More than 15 years ago, I entered into a handshake agreement with a handsome young man from Atlanta. On the face of it, the accord was simple: We would travel to all seven continents by the time we turned 35. Of course, everything seems possible when you’re 19. We didn’t think about having to get jobs or paying a mortgage or going to grad school or, funny enough, whether we would even know each other six months from then. In our case, the cliché rang true: The world was our oyster.

In February of this year, I kept the promise I made all those years ago—and that sweet Southern boy, now my husband of more than 10 years, was my traveling companion through it all. We ticked off our final continent with a once-in-a-lifetime expedition to Antarctica. We sailed the feared Drake Passage; we camped in a tent on the ice; we made friends with chinstrap penguins and minke whales and leopard seals; and we sea kayaked through neon blue icebergs. We were pleased with ourselves for doing what we’d set out to do; however, looking back on what we’d seen and learned along the way—in places like India, Italy, Brazil, Kenya, and Australia—we knew the importance of completing our journey went far beyond checking off a to-do list. Traveling to places where people live and think differently than we do and seeing parts of the planet few people see have afforded us the opportunity to learn some of life’s greatest lessons.

Fortunately, I have also had the occasion, as 5280’s longtime travel editor, to see much of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. In working my way around this beautiful state—as well as neighboring ones—I’ve realized that the things I once thought I could only come to understand by visiting far-flung lands are just as graspable here. Watching the sun rise over a jewel-toned alpine lake reminds one of the absolute artistry of Mother Nature; conversing with an old cowboy at a 100-year-old ranch proves a simpler life does still exist; and savoring the first bite of a trout caught in a snowmelt-cold stream is a testament to the notion that food should not always come from a supermarket.

It is because I know these experiences are out there waiting for you that publishing this second edition of 5280 Traveler, a collection of the best of the best of 5280’s regionally specific travel coverage,* makes me so excited. I challenge you to page through this magazine, find something that entices you, and make your own pact to do something extraordinary right here in the Rocky Mountain West.


* Every story has been fact-checked and updated (where possible) with current information.