True quiet—we’re talking peaceful, hear-yourself-breathing silence—is rare on the Front Range. Rumbling trucks, constant background music, and the “human hum” are so ingrained in urban and suburban living that you probably don’t even notice them. But your body does. Studies have linked chronic noise (even at low levels) to stress, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, aggression, and reduced cognitive ability in children.
Coloradans, however, are in luck. According to the Natural Sounds Program, a National Park Service (NPS) project that protects and preserves natural acoustic environments, some of the quietest spots ever measured in the United States (listed here) are close enough for a weekend escape. Not only do these places give your brain a break from everyday clamor, but they also expand your ability to detect natural sounds you would otherwise miss, such as—cliché as it may sound—trickling streams and tweeting birds. “In national parks, we often go to very high points for the most expansive view,” says Dr. Kurt Fristrup, chief scientist with the Natural Sounds Program. “Very quiet places give you the most expansive possible place to hear.”