Colorado is the Choice Destination for Travelers Who Want To Reduce Their Impacts
Colorado encourages visitors to make Earth Day an everyday mindset
Denver, CO (April 8, 2021) – With interest in resource-friendly travel surging across the globe, “conscious travelers” need look no farther than Colorado to find an unparalleled collection of ways to travel while leaving a lighter carbon trail.
As the first U.S. state travel office to develop a comprehensive destination stewardship plan aimed at inspiring travelers to reduce their impacts, the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO), along with destinations across the state, is creating distinctive opportunities for people who love travel to visit responsibly and leave places better than they found them.
Colorado already is home to two U.S. cities powered 100 percent by renewable energy, meaning travelers to both Aspen and Glenwood Springs can enjoy a vacation with little carbon impact. Denver is consistently ranked among the most sustainable cities in the country, and Breckenridge just announced that it will join Vail as two of only three sustainable mountain resort destinations in the world.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has set Colorado on a path to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 and is positioning Colorado as a leader in the clean energy economy, building out a network of fast-charging stations to power electric vehicles and paving the way for even more low-impact travel opportunities in the future.
The Colorado Tourism Office has been working closely with the Colorado Energy Office to prioritize construction of electric vehicle charging stations along the state’s 26 Scenic and Historic Byways, which wind throughout Colorado. Six of the 26 already are available for electric-vehicle travel, with at least another six ready to go by late summer.
With the renewed excitement around a post-vaccine return to travel, the Colorado Tourism Office is making it easy for Colorado travelers to find plenty of ways to visit responsibly:
Colo-Road Trips: The Colo-Road Trips microsite on Colorado.com is a searchable, online collection of hundreds of multi-day itineraries aimed at inspiring travel in less-visited destinations and seasons. It’s a great way for travelers to find their way to lesser-known, fun and inspiring Colorado destinations. Search by your favorite activity, city or time of the year. Each multi-day trip idea includes great places to stay and eat and fun things to do, along with a “Sustainability Activity” and “Insider Tips,” giving visitors the downlow on traveling like a local.
Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways: Launched last May, the Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways microsite provides videos, photos, maps, itineraries and other inspiration for exploring Colorado’s 26 spectacular byways, more than any other state in the U.S. Watch for updates in coming weeks about how to explore Colorado’s growing number of “electric byways,” roadways that are deemed ready for travel by electric-powered vehicles.
Care for Colorado and Do Colorado Right: In a first-of-its-kind partnership, the CTO joined forces with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in 2018 to create the Care for Colorado Principles to educate visitors and residents about traveling the state responsibly. Visitors can learn how to Care for Colorado in the CTO’s “Are You Colo-Ready?” brochures, a collection of animated videos, in CTO publications, in all 10 Colorado Welcome Centers and on the Care for Colorado microsite. The seven Care for Colorado Principles aim to inspire low-impact travel, from the care of Colorado trails and mindful interaction with wildlife to the use of refillable beverage containers. Visitors are also encouraged to “Do Colorado Right” and embrace the state’s new interpretation of responsible tourism — showing care not only for destinations but for others, including the people who call Colorado home.
Below is a sampling of low emissions travel options, local food and drink offerings, ways to recreate responsibly, low impact experiences, ways to give back and eco lodging options from across Colorado. Find more information about all of these responsible travel opportunities and more on www.Colorado.com.
Explore Low Emissions Travel Offerings:
- Buses and Shuttles: With service just launched in March, United Airlines is making it easier for customers to travel to Breckenridge and Fort Collins with convenient year-round ground transportation service from its hub at Denver International Airport. Boulder offers free Park to Park Shuttles on summer weekends connecting Boulder to Rocky Mountain National Park, Chautauqua, Eldorado Canyon State Park and Indian Peaks Wilderness. Book a Groome Transportation shared-ride shuttle to Denver International Airport (DIA), which uses cleaner burning propane-powered vehicles. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) has introduced 8 battery powered electric buses to a fleet offering free rides from a collection of stops between Aspen, Snowmass, Glenwood Springs, Eagle and Rifle.
