For all of its feel-good mellowness, Boulder takes its outdoor playgrounds pretty seriously. Behind that veneer of detached enlightenment are a lot of people who put the Type-A in "namaste". In an effort to forge peace between locals and those not yet acquainted with Boulder's unwritten rules, we got to thinking: What really bugs Boulder locals when it comes to outdoors etiquette?
Using the unscientific scientific approach of plying Boulderites with free craft beer, the pearls of wisdom began to flow. Here’s their advice, slightly paraphrased for our more genteel readers.
1. DON’T RIDE YOUR @#&! ROAD BIKE IN BOULDER CANYON.
Boulder Canyon is a beautiful place to get run over. Legendary granite walls tower over the swiftly moving Boulder Creek, a rugged postcard-like setting where paramedics can enjoy a moment of mountain tranquility before loading your battered carcass into the ambulance.
While it’s not technically illegal to road bike in the canyon, it’s a stupendously bad idea. It’s heavily trafficked and narrow, and far too many drivers take the corners like they are playing Mario Kart. Because the shoulders are too narrow for a safe bike lane for the majority of the canyon, a single cyclist can quickly accumulate a caravan of furious drivers behind them.
Mountain bikers trying to connect the Boulder Creek Path to Betasso get a slight reprieve from judgment here (and they will be glad to know Boulder plans to extend the creek pathto Betasso’s connector trail by 2017, eliminating the need to pedal on the road). But road cyclists who avoid the dirt part of the creek path and ride the road because they don’t want their precious carbon-fiber frames getting a pebble scratch do not get a pass.
Plenty of other roads offer better ways to get your vertical fix: Flagstaff Road, Lefthand Canyon, and Linden Avenue, to name a few. If you want to drive up and park at the base of Magnolia Road, both Magnolia and Sugarloaf Roads are steep, fun rides (though they both eventually turn to dirt).
2. FOR &%@'$ SAKE, STAY OFF THE MUDDY TRAILS.
Boulder’s city officials are conservative when it comes to closing trails, which can annoy locals. But it’s done for a good reason: The dry, arid landscape makes Boulder’s soil layers especially vulnerable to damage when trails get muddy. Foot traffic can mess up drainage and stability, especially on uphill segments. Damage from bikes and horses is even more impactful. (Bike-riding horses? Downright devastating.)
The point is: Our beloved trails are more delicate than they seem and when they get screwed up, they get closed for extended periods of time. Consider visiting North Boulder’s trail network, such as the Sage and Degge Trails when the land is soggy. They get more sun and tend to dry out before the city’s western and southern trails.
3. RESPECT THE ** @#&! ***BIRD CLOSURES.*
Go ahead, make a Boulder climber’s day. The community has a serious presence online, waiting for you to share your hero shots from climbing at a closed crag. Before you post that picture of your hot girlfriend (or boyfriend, we’re not biased here) following your lead, make sure you haven’t topped out in a bat or raptor closure area. You will be eviscerated by local climbers, who will also make fun of your girlfriend / boyfriend.
Boulder’s bat population is highly vulnerable and just recently has started to make a comeback in terms of numbers. Likewise, raptor habitats are especially sensitive to human interference. There are literally hundreds of other places to climb outdoors and three big climbing gyms in town. If you’re hung up on a certain project, remember most closures are only temporary, so you and your big-nosed boyfriend can climb it later in the year.
4. PICK UP AFTER YOUR %$#@!&* DOG.
When the epic floods of 2013 washed over Boulder, it is said that 20 years of dog crap flowed from the slopes of Mount Sanitas. Boulder loves its dogs, no doubt, but please make a point to pick up after Fido. However good intentioned you may be, leaving your baggie by the side of the trail to pick up on your return is also frowned upon, especially by rangers who will reward you for retrieving your bag with nice, fat ticket, adding sarcastically, “And have a nice day”. (Try not to fling the bag at them.)
A stray pile here and there may not seem like a big deal, but over time they build up an entire turd empire, with all sorts of funky bacteria among their loyal serfs. So, to keep Boulder sanitary and its residents sane, please just pick it up already.
5. WATCH THE &!*^ OUT FOR BIKERS WHEN DRIVING.
The friction between cyclists and drivers has been heightened in recent years, especially with more and more people moving to the Front Range. While the majority of cyclists (and motorists) follow the rules, there will also be those few bikers who feel like their mid-life crisis entitles them to ride four across the road or in giant, testosterone-fueled packs (we may be generalizing here, but we rarely see female cyclists riding like idiots). As wonderful as it would feel to go Grand Theft Auto on those manic bikers (who give the rest of the respectful, law-abiding ones an unfairly bad rap), as a driver you have to keep your cool. There have been far too many road rage accidents in recent years.
It's a fact of life in Boulder: Live here long enough and you will eventually encounter a jerk cyclist. Be safe, slow down, and don’t escalate the moment: It will be over and done in about 40 seconds. Even if you have a moldy sandwich in the front seat ripe for the throwing… just don’t.
6. DON’T CLIMB THE FLATIRONS WHEN YOU’RE $#!&-FACED.
We can blame this yearly tradition mostly on University of Colorado students. (And for whatever reason, they often tend to be naked, too, such as here , or here .) When under the influence, it’s always a good idea to let your mind wander but keep your feet on the ground. Scrambling up the vertical face of Boulder’s iconic Flatirons after a few too pints (or puffs) may seem like a groovy way to commune with a higher power, but you may unfortunately get your wish should gravity have a say.
Here's a friendly reminder on how the sequence goes: Climb first, party later. If you end up being this year’s version of the Flatiron idiot, the reputation will stick with you long after the buzz has worn off.