Are you a traveler who likes to minimize your impact when you visit a place? You’re not alone. Many Boulderites share your sentiments, making their way through the world with care: riding bikes as much as possible, recycling and composting like crazy, and being mindful of the environment. It's all part of an ethos that goes way back to the town's cutting-edge land preservation movement and beyond. Here are a few ideas for traveling greener here in Boulder.
Boulder is incredibly compact and walkable and has a great public transit system. Especially helpful to visitors is the Hop, a public bus that runs a looped route that goes to the city’s most popular spots, from downtown to Twenty Ninth Street to the University of Colorado and back.
Even getting here from the airport via bus is simple. From Denver International Airport, hop on RTD Bus Route AB and you’ll end up right in downtown Boulder.
Additionally, here’s an itinerary for a Car-Free Day in Boulder.
Most folks like to shop a little while on vacation, and lucky for eco-minded travelers, we’ve got lots of responsible ways to do so. For starters, Boulder’s thrift stores are legendary! See our thrift store recommendations here for upcycled style you won’t find anywhere else. You can also feel good about shopping in these unique stores:
B Cycle is Boulder’s bike-sharing organization, with 47 stations around town. It’s easy to check out a bike, cruise around town, and return it to a kiosk when you’re done. You can also share a fuel-efficient car through the Boulder nonprofit eGo CarShare.
You'll notice there's not really styrofoam here in Boulder, and there are recycling and compost bins just about everywhere. And seven coffee shops around town have taken that a step further: they let you check out a reusable, insulated cup called a Vessel under a pilot program launched by the Boulder company. Simply register online (Vesselworks.org), check out a Vessel at the coffee shop of your choice, enjoy your drink on the go, then drop it off to any kiosk or participating café before you leave town.
• Ride the Hiker Shuttle We all love to get up close to the iconic Flatirons via Chautauqua Trailhead, but that means the area can get a little crazy on summer weekends. You can help lessen the impact by taking the Park-to-Park free weekend shuttle. The shuttle runs Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Simply park for free at downtown parking garages, the CU Regent lot or New Vista High School, and then hop on the shuttle, which stops by every 15 minutes. Dogs are welcome and it’s just a short, 10-minute or so ride. Shuttle map and details here.
• Take the Ski-n-Ride Bus Ride public transportation to Eldora (Boulder's closest ski resort) for just $10.50 round trip. Sit back, relax and you'll be there in about an hour. Regional Transportation District (RTD) buses depart from the 14th and Walnut RTD Station in Boulder, stop in downtown Nederland, then drop you off right in front of the Main Lodge at Eldora, where it also leaves to go back at the end of the day. Look for the Ski-n-Ride Route NB from the 14th and Walnut station in Boulder. You will want to purchase a regional/airport day pass for $10.50. More information and Route NB schedule here.
Beyond Boulder Bike Adventures offers a Cycle to Sustainability tour that will give you insight into what makes Boulder such a sustainably minded town. You'll get a behind the scenes tour of some of the most innovative and interesting green programs (and brewpubs) all while enjoying Boulders unparalleled scenic beauty on a zero-emission bike.
Yes, you’ll want to see Pearl Street and the Flatirons, of course, but if you’re up for a little off-the-beaten-path adventure, Boulder’s surrounding businesses and neighborhoods would love to have you.
Where to see Boulder, locals style:
Behind the scenes at Boulder's National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), groundbreaking scientific findings are happening all the time. In NCAR's visitor center, you'll discover a collection of fascinating exhibits exploring weather, climate and the Sun-Earth connection, and you'll learn about human impact on the earth and climate change. You can touch a cloud, steer a hurricane, take a look at the Sun and browse art galleries, too. Visit Mon–Fri 8am–5pm or Sa–Su 9am–4pm. Tours are offered Mon, Wed and Fri at noon.
If you want to give back during your stay, you may want to volunteer a bit of your time here. The City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) department makes it easy. Check here for one-day volunteer opportunities (seed collection, trail maintenance, etc.) and register online. Many Boulder County farms could use a hand, too. You will have fond memories of your time in Boulder, and probably meet some interesting people, as you give your time to a cause you believe in.
There are more homegrown Boulder charities and responsibly minded companies than we can count. In fact, Boulder has more B Corps — those are organizations for which giving back is as important as making revenue — than anywhere in the country. You can leave behind a gift with an organization like Historic Boulder, which works to preserve Boulder’s historic resources, or Community Cycles, whose recycled bikes program helps get everyone on a bike, or one of dozens more listed here.