- Trains: Colorado has numerous scenic and historic railroads and train travel offerings. New in 2021, The Rocky Mountaineer will bring its first U.S. luxury train journeys to Colorado with a two-day rail journey between Denver and Moab with an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs. The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway will reopen in spring 2021 after a multi-year hiatus for reconstruction. Recognized as the world’s highest cog railroad, the Railway is one of Colorado Springs’ top attractions and since 1891, has taken thousands of people to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak.
- Cycling and E-Bikes: This summer, visitors can bike or walk through downtown Denver to experience a route the locals call the 5280 Trail. The 5280 Trail is an envisioned 5.280-mile recreational biking and walking route connecting fun Denver neighborhoods. Locally owned since 1978, Recycled Cycles in Fort Collins is “Colorado’s largest Earth-friendly bicycle store.” Aurora, Colorado, is home to Pedego Southlands — a fully-equipped rental service for electric bikes. Enjoy a cruise around Steamboat Springs on an electric bike from Pedego Electric Bikes and find e-bike mountain bike rentals at Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare or Ski Haus. Aspen Skiing Company opened a Maroon Bells Basecamp visitor center at the base of Aspen Highlands that offers e-bikes for rent as an alternative to taking the bus to the Maroon Bells. Explore other e-bike rentals in towns across Colorado as an alternative to driving your gas-powered vehicle to a trailhead parking lot. In 2020, Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley was designated a Gold-Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), the first in Colorado and only seventh in the world.
- EV Vehicles and Charging: Dollar Rent A Car and Thrifty Car Rental will begin offering up to 10 electric vehicles between their fleets at the Eagle County Airport before the end of 2021, and Arapahoe Basin has also agreed to provide a $40 gift card for an electric vehicle rented at Eagle County Airport. The Town of Breckenridge has recently installed more than 20 public electric vehicle charging ports and will add 40 more this fall with the completion of the South Gondola parking structure. In support of Frisco Town Council sustainable environment goals, the Town of Frisco’s Green Team and Public Works Department installed a two-port electric vehicle charging (EVC) station.The City of Aspen owns and operates a total of 65 charging stations and 8 public charging stations. Aspen plans to develop an EV Infrastructure Master Plan by summer laying out Aspen’s five-year plan for creating public charging stations.
Support Local Food & Drink Systems:
- Food Trails: Launching in April 2021, the Liquid Arts Passport provides consumers with discounted tastings and offers from breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries across the state. The Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway showcases the orchards, lavender gardens, vineyards, wineries and fresh farm market fruit stands in Colorado’s Mountains and Mesas region. The Boulder County Farm Trail showcases ways that visitors can pick berries, tour farms, pet the animals, buy produce from farm stands, tour a goat dairy and bike to a farm for lunch or dinner. The Roaring Fork & Farm Map is a printed pocket guide to Carbondale’s agritourism offerings that include guest ranches, public gardens and farms, visitor attractions and experiences, along with restaurants and retailers that were identified as specifically supporting the local food movement through menu items or connections with local farmers.
- Farmers Markets: Arkansas Valley farmers work hard on their farms all season to grow a wide variety of produce — corn, watermelons, cantaloupes and much more — sold at a variety of area farm markets. Boulder County Farmers Markets (BCFM) 2021 in-person farmers market season kicked off on April 3 when its Boulder and Longmont, locations opened with a bounty of fresh produce, fruit, meats, packaged goods, plants and more. The Grand Junction "Market on Main" Farmer's Market is slated to return Thursdays from June 24–September 29. Live music and local produce make this weekly event a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Discover the source of locally grown food at ACES at Rock Bottom Ranch, a 113-acre wildlife preserve and educational ranch in Basalt. In the summer, the ranch’s produce, meat, and eggs are available at the Basalt Sunday Market, or enjoy a farm-to-table dinner.
- Toast to Sustainability: Marble Distilling Co. in Carbondale has partnered with global innovator Siemens to become the most sustainable, zero-waste distillery. The Colorado Farm Brewery in Alamosa is one of the only breweries to produce 100 percent of its ingredients on the farm where the beer is made. Peach Street Distillers in Palisade utilizes local fruits and grains raised by devoted area growers and often upcycles local fruits that some foolishly deem “too ripe” for market.
