Colorful Colorado! One of the most beautiful states in the United, in my opinion, welcomes you on your travels. Here at Go Explore It, we often meet travellers from out of state who sometimes get caught out by our varied terrain, wildlife and the infamous Colorado weather, so we made this handy guide so you can stay comfortable and enjoy your trip in it’s entirity.
There is a local saying in Colorado…in times of bad weather, we say “wait 10 minutes or travel 10 miles, it will change”. I love this saying, as I love change…it’s the only constant in our lives, and is certainly the constant here in Colorado. On a recent, one night solo trip to the Upper Colorado River, the weather changed so much in a 20 minute period, that I had added and subtracted multiple layers, pulled out the poncho, put sun block on and made a campfire…and when all the weather systems converged, I simultaneously had a raging fire, blazing sunshine, snowfall and a rainbow over my head!
So, to prepare for your visit, I have made a little list of all the things that we locals take for granted out here, and what might save the day during your visit!
1. Weather: The key word here is “CHANGEABLE”…especially at elevation! The forecast may be scorching skies in the 90’s, but one dark cloud, high wind, or swiftly moving storm can make the temperature feel 10 degrees (or more!) cooler. Also, a hot day can quickly turn into a cool evening. When the sun goes down, you will want to take a moment to change into your outside, night time gear before you catch a chill. Pack accordingly.
2. Underlayers (top & bottom!) – these are a set of clothes that go immediately against your skin, ie. the underlayer, over which, you put on your normal clothes. Wool or specific synthetic underlayers are most widely used and come in a variety of densities. If you are visiting at the peak of summer, you probably won’t need these during the day, but may appreciate them at night. Choose a lighter density. If you can, go for quality, as a good pair of underlayers should last you many years and many adventures.
3. Day time vs night time vs sleepytime clothing – this next one really comes into play during the spring, fall and especially the winter months, and is more important if you are using a roof top tent vs an enclosed vehicle, or if you are involved in any activities that may involve getting wet like rafting, kayaking, or just playing by the water. You sweat during the day, and that sweat stays in your clothing (depending on the day time weather, some of it may evaporate) and once the day turns to night, that moisture next to your skin, plus the cooler air temperature will wick heat away from your body. I like to keep my daytime clothes seperate from my nighttime layers for this reason. In the morning, if the weather allows, air out your night time clothes for a few hours and pack them away from moisture for the next night.
4. Tops n Tails – This lil nugget was given to me by an unremebered source, yet I use it all the time, even the summer. I’ll keep it simple! Invest in a good pair of socks and a hat. Again, wool or wool blends are my favorite option, but theres plenty to choose from out there. Keeping your head and feet warm, even if you skimp on the underlayers, will help you remain comfortable throughout a cooler evening.
5. Fire Restrictions – unfortunately, wildfires occur in Colorado. Counties may enact any number of fire restrictions at any time to prevent them from happening. There are different levels of restrictions and we encourage you to check this website for the latest updates by county. With or without restrictions, you are responsible for any fire that you start whilst on your adventure…please check out this excellent post we made on how to start, maintain, and put out a fire safely, as well as some fire tips and tricks!
6. Don’t feed the bears (or the elk, or the mooses and mouses!) – Colorado has some wildlife, that’s for sure! Have you ever been up close with a bull Bison? Good! They are HUGE! But don’t fear, being prepared, staying present and knowing how to act around our animals should keep you safe and able to enjoy any (correctly distanced) encounter you might have. But every year here, tourists get in trouble by trying to interact with these, and our other beautiful beasts.
I hope that you found this article useful, or at least enjoyed some of the video links! Be Respectful, be aware, and enjoy your adventures…..onward my friends! To the mountains.