Celebrate Earth Day with these events and sustainable family travel fun
posted by: Guest Blogger
With four national parks, eight national monuments, 41 state parks, 960 wildlife species and 6,000 miles of rivers, the numbers don’t lie: The great outdoors is Colorado’s calling card, and residents and visitors alike agree it’s worth protecting. Travelers looking to honor our planet on Earth Day and beyond are encouraged to join the movement in colorful Colorado by participating in Earth Day events as well as experiencing the state’s sustainable travel offerings, programs and events throughout the year. For more information, visit www.Colorado.com.
Celebrate Earth Day in these Colorado communities:
Earth Day Celebration, April 20, 2019, Arapahoe Basin – Join A-Basin’s Green Team for an Earth Day Party with partners Darn Tough and Clif Bar. The event encourages carpooling, and the first several hundred people to arrive with three or more people in their car will receive great prizes. Activities include an on-mountain scavenger hunt and an après ski party.
10th Annual Earth Day Festival, April 21, 2019, Durango – Presented by Durango Nature Studies, this family-friendly event provides an afternoon of fun including a family march, a “litter hunt” along the Animas River Trail, kayak races, live music and booths highlighting environmental organizations and service providers.
Rhino Week, April 22-28, RiNo Arts District, Denver – This April, the RiNo Art District will pay homage to its animal namesake, the rhinoceros. Together with the non-profit Global Conservation Corps (GCC), RiNo is hosting the first-ever Rhino Week during the week of Earth Day to raise awareness of and funds for rhino conservation.
The week’s events include a kick-off celebration and silent auction; a screening of the documentary film RHINO MAN; an animal-focused art safari; a panel discussion with local conservation and wildlife experts; a fundraising specialty beer release; a DRiNk RiNo bar “stampede” and a community mural project and block party. The funds from the week’s events will benefit ongoing initiatives of the GCC, which aims to conserve wildlife and empower local communities.
Earth Week, April 22-28, 2019, Montrose – Each spring the City of Montrose sponsors and coordinates a full schedule of Earth Week activities. The week-long celebration encourages the community to reconnect with nature and includes spring clean-up, a water conservation challenge, coloring contest for the kids, an Earth Day rally and an informative session on Bicycle Commuting 101.
Earth Day Celebration, April 27, 2019, Lakewood – This free community event celebrates sustainability and increasing awareness of environmental issues. The celebration includes a recycling drive, live music, fitness classes, a beer garden, e-bike demos and activities for the kids. The celebration also includes the annual Bear Creek Lake Park Volunteer Project.
Great American Cleanup, April 27, 2019, Colorado Springs – American Cleanup, which marks its 21st year in 2019, engages more than 3.4 million volunteers and participants, on average, every year to create a positive and lasting impact. The Great American Cleanup/Pikes Peak Partners is a coalition consisting of multiple regional partners. Last year, more than 400 volunteers collected refuse at local parks, trails, creeks, roads, and town centers. The coalition encourages civic organizations, churches, scout groups, school groups, and individuals to participate in 2019 as it gives the Pikes Peak Wonders region a “spring cleaning.”
Explore these sustainable travel opportunities and programs across Colorado:
Access geothermal energy in Pagosa Springs – Pagosa Springs is home to the Guinness World Record’s certified, world’s deepest geothermal hot spring aquifer that benefits much more than the town’s recreation. In 1982, the town constructed a geothermal system that now heats many downtown businesses, keeps sidewalks clear of snow during the winter, and has been tapped for heat in the brewing process by Riff Raff Brewing Company. The geothermal waters of Pagosa Springs provide everything from relaxation to craft beer.
Advocate with Aspen Center for Environmental Studies – Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES), a nonprofit environmental science education organization, works to increase environmental awareness and spreads its message daily in the Roaring Fork Valley elementary schools and beyond. ACES offers a variety of public programming including snowshoe tours, guided hikes, tours of local farms, and programs specially designed for young environmentalists.
