Steamboat Springs The lush forests and scenic mountains that locals in Routt County live to explore and enjoy may be viewed to be among some of the most scenic vistas the Earth has to offer. But lets consider the majority of surface on our planet is hidden, most of it never seen or seen by very few. That's because it's under water. In fact, about 67 percent of the earth is covered in water.
So when many Coloradans go on vacation, apparently they don't just sit around waiting to watch the sun set. They are active and wanting to explore the larger world underwater.
Per capita, Colorado is second only to Florida for the number of people who are certified to scuba dive, according to facts from Jim Johnsen, owner and instructor of Steamboat Scuba and Water Sports.
In the seven years he has taught scuba diving classes, Johnsen estimates that 900 people have passed through his doors 120 already this year.
That's comparable to the number of people who receive their hunter safety education in Routt County, which is about 200 a year, according to a local instructor.
"It's a natural progression for people who are active to (scuba dive)," Johnsen said. "A couple days of sitting by the beach and people get bored."
Johnsen said people are more apt to go out and do things if they live in Colorado, and even more so in Steamboat Springs.
The interest in the sport also can be credited to the Colorado Scuba Retailers Association, a group of about 25 scuba retailers in the state that markets the assets of receiving the certification the biggest one being that you can't really dive without getting certified as an open-water diver, which consists of about 20 hours of class and four successful open dives with an instructor.
"I'm addicted," said local Chris Corna, who has been diving for 11 years. "I love it because all of the tropical places it takes you."
Corna has traveled all over the Caribbean and visited the countries of Yap and Palau, in the western Pacific Ocean, just to name a few places.
"I didn't even know some of these places existed until I got into diving," he said.
Corna took diving classes through Johnsen's school and is a certified dive master. Soon he will be going for a dive instructor certification. Getting more education after receiving their open water certification is common for divers, Johnsen said.
"More education is strongly recommended," Johnsen said.
Divers can get certified for underwater photography, night diving, cave diving, wreck diving and numerous other types of diving.
But bottom line, said Johnsen, is that scuba diving is exciting and allows people to explore unique places and swim with creatures unknown to landlocked cultures.
"We are basically sightseers," he said.
But diving also is escaping into another realm of reality where your societal responsibilities don't exist.
"It's probably the most incredible state you can ever feel," he said. "No phones, no faxes and no meetings if you have ever wanted to fly, this is as closest as you can get."