By Laura Rowley
I recently went to Denver to visit a good friend and it was awesome.
We went rock climbing and strolling through downtown neighborhoods like Cap Hill. Later, it took us about an hour and half to get to the mountains one way. We got up at 5 in the morning to start a hike by 8 so we could finish before the afternoon thunderstorms.
The hike was beautiful. We started at a lower level and followed a stream lined with golden aspens and pine.
As we climbed higher the aspens thinned out and the evergreens became more dense. In fact, the scenery felt very similar to a Provo fall. And we each commented on how much we love living in the Rockies and in a place where there are seasons.
While I was in Denver, I saw that the city itself has a great culture of outdoorsmanship. Even when walking around in the downtown area the predominant culture is outdoorsy. It may help that Denver is the home to REI’s flagship store, but it seems like more than that. My friend, who is single, even said that three quarters of her potential dating pool counts outdoor activity as a dating interest.
This seems to be unique to Denver, which seems to draw a large young professional group — including my friend who grew up in southern California as I did — from all over the country because of its outdoor culture.
In fact, all of her friends that I met came from all over the US, and a major draw for them was Denver’s mountains.
This was my second time visiting, and I loved zipping through the city on the Speer St. bike lane, hiking through the autumnal leaves, and rock climbing above Coors brewery. I loved how there was the sense that every day held an adventure.
I think Provo could learn a few lessons from Denver. That city has capitalized on its outdoor recreational activities, which lie predominantly in the Rocky Mountains. And those mountains are at least an hour drive to the west.
This same Denver friend visited me in Provo in June and was amazed that it was only a ten minute drive to Stewart Falls, a 45 minute bike ride from my house in downtown to Bridal Veil Falls, and that we could take a quick scooter ride around the Alpine Loop in less time than it takes to get to the mountains in Denver. It stands to reason, then, that it should be even easier for Provo to market itself as a hip outdoorsy place the way that Denver has.
Laura Rowley is an artist and art instructor. She teaches at Lone Peak High School and has exhibited work in galleries throughout Utah, including recently at the Springville Museum of Art. And though this is her first guest post, she has read and edited every single previous post on this blog since it began. Many of those posts also started as conversations with Laura.