Delve into the Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley, Westcliffe – With dark skies being so important to the health of our ecosystem, there has been a great push to preserve them by adopting practices like reducing light pollution and educating communities about the impact of light pollution. In the Pikes Peak Wonders region, the community of Westcliffe/Silver Cliff was the state’s first Designated International Dark Skies Community and is the highest in the world. The best place to view the night sky is at the Smokey Jack Observatory in Westcliffe’s Bluff Park. While the observatory is available daily, the best days to visit are during the scheduled Star Parties, hosted by Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley.
Educate the whole family at Earth Mountain Education Farm, Trinidad – This 440-acre education center is located at the base of the Sangre De Cristos and is an ideal location for exploring the diverse flora and fauna abundant in the region. Earth Mountain integrates a working organic farm, renewable energy systems and camp facilities for the kids, to offer a wealth of learning opportunities.
Explore conservation by horseback at Sylan Dale Guest Ranch, Loveland – Located on 3,100 acres in the foothills of the Rockies, conservation is a primary value to the owners of Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. Much of Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch is protected through a series of conservation easement partnerships that began in 1999. These easements preserve important wildlife habitat, minerals and aesthetic values of the land near the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon. Sylvan Dale partners with local schools on conservation projects on its land, including a recent project to install a new water source for area wildlife.
Get off the grid at Badger Creek Ranch, Canon City – Badger Creek Ranch recognizes its responsibility to care for the land, which includes the grasses, soil, water and all animals that make the ranch their home—domestic and wild alike. The ranch practices holistic management, a process of decision making and planning designed to maintain and improve the health of the land for generations to come. Badger Creek Ranch is an off-the-grid property, meaning it relies solely on solar power for its energy use. The ranch composts all organic materials including manure from the animals and scraps from the kitchen. This compost is then reused as fertilizer for the ranch’s garden and hay meadows.
Give a Flake with Aspen Skiing Company – Last fall, Aspen Skiing Company launched its Give a Flake marketing and public engagement campaign completely built around climate action. Aspen urges visitors and outdoor and travel enthusiasts to send post cards to their elected officials demanding action on climate change and/or thanking officials who have been champions of climate legislation. Additionally, Aspen Skiing Company is committed to reducing carbon emissions and set a goal of using 70% renewable energy by 2030.
Participate in public programs at Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Gothic – The abandoned mining town of Gothic has been home to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) since 1928. The rich diversity of local ecosystems first attracted the founder of RMBL, Dr. John Johnson, and it now hosts a variety of public programs including bird surveys, bee workshops, geology and science tours and more.
Play Forever ® at Copper Mountain – Copper Mountain’s sustainability initiative, Play Forever®, is Copper’s commitment to doing all it can to protect the environment and inspire participation in adventure. Copper Mountain has recently added more efficient and environmentally friendly snowmaking and groomers; replaced shuttles with a Cobus fleet that reduces diesel fuel while increasing carrying capacity; and uses RFID technology that eliminates paper lift tickets with reloadable cards.
Ride around the USA’s most bike-friendly town, Fort Collins – Fort Collins is a well-established cycling community where bicycle commuting is a way of life and is a certified platinum Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. In 2018, People for Bikes named Fort Collins the Choice City for bicycling in the United States, beating out 480 cities for the top honor. People for Bikes examined ridership numbers, safety, network and reach of that network, and acceleration of infrastructure.
Track wildlife on the Colorado Birding Trail, Mystic San Luis Valley – Despite ecological challenges, the United States maintains a large bird population because of legislation designed to halt the decimating of their natural habitats. The Colorado Birding Trail, established by Colorado Parks and Wildlife in 2000, follows the Highway of Legends Scenic Byway and connects points rich with birds and wildlife. The Spanish Peaks Birding Trail—one of the state trail’s most popular sections, includes a variety of habitats and contains 20 sites that run the gamut of Colorado biodiversity. It leads through Walsenburg, Lathrop State Park, La Veta, Wahatoya Valley, Devil’s Stairsteps, Stonewall, Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area and more.
Try the shuttle at Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs – New this season, the Hanging Lake permit and shuttle system is now in place to protect the fragile ecosystem and provide visitors with high-quality experiences through education and interpretation at the Hanging Lake Welcome Center and along the trail. During the peak travel season, personal vehicles are no longer allowed to park at the trailhead of this popular hiking spot. A percentage of the fees collected for reservations will be reinvested into the long-term stewardship and sustainability of Hanging Lake. The implementation of the permit system and environmental education and interpretation program will help visitors play an active role in protecting the ecological health of Hanging Lake, improve the visitor experience and support the local tourism economy.