- Breckenridge Announces Certification as a Sustainable Mountain Resort Destination: Breckenridge is the third destination in the world to be certified to the Mountain IDEAL sustainable destination standard. Additionally, Breckenridge’s adherence to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) destination criteria makes it the third Certified Sustainable Destination in the United States certified by a GSTC-Accredited certifying body, Green Destinations. Their certification marks the culmination of two years of leadership by the Breckenridge community in progressive environmental conservation policies and programs.
- Crested Butte Area Drainages Move to Designated Camping: Starting in summer, the U.S. Forest Service in coordination with the Gunnison County Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee (STOR) will transition camping offerings in the Crested Butte area. The Crested Butte Conservation Corps is working alongside the U.S. Forest Service and STOR to install designated camping sites, kiosks, toilets, site posts, a parking spot and fire rings. As these amenities are added, there will be a transition to an online reservation system by summer of 2022 that will include a fee. While this new management approach will take a bit of adjustment, in the long run it will improve the user experience and protect the destination’s natural resources.
- Hanging Lake Trail Reopens to Permitted Hikers: Hanging Lake Trail will reopen to permitted hikers following initial assessments and trail stabilization in the aftermath of last summer’s Grizzly Creek Fire. Reservations to hike Hanging Lake are now available. To enhance the hiking experience, prevent damage to the trail and protect the environment for future generations, a reservation system was implemented in 2019.
- Rocky Mountain National Park Will Pilot Timed Entry May 28 Through October 11: Rocky Mountain National Park will be implementing a new pilot timed-entry system beginning May 28. Passes for visitors to enter the park will be on sale through www.recreation.gov.
Take in a Low-Impact Experience:
- Dark Skies: Colorado is home to seven International Dark Sky Parks and three International Dark Sky Communities, including Mesa Verde National Park that received its International Dark Skies Park designation in April 2021, the 100th Park to receive this honor. Colorado Stargazing: Experience the Night Tour maps out specific locations around the state known for their dark skies and connects them for a magical, once-in-a-lifetime road trip. The tour, which is considered to be the first of its kind nationwide, highlights rural communities, lesser-known parks and isolated mountain towns. New for 2021, get your pod together and make a reservation for a private star party at the Smokey Jack Observatory in Westcliffe. For those who can’t make it to Westcliffe, you can still experience their dark skies through a virtual star party. Just one mile west of La Veta is the Southern Colorado Astronomical Park, a crossroads of ancient and modern astronomy, including a stone calendar and two observatory structures.
- Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center to Be the Most Sustainable High Altitude Structure in the Country: The new 38,000-square-foot Pikes Peak Summit Complex will include a newly designed and reconstructed Summit Visitor Center, elevating the experience for visitors who summit Pikes Peak via car, bicycle, foot or rail. A top priority of the new building is caring for the summit’s environment. Various design features work to preserve the natural state of the mountain while also accommodating visitors. For example, the elevated exterior walkways allow for the recovery of the summit’s fragile tundra ecosystem. The project is also striving to become the first Living Building Challenge-certified project in Colorado with sustainable design aspects focused on energy, building materials, resilience, site ecology, site water and wastewater. It also aims to achieve net-zero energy, net-zero waste and net-zero water consumption and is designed to save more than 350,000 gallons of water per year over the past system.
- Walking Mountains Science Center, Avon: Walking Mountains Science Center provides locals and visitors from Pre-K to gray with opportunities to explore nature, gain scientific understanding, and learn about the many wonders of the mountain environment through natural science and sustainability programs. Walking Mountains envisions a future where everyone understands the science of nature and is inspired to take action as an environmental steward.
Give Back to Colorado:
- 1% for Trails, Cañon City: Fremont Adventure Recreation (FAR) began the 1% for Trails program in 2016 as a method of creating a substantial and sustainable funding source for trail systems in the Royal Gorge Region. This program is tailored for each participating business, allowing customers to opt-in or opt-out. Donations are designated by FAR for trail building and maintenance programs.
- Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP): OSMP Volunteer Services provides programs, projects and events to community members and organizations year-round. OSMP connects with the community through offering many opportunities for people to give back to the land in meaningful ways.
- Colorado Fourteeners Initiative: Colorado is endowed with 58 mountains whose peaks rise at least 14,000 feet above sea level — more than any other state in the continental U.S. The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative is a nonprofit, volunteer-dependent organization that helps restore and maintain the trails and fragile plant life. Volunteer vacations range from three-day trail builds while camping near the work site to wildflower-seed collection, where the seeds from native flowers will be used to repopulate barren trails.
