Take Pride in Every Step

March 30, 2022

It’s springtime in the Centennial State, which means nature lovers from all over the world are making plans to explore Colorado’s beautiful wild places. Part of planning your adventure can include planning ways to take pride in every step you take.

“Exploring the great outdoors can be incredibly fulfilling, and as much as we benefit from exploring those places, there are ways we can show our gratitude for them while we enjoy them,” said Carrie Supino, Primate World keeper who is an avid conservationist and outdoorsperson.

Give it a thumbs up! If you see wildlife, a great way to tell if you’re giving it enough space is by holding your thumb up at arm’s length in your line of sight of the animal. Can you still see the animal around the outline of your thumb? Back up and enjoy that magnificent creature from farther away.

“Giving animals space keeps us and the animals safe,” said Supino. “Plus, if you keep your distance, you’re more likely to witness natural behaviors and you usually get more time to observe it.”

Make it a ‘trash-ure’ hunt. Leaving only footsteps is a great way to respect the outdoors, but what if you took it to the next level by gathering others’ (hopefully) accidental leave-behinds?

“I like to bring an empty peanut butter jar on hikes and fill it up with any trash I see,” said Supino. “The plastic jar is light, so you’re not adding much weight to your pack. Plus, if you come across anything stinky, just close that jar up tight and you’ll forget it’s there until you trash or recycle it later.”

Note the coordinates. Making memories with loved ones is even more special when you’re surrounded by the magic of nature. We want to etch those moments in time forever. Instead of leaving a mark on a tree or rock, use a GPS mobile app to note your exact coordinates. Imagine how much fun it will be to return to the exact location years later to re-discover it just as you saw it for the first time.

Tap into your inner artist. It’s only natural to want to bring a piece of a special place home with you, but a rock or wildflower in your pocket can’t do its job protecting a root system or feeding a bee. Bring a small notebook on your exploration, and take time to sit and truly observe the place you want to take home. Describe or sketch what you hear, see, smell and feel. Chances are, you’ll notice even more beautiful details, and instead of having just one piece of that place, you can use your imagination to relive that scene anytime.

“I love getting to my destination, but I really encourage people to stop and let the magnificence sink in,” said Supino. “Give yourself permission to stop and be quiet. You’ll see things you didn’t know were there.”

Trust the experts. Many destinations now require advance permits that limit the number of people on trails or at landmarks. This effort helps preserve the health of the location and the enjoyable experience for visitors. Destinations often share specific guidance that can help you protect the place you’re visiting, too. Check out the website, take the experts’ advice, and plan ahead for your next adventure.

“Making small changes can add up to a huge difference for our delicate ecosystems,” said Supino. “Whether you’re one of the Rockies’ 90 million annual visitors or you live here, consider how you can take pride in every step you take, knowing you’re protecting the future of Colorado’s great outdoors.”

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