So you want to be a Coloradan: 5 ways to blend in

Red+rocks

Collegian | Dylan Tusinski

Concertgoers dance in the stands of Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre during a Bob Weir concert June 8, 2021.

Ivy Secrest, Life and Culture Director

Welcome to Colorado: sun, snow and the great outdoors. It certainly is a paradise seen in about every “van life” TikTok and outdoor influencer Instagram account that exists. 

Over the past decade, the popularity of Colorado has increased, but that hasn’t changed the culture of the state. If anything, once you arrive, you’ll want to dive right into it. 

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Whether you’re here for the snow, the mountain biking, the music scene or even legalized cannabis, you likely immediately noticed the quintessential Colorado things. From a local’s perspective, here are five things that make up a true Coloradan.

1. Get a mile high (at least)

The highest elevation in Colorado is Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet, and Denver is famously a mile high. That means as soon as you arrive in colorful Colorado, you’ll notice the lack of oxygen. If you’re here long enough, you’ll adapt, but initially, you may be susceptible to altitude sickness.

While extreme sports and chasing higher elevations are absolutely the norm out here, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. Hydrate, and allow yourself time to adjust. Eventually you’ll get to brag about not struggling to breathe at such heights, but for now, you’ll have to acknowledge Colorado exists in a harsh climate, and you may not be an exception to its impact. 

2. Be a sucker for Subarus

In order to chase those highs, you’ll need transportation, and the only acceptable car to drive through the Rockies is a Subaru. The staple car of Colorado, Subarus are built for the outdoors and somehow have been adopted as low-key official Colorado cars. You’re probably seeing more of them than you ever have before, and that’s likely because Colorado is truly an all-weather state, which Subaru markets well.

3. Adopt a weather complex

Speaking of all-weather: Yes, Colorado does have it all, and yes, it is now your official duty to talk about it all the time. Raining? We needed this. Snowing? A powder day is basically a state holiday. Sunny out? That’s right, you should get 300 days of doing everything outside. Don’t like the weather? Wait 20 minutes — it’ll change. The mark of a true Coloradan is making weather an integral part of your personality. You’ve seen it all before, and you’ll love it all (except wind, obviously — no one likes wind).

4. Find fashionable, functional footwear

With all that sunshine, it’s more than necessary to have some solid outdoor shoes, and for those, the official Colorado recommendations are Tevas or Chacos. Whichever you choose, choose wisely, and you must commit. Whichever brand you pick, you’ll have to be fiercely loyal to because as a Coloradan, you know best about outdoor gear (but seriously, hiking in sandals just cannot be beaten).

5. Get on the rocks

Two words: Red Rocks. A destination spot for concerts, day hikes, yoga, movies and comedy shows — any time of day, any activity — it all happens at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. It’s hard not to instantly fall in love with this marker of Colorado pride. Your first Red Rocks experience is life-changing. Even if you’re just visiting to experience the complete homogenization of all Colorado culture, you’ve got to go. 

Now that you know what all the hype is about and how to blend in, go experience it all. Even if you stand out like a sore thumb, Coloradans are relatively kind and welcoming people. Just do your best to have fun, and you’ll do just fine.

Reach Ivy Secrest at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.