- Colorado Mountain Bicycle Association (COMBA): COMBA is dedicated to building new singletrack trails and helping land managers maintain current trails. COMBA started out as the Trail Conservation Services in 1991 maintaining trails, and to this day building and maintaining trails is one of their main goals.
- Copper’s Play It Forward Wednesdays: Through a Play It Forward Wednesdays program, Copper donates $5 per discounted lift ticket purchased online, in advance on Wednesdays throughout the season to 13 different non-profit partners. This is a great opportunity for guests to take advantage of mid-week discounted lift tickets while also helping to raise money for well-deserving organizations throughout Colorado.
- Friends of Breckenridge Trails: The Friends of Breckenridge Trails offers a way to provide a helping hand in the upkeep of fragile habitats, open spaces, and trail systems unique to Breckenridge. Through vital volunteer efforts offered throughout the summer, open spaces, trails, historic sites, and ecologically sensitive areas are maintained and restored, thereby creating fun opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and abilities to make a unique memory and give back.
- Friends of Twin Lakes, Inc. (FOTL): FOTL is a non-profit organization focused on preserving the area’s many historically significant aspects and working with the Forest Service and local governments to build and maintain trails in southern Lake County. Visitors can volunteer and also donate.
- Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Vacation with CBGTrails: Visitors to Gunnison-Crested Butte most likely arrive via a car or plane that burns fossil fuels. Through a new program unique to the Gunnison Valley, travelers can now offset the environmental impact of their trips by tracking a ride, hike or run on the CBGTrails app. For every carbon-free mile reported, there will be an offset of 22 pounds of carbon. It’s easy and free. Download CBGTrails to get started! https://gunnisoncrestedbutte.com/carbon/
- Rocky Mountain Field Institute: Rocky Mountain Field Institute actively engages thousands of community volunteers every year through the completion of trail and restoration projects that help conserve and protect the state’s treasured public landscapes.
- Steamboat’s Taking Care of 2A Trails: Resident riders and trail-focused guests to Steamboat Springs continue to benefit from new trails created using public funding from Initiative 2A. Steamboat Springs’ officials recently introduced new “donation stations” — refurbished parking meters with credit card readers — at 11 popular local trailheads, as well as a portable station on wheels for local events. The stations give visitors and locals a simple way to support the maintenance of local trails. Look for stations at these 2A Trails: Spring Creek in the Buffalo Pass area, and NPR and Wild Rose on Emerald Mountain.
- Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC): Since 1984, VOC has been motivating and enabling people to become active stewards of Colorado’s natural resources. VOC works with conservation and land agencies and relies on thousands of people annually to provide a volunteer workforce for outdoor stewardship projects.
- We Don’t Waste, Colorado: We Don’t Waste is a Colorado non-profit with a dual focus: keeping perishable food out of landfills and delivering food to feed the hungry. The organization has grown to a full staff and a fleet of refrigerated trucks, recovering more than 144 million servings of perishable food from grocery stores, caterers, restaurants, stadiums and meal prep services and delivering to local agencies.
- Wildlands Restoration Volunteers: Wildlands Restoration Volunteers is a nonprofit organization that provides an opportunity for people to come together, learn about their natural environment, and take direct action to restore and care for the land.
- Badger Creek Ranch, Canon City: Badger Creek Ranch raises grass-fed, grass-finished beef and lamb and pasture-raised pork and poultry. They also offer seasonal guest lodging and teach horsemanship. They believe that sustainable agriculture means being responsible stewards of the land and are part of a coalition of ranchers and public agencies working to regenerate the Badger Creek Headwaters watershed that flows into the Arkansas river — undoing the damage from the poor land use practices of the past by taking steps to reduce soil erosion and restore ecological vigor and diversity to this brittle grassland environment. Carefully managed grazing practices, symbiotic with rangeland health, play a central role.
