It’s no secret that Colorado has seen a boom in tourism since marijuana became legal for recreational use last year. While the law has succeeded in virtually every measurable way, headlines referencing Colorado have been saturated with stories about the pot boom. If you’ve noticed, you may think that recreational marijuana is all the state’s got going for it.
It’s hard to think of legalization as anything more than a small piece of the pie as the clouds roll in, gently grazing the rounded tops of the foothills before spattering my neighborhood with brief afternoon showers. I spark a bowl, grateful that my morning bike ride was spent basking in the area’s typical sunshine, 300 days of the stuff in any given year.
I try to get out and ride every day, and I’m never alone. Colorado has the lowest rate of obesity in the nation according to americashealthrankings.org. The state’s countless state parks, trail systems, waterways and bike paths are well preserved and funded. Rock climbers navigate tricky routes up sheer faces, while below kayakers pitch and roll down torrential streams fed by melting snow high in the Rockies.
The vast wilderness areas West of the foothills, far from the noise and stress emanating from the cities hugging the front range, are my particular escape. I’d rather spend a night setting up my tent beside a glassy ice-fed lake miles from civilization, but I’m no stranger to a Saturday night downtown, either.
Denver’s nightlife, not far from the starry tranquility of the looming peaks, is a different narrative entirely. I won’t lie and pretend that downtown is all glimmering lights and sterile streets. The clubs downtown are regularly packed with a mix of college kids and party-scene lifers. Even the more seedy neighborhoods are regularly overrun by partiers from every walk of life. It’s no secret, people here play hard.
Colorado’s growing number of young professionals work hard too. Thanks to a climate conducive to start ups and new businesses, skills here are rewarded. Despite an unfavorably high unemployment rate, the economic side of Colorado is brimming with unique and creative entrepreneurs. While finding a job flipping burgers may be more challenging here than in the midwest, out-of-the box thinkers won’t find trouble finding rewarding work.
I don’t blame people for coming out here to check out the recreational dispensaries. The legalization of pot in Colorado and Washington was no doubt a historic move, and people all over the world are traveling here to get a taste. If you came here to take a puff of the green stuff, don’t let the smoke blind you. Visit the mountains, and go far enough to leave the lights of civilization behind, even if for a few hours. Then go downtown. Take it all in, and remember that smoking pot is only as fun as what you do afterwards.