Colorado Gems

In August of 2013, Colorado hosted the National Council for Geographic Education's annual conference in Denver.  Geographers across the state offered their perspectives on places out-of-towners might explore.

 

Ideas from Geographers in Colorado

 

Arapahoe Pass Trail, Indian Peaks Wilderness

A relatively short four-mile hike brings you to the Continental Divide, through subalpine forest, fields of wildflowers, past a historic mine, and above treeline. Just above the pass is a nice alpine lake (Dorothy), and a spur trail from the mine will take peak-baggers to a satisfyingly high (but not head-splitting) 13er: South Arapaho Peak (13,397 ft).  Great views from there of the off-limits City of Boulder Arapaho Glacier and Glacier Lake watershed.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=28180&actid=50

Broadmoor Hotel

Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs

Walk around this ever-expanding resort and you’ll get a sense of why the NCGE conference is not being hosted here . . . but if this stop is not in your overnight budget, you can enjoy the history of one of Colorado Springs’ main attractions.  Park toward the back of the complex.  Walk through the lobbies and enjoy the flower arrangements.  Go to the Hotel Bar on the Mezzanine Level in the main building and look at murals, photographs, and original letters illustrating Spencer Penrose and the Hundred Million Dollar Hotel Clubs' 1920 visit to Colorado Springs.  Walk downstairs to the reception area and investigate the photographs.  Search for the historical timeline on the website.

http://www.broadmoor.com/five-star-hotel/

Carousel of Happiness, Nederland

This is fun for everyone, not just kids! It’s well worth the trip to the cute town of Nederland, about 17 miles west of Boulder, and can be combined with a day hike or scenic drive on the Peak-to-Peak Highway

www.carouselofhappiness.org

Chautauqua Park, Boulder

Drive to Chautauqua Park or take the bus to Boulder and walk up the hill to the park.  From the park, head up on one of the trails toward the nearest of the Flatirons (just west of you – huge slabs of tilted sandstone).  Magnificent views of Boulder and the Great Plains after just a short hike.  Colorado Chautauqua National Historic Landmark is a good place to take a walk around the historic area or launch out on a hike from a trailhead here.

http://chautauqua.com/

http://www.bouldercolorado.gov/index.php?option=com_content&id=9586&Itemid=3170

Glenwood Springs, Amtrak from Denver Union Station to Glenwood Springs, and return

The train follows a route that cars can't access, including stunning canyons along upper South Boulder Creek, through the historic Moffat Tunnel, and later down Gore Canyon and along the Colorado River. A night in Glenwood to enjoy the Olympic-sized outdoor hot springs pool makes a nice destination - city buses can even take folks to Aspen and up the Roaring Fork Valley - all without needing to bother with a car. Call it a low-carbon Colorado tour!

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=am/am2Station/Station_Page&code=GSC

Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake

Just outside of Glenwood Springs.....great hike, great geology at the end of it!

http://www.visitglenwood.com/hanging-lake

Hike a Fourteener

If you are hoping to achieve this feat while visiting Colorado, plan ahead.  Remember that altitude matters.  Pay attention to general advice about hiking, and specific information about climbing mountains.

http://www.hikingintherockies.com/fourteeners/14ers.htm

http://www.denverdavis.com/hikes/14er_info

http://www.fourteeners.org/14er_main.htm

Green Mountain, Lakewood

Drive or bus or light rail (the W line to Denver Federal Center Station).  Walk to pull out on West Alameda Drive.  After a short hike up one of the many trails, you are high above Denver, on a conglomerate with no trees to impede your magnificent views.

Green Mountain, Lakewood

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, North of Denver and West of DIA

This is a former chemical weapons plant that has been cleaned and converted into a national wildlife refuge, replete with burrowing owls, bison, bald eagles, prairie dogs, and a recovering shortgrass prairie ecosystem. The new visitor center showcases much of the history and current conditions.

