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Thursday, May 20,2010

Summer Scene 2010: Cruising campus

A sampling of CU’s best sights and sites, by foot

While there are many great sights to see during a Boulder County summer, one of the highlights has to be the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado.

Sure, a stroll along Pearl Street Mall or a Chautauqua trail shouldn’t be missed, but no visit to the area is complete without checking out a handful of CU attractions.

With its Tuscany-inspired red-tile rooftops, stacked-sandstone walls and meticulous landscaping, the campus is one of the most beautiful in the world, and even longtime locals can find a surprise here.

With the possible exception of the Euclid lot, parking on campus can be a pain, so you might try scoring a metered spot on the northwest side, along University between 17th and Broadway. From there, you can see the backside of your first stop, the towering Macky Auditorium. This 1923 gothic theatre has seen everyone from Eleanor Roosevelt to Jerry Garcia pass through its doors, and there are rumors that it’s haunted by the ghost of a female student who was murdered by a janitor in 1966 in the building’s west tower.

If the ghosts don’t get you, only a handful of steps to the southwest stands the university’s very first building, Old Main. Built in 1877, when the land was just a prairie bereft of trees, this structure now houses a CU history museum on its third floor, where you can see everything from an alum astronaut’s moon rock to CU grad Glenn Miller’s trombone to a faculty member’s Nobel Prize.

Stroll out the south door, and you’ll be on Norlin Quadrangle, which is at its best in the summer months. To the east, you’ll see Norlin Library, with the inscription “Who knows only his own generation remains always a child” above its main entrance. But head southeast along the paths that will take you to the Dalton Trumbo Fountain, a designated free-speech zone that has seen many a protest. Peek in the massive University Memorial Center, and if you’re hungry, grab a bite in the food courts or pick up a stuffed CU mascot, Ralphie the buffalo, in the bookstore. You could also bowl a few frames in The Connection, a student lounge/café/bowling alley.

After visiting the UMC, go back out to the fountain area and head due west, through an archway, and you’ll see the outdoor Mary Rippon Theatre, where you’ll return later to catch an evening performance of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Hang a left into the Henderson Building, the home of CU’s Museum of Natural History, where you can see everything from a giant triceratops skull to Native American art. There’s a cool little nook on the bottom floor for kids to play and explore.

If you’re up for more walking, go back the way you came, then head west from the fountain area through the covered walkway of the UMC Loggia. Making your way northeast, you can check out CU’s brand-spanking-new visual arts center and, beyond that, the hightech ATLAS Building.

Continue north and then east along 18th Street and Colorado Avenue, passing the Ketchum Building where Ward Churchill used to work before he got canned. Soon you’ll descend into the shadows of Folsom Stadium, where, if you’re lucky, you might be able to take in the stellar view of the field and the Flatirons from the club level (try the elevators on the east side of the stadium).

Finally, if you’re not too exhausted yet, work your way south by southeast across campus to the Fiske Planetarium, on the south side of Regent Drive (enjoy that new tunnel under Regent; that crossing used to involve taking your life in your hands). If you can, catch a show at Fiske, or just browse the exhibits around the lobby area.

Still not done? More south-bysouthwest trekking will get you to the impressive architecture of the Wolf Law Building.

Oh, did you want to get back to your car? It’s on the complete opposite side of campus. Sorry about that.

But if you head west and return along Broadway (don’t forget to hang a right on University to find your vehicle), you can get a taste of the shops and restaurants on The Hill, which will make it worth the trip.

Boulder Falls

A tourist destination since the late 19th century, Boulder Falls is located on the north side of Boulder Canyon Drive, about 11 miles west of the city of Boulder. The falls, which have been called the “Yosemite of Boulder Canyon,” form where North Boulder Creek tumbles roughly 70 feet to enter Middle Boulder Creek.

Chautauqua Park
900 Baseline Rd. Boulder, CO 303-442-3282 www.chautauqua.com
Opened in 1898, the Colorado Chautauqua, one of three operational Chautauquas left in the U.S., is a hub of community and cultural events in Boulder. The Chautauqua Auditorium hosts everything from a silent film series to live concerts, and food is available at the Dining Hall. Also, Chautauqua Park is the gateway to many of the best trails in Boulder Mountain Parks.

Dinosaur National Monument
4545 E. Highway 40 Dinosaur, CO 970-374-3000 www.nps.gov/dino
It’s about a five-hour drive, but it’s worth it. Survey the craggy hills and explore fragments of a long-ago world where the largest land creatures of all time once roamed and died. You can view rock art, check out fossils, explore homestead sites and even go whitewater rafting. Take I-70 west to Rifle, head north on Hwy. 13, then west on Hwy. 64 to Dinosaur, then east on Hwy. 40 two miles.

Flagstaff Nature Center
The Flagstaff Nature Center teaches visitors to Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks about the wildlife, plants and history of the city’s plains and foothills. There are activities and games designed to challenge children of all ages, and they have a friendly and knowledgeable volunteers to answer all your questions. The center is open 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends from May through September. Follow Flagstaff Road approximately 3.5 miles, turn right onto Flagstaff Summit road, and follow it about a half mile to the summit of Flagstaff Mountain.

Garden of the Gods
1805 N. 30th St. Colorado Springs, CO 719-634-6666 www.gardenofgods.com
While there are lots of sights to see in the Colorado Springs area (check out Seven Falls and Cave of the Winds, as well), this one takes the cake. Incredible red rock formations, including one in the shape of two camels kissing, sit at the foot of majestic Pike’s Peak, one of Colorado’s fourteeners. You can rock climb, check out the visitor’s center, hike one of the many trails, or just drive through the park, gawking up through your sunroof. To get there from I-25 in Colorado Springs, take Garden of the Gods road west, then hang a left on 30th Street.

Georgetown Loop Railroad
888-456-6777 www.georgetownlooprr.com
Colorado has several historic tourist trains, including the Cumbres & Toltec and the Durango & Silverton, but the Georgetown Loop is closest — only about 45 minutes west of Denver on I-70. It was an engineering marvel in its time, gaining 600 feet in elevation over a two-mile stretch thanks to its corkscrew turns, including one over the majestic Devil’s Gate High Bridge. After your ride, step back in time by visiting any of the charming shops or restaurants in Victorian Georgetown or rustic Silver Plume.

Great Sand Dunes National Park
11999 Highway 150 Mosca, CO 719-378-6399 www.nps.gov/grsa
One of the most incredible spots in our state is only a four-hour drive away. The dunes, the tallest in North America, are quite a sight, nestled between alpine peaks and desert. Sandboarding or sledding down the dunes is key, but there are also opportunities for hiking, backpacking, riding, camping and mountain climbing in the area. Take I-25 south to Walsenburg, then head west on U.S. 160 and turn north onto Hwy. 150.

Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
4218 County Road 3A Cañon City, CO 719-275-7507 www.royalgorgebridge.com
With 21 rides, shows and attractions on 360 amazing acres, there is plenty to do at this classic Colorado vacation destination. The crown jewel is the world’s highest suspension bridge, strung across a canyon 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River. There’s also the cliff walk, inspiration point, a petting zoo, a mountain man encampment and a water clock. Take I-25 south to Pueblo, then west on U.S. 50, then south on CR-3A. And make sure there’s lots of film in your camera.

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