Backpacking in Colorado is all about hiking up steep trails, navigating through brush, and submersing yourself in nature. As one of the most beautiful states in the country, Colorado is a great place to visit. With thousands of acres of natural forests and mountains, it is truly the dream of backpackers to be able to visit the small quaint towns and to spend their time in nature.

As with any trip, it is important that you prepare yourself for the time that you spend away from home and this guide is set to make sure that you remember all of the most important things that you’ll need.

Visas and Passports

You’ll want to confirm with your government’s regulations but in most cases you won’t require a visa to enter the state. If you are a resident of the United States, all that is required to get into Colorado is a driver’s license or if you’re driving, you won’t need documentation to cross the state lines at all. Foreign visitors will require their passports if they are traveling via air or sea to get into the United States and in most cases you will be granted a 6 month stay in the country before needing to return home.

Converting Your Money

If you’re not a resident of the United States you can expect to have to exchange your money into the local currency (USD). Most of the retailers and attractions in the state will only take U.S. Dollars and even Canadian Dollars have the potential of being rejected. In the event of an emergency, it is always advised that you try to bring a credit card with you if you can’t get to an ATM or a bank in the area that you are visiting.

Preparing for the Altitude

In the event that you expect you’re going to go hiking, it is essential that you prepare yourself for the altitude differences in the state. Most of the natural locations that you’re going to visit can be over 10,000 ft and there are various environmental dangers to look out for ranging from severe weather conditions to dehydration.

Altitude sickness is important to watch out for as it generally occurs in even the healthiest individuals traveling above 10,000 ft. Physical exertion in heightened areas can prolong the symptoms which include: loss of breathe, loss of appetite, nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, and insomnia. The best thing that you can do to prepare yourself for the altitude is to acclimatize your body. You will want to slowly increase your altitude every day and give your body a sufficient amount of time to adjust to the differences. Try to refrain from overexerting yourself while you’re acclimatizing. Climb to high levels but make sure that you sleep at low altitudes.

Preparing for the Weather

Backpacking in Colorado means that you’re going to be outside for the majority of your stay and it’s essential that you prepare yourself for the weather as it can change in a blink of an eye. The Rocky Mountains can bring harsh air currents that can breed thunderstorms relatively every day during the summer. Make sure that you do a sufficient amount of research into weather conditions, particularly between 11 AM and midday as you can expect an ample amount of thunder and lightening. The higher that you go, the more likely you are to experience ice pellets and sudden drops in the temperature. Tornados are also extremely common within the mountains and surrounding areas.

Preventing Hypothermia

Many people don’t realize that although they are in the United States, Colorado is home to harsh weather conditions including drastic drops in temperature. Hypothermia is a major concern for people that are going to be spending their time in the mountains and it starts to set in as soon as your body drops below 95F. The majority of backpackers that experience hypothermia don’t have the right waterproof clothing or stay wet as a result of storms. You can expect the temperatures at night to drop below freezing which is a huge hazard for anyone without sufficient clothing.

Tips to avoid hypothermia include:

  • Avoid cotton clothes at all costs, they do not keep you warm while wet. Instead, opt for synthetic materials.
  • Always pack a jacket and make sure that it accommodates cold weather.
  • If there are thunderstorms approaching, seek shelter immediately.
  • Drink warm liquids if your body feels like it is starting to get cold.
  • Make sure that your sleeping bag stays dry as it can be a lifesaver for keeping your body warm.

Finding Reliable Sources of Water

If you intend on spending most of your time within the cities then this shouldn’t be an issue as the state of Colorado has safe drinking water out of every tap and you can always buy bottled refreshments from your local store. If you’re backpacking in Colorado and intend on venturing out into the wild, it is imperative that you first plan all of the sources of water that you intend on using. Most of the backpackers will rely on lakes, rivers, or streams to get drinking water but they can be difficult to find without a map. Buy a topographic map from a local vendor or find one online to help you find reliable sources of water that you can use to your advantage.

Packing Light

Spending time away from your accommodations or needing to bring your camping equipment with you means that you don’t have the ability to leave most of your belongings in a safe location. You will want to make sure that you pack light for your trip so that you can bring all of the necessities without being burdened by an incredibly heavy pack on your back.

Backpacking in Colorado is all about hiking up steep trails, navigating through brush, and submersing yourself in nature. All of which is impossible if you have a huge backpack to worry about during your time outside. You will need food, survival materials, your camping equipment, maps, an extra pair of socks, and comfortable clothes to bring with you.