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Sensi Magazine

Got to Get Away

Mar 06, 2019 05:59PM ● By Stephanie Wilson
You’re not slowly going mad while you’re going nowhere in rush hour whether that’s rush hour on your way back from the slopes on a Sunday evening, which is straight torture, or the typical stuck in traffic while trying to do the nine to five grind. Colorado is indeed more crowded than it used to be. In the decade since the last census, the population of the state is estimated to have grown exponentially, with some researchers putting that growth above 8 percent.

Colorado’s car culture can be a drag, especially when you’re trying to get anywhere during the oxymoronic “rush hour,” but the mountain views to the west of the sea of tailights clogging I-25 and all around on I-70 are emblematic reminders why so many people want to be here. This coming spring and summer, get away from the grind and immerse yourself in Colorado’s splendor.

Getting away from the city is good for you on a ton of different levels. Research has shown that people who live in cities may suffer more psychological stress than people who live in rural areas, with a higher  risk for anxiety and mood disorders. But don’t let that news stress you out you don’t need to move to the middle of nowhere Iowa for the sake of your health. There’s an all-natural antidote and it’s within easy reach especially in Colorado. Connect with nature.

Study after study has indicated that nature plays a vital role in human health and well-being, and connecting with it increases life satisfaction, vitality, and happiness and it reduces stress. Technology, however, increasingly disconnects us from it, and that’s not just bad for us; it’s bad for the environment.

An analysis of scientific research reviewed by San Diego State University’s Dr. Sara Unsworth found that contact with nature fosters not only individual happiness and well-being, it leads to environmentally responsible behavior. (Which can help combat our car culture.) When you’re surrounded by nature, you see the importance of it, of protecting it. Basically, if you spend some time in a forest, you may emerge a tree hugger. (Just ask so many of the transplants who move to Colorado from coastal cities and become hikers just like that.) And that’s the best kind of hugger there is.

Around here, you’ve got all sorts of trees to hug. I prefer the deciduous ones, but you do you. Just make sure you do it as often as you can. Use your vacation days. Fewer Americans left unused vacation days on the table in 2018 than in previous ears, but more than half of workers still did.

Much like connecting with nature, taking a vacation has been scientifically shown to have a ton of health benefits, from stress reduction and heart disease prevention to better sleep schedules. And that’s just any vacation. Imagine how good a vacation in the great outdoors is for your mind, body, and soul.

So basically you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t go camping this spring and/or summer. And now is the time to plan a getaway before it’s too late.

There are more than 3,900 campsites and 50 cabins and yurts located in Colorado State Parks alone. Campground amenities at many parks include restrooms, full electrical hookups, and shower facilities, and many parks offer campsites or cabins for large groups. Almost 300 campsites are ADA accessible, and the cabins and yurts offer comfortable alternatives to traditional camping all year round.

Not to mention, the national parks, state forests, private campgrounds, and other properties where you’re welcome to sleep in a tent, RV, or under the stars.

Start your search at HIPCAMP.COM (sorta like the Airbnb of campsites), which empowers people to share their land with campers. The site unlocks access to ranches, nature preserves, farms, vineyards, tipis, and public campgrounds across the US. You can book tent camping, treehouses, cabins, more yurts, Airstreams, tiny houses, RV-friendly spots, glamping tents, and more. The options are nearly as endless as the wilderness is wild.

Just wherever you go, go green. When it comes to travel, camping has one of the lightest ecological impacts, especially if you keep your consumerism in check and don’t go purchase a new everything before you head out into the woods. Consider renting gear from the likes of REI if you don’t already have all the tents, flashlights, and sleeping bags you need to stay comfortable. (I mean, do you really need to buy the solar-powered coffee grinder to ensure your ethically sourced beans are as fresh as possible when they go into your french press? Tree hugger.) Whatever you do, just be sure to follow those “leave no trace” principles and take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.

Now the only question to ask yourself is what kind of setting do you want to be in those pictures? Car camp by Grand Lake or in Rocky Mountain National Park. Rent a tipiin Colorado’s wine country on the Western Slope. Head out into the state forest to find a dispersed camping site near Crested Butte during wild flower season. Or drive along the mountain roads near Telluride until you find the perfect perch to park your teardrop trailer. (Check out GOLITTLEGUY.COM for the perfect little guy to go.)

While some of the best spots in Colorado book up fast, this is a big state, and the wilderness is vast. And it’s calling. So start planning and get out there.