Do Colorado Right: How to Experience These 7 Sustainable Colorado Cities

Known for its scenic landscapes, Colorado provides a bounty of ways to celebrate its natural beauty both on and off of the trail. As a leader in sustainable travel destinations, Colorado’s eco-friendly cities and towns are home to a bevy of local businesses that do their part to support a thoughtful quality of life.

The Town of Vail is known internationally for its promotion of renewable energy.
The Town of Vail is known internationally for its promotion of renewable energy.
The Springs Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs
The Springs Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs
Marble Distilling in Carbondale
Marble Distilling in Carbondale
We-cycle Bike Share in Aspen
We-cycle Bike Share in Aspen
Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
The Source Hotel's Rooftop Restaurant
The Source Hotel's Rooftop Restaurant in Denver
Fig+Yarrow Matcha Milkbath
Fig+Yarrow Matcha Milkbath
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Whether you’re sipping your favorite brew in Golden or kicking back at the natural spas in Pagosa Springs, bounding through the trails of Estes Park or riding the powdered slopes of the Vail Valley, experience the adventure of a lifetime, while caring for the state like a local. Check out these low-impact destinations that can only be found in Colorado.

Aspen

A pioneer in sustainability, Aspen powers its city using 100 percent renewable energy, produced by wind, solar and geothermal heat–so you can set your conscience at ease knowing that your travels are contributing to a greener future. Take a trip to Anderson Ranch Arts Center, where culture meets nature through the outdoor sculpture exhibit (Still) Sculpturally Distanced features 17 pieces installed throughout the 5-acre campus. In neighboring Carbondale, pop into the Marble Distilling Co., a distiller that’s leading the way in sustainability by recapturing 100 percent of their process water and reusing energy harvested from the distillation process to heat their facility. Through this method, they are able to save more than 4 million gallons of water annually.

Denver

In the creative hub of RiNo, hop on an electric scooter — Lime, Lyft and Uber all offer scooter rentals via mobile apps — or hoof it around the neighborhood to see colorful murals, graffiti and street art splashed on business walls and down alleyways. Stay overnight in one of the industrial-style rooms at The Source Hotel + Market Hall, a design-forward boutique hotel that uses energy-saving efforts to minimize environmental impact and conveniently features its own food hall on site. While there, make a stop at the New Belgium Brewing taproom, a certified B Corp that uses clean energy and sustainable packaging and touts the country's first carbon-neutral beer as their signature Fat Tire brew. If you’ve got time for a little adventure, board the Rocky Mountaineer for a two-day luxury train ride that provides an up-close look at the Rockies as it carves its way through the rugged gorges and cliffs on its journey to the red rocks of Moab, Utah. As a winner of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel Best Sustainable Train for 2021.

Vail Valley

Ski green with any one of Vail Resorts’ five Colorado properties working toward reaching a net-zero operating footprint by 2030 — including Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek Resort, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Keystone Resort and Crested Butte Mountain Resort. After shredding the slopes, unwind with a relaxing massage or facial at Spa Anjali, named a top green spa by Organic Spa Magazine. If you notice an air of eco-consciousness while in the area, there’s a reason — the Town of Vail is heralded internationally for its promotion of renewable energy, resource efficiency, ecosystem protection and community awareness of these topics.

Glenwood Springs

Recognized as “Tree City USA” for its commitment to planting trees throughout town, Glenwood Springs also extends its environmental stewardship to its energy use, running off 100 percent renewable energy. Soak year-round in the town’s many natural, chemical-free hot springs that harness geothermal power, including Iron Mountain Hot Springs and Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. Enjoy a relaxing steam at Yampah Spa, where naturally occurring mineral water transforms underground caverns into geothermal steam baths, or amp up the thrills at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, one of the first year-round amusement parks in the country to use 100 percent renewable electricity.

Golden

Traced back to its rooted history in mining, Golden is named after one of the first prospectors to show up in Jefferson County when the Pikes Peak Gold Rush began — Thomas L. Golden.  In the present day, Golden is a scenic city that’s rich in culture, while claiming several large organizations that tap into sustainability efforts. Home to the Coors Brewery, a 30-minute tour of the facilities is a must for beer lovers. Learn about the brewing process and the domestic staple’s environmental promises to use only eco-friendly packaging, reduce water usage and slash CO2 emissions to become zero waste by 2025. Then be sure to take in the natural beauty of Golden and hit the trails on a private guided hike with Rocky Mountain Hiking Company, a female-owned company that offers half- and full-day hikes exploring the 251 miles of trails in the area. When hunger strikes, visit Abejas, which uses local produce, organic meats and sustainable fish to craft its seasonal dishes and New American cuisine at its cozy digs in the historic downtown.

Estes Park

Enjoy nature while minimizing your impact by visiting lesser-known areas around Estes. While Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the country, the neighboring Roosevelt National Forest offers an abundance of trails for snowshoers and hikers of all skill levels. Visit the YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center for seasonal activities that the entire family can enjoy, including ice skating on a frozen lake, snowshoeing and sledding. The center participates in the Youth-Led Solutions Summit: Climate Action to discover new opportunities to go green, including eliminating the use of plastic wrap from its housekeeping department. Electric-vehicle chargers can also be found on site — with plans to expand this offering in the future.

Pagosa Springs

Stretch your legs and take in the scenery on the half-mile hike or snowshoe trek to Treasure Falls, a 105-foot plunging waterfall set against a craggy mountain. Warm up with a pint at Riff Raff Brewing Company, the state’s first brewery to be powered by spring-fed geothermal heating. Riff Raff also uses a green CO2 system to save resources and energy, as well as a nitrogen generator to cut down on their carbon footprint. Make time for a little self care and let your stress melt away with a soak in the hot springs at The Springs Resort & Spa, where its Great Pagosa Spring holds the title of the world’s deepest measured geothermal hot spring. Spend a few hours in the 24 naturally heated soaking pools and catch a good night’s rest in the luxurious lodge, Colorado’s first LEED-built hotel.

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