The Wild But Mild Centennial State is Ready For You
Adding a punch of color and flavor to everything it touches, chile verde is a quintessential food in Colorado. Burgers, salads, tacos — you name it — it’s pretty likely you’ll find this spicy addition sprinkled on top.
Depending on who you ask, there’s a level of kitschiness that accompanies the Colorado green chile craze — but all it takes is one visit to the Centennial State to see that mildly spicy, green, and Colorado are indeed a combo worth talking about.
Equal parts savor and spice, Colorado green chile won’t have you begging the waiter for a glass of milk to cool off. Instead, it adds just the right punch to your food, bringing out the flavors of whatever is on your plate, and probably leaving you wanting another bite.
The entire state of Colorado does just that to those who cross its borders: it invites you in warmly to explore, pulls out your sense of adventure, and instantly inspires you to come back for more.
Find Your Spice
Many people say indulging and living a healthy lifestyle are opposites, but that’s not so in Colorado. Walking the streets, you’ll find people who live out their passions every day before breakfast.
“Colorado lives a healthy lifestyle — meaning lots of outdoor activities, healthy eating habits, dry air, less humidity for comfortable summer living, and in the winter, some of the best fluff powder skiing,” said Susan Smilanic who was born and raised in Colorado and spent the last 12 years in Durango.
The Glacier Club in southwest Colorado’s Durango is a prime example of indulgence and health uniting. A luxury golf community nestled in the San Juan Mountains, it has 36 holes on two golf courses, perched perfectly in 1,000 acres of the San Juan Forest.
But, golf isn’t the only reason residents gravitate toward Glacier. Trails for hiking and horseback riding, luxury dining opportunities, and an emphasis on an active lifestyle transform every day into an adventure here.
“It’s an escape, a calling. There’s a reason why so many visitors come to Durango and never leave,” said Erin Allen, a Colorado resident who resides at Glacier.
“You’ve never really known how much you need to live here until you’ve passed through, and then it’s all you can think about,” Allen said.
Adventure is Limitless
Colorado has activities for all skill levels and seasons. In the summer, try mountain biking, road biking, paddle boarding, wind surfing, water skiing, jet skiing, or climbing one of the many 13,000- to 14,000-foot peaks. Go rock climbing, golfing, backpacking, jeeping, rafting, zip lining, horseback riding, or taking history tours of old mines.
In the winter, the adventure continues. Of course, snow sport lovers rejoice in Colorado. Go alpine skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling. Try ice climbing, ice skating, sledding, hockey, or even broomball.
“People relocating to Colorado are looking for something else, whether it’s adventure, to explore the outdoors, to have the best of all seasons, or even to simply try something different. You become your own explorer or daredevil. Why yes, you need that mountain bike/snowboard/snowshoes/skis/snowboard. Bag your first 14er? [14,000 ft. mountain] No problem!” Allen laughed.
A few famous ways to deep-dive into the wild side in Southwest Colorado:
1. Explore Mother Nature in the National Parks and Forests
If all things high-up and way-out pique your interest, then you’re probably already aware that Colorado is for you. From the Sierras to the Rockies, nowhere you stand is without a mountain vista backdrop to gaze upon.
“Granted, Colorado isn’t the only mountainous region in the United States, but there is just something special about the blue skies and awe-inspiring peaks Colorado boasts. In the state alone, there are 11 national forests and 42 national wilderness areas,” Allen said.
2. Snow, snow, snow — for skiing and more
From Aspen and Vail to Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge, there’s no shortage of slopes in Colorado. But, southwest Colorado’s ski scene brings a sense of community.
“There are six ski areas within a couple hours of driving, for all levels of skiers. Purgatory Resort, Silverton backcountry, Silverton Mountain, Kendall Mountain, Wolf Creek, and Telluride,” said Smilanic.
3. Ice climbing in Ouray
Only an hour and a half drive from Durango is the town of Ouray, CO. Climbers from around the world make the trek to Ouray Ice Park to experience the awe-inspiring ice. With snowy winters and world-class peaks, it only makes sense that Colorado provides an oasis of ice that’s made to be climbed with an axe and a pick.
4. Have a brew
While green chile is a staple, Colorado’s a foodie haven for other reasons: craft brews and healthy eats. When you’re in Colorado, a Coors isn’t what you ask for — there are more than 350 breweries to grab a cold craft beer from instead. As the state with the third highest concentration of craft breweries, it’s hard to walk a block and not find a place to sit and have a pint. Try the Rue B. Soho Grapefruit Lager or the Rudie Session IPA at Ska Brewing.
5. Eat some green chile
Finally, you’ll have to eat some green chile to really experience the zest of life while you’re visiting Colorado (or staying for good). From August to September, the chili cook-offs begin. The largest is the Chile and Frijoles Festival, located in Pueblo, CO. For green chile in Durango, head to Carver Brewing for their legendary green chile served in a warm bread bowl.
Just like a spoonful of green chile, Durango’s spice and adventure will leave you wanting more.