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Old 10-30-2017, 11:12 PM
 
Location: Denver
3,195 posts, read 2,648,634 times
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Why is Colorado one of the premier outdoor destination states in the US while many other states lag behind?

Most peoples first answer would be the mountains. As a native of the state, I would disagree, I'd say it's the close access of large swaths of public land to major population centers.

Why is that? Except for skiing and hiking 14ers, not many activities actually require a mountain slope. The best mountain biking, ATVing / dirtbiking, hunting, immediate / closeup scenery and wildlife, fishing, camping... are all in the foothills around the mountains, not on the side of the mountains themselves. To top that off, skiing or hiking 14s require public land in order for people to use them as well.

There is something to be said about the views of the mountains which are breathtaking and Colorado's climate facilitating outdoor activities, but CO isn't the only state with hills and a decent climate and scenery... Most of the US outside of the Rocky Mountain rain shadows qualify here. The difference is that in other 'less outdoorsy' states, if you want to do something outdoors it's either a long drive away or on small parcels of land and there's no big trail systems, it's very crowded with people with no wilderness feel, or you see it out of a car window but can't go there yourself.

I think if eastern states had the same amount of public land and trails that were close to big population centers, these states would be much more outdoor friendly. Basically, I don't think it's an issue of topography holding these states back, it's an issue of lacking the resources to have a public land infrastructure like CO has.

Thoughts?
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Old 10-30-2017, 11:23 PM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
6,567 posts, read 10,287,257 times
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I see your point, but it's not universal. There are hiking and biking trails in and around Dallas-Fort Worth, but most of them suck because the topography is boring and the climate's terrible.
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Old 10-30-2017, 11:35 PM
 
4,491 posts, read 2,680,536 times
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It's extremely important to have public land, but from a visitor perspective actual topography is important too.
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Old 10-30-2017, 11:47 PM
 
Location: Tempe, AZ
4,552 posts, read 3,651,369 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil P View Post
Why is Colorado one of the premier outdoor destination states in the US while many other states lag behind?

Most peoples first answer would be the mountains. As a native of the state, I would disagree, I'd say it's the close access of large swaths of public land to major population centers.

Why is that? Except for skiing and hiking 14ers, not many activities actually require a mountain slope. The best mountain biking, ATVing / dirtbiking, hunting, immediate / closeup scenery and wildlife, fishing, camping... are all in the foothills around the mountains, not on the side of the mountains themselves. To top that off, skiing or hiking 14s require public land in order for people to use them as well.

There is something to be said about the views of the mountains which are breathtaking and Colorado's climate facilitating outdoor activities, but CO isn't the only state with hills and a decent climate and scenery... Most of the US outside of the Rocky Mountain rain shadows qualify here. The difference is that in other 'less outdoorsy' states, if you want to do something outdoors it's either a long drive away or on small parcels of land and there's no big trail systems, it's very crowded with people with no wilderness feel, or you see it out of a car window but can't go there yourself.

I think if eastern states had the same amount of public land and trails that were close to big population centers, these states would be much more outdoor friendly. Basically, I don't think it's an issue of topography holding these states back, it's an issue of lacking the resources to have a public land infrastructure like CO has.

Thoughts?
As another Westerner in a different state I am going to have to disagree. Arizona has lots of public land, tall mountains (though not as many), and offer the same activities as y'all do... Arizona at the end of the day is STILL not as popular as Colorado. Northern New Mexico is in proximity to many of Colorado's outdoor amenities and is not popular either, despite being more politically similar to Colorado and significantly cheaper. Wyoming also being nearby is not as popular either.

Utah may or may not have better mountains than Colorado, or at least a comparable amount, has even more public land and closer mountains to major population centers, but SLC is not as popular as Denver. Denver does better than Salt Lake City because of politics (state level) and less inversions/better weather. For someone who prioritizes outdoor activities and nothing else Denver overall isn't that stellar of a place to look at when comparing Denver to the rest of the inland West.

Now of course in comparison to back East, Denver kills anything back East because of public land. That I agree with.

It's a combination of liberal politics, decent weather, outdoor activities, and a booming urban center with lots of jobs available. Few places offer that in this country.

Even though people say it's the outdoor activities... and just that... I strongly disagree... bring up Utah which is comparable and they'd never consider it because they are afraid of the LDS influence in the politics. So clearly there's more to it than that. Especially in doing a comparison of Denver to SLC or Boise or Western Montana.
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Old 10-31-2017, 06:04 AM
sub
Status: "Feeling suspicious" (set 6 days ago)
 
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I don't think politics has anything to do with it.
Weather and scenery play a role. The weather is not too hot like Arizona or too cold like states north of it.
Public lands with outdoor recreation have long been in place out there, and Colorado hasn't always been liberal. Not long ago it was reliably conservative/libertarian.
Colorado does do the best job marketing itself.
We should also not rule out vast, wide open mountain wilderness compared to places that are well-suited to farming. People like to eat.
As for Eastern states, they filled up with cities, towns, and farms long before public lands were a thing, when the government was selling or giving away land to encourage settlement in new territory.
Also, many places in the east have hot humid weather much of the year that doesn't encourage outdoor activity. Locals might do it, but comparitively few drive across country to sweat it out in the Ozarks.

