“Pretty soon, if you want to see the unspoiled grandeur of Colorado you’ll have to go to Wyoming.” –Paul Garret in Centennial by James A. Michener, 1974
Colorado has been kind to me in many ways. Or, more particularly, the Colorado Front Range corridor where I’ve been since 1999.
Living here has allowed me to increase my outdoor skill set over the years. And I managed to develop a day job career that is in demand and gives me funds for what I enjoy doing in life. And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve made some deep friendships I cherish.
The Colorado Front Range is a place where I have access to outdoor pursuits while maintaining a middle-class lifestyle. And being able to share it with some people who have been part of my life now for almost twenty years.
Over the past decade or so, many other people have also grown to enjoy these attributes of where I live. Ninety-six percent of Colorado’s population growth is along this narrow corridor in which I live.
Which means anything within three or four hours radius of this general area is rather popular. Permits are being mandated, and shuttles are now required in many places.
Solitude can be found. The key is to look at the maps and find areas off the beaten path. And to go to popular areas in the off-season or even during mid-week with sufficient daylight.
No. The problem is not getting solitude.
It is getting to these places when, like everyone else, my time off is at very set intervals.
The trailheads are full. Sometimes making for difficult access to these pockets of nearby solitude. And the roads? Oh, the roads are a challenge.
The primary access points for leaving the Front Range Corridor are choked.
The I25 corridor going north and south is often busy in either direction on a Friday or weekend from Pueblo to Ft. Collins. This corridor is admittedly still the least busy of the three most important Front Range exit points.
I70 is just as busy during the summer, if not more so, as winter.
And 285? The population and use are larger than this (mainly) two-lane road can handle.
To quote the linked article that discussed I70, but could apply to most of the Colorado road system:
“It’s a system that was designed in the ’50s and built in the ’60s for a population that they thought would be about three million statewide in the ’80s,”
Which means on weekends and holidays? Well, it has become The Colorado RV & Boat Show.
I can’t take credit for coining this term. This term was shared with me by my friend Val. We met when she was working for the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. Val is a fellow East Coast native, also has a large, vocal, and colorful family, and has a similar sense of humor. I am forever grateful for her sharing this term with me.
The idea Val shared makes total sense. Think of any holiday or vacation traffic. What do you see? RVs and boats. 🙂
Obviously, there are more than just boats and RVs on the road during periods of congestion. But The Colorado SUV, Subaru, Pickup, Hybrid, and Sedan Show does not roll off the tongue quite as easy…
Crowds, traffic, and congestion. Three things that I can’t stand. So much so I turned around last Saturday as it would have taken twice the drive time. I would have been too frazzled to enjoy the initial part of my trip.
I found I need to avoid this phenomenon to enjoy my precious time off.
How to avoid The Colorado & RV Boat Show?
- Leave before 3 PM Friday or after 7 PM Friday. Fridays are my busiest day at work. So that option was not a good one last week. I should have left later in the evening, find a place to camp along the way, and then leave in the morning. I must confess I was beat, though. But I paid for it the following day. Having said that, this is the option that makes the most sense for me and the one I typically choose.
- Leave extremely early on Saturday. Around 5 AM or so. Another option I was too lazy/tired to do. But, again, I should know better.
- Pick an alternate day to start and return. Perhaps the second best idea of all. When I left Sunday and came home later Tuesday, the traffic was very thin. Not always an option as not everyone has the vacation time, flexible schedule, or willingness to burn a day off to avoid traffic.
- Hope the Broncos are in the Super Bowl every year! When the Broncos were in the Super Bowl a couple of seasons back, the traffic to and from the mountain areas along I70 was blissfully empty. I loved it! I do not follow football at all. But I will root for the Broncos and wish them godspeed on their Super Bowl quest. 🙂
- Go East. The High Plains are a place I truly enjoy. I would not want to go there in all seasons and for all trips. But in the early Spring or late Fall, I’ve found these areas to be delightful. And not attractive at all to most.
- Move. 🙂 As mentioned, most of Colorado’s rapid growth is in a thin corridor where I chose to call home. I am part of the problem. But I can be part of the solution and find elsewhere to live. Sure, many Front Rangers such as myself visit these mountain areas on weekends and holidays. But, again, it is not solitude I have trouble finding. It is accessing the trailheads and the traffic on the roads as I travel with my fellow weekend or holiday warriors. If I am where I want to be anyway, easy enough to avoid traffic. Or even drive somewhere else that is out of weekend range of my (former in the future?) fellow Front Rangers.
So that is The Colorado RV & Boat Show. If I stick to a conventional job and hour structure, I suspect I will see more of this phenomenon in the years ahead. We’ll see what the future brings…