill.
Photo Credit: da-kuk

17. Everyone Out Here is Secretly a Badass


That dude at the end of the bar? He just climbed a mountain yesterday. That chick you passed on the street? She’s a world-class skier in her spare time. That person that just cut you off in traffic? Next week they’ll be embarking on a month-long backpacking trip. The people in Colorado have some crazy hobbies that tend to make people around the rest of the country look quite tame.
Photo Credit: Stewart Green.

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