Vacation car-free in Breckenridge – The small mountain town of Breckenridge boasts metropolitan transportation amenities with the Breck Free Ride designed to move everyone around town absolutely free of charge and with ease – complete with an easy real-time app. Combined with lodging shuttles, when guests pledge to use no car when visiting, they help preserve Breckenridge’s historic charm by keeping traffic congestion and pollution at a minimum. Additionally, Breckenridge has made it even easier to get around on two wheels or by foot by redesigning pathways and sidewalks, installing brighter LED lights and adding more heated walkways across town.
Visit Vail, the first designated sustainable mountain town – Vail was designated a sustainable mountain resort by Sustainable Travel International, and is the first place in the world to be certified according to its Mountain IDEAL sustainable destination standards. Since the town’s founding in 1966, it has prioritized conservation projects including restoring the water quality of Gore Creek, adopting the Comprehensive Open Land Plan, and creating the 1% Real Estate Transfer Tax, which improves parks and open space for recreation opportunities. The Town of Vail has invested $2.4 million in energy-efficiency capital, signed a long-term virtual power purchase agreement to launch a new wind project and signed on to Xcel Energy’s Renewable Connect program to bring a new solar farm onto the grid in Colorado.
Volunteer with VOC – Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC), offers projects for the general public as well as customized youth and business group projects in trail construction and maintenance, invasive species management, habitat restoration, gardening and planting, forestry management, flood and fire restoration, recreational improvement and historic preservation. Joinable projects are across the state from the Pioneering Plains to Mountains & Mesas, and while work varies in type and difficulty level, all projects are fun, gratifying and address a critical stewardship need.
Attend these sustainable events in Colorado throughout the year:
National Park Week, April 20-28, 2019 – For one week each April, National Parks across the country team up with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to celebrate America’s treasures. National Park Week is a time to explore amazing places, discover stories of history and culture, help out, and find your park—including four right in Colorado—Rocky Mountain National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Mesa Verde National Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. To kick off National Park Week, all entrance fees are waived on Saturday, April 20.
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, July 5-14, 2019, Crested Butte- Known as the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado,” this festival celebrates the peak of wildflower season with hikes, garden tours, art workshops, photography classes, birding and butterfly watching and more. This annual festival’s mission is to advocate for the preservation and appreciation of wildflowers.
39th Annual Telluride Mushroom Festival, Aug. 15-18, 2019 – Telluride has hosted the quirky Mushroom Festival for over 30 years. Interests range from scientific to culinary, curiosity to investigative. Activities of the weekend include lectures by renowned experts, cooking with mushrooms, and guided hikes that focus on mushroom hunting and identification. The 2019 event will focus on “healing the mind and the planet.”
The Colorado Classic presented by VF Corporation, Aug. 22-25, 2019, Denver – This race is committed to becoming the greenest pro cycling race in North America with more than a dozen initiatives supporting energy efficiency, water conservation, resource management and sustainable transportation. The race’s green programs include purchasing carbon offsets for ground transportation; eliminating the sale of bottled water and providing free water fill stations; eliminating or reducing printed material, while using 100% recycled products where necessary; onsite recycling with mandatory vendor compliance; donation of unused food and beverage to a women’s shelter; and promotion of bicycling to the event with safe routes and free bike-rack parking.
Elk Rut, October, Estes Park – October is known as “Elktober” in Estes Park. Autumn marks mating (or rutting) season for elk and the hundreds that call the region home exhibit fascinating rituals this time of year. From ranger programming to backcountry horseback adventures, there are all sorts of ways to learn about these majestic critters. Just remember to help Colorado keep wildlife wild and maintain a respectful distance.
Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Festival, Nov. 9, 2019, Georgetown – This annual festival celebrates one of the biggest and oldest bighorn sheep herds in the state. This festival features wildlife programs, children’s activities, crafts, hikes, viewing tours and more.