In 1972, when John Denver sang out the lyrics of his chart-topping, easy-listening classic “Rocky Mountain High”(and one of two official state songs), it may have been one of the first hints that Colorado was weed-friendly. Flash forward 40 years to 2012, and the state became the first in the US to decriminalize cannabis for private consumption followed by adult-use cannabis consumption in 2014.
But even before John Denver popularized Colorado’s mile-high beauty in song, the state had long been a draw for its natural attractions and resources, including the Rocky Mountains, Mesa Verde, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Parks. Chic resorts like Aspen, Telluride, and Vail attract skiers and tourists in the winter, while summer in western towns such as Durango, Grand Junction, and Colorado Springs welcomes hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, and lovers of lake and river sports.
Now, adult-use cannabis has added another option for leisure travelers to enjoy destinations and activities, especially for those coming to visit from areas where cannabis isn’t legal.
Travel and cannabis in Colorado
Most cannabis-friendly attractions in Colorado are located in or near Denver, but overt advertising of 420 amenities is still low profile. Vendors that we spoke to said this was partially due to the state government’s slow progress toward regulations and permitting for public consumption facilities, as well as continued federal prohibition.
However, “Cannabis has been a big draw to visit the state since adult-use opened in 2014. You can see this based on dispensary sales over the years. People regularly ask about cannabis lounges, cooking classes, and cannabis-infused restaurants,” said Goldie Solodar, founder and CEO of cannabis tour company City Sessions Denver
Here are some 420-friendly destinations and activities to try in Colorado.
420-friendly destinations and activities in Colorado
There are more cannabis dispensaries in Colorado than there are Starbucks and Mcdonald’s combined. In cities and rural locations, retail dispensaries and cannabis tour companies are the norm and can be found with ease.
Tetra Lounge consumption lounge — Denver
In Denver, there are a few venues where consumption is allowed on-site. Local regulations require guest membership to access consumption facilities, which can easily be purchased or signed up for online.
Tetra Lounge offers a retail dispensary, lounge area, and outdoor seating on their downtown rooftop. The vibe is young, urban, and appealing to visitors and locals as a safe space for consumption. Activities at Tetra include art installations, DJs, live music and socializing in the lounge’s outdoor area.
City Sessions Colorado cannabis tours — Denver
City Sessions is one of several tour companies in Denver that offer a variety of choices for tourists that would like to learn more about cannabis and visit dispensaries, as well as manufacturing and cultivation facilities. “Our most popular tour is Tour of The Senses,” said Solodar, “This tour is a mix of cannabis education, touring through the back end of a cultivation/grow, as well as getting out and exploring colorful Colorado.”
City Sessions even offers rentals on top-shelf dabbing and vaping gear to out-of-towners, supplied by cannabis brands like Puffco, PAX, Volcano, and Loto.
Marijuana Mansion installation tours — Denver
Event and immersive art venue Marijuana Mansion offers tours of the space’s interactive, cannabis- and fantasy-themed installations.
It’s a restored 1889 Romanesque Revival-style stone mansion in downtown Denver, and the building has been the headquarters for the Colorado branch of the Marijuana Policy Project and cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg.
The 4,200-square-foot mansion can host up to 150 people for large, private events. You can book 30 – 60 minute tours of the Mansion’s art installations, as well as 2 – 3 hour time slots for photo shoots.
ELEV8 Premier glass gallery — Colorado Springs
In Colorado Springs, visit the ELEV8 Premier glass gallery to see glass cannabis accessories being made by local artisans and even take a 4-hour glass-blowing class yourself.
Arrowhead Manor Inn — Morrison
Located in Morrison, Colorado — about 30 minutes from downtown Denver — is the Arrowhead Manor Inn, a cannabis-friendly hotel convenient to the Red Rocks Amphitheater. According to its website, guests of the hotel can “enjoy cannabis on a private deck or on their main decks and outdoor areas.”
Fly Fishing the Rocky Mountains — Estes Park
For travelers in search of a more rural experience — combined with the sport of fly-fishing — the tour company Fly Fishing the Rocky Mountains may be an excellent choice.
Operated by Bob “Doc” Young, the company offers group and private cannabis-friendly fly-fishing classes and tours based in the town of Estes Park, about an hour and a half outside of Denver. Classes and tours start at a minimum of four hours (half-day) and include the use of flies and fly rods, snacks, drinks, and lunch.
BEYOND show at the International Church of Cannabis — Denver
Perhaps the most popular immersive art experience in Denver can be found at the International Church of Cannabis, which offers its BEYOND light show/meditation, with shows scheduled seven days a week.
An officially sanctioned church, the building facility is operated by non-denominational organizers called Elevationists, and proceeds from the BEYOND show go to fund church programming, as well as contributions to local non-profits.
Membership in the International Church of Cannabis is free and the twice-monthly invitation-only events for members, where cannabis may be consumed onsite, are also free of charge. It should be noted to visitors that the BEYOND show is family-friendly and no cannabis consumption is allowed during the show or during daily business hours.
BEYOND is an “immersive projection map,” said Steve Berke, Elevationists co-founding member and director. “It’s a light and sound meditation with state-of-the-art technology, custom mapped on the mural that [artist] Okuda San Miguel painted. It’s the only permanent projection map installation in a church in America.”
The church’s 35-foot ceilings and interior are almost entirely covered with San Miguel’s rainbow-colored mural that, during the show, pulsates and glows with choreographed light and laser effects. The results are hypnotic and visually stunning.
Murals on the church’s exterior doors are painted by Los Angeles-based muralist Kenny Scharf and feature his colorful galactic fantasy creatures.