This blog is the second in a 3-part series about responsible travel, and how to be good stewards of the places we visit.
Let’s get down to brass taxes: you’re visiting Golden because it’s special. And what makes it special is that so much of the landscape is unmarred by human hands. That’s rare these days, and since you don’t want yours to be the hands that mar it, we’ve put together some helpful tips on how to tread lightly while still finding the adventure you seek.
- The first thing to know is that Golden is surrounded by six national parks. Count ’em, six! Be aware that environmental stewardship isn’t just good and respectful practice while in the parks, it’s the law. You cannot, for example, ride your bike in some places, fly drones, pick flowers, bring fossils home, or even just camp overnight unannounced. We know it sounds crazy, but doing any of these could get you a fine or even a court date. So that you can breathe easy while out on the trail, check out the rules here.
- Even when outside of the parks, the age-old adage holds true: pack it in, pack it out. In simpler terms, don’t litter. But go beyond that and also leave as little mark as you can. Sure, your apple core decomposes, but not before attracting a bear, for example. It didn’t come from there, so it doesn’t belong there. Leave the places you visit as you found them, so wildlife, and the next visitors can find them that way too. Whenever feasible, leave no trace.
- Especially in the alpine, where the landscape opens right up, it’s tempting to step off the trail. But mountain flora is delicate and sensitive. It takes moss and heather generations to grow in those elevated environments, so it’s best to avoid treading where your footsteps could leave years-long imprints. As much as possible, stay on the trail.
- Golden is full of like-minded souls seeking peace and adventure in the wild. Be considerate, and socially responsible, even when free from the shackles of society. Give people space, and save Ricky Martin’s greatest hits for the car ride home, as opposed to blaring them across an alpine lake. It’s important to let other people experience the wild on their own terms, and vice-versa.
On that same note, help keep others out of danger by keeping yourself safe. If you get in a pickle, that means someone else (a passerby, or even a volunteer search-and-rescue member) will have to come to help you, and likely put themselves in danger. Remember, your decisions don’t only impact your own safety. Research and be familiar with the adventure you undertake—make sure you have the appropriate clothing, footwear, gear, and knowledge. On longer adventures, always pack more. Would you rather need it and not have it, or have it and not need it? This includes food, water, and sunscreen. Make sure to check in with your whole group to make sure everyone’s covered.
Now go forth and enjoy, and stride a little easier knowing you’re helping to keep these places special for years to come.