Tips, tricks and saving money during a busy Colorado visit

This summer looks to be the most “normal” one we’ve had since 2019 — normal being a relative, and relatively meaningless, term in 2022.

Big openings are nigh — Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park (April 30), Lakeside Amusement Park (May 13), Water World (May 28) and more family-friendly mainstays — but so are high-country tourism bookings, large-scale outdoor events and music festivals, plus returning favorites at Civic Center that typically draw tens of thousands of visitors, such as Cinco de Mayo (May 7-8) and Denver PrideFest (June 25-26).

Here are some things to keep in mind as you navigate this wobbly, newly enthusiastic vacation season in Colorado.

Everything’s back, so be patient

We’ve all seen it, especially when trapped on the Interstate 70 corridor through the mountains, but the travel and tourism industry has recovered in a big way, with more than double the arrivals (a.k.a. trips) in January 2022 compared to 2021, or 18 million more visitors worldwide, according to the World Tourism Organization.

That amounts to more crowds than we’ve seen the past couple of summers in Colorado, not only at events but also on the roads, in airports and in will-call lines. Patience is key for your mental health and stress levels, experts say, especially for families with young kids, as staffing shortages continue to limit full-capacity at many venues, resorts, restaurants, museums and other attractions.

Denver’s quiet winter months (during ski season) flip in the summer, as mountain resorts pivot to outdoor activities and the city gets crowded with tourists and street gatherings. That means more traffic downtown, less parking at popular tourist spots like Cherry Creek Mall, and harder-to-find lawn seats at free shows from Levitt Pavilion or City Park’s Jazz in the Park. Get there early.


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