- C Lazy U Ranch, Granby: Colorado’s premier luxury guest ranch, C Lazy U, serves as each guest’s private national park with 8,500 acres of adventure. Working in tandem with The Nature Conservancy to ensure lasting protection of the Great American West and its wild nature, C Lazy U Ranch has placed an additional 1,221 acres under permanent easement as of 2020. Actively advocating for environmental friendliness, the ranch sources all of its water from nearby Mount Baldy’s natural springs. Guests are also given a reusable water bottle upon check-in to encourage drinking of the fresh water and eliminate plastic waste. Another sustainable initiative at the ranch is reclaiming beetle kill lumber found onsite to renovate wood floors in guest cabins and build beautiful wood accent pieces.
- Monarch Casino, Black Hawk: Sustainable initiatives have always been at the forefront of Monarch Casino Resort Spa’s brand-new $390 million luxury expansion. One that’s unique and exciting to Black Hawk is the in-progress creation of a monarch butterfly habitat across Monarch’s property. In partnership with the Butterfly Pavilion, and as finishing touches to construction end on the resort’s expansion, the focus will turn to planting a butterfly sanctuary with butterfly-friendly flowers. Monarch Casino offers electric vehicle charging stations for guests. Inside, Monarch Casino Resort Spa is proud to continue its industry-leading sustainability efforts with the installation of state-of-the-art Vivreau water systems using on-site water to produce great-tasting still or carbonated water for Monarch’s guests, eliminating nearly all single-use plastics.
- The Pad, Silverthorne: A boutique hotel/hostel opening this summer is on track to becoming Colorado’s first B Corp-certified lodging property. Constructed with up-cycled shipping containers and a commitment to the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit, The Pad was recently certified as a pending B Corp with plans of achieving the full B Corp certification next year. Widely recognized as the gold standard for sustainability in business, B Corp businesses, like The Pad, Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia, are committed to practicing the highest social and environmental standards. The Pad’s team incorporated sustainable building techniques, committed to composting, selected a restaurant partner who serves Colorado-grown and -raised food, purchased eco-friendly, sustainable products, expanded their bar program to serve wine, cocktails and kombucha on tap along with craft beer and made the decision to use their business as a force for good.
- SCP Hotel, Colorado Springs: Standing for Soul, Community, Planet, SCP Hotel was born out of a vision to help make the world a better place by serving those who value personal wellness, social good and the environment. SCP merges earth-friendly and socially responsible practices with modern, clean lodging accommodations and nutritious ‘vegan-forward’ food choices. They also give trees back to the forests through their "Every Stay Does Good" program.
- St. Julien Hotel & Spa, Boulder: An industry leader in sustainability, St Julien Hotel & Spa employs a dedicated in-house “Green Team” who sets and achieves various environmental goals, including minimizing overall waste and utilizing eco-friendly products and practices, while each of the hotel’s outlets — from spa to dining — offer a variety of vegan and plant-based treatments, dishes and cocktails.
- The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Avon: The Westin is proud to be Colorado’s first LEED Silver certified hotel. Featuring Tesla EV charging stations, summer guests can rent bikes from the resort’s on-site Beaver Creek Sports (path bikes, trailers and kids bikes available) to explore the 40-mile Eagle River trail that runs directly in front of the resort. After a fun Vail Valley day, relax in The Westin Riverfront’s saline-based outdoor pool and three infinity hot tubs. At dinner in Maya, enjoy modern Mexican dishes featuring fresh produce harvested from the resort’s on-site garden.
- Weston Pass Hut, Leadville: Those seeking a unique off-grid overnight experience should check out the Weston Pass hut, set at 11,950’. This remote escape is built with locally harvested and milled beams and an earth-covered, naturally insulated tundra roof. Hikes from this high perch look out to the tops of the Sawatch and Mosquito ranges, including Colorado’s two highest peaks, showcasing Mother Earth’s splendor.
- Zapata Ranch, Mosca: Zapata Ranch is owned by The Nature Conservancy and managed by Ranchlands in a partnership model that emphasizes environmental conservation practices. Located on the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley, the ranch borders the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Home to a conservation herd of bison that run in a single 50,000 acre pasture, the ranch also runs a herd of Angus mother cows. Additionally, the ranch has a 17-bedroom lodge that welcomes guests from around the world to learn about ranching’s role in preserving and protecting these natural landscapes.
ABOUT COLORADO: Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine and 28 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state's breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 12 national parks and monuments, 26 scenic and historic byways and 58 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet. For more information or a copy of the 2021 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide, visit www.COLORADO.com or call 1-800 COLORADO.
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