Last edited by sub; 10-31-2017 at 06:26 AM..
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Old 10-31-2017, 07:30 AM
 
Location: Denver
3,195 posts, read 2,648,634 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhays25 View Post
It's extremely important to have public land, but from a visitor perspective actual topography is important too.
That's true, for visitors it's all about the postcard moment. For locals, it's about accessibility, variety, cost...
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluescreen73 View Post
I see your point, but it's not universal. There are hiking and biking trails in and around Dallas-Fort Worth, but most of them suck because the topography is boring and the climate's terrible.
yeah... Dallas might be one of those places that doesn't have scenery or a decent climate to begin with... There's a lot of other places like Ohio or Georgia or Minnesota that have something to build from.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prickly Pear View Post
As another Westerner in a different state I am going to have to disagree. .
I agree with your points here. I think CO hit a home run with the combo of outdoors activity, urban framework, economy, politics... But I guess for this thread I was just concerned with only the outdoor activity section, why is CO better than eastern states in that regard?
Quote:
Originally Posted by sub View Post
We should also not rule out vast, wide open mountain wilderness compared to places that are well-suited to farming. People like to eat.
As for Eastern states, they filled up with cities, towns, and farms long before public lands were a thing, when the government was selling or giving away land to encourage settlement in new territory.
Also, many places in the east have hot humid weather much of the year that doesn't encourage outdoor activity. Locals might do it, but comparitively few drive across country to sweat it out in the Ozarks.
History and arability is why the east is so fragmented, but currently worldwide there's a HUGE surplus of cereal grain food reserves, we are producing way more than we can eat. So this strikes me as a time where a state or the federal government could buy back farmland and turn it into public recreation land.
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Old 10-31-2017, 07:43 AM
 
1,036 posts, read 521,893 times
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Eh, disagree. Both Alaska and Wyoming have tons of public land, and that’s been a net negative to both state’s economies, arguably. Accessibility of the lands is huge - Colorado has roads through a lot of that land, and towns to support it. Vast undisturbed tracts are public, but they aren’t really accessible.

Though I prefer the 49th state in almost every way to Colorado, the outdoor fun times are much easier to get to and back from there, even for residents. That, I think, makes the difference. It’s also why the neighboring state isn’t as popular.
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Old 10-31-2017, 08:29 AM
 
Location: "The Dirty Irv" Irving, TX
2,827 posts, read 1,311,309 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prickly Pear View Post
As another Westerner in a different state I am going to have to disagree. Arizona has lots of public land, tall mountains (though not as many), and offer the same activities as y'all do... Arizona at the end of the day is STILL not as popular as Colorado. Northern New Mexico is in proximity to many of Colorado's outdoor amenities and is not popular either, despite being more politically similar to Colorado and significantly cheaper. Wyoming also being nearby is not as popular either.

Utah may or may not have better mountains than Colorado, or at least a comparable amount, has even more public land and closer mountains to major population centers, but SLC is not as popular as Denver. Denver does better than Salt Lake City because of politics (state level) and less inversions/better weather. For someone who prioritizes outdoor activities and nothing else Denver overall isn't that stellar of a place to look at when comparing Denver to the rest of the inland West.

Now of course in comparison to back East, Denver kills anything back East because of public land. That I agree with.

It's a combination of liberal politics, decent weather, outdoor activities, and a booming urban center with lots of jobs available. Few places offer that in this country.

Even though people say it's the outdoor activities... and just that... I strongly disagree... bring up Utah which is comparable and they'd never consider it because they are afraid of the LDS influence in the politics. So clearly there's more to it than that. Especially in doing a comparison of Denver to SLC or Boise or Western Montana.
I agree with this.

I would also like to mention that Idaho is 60% public lands and has some of the most incredible scenery in the lower 48, yet is even less popular than New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. I think part of this is branding (the majority of people I meet think of Potatoes and Idaho and think it is in the Midwest) but part of it is also that Boise is pretty remote and doesn't have the sort of airport that Denver has. Also, while there is plenty to do right around Boise, the most beautiful parts of the state (Sawtooths in my opinion) are a couple hours away.

I think Colorado has done a really good job marketing themselves and they have Denver which has been an important city for a while. SLC and Boise are just up and coming now and SLC has to deal with (an unfair in my opinion) Mormon stereotype.

Basically I think Colorado has put themselves out there as the mountain west state that liberals from the coasts feel most comfortable in without scaring away mid-westerners looking for mountains.
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Old 10-31-2017, 08:36 AM
 
Location: Clemson, SC by way of Tyler,TX
4,860 posts, read 2,995,112 times
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Bunch of factors, but culture is a reasaon as well.
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Old 10-31-2017, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
3,085 posts, read 2,126,426 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treasurevalley92 View Post
I think Colorado has done a really good job marketing themselves and they have Denver which has been an important city for a while.
Yup. this all began when the transcontinental railroad bypassed Denver for Cheyenne. After that, CO began making a concerted effort at selling its self and it has succeeded greatly with that effort throughout the decades to a point that the marketing machine is on auto-pilot. We don't have to produce slick ads, we get it from Monday Night Football. We don't need to sell moderate tolerance and liberal politics, every 2nd and 3rd house part time resident Hollywooder does that. We don't have to market mountains, every transplant does that.
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