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Misconceptions About Living In The Mountains

Updated on March 10, 2011

People have misconceptions about living in the high country. Those who have not spent extensive time up in the mountains often think that it is a more difficult life. I have come to find that it is actually much simpler and healthier.

  • The air is cleaner
  • There isn't as much congestion (auto and human traffic)
  • There is less noise pollution
  • There is less crime
  • There is less overall stress
  • There are more opportunities to see things in their natural environment (plants / animals)
  • There are less bugs and critters and those that do exist don't get really big -- must be the thinner air

Misconception #1: You get snowed in all the time in the winter

This is not true at all for the most part. People living in the town of Leadville, CO don't get snowed in and they live in the highest city in the United States. Even though residents of Leadville have to contend with a great amount of snow each year, the Colorado Department of Transportation's efficiency clears the roads and life goes on as usual. People still go about their business as usual with the massive amounts of snow they have to plow and remove each day.

In addition, many people think that the snow hangs around for a long time. In actuality, the snow in higher elevations evaporates faster because of the drier air and a more intense sunshine during the day.  If the sun is out, the roads can dry up faster than you think.

Misconception #2: It gets ridiculously cold in the winter

This is also not true.  I've lived in the Chicagland suburbs for six years and in the Rocky Mountains for twelve and have found that living in Colorado is warmer than living in Illinois.  The humidity in the midwestern part of the country makes the winters bone-chilling.  In Colorado, the air is drier, making the chill less severe.  30°F in Colorado is very different from 30°F in Illinois.  The dry mountain air makes the winters much more tolerable.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Misconception #3: Inaccessibility to modern-day conveniences

Many people think that mountain living is extremely remote and that modern-day conveniences don't exist. This is not true. Although some small mountain towns might be quite remote, there are many towns that have a small-town feel with modern-day conveniences. Commercial businesses like Target and Costco have made their way up into the mountains. Visitors from larger cities are relieved to see their familiar stores as they know what to expect when the enter. Although I prefer quaint country stores, some feel a certain comfort when surrounded by familiar settings.

Misconception #4: You have to own a 4-wheel drive

Often times, people think that you have to drive a 4-wheel drive vehicle if you live in the mountains.  This misconception is a result of people thinking there is always snow on the ground in the winter and muddy, unpaved roads in the spring, summer, and fall.  In reality, a front-wheel drive sedan does just fine in the mountains.  Sure, there's plenty of snow in the winter, but as explained in Misconception #1, the roads are plowed efficiently and dry up quickly.  A 4-wheel drive is fun to go off-roading in, however, you can definitely survive in the mountains with a sedan.

Reflections about living in the mountains

I grew up and lived in big cities until my 30's.  For the last decade +, I've been living in a small mountain town and will never go back to living in a metropolitan area at much lower altitude.  There is no comparison to the quality of life in the mountains.  We don't get trapped in large amounts of snow, we do not freeze our rears off, and we do have modern-day conveniences at our fingertips if we choose to be near them in the high country. 

Come up into the mountains and see for yourself!!


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