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The Flatirons of Boulder, Colorado

Perhaps one of the most beautiful cities in Colorado, Boulder is home to the University of Colorado, numerous high-tech companies and outdoor enthusiasts.

This fun destination has something for everyone so be sure to plan a stop on your next trip to Colorado. 

The Flatirons

The Flatirons can be seen from much of Colorado and consist of five large conglomerate sandstone formations.  The are estimated to be over 290 million years old.  Boulder is situated right at the base of these giants making it a interesting city with an amazing backdrop.

Credit: Zach Dischner
Credit: Zach Dischner

History

Boulder was initially developed as a silver mining town in 1858 and was aptly named for the large Flatrions of the Rocky Mountains.  Shortly thereafter the university was founded in 1877 and held the community together when the mining dried up in the beginning of the 20th century.

During the 1950s, Boulder gained recognition as the prime location for scientific and environmental research and later established the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Boulder Today

Today, Boulder has a unique blend of high-tech socialites, budget minded college students and bohemian environmentalists – all sharing a love for the great outdoors.

With over 43,000 acres of open space, 200 miles of trails, and 56 parks most of the locals spend their time outdoors enjoying the average of 300 days of sunshine and fresh air a year.

Bicycle is the preferred method of transportation in and around Boulder with over 100,000 bicycles in the city (that’s one for each resident).

Credit: krossbow
Credit: krossbow

Activities

Boulder Creek Path

Popular with the locals, especially on weekends, is Boulder Creek Path – a 16-mile long walking trail that follows Boulder Creek through the city and into the mountains.  In the warmer months, it’s common to see the brave hearted inter-tubing down the chilly and swift creek.  Sometimes you’ll even see a lone tube floating down without a passenger.  Scott Carpenters Park is located at 30th Street and offers swimming and picnic areas.  West of the park is Boulder Creek Stream Observatory where you can view trout and other wildlife.

Credit: Forrest L Norvell
Credit: Forrest L Norvell

Pearl Street Mall

Marking Boulders downtown area is Pearl Street Mall, where there is a four-block pedestrian only street lined with fun shops, art galleries, lively restaurants and bars, and kid friendly play structures.  It’s common to see street performers in the warmer months entertaining the locals and tourists alike with music, miming, juggle, and dancing.  It’s a great place to stroll and people watch.

University of Colorado

The University of Colorado (better known as “CU” to the locals) is the largest university in the state with almost 30,000 students.  Much of the activity around Boulder is dominated by the university namely sports events.  Guided campus tours are offered Monday through Friday at 9:30 am and 1:30 pm and on Saturdays at 10:30 am.  Visit University of Colorado for tour information.

Credit: JoeInSouthernCA
Credit: JoeInSouthernCA

Eldorado Canyon State Park

Boulder offers plenty of hiking and outdoor activities in and around the area.  There are brochures with specific hiking trail information posted in Pearl Street Mall.  A great option is Eldorado Canyon State Park that is located a quick 15 minute drive from downtown.  As you walk through the park, remember to look up for the tiny dangling rock climbers who are scaling their way up the 850 foot high canyon walls.  While most visitors like to relax and picnic along the South Boulder Creek, there are roughly 9 miles of hiking trails for the more adventurous.

Boulder has a wide variety of other fun easy-going and outdoor adventures.  Be sure to stop by the visitor post in Pearl Street Mall for maps and brochures to help you plan your trip.

Credit: krossbow
Credit: krossbow

When To Go

April, May, June, September, and October are the best months to visit Boulder as the weather is mild and ideal for outdoor activities.

Climate

In April, May, June, September, and October the average highs range from 62-82°F (17-28°C) and lows range from 34-50°F (1-10°C).  Spring receives more rain than autumn.  You can expect anywhere from 1.25 to 3 inches (32-77mm) of rain each month.

Getting There & Around

Boulder is located 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Denver, where there is an international airport.  Your best option for getting around is to rent a car so you can drive to local sights and activities.

Average Costs

  • Mid-range accommodations: $100-150
  • Meals: $15-25
  • Bottle of beer: $4

Do’s

  • Walk around the University of Colorado.  The campus is located just 5 minutes from downtown.  The locals call the university “CU.”
  • Keep to the right on the Boulder Creek Path.  The left “lane” is for faster traffic.
  • Give yourself time to acclimate.  Boulder is located at 5430 feet (1655 m) above sea level.

Don’ts

  • Forget sunglasses and sunscreen.  At 5430 feet (1655 m) above sea level the sun’s rays are very powerful.
  • Miss visiting the Boulder Beer Company that pours pints of deliciously brewed beer with water melt straight from the Rockies.
  • Forget to look for those cute prairie dogs that can be spotted near the east end of the Boulder Creek Trail.

Fun Facts

  • The University of Colorado’s cafeteria is named after Alfred G. Packer, an American prospector accused of cannibalism.  A frivolous idea born by the Student Assembly to engage their constituents.
  • Other rock formations similar to the Flatirons can be found in the Garden of the Gods, Roxborough State Park, and Red
  • Rocks Amphitheater.

Feature Image Credit: bm.iphone

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