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.
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.
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
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.
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!
Just outside of Glenwood Springs.....great hike, great geology at the end of it!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Resources for Planning your Travel
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.
Historic Landmarks in Colorado and Protected Areas in the State of Colorado
History Colorado – Multiple Locations
- 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.
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.
Butterfly Pavilion, Denver
6252 West 104th Avenue, 303-469-5441
Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory, Boulder
You can take a free tour to sample teas and learn how they are made (note minimum age requirement).
Coors Brewery Tour, Golden
You can’t even get only this website without submitting your date of birth, so be prepared.
Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver
1007 York Street, 720-865-3500
Denver Zoo, Denver
2300 Steele Street, 720-337-1400
Downtown Aquarium, Denver
700 Water Street, 3030562-4450
Dushanbe Teahouse, Boulder
The Teahouse was constructed in Dushanbe, Tajikistan as a gift to its sister city. It serves tea and tasty treats.
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.
Pearl Street Mall, Boulder
This outdoor pedestrian walking mall is lined with shops and restaurants.
Rafting 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.
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.
Map of Colorado Gems from COGA: