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End-of-summer family vacations—going green in Colorado


(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

As back-to-school season peeks around the dog days of summer, many families are thinking of fitting in end-of-summer camping, hiking, biking, or boating trips—and many find the option of a state park like Chatfield or a National Park like Rocky Mountain National Park very appealing. 

Prepping for and going on these trips can be a great opportunity for families to learn about low-impact land and water use and enjoyment. Many state and national parks offer Junior Ranger programs that teach kids about eco-friendly camping, boating, and hiking; families can also go online for resources.

Boulder-based Leave No Trace seeks to educate people about the responsible stewardship of the outdoors.  The program offers courses and information suitable for all ages, from elementary-school age through teens to adults. Though Colorado-based, the program has arms throughout the nation, in the form of an e-tour, state-advocate programs, and blogs.

Of course, there’s also the practical issue of comfort when experiencing the great outdoors. The Denver area has enjoyed a remarkably cooler summer than usual, which has also meant a wetter summer than usual. Which in turn means mosquitoes.

Besides being overly pesky visitors to exposed skin, mosquitoes carry viruses, including the infamous West Nile virus. Recommended methods to “fight the bite” chiefly include repellants that feature DEET. However, DEET can have harmful side effects on adults and kids. Furthermore, it has been shown to result in negative impact on wildlife and water sources.

Choosing a DEET-free repellent can alleviate both issues. With either form of repellent, however, it’s important to remember some safety tips for kids:

  • Don’t apply on hands or near eyes or mouth
  • Don’t let young kids apply the product themselves
  • Don’t apply over cuts
  • Don’t use a DEET product on infants under 2 months old
  • Apply only as frequently as directed

Armed with all the information and properly prepped for a good trip, families can enjoy a lovely—and green—outdoors experience before school starts.


  • Craig Zabransky 5 years ago

    I'd recommend Colorado; my recent trip there made me realize I shall return. One place to check is the Garden of the Gods. I wrote a small destination spotlight on my experience.

    stay adventurous,