Colorado is part of the western United States, and is divided into four regions: the Great Plains in the east, the Rocky Mountains in the west, the Colorado Plateau in the west, and the Intermontane Basin north of the Colorado Plateau. Colorado is often thought of as the “mountain state” because its mean elevation is higher than any other state, at 6,800 feet above sea level. Five different mountain ranges make up the Colorado Mountains, and Colorado is home to 13 national parks, 12 national natural landmarks, and 21 national historic landmarks.
Colorado draws a large amount of tourists during both the summer and the winter months because of its incredible range of outdoor recreational activities. These include skiing and snowboarding, ice-skating, fishing, rock climbing and white water rafting. The capital city of Denver is a blossoming young city, blending the best of modernity and history. Major establishments, such as the airport, baseball stadium, amusement park, and light-rail system embody the perfect combination of city life and natural open space.
Folk, bluegrass and traditional American music has been an important part of Colorado culture in the last century, but you can find smaller electronic, indie rock and underground hip-hop scenes in Denver and Boulder.
Photo: Oliver Correa, The HiFi Cartel
- How do I get to Colorado? How do I get around once I'm there?
- What do I need to know about money?
- Do I need a Visa?
- What is the climate like?
- What are business hours?
- What are some laws that I should be aware of?
- What are some local customs that I should be aware of?
- Anything else I need to know?
How do I get to Colorado? How do I get around once I'm there?
Denver International Airport is the most convenient airport to fly into, especially if you are travelling internationally. From there, you can connect to smaller local airports in other regions of Colorado. Colorado has an abundance of smaller airports spread across the state so localized air travel is fairly easy, but not always cheap.
Amtrak provides service to and from other major American cities, which can take a long time; however, due to the natural beauty of the state, many scenic and historic train options are also available for travel within the state for the simple enjoyment of the diverse scenery.
Within Denver, the light-rail system functions quite well for local travel. If you feel that a high level of mobility will be necessary at your destination, renting a car is your best option. For winter mountain travel make sure you go with 4-wheel drive or an SUV.
What do I need to know about money?
Most major American and international banks have a strong presence throughout Colorado, therefore, it is unlikely that you will have a problem finding an ATM when you require cash. Many places accept major credit cards.
Tipping is standard practice across America. In city restaurants, tipping 15% of the bill is the minimum expected, and high-end restaurants expect around 20%. Bartenders expect $1 per drink. Taxi drivers and hairdressers expect 10% to 15%. Skycaps at airports and porters at nice hotels expect $1 a bag or so.
Do I need a Visa?
Entry requirements for the United States continue to evolve as the country fine-tunes its national security guidelines. Everyone should double-check current visa and passport regulations before planning a trip. In general, the US Department of State is a good place to start if you are unsure of your status. Most Canadian citizens and many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can come to the United States without a visa if they meet certain requirements. All Visa Waiver Program travelers must present a machine-readable passport at the U.S. port of entry to enter the US without a visa; otherwise a U.S. visa is required. CLICK HERE for more information about the Visa Waiver Program with a list of participating countries.
Please note that all travelers eligible to visit the US under the Visa Waiver Program must now obtain approval before they travel through the US' Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is an online system run by the US government, determining the preliminary eligibility of visitors to travel under the Visa Waiver Program, prior to setting out. Take a look at the ESTA website for more information.
What is the climate like?
Colorado has a cool and dry but invigorating climate, with large seasonal swings in temperature and large day-to-night changes. Summers are quite hot, while winters are cold, with massive quantities of snow falling in the mountain regions. Because of the high elevation, humidity is generally low, which means that even the hottest of summer days can be comfortable. The thin mountain atmosphere allows a large amount of sun penetration, causing pleasant daytime conditions, even during the winter. This also leads to a higher likelihood of sunburns, so be sure to wear sunscreen.
What are business hours?
Most stores and restaurants keep standard business hours that remain fairly uniform across the United States. General business hours are typically Monday through Saturday 10am to 6pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm. Malls usually stay open until around 9pm, Monday through Saturday. Bars are open until 2am, and most liquor stores are closed on Sundays.
What are some laws that I should be aware of?
Liquor is only available in designated liquor stores and licensed grocery and drug stores. Though the drinking age is 21, a parent or guardian can give permission to a minor to drink on private property under their supervision.
Medical marijuana is legal, and the possession of a small amount of marijuana by the general population has been decriminalized. Possession of an ounce or less is considered a petty offense and the maximum penalty is a $100 fine.
What are some local customs that I should be aware of?
Colorado is a naturally beautiful and mountainous state, and the locals are very fond of outdoor sports and recreational activities. This is not the place to strut around in your stiletto heels or wear that expensive white button down. Jeans, bulky sweaters, and naturally wild hair are what you should expect to see on the street.
Anything else I need to know?
The people of Colorado love their planet, so make sure you treat it with respect. Don?t litter, make a point of recycling, and take advantage of all the great organic and vegetarian food. The locals ? and your conscience ? will thank you.