Day 1 You'll See:
- History Colorado Center
- Denver Zoo
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science
- Pearl Street Mall
Day 2 You'll See:
- Estes Park
- Rocky Mountain National Park
Day 3 You'll See:
- Colorado Springs
- Pikes Peak
- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo / Will Rogers Shrine
- Ghost Town Museum
- Pioneers Museum
- Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame / Museum of the American Cowboy
This trip whisks you off to the Mile High City where you’ll kick off a fantastic three-day excursion that takes you and your student group around Denver and the surrounding region for a satisfying sampling of the very best of the Centennial State. You’ll tour America’s only mountaintop zoo, visit the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, head to the top of Pike’s Peak, (try the donuts!) explore an authentic Ghost Town, hang out in an idyllic resort destination where elk roam the streets, and explore wagon loads of Colorado history and culture in a way you could never do from inside the classroom for a truly unforgettable and wonderfully educational vacation experience!
History Colorado Center
In 2012, the History Colorado Center debuted at 12th and Broadway in Denver’s Golden Triangle Museum District. A trip to this dynamic attraction - a Smithsonian Affiliate, described as “the first great history museum of the twenty-first century” – is an absolute must while touring the Mile High City for an unforgettable interactive crash course in Colorado History. The Center houses a uniquely engaging diversity of core and traveling exhibitions, in addition to the Office of Archaeology Historic Preservation, the Stephen H. Hart Research Library and a host of other History Colorado functions. One inside, you and your student group can “experience” the controversial Chicano Movement of the 60s and 70s, “celebrate” Rocky Mountain National Park in all its glory, dive into a series of captivating Colorado stories, relive the devastating Dust Bowl nightmare of “Black Sunday”, check out a vintage diorama of early Denver, examine the events of 1968 - “The Year that Rocked History” – and more – as historic headlines go “hands on” at History Colorado Center.
With the thrilling debut of Bear Mountain nearly a century ago, the 80-acre Denver Zoo became the earliest American institution to benefit from the revolutionary concept that people should observe animals at eye level in natural habitats free from the visual obstruction of bars or fences. Visitors to this conservation-minded, forward-thinking Zoo encounter thousands of happy, healthy occupants across 613 species from around the world doing what they do in exciting naturalistic enclosures of fantastic design – including Predator Ridge, Feline Habitat, Mountain Sheep Habitat, Wolf Pack Woods and Northern Shores. The Pioneer Train – the first natural-gas-powered train in the United States - treats passengers to a peek at elegant flamingos and their less flamboyant but equally enchanting co-residents with a delightful turn around carousel meadow in the shade of 100-year-old canopy. This world-class attraction – nudged into existence with the donation of a baby black bear named Billy Bryan to the town mayor – promises to amaze and entertain groups of all ages; paid Audio Tours are available to those desiring a personalized educational introduction to select zoo residents.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
A founder predicted, "As Denver is destined to be among the great cities of the continent, so will a museum here founded grow up to be one of the great entertaining and educational institutions of the country." In 1868, pioneer and naturalist Edwin Carter arrived in beautiful Breckenridge, Colo., and devoted himself to his true love-the birds and mammals of the Rocky Mountains. In no time, he assembled a fantastic collection of Colorado fauna, which he displayed in his tiny log cabin home and dubbed “The Carter Museum.” Word of his work found its way to appropriate channels, and funds were raised for a larger, fireproof building to house his exhibits, which were soon enhanced with gold specimens from John F. Campion and butterflies and moths from John T. Mason. As the holdings grew, so did the Museum - to include a massive 187,000 square foot addition, the Gates Planetarium, an IMAX theater, the Leprino Family Atrium and Anschutz Family Sky Terrace. A visit to this outstanding Colorado institution treats student groups of all ages to an absolutely awe-inspiring experience they won’t soon forget!
Pearl Street Mall
This charmingly “vibey” 4-block pedestrian mall peppered with a diversity of public art works including fountains, sculptures, a sandbox for the little ones and colorful gardens that flourish almost year-round is situated about 45 minutes outside Denver, in the energetic heart of Boulder’s carefully restored historic downtown. Pearl Street hosts an eclectic blend of trendy, independently-owned shops, coffee houses, restaurants and art galleries; during the summer months, its bricks walkways are abuzz with multi-talented street performers doing their thing, and evenings here are nothing short of magical. A long time resident of Boulder once said Pearl Street was “A good place to buy a pair of socks;” you’ll also find the rest of your outfit, and everything else under the sun right here in this unique little retail-therapy utopia, including that perfect Colorado souvenir.