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/rocky_mountain_arsenal/

Steelworks Museum of Industry and Culture, Pueblo

For 121 years CF&I was a driving force in the development of the West, with the largest steel mill west of the Mississippi River. Explore here CF&I's rich history of steel production, iron and coal mining, geological exploration, labor relations, land and water use, immigration, and much more - all together telling the stories of the thousands of men and women who dedicated their lives to the industrialization of the American West. 

http://www.pueblo.us/index.aspx?nid=108

Air Force Academy Chapel

United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs

This is not a quick stop, due to the location of the museum and the security of the military base, but the chapel is definitely worth a tour.  Be sure and review the information on the website.  You are also treated to a movie and exhibits about life at the Academy.  Enjoy your taxpayer dollars at work.

http://www.usafa.af.mil/information/visitors/

 

Resources for Planning your Travel

National Parks

 Colorado is delighted to be the home of thirteen national parks:

  • Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
  • Colorado National Monument
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
  • Hovenweep National Monument
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
  • Santa Fe National Historic Trail
  • Yucca House National Monument

Use the great resources of the National Park Service to plan your travels.

http://www.nps.gov/state/co/index.htm?program=all

 

Historic Landmarks in Colorado and Protected Areas in the State of Colorado

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Historic_Landmarks_in_Colorado

 

History Colorado – Multiple Locations

http://www.historycolorado.org/adult-visitors/museums-and-historic-sites

  • History Colorado Center, Denver
  • Byers-Evans House Museum, Denver
  • El Pueblo History Museum, Pueblo
  • Fort Garland Museum and Pike’s Stockade, Fort Garland
  • Fort Vasquez Museum, Platteville
  • Georgetown Loop Historic Mining and Railroad Park, Georgetown
  • Healy House Museum and Dexter Cabin, Leadville
  • Trinidad History Museum, Trinidad
  • Ute Indian Museum, Montrose

 

Scenic Drives in Colorado

If your plans call for getting to Denver via car, there are no shortage of choices to make sure you are enjoying the scenery on your way.

http://www.colorado.com/activities/scenic-drives

http://voices.yahoo.com/the-10-best-scenic-drives-colorado-mountains-6063028.html

http://www.visitcos.com/scenic-drives

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/rocky-mountains/colorado/travel-tips-and-articles/76626 

 

Other Places to Visit

 Brewery Tours, Fort Collins

Although you will miss the annual Colorado Brewers Festival which showcases the state of the state’s suds on the last weekend in June, you can still investigate a wide variety of beer producing locations.

http://www.visitftcollins.com/brewery-tours

Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion, Denver

6252 West 104th Avenue, 303-469-5441

www.butterflies.org

Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory, Boulder

You can take a free tour to sample teas and learn how they are made (note minimum age requirement).

http://www.celestialseasonings.com/tours

Coors Brewery Tour, Golden

You can’t even get only this website without submitting your date of birth, so be prepared.

http://www.millercoors.com/Brewery-Tours/Golden-Brewery-Tour.aspx

Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver

1007 York Street, 720-865-3500

http://www.botanicgardens.org

Denver Zoo, Denver

2300 Steele Street, 720-337-1400

http://denverzoo.org

Downtown Aquarium, Denver

700 Water Street, 3030562-4450

Http://www.aquariumrestaurants.com/

Dushanbe Teahouse, Boulder

The Teahouse was constructed in Dushanbe, Tajikistan as a gift to its sister city.  It serves tea and tasty treats.

http://www.boulderteahouse.com/

Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs

Need some inspiration to get up and get going before or after the conference?  Check out the film and facilities where athletes train.

http://www.teamusa.org/For-Athletes/Olympic-Training-Centers-and-Sites/Colorado-Springs/Tours.aspx

Pearl Street Mall, Boulder

This outdoor pedestrian walking mall is lined with shops and restaurants.

http://www.boulderdowntown.com/

Arkansas River RaftingRafting on the Arkansas

This is a great way to spend a full- or half-day.  Check out the websites below for some of the local operators.

http://www.arkansasrivertours.com/

http://www.whitewater.net/arkansas-river-rafting-colorado/

http://www.americanadventure.com/

University of Colorado Boulder Campus, Boulder

The Department of Geography is located in the Guggenheim building.  You can walk around the campus area and visit the Museum of Natural History.

http://cumuseum.colorado.edu/

Map of Colorado Gems from COGA:


View Gems of Colorado in a larger map