Local Life and Lore in Colorado Springs

From Chinook to Fourteeners to Virga, learn about local lingo and quirks of this Colorado town.
By: Linda DuVal
Related To:


The Springs 

What locals call Colorado Springs.

So Where Are the Springs?

There are many towns in Colorado that end in “Springs”: Glenwood, Steamboat, Pagosa and such. They all have hot springs. But Colorado Springs has no springs, hot or otherwise, and never did. Its 19th-century founder put “springs” in the name to attract tourists.


Some winter night, the wind will begin howling around your house and you’ll think, “Brrrrrr.” Then you’ll step outside and realize the wind is almost balmy. That’s a Chinook wind, a blast of warm air that occurs on the eastern slopes of the Rockies in the dead of winter. The Chinook originates on the Pacific Coast and reminds you that spring will return, someday.


Yes, we speak SPF here. Springs residents are more than a mile closer to the sun than their sea-level dwelling friends, so they can get a sunburn in 30 minutes. Locals wear sunscreen most all the time. Local dermatologists recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of 25 or higher on daily basis. It’s part of living at a high altitude.


Colorado has more than 50 mountain peaks that are 14,000 feet and higher. Locals call them “fourteeners” and brag about how many they’ve climbed. The fourteener closest to the Springs is Pikes Peak. So bag your first fourteener by hiking up the Barr Trail. If your lungs aren’t acclimated to the thin air yet, drive the Pikes Peak Highway to the top or ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.


No, it’s not a sign of the Zodiac. It’s a meteorology term for rain that doesn’t actually hit the ground. It’s so dry in the Springs that sometimes it rains and the moisture evaporates before it ever hits the ground. You’ll look up at clouds, see rain falling and then see a streak of water vapor above the ground. That’s virga.


Acronyms for Colorado College and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. CC is an expensive private liberal arts college that contributes heavily to the city’s cultural scene. UCCS is a branch of the University of Colorado.

Green Chile (or Chile Verde)

We’re not talking about chili — that stuff with tomatoes, kidney beans and ground chuck. We’re talking about a green vegetable, roasted Pueblo or Anaheim chiles. Locals cook chiles into a stew with pork, onions and tomatoes or a sauce for enchiladas, burritos, chile rellenos or tamales. It’s a Southwestern thing.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Local Life and Lore in Kansas City

Blend in with native Kansas Citians by picking up the local history and colloquialisms.

Local Life and Lore in West Palm Beach

From local lingo to how to steer clear of alligators, these tips are a must-read for your trip.

Local Life and Lore in Steamboat Springs

No one will ever guess you're a tourist after you brush up on this insider info.

Local Lingo and Lore in New York City

Fit in with NYC natives by learning these key terms and facts.

Local Life and Lore in Brooklyn

Trying to chat up a Brooklynite? Here's how to do it and other need-to-know local tips.

Local Life and Lore in Cleveland

Sound like a native Clevelander with these key terms and phrases.

Local Life and Lore in Detroit

Learn the local lingo and brush up on the history of Motor City.

Local Life and Lore in Philadelphia

Philly’s unique culture distinguishes it from other cities.

Local Life and Lore in Sarasota

Fit in with the locals by getting to know Sarasota secrets.