Day Two of your Colorado getaway dawns bright and early; grab a quick bite and bring your cameras – your trip to Estes Park will be one for the books! This idyllic mountain resort destination nestled in the heart of the legendary Rocky Mountains about an hour and a half outside Denver is a nature lover’s dream come true, and a shopper’s paradise! Storefronts, galleries and boutiques hawking unique artisanal wares line the main street where elk are known to wander (wildlife sightings are a common thread throughout any given day, here) and a laid-back Western vibe nods a happy “howdy” from every corner. Here, in this alpine Shangri-la where mountain men once swooned at the sight of the same towering peaks, massive glaciers and fertile valleys rich with wildlife and adventure untold that courted the indigenous people who prized the region for its endless natural bounty, exceptional sightseeing, a diversity of exciting outdoor pursuits and absolutely charming amenities await visitors of all ages. Be a cowboy for an hour - or a day - bike around Lake Estes, hit the trail for a nature hike or the links for a round of miniature golf, strike out on a geocaching adventure, wander the River Walk, witness skilled artists at work in their galleries and on the street, explore endless historic landmarks and go “vintage Western” for a souvenir portrait sitting. Shop ‘til you drop – no chain stores here; more than 200 locally-owned businesses tender plenty of retail therapy, ensuring you’ll find everything you never knew you were looking for. (be sure to treat yourself to a sampling of downtown’s delectable signature sweets.) Whatever your pleasure, you can be certain the plucky spirit of this winsome, rugged-yet-refined gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park will capture your heart and bid you return.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Neighboring Estes Park is the “staging ground” for your group’s maiden exploration of Rocky Mountain National Park - 415 square miles of the most dramatically beautiful country you will ever see, host for generations to those adventurous spirits traveling to ski, hike, climb, ride, fish or photograph the area - or just immerse themselves in a definitive wilderness experience by virtue of “being there.” Rocky is an incredible four-season wonderland, dotted with pristine lakes teeming with fish and landscaped with vast meadows blushing with wildflowers, dark, untouched forests, miles-high alpine peaks, breathtaking tundra and aspens shimmering in the breeze. It’s also happy habitat to abundant wildlife - including bobcat, bear, mountain lions and massive herds of elk – and 355 miles of scenic trails twine through it all. Whether afoot, by vehicle or on horseback, you’re free to experience the top of the world at your own pace; a variety of excellent ranger-led programs are offered throughout the summer months, and at Holzwarth Historic Site your group can tour a 1920s-era dude ranch for a sampling of early homesteading and tourism. Camping and picnic areas are plentiful, and visitors’ stations and information centers spring up in convenient locations around the park, ensuring plenty of orientation opportunities, gift/snack options and clean, modern restroom facilities. *Through September, 2015, Estes Park will be joining Rocky Mountain National Park in celebrating their 100th anniversary with incredible special events, educational series, live music and more!
While most prominent Colorado cities and towns were settled by ranchers and miners, Colorado Springs was founded by a Civil War hero/railroad magnate whose tonier inclinations influenced much of its early development. Once known as “Little London”, the city is quite cultured, and hosts a number of important performing arts venues - the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Pikes Peak Center for Performing Arts and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center among them. Old Colorado Springs - the charming historic downtown - is the stage for a roster of seasonal happenings including a fabulous Farmers Market, the Art Walk, Blues in the Park and the Good Time Car Show. Weekends, the Flea Market draws as many as 500 vendors from around the state who come to peddle a veritable wealth of wares across a 30 acre paved site. Cave of the Winds offers a variety of popular cavern tours and dare-devil attractions - the Wind Walker Challenge Course, the Bat-a-pult zipline and the Terror-dactyl free-fall - all staged atop breathtaking Williams Canyon; an optional flash drive purchase lets you take your excellent adventure home with you to relive time and again. Student groups of all ages will enjoy exploring the Pioneers Museum, where an ever-fresh series of exhibits showcasing Western art, antique quilts, Plains and Pueblo Indian culture - even space exploration - detail the history of the Pike’s Peak region. Hit the Colorado Birding Trail and time-hop across 300 million years of geological history – simultaneously - with a visit to the 1347-acre Garden of the Gods, where the rustling grasslands of the Great Plains meet the fragrant pinon-juniper woodlands to merge with the mountain forest of Pikes Peak, and miles of trails suitable for foot, bike, or horseback beg exploration. Local outfitters provide an exhilarating menu of customizable Jeep and Segway tours, guaranteed to safely show and your young charges the wilder side of Colorado Springs.
