Snow-covered mountains and dry desert lands, low valleys and flowing rivers… Colorado has enough geographic diversity for a well-rounded lesson from Mother Earth. Monuments of art and culture fill the nooks and crannies of every landscape, leaving Colorado packed with educational and natural aspects. With endless avenues of nature and history, Colorado is perfect for students waiting to embark on an enlightening journey.
Spark Your Desire for Adventure
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve, home to the tallest sand dunes in North America, has grasslands, wetlands, green and white forests, elevated lakes and tundra—all combined into one. Referred to as “the Rocky Mountain beach,” Medano Creek‘s waters are ideal for toe-dipping at the bottom of the dunes. The latest phenomenon at the beach is sandboarding—boarding, sledding or skiing down the dunes on specially made plastic material. Hike the shaded trails or climb the tallest peaks to see a picture-perfect scene of Colorado. Take a break from the classroom to explore the patterns of supervolcanoes and the history of their eruptions.
Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction contains 11 canyons with endless choices of hiking trails, from easy to challenging. Study the red rock formations on Rattlesnake Arches Loop, with the second highest amount of arches in the U.S., or Mica Mine Trail, which leads to a goldmine full of historic mica and quartz. Grand Junction has all sorts adventure activities including hiking, digging for dinosaur remains, horseback riding and mountain biking.
Rocky Mountain National Park offers activities for every season to explore the natural wonders of Colorado: snowshoeing and tubing in winter; skiing and snowmobiling in spring; whitewater rafting and tubing in summer; and zip lining and high ropes courses in autumn. Hike the scenic trails to see wild moose that overlook famous lakes like Bear, Sprague and Lily Lake.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has access to one of the most decorated caves in North America, found right in Glenwood Springs. Known previously as the Fairy Caves before World War I, the caverns reopened in 1999 with the Iron Mountain Tramway to provide year-round access to the peak of the mountain. Amusement park rides were added shortly after making this a tourist destination for students. Tour the caves or take a gondola ride to witness the natural beauty that is enclosed in the park, such as Glenwood Caverns, the Colorado River or Hanging Lake.
Activities for the Artistic Souls
Denver Botanic Gardens puts on a handful of tours that showcase its urban oasis. Seasonal Discoveries tour shows the peaks of each ecological season, from summer to winter. COlorado COnnections tour teaches the proper practice on keeping Colorado plants thriving. Witness the fascinating ways plants influence pollinators to transfer pollen on the Pollinator and Plants tour. Explore carnivorous plants and their defense mechanisms from the Fiendish Flora tour. Not only does Denver Botanic Gardens display the art of plant life, there are also art exhibits planted throughout the gardens, like Deborah Butterfield’s Nature of Horses sculptures that consist of wood and metal.
Denver Art Museum is notorious for their Creativity Resource for teachers. By inspiring teachers to make educational and creative lesson plans, Denver Art Museum provides a unique experience with every visit. Options include culture-based tours on places from Africa to Japan to Mexico, and artful literacy tours, which strengthen language art skills and hone students’ observational skills on art.
Colorado Shakespeare Festival gives students the Shakespeare experience through plays, workshops and classroom visits. The celebration has been held since 1958 in the outdoor Mary Rippon Theatre in Boulder. Performing underneath the stars brings a Shakespeare show to life—similar to those performed in the Globe Theatre in London, where Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed.
Colorado Spring’s Garden of the Gods combines geology, ecology and cultural history all in one visit. With exhibits in the garden dating back millions of years ago, this attraction is rich in Colorado history. Tours educate students on rock types, geologic processes and rock formations. Explore plants and wildlife in the garden’s foothills and mountains, then discover gemstones at the Gemstone Mine.
Gateway’s Canyons Auto Museum displays the finest collections of American automobiles providing a visual and educational experience with a historical twist. Over 50 vehicles from the famous Hendricks Collection are on display, owned by Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks, which helps tell the story of the automobile’s impact on society. Guided tours include Wheels of Discovery and Motoring in the 1900s, with presentations on gears, oils and modern assembly lines.
The Denver Mint is one of four locations in the U.S. that produces the American public’s coins and is one of two that allows visitors. Tours cover the current process of coin manufacturing and the history of the Mint from the 1800s. Students learn all stages of the minting process, from the first designs to modern designs, and hear the story of all six coins.
Students Hit the Stage
The city of Grand Junction provides entertainment venues for students looking to broaden their horizons—literally. Perform your musical talents in the Saddlehorn Amphitheater 5,000 feet above sea level overlooking the canyons. The Avalon Theatre, an indoor venue, is also available for student performers.
Colorado is filled with countless outdoor recreational opportunities and historical monuments for students of all ages to enjoy. A trip to Colorado is guaranteed not to disappoint. Any other student-friendly destinations to suggest? Comment on your top five below!