This 14,115 foot landmark in the southern Front Range of the Rockies towers regally over the surrounding region, looming 8000 feet above a handful of historic towns at its base. Popular routes up “America’s Mountain” include an energizing hike up beautiful Barr Trail, a slow and steady cruise up the scenic Pikes Peak Highway, (watch for the Bigfoot crossing sign) or hopping aboard Broadmoor’s Cog Railway for an exhilarating 3.5 hour round-trip excursion; however you get there, the views are incredible, wild life sightings are plentiful and there’s plenty of historic interest to explore along the way if you’re traveling at your own pace. Once you’ve reached the top, be sure to try the world-famous Summit donuts made from a very special carefully-guarded high altitude recipe – thousands of visitors a day declare these Rocky Mountain Treats super delicious and unlike any donut they’ve ever tasted. When the last crumbs are inhaled, mosey out to that observation deck to take in some of the most amazing vistas in the nation – wondrous panoramas Zebulon Pike only dreamed of seeing during his harrowing “Pike Expedition.”
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo / Will Rogers Shrine
After your trek to the top of the world, you’re heading to visit America’s only mountain zoo, renowned for its steadfast commitment to conservation, captive breeding and animal care and wonderful naturalistic animal exhibits. Nearly 900 creatures call the zoo home, including the world’s largest captive giraffe herd; here, you and your students will encounter everything from Wyoming toads, Pallas cats, striped skunks and naked mole rats to grizzly bears, moose, mountain lions and Amur tigers. Browse and purchase amazing “paintings” created by talented ponies, elephants, penguins and orangutans during special enrichment activities; 100% of proceeds go toward animal maintenance. A variety of group tours, safaris and encounters ensure your young itinerants get the most out of their trip to this magnificent mountain menagerie. Additionally, zoo admission includes a trip up the Russell Tutt Scenic Highway to the End of the Trail Society’s Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun - a stunning architectural accomplishment named by project benefactor/commissioner Spencer Penrose in honor of his dear friend and beloved cowboy star who died in a plane crash in Alaska during the shrine’s construction. Inside, you will discover a world of fantastic murals depicting early development of the Pikes Peak region, an extensive photographic history of Will Roger’s life and career, and 15th and 16th century European artworks from Penrose’s notable personal collection; his ashes, along with those of his wife and a pair of esteemed colleagues are interred in the Shrine’s chapel. A set of Westminster Chimes in the tower of the august granite monument strike on the quarter hour and can be heard from as far as 20 miles away!
Ghost Town Museum
What young fun-prospector wouldn’t want to revisit the exhilaration of the Gold Rush days on infamous Cripple Creek? Celebrate Colorado’s wild, western past with an entertaining clomp along the boardwalk through this authentic, perfectly-preserved Ghost Town/Museum, selected by Mobile Travel Guide and Family Circle Magazine as one of the fifty-five special attraction of America. Boomtowns just like it once dotted the region as miners and prospectors came in droves to seek their fortune; now, just a few remain as evidence of the rough and tumble Gold Rush days. You and your students will experience a heaping helping of turn of the century life and enjoy a hands-on history lesson as you wander and explore a blacksmith's shop and livery stable, a saloon, a general store, various merchants of main street and a traditional Victorian home all filled with an array of everyday artifacts. Show off your marksmanship at a shooting gallery, try your hand at churning butter, operate an old time Nickelodeon, pan for real gold and treat yourself to an icy, refreshing sarsaparilla; Pikes Peak or Bust!
The much-lauded Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs is charged with the critical task of outlining the rich history of the Pikes Peak area and showcases a comprehensive collection of more than 60,000 authentic objects across a diversity of subjects including Western art, antique quilts and pottery, Plains and Pueblo Indian culture and space exploration; it also boasts the finest regional art collection in Colorado. Housed in the beautiful old El Paso County courthouse and surrounded by lush, carefully tended grounds, the museum itself is a work of art; the exquisitely restored Division I Courtroom on the Museum’s upper floor is truly a sight to behold and frequently the stage for special productions, while the Starsmore Center for Local History - an archives and research library which concentrates on items related to the Pikes Peak Region – proudly displays amongst its considerable holdings the personal papers of illustrious city-founder and railroad-builder General William Jackson Palmer.
Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame / Museum of the American Cowboy
You cannot travel to Colorado Springs without stopping at this wonderful institution – the only museum in the world dedicated solely to the All-American sport of Professional Rodeo and honoring the greats – man and beast - with a special nod to the legends fans know and love. Visitors discover inside - and out - an assemblage of exhibits and authentic artifacts arranged and presented to educate the public about rodeo and its colorful, wild and wooly history in a wholesome paean to the rodeo way of life. No drugstore cowboys (or cowgirls) here; this is all about the real thing, showcasing the evolution of rodeo from its origins in early ranch work through its burgeoning to a major professional sport. Its Priefert Arena hosts team roping events, convention rodeos, and wild west shows May – October; in the Summer months, be sure drop by the Zoetis Barn for some face time with a couple of retired equine athletes and a little education about the care and welfare of rodeo stock. What a fitting finale to your unforgettable Centennial State vacation!