Natural History Programs
The Nature Place, designated by the National Park Service as a National Environmental Study Center, is located on over 6,000 acres of pristine mountain forestland. Each spring, summer and fall, we take great pride in sharing this unique ecosystem with members of naturalist organizations, nature center members or college and university alumni groups by providing personal and professional opportunities for learning, reflection and inspiration. | Our Natural History Programs, for ages 7 to 77, are one-week explorations of the natural world. Mornings are spent with our experienced naturalists, exploring enormous petrified sequoia tree stumps, leaf and insect fossils, classic glacial cirques, five billion years of geology, the birds of the region, wildflowers and much, much more! | Afternoons are filled with a wide variety of optional activities such as crafts, games, fishing, hikes, mountain biking, horseback riding or free time in an aspen grove or on a rock outcrop. | Evening activities include natural history discussions and slide shows, trips to view wildlife, and the opportunity to view the spectacular night sky through our 17.5” telescope with our experienced astronomer.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
The Monument is our neighbor to the East and is the site of some of the world’s finest Oligocene fossils. Formed when the ash of an ancient volcano covered Lake Florissant 35 million years ago, the leaf and insect fossils found here are perfectly preserved. Enormous petrified sequoia tree stumps are on display at the Monument. After lunch, we’ll do some digging of our own at a private dig site and hope to unearth some treasures of our own. Along the way, our naturalists will point out various natural, geological and cultural features.
At an elevation of 11,000’, spectacular Leavick Valley lies at the base of Horseshoe Mountain, one of the world’s classic glacial cirques. Nearby Mt Sherman rises to more than 14,000’. Here we can explore both alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems and admire the many wildflowers, insects, and animals which survive in this difficult environment. This area also boasts many abandoned silver mines, the rich geology of the valley provides many exciting finds. We’ll enjoy lunch at the beautiful glacial tarns at the base of Horseshoe Mountain. For really energetic members of the group, we also offer a guided climb of Mt. Sherman.
This famous gold mining town is about 15 miles from The Nature Place. While in Cripple Creek we can visit the Mollie Kathleen Mine, a working gold mine dating from 1891, ride the narrow gauge railroad through Echo Valley, and enjoy the wonderful melodrama performance at the historic Butte Opera House.
The Shelf Road
A van trip into the Sonoran Desert allows us to explore the amazing variety of plant and wildlife in yet another life zone. Our trip takes us down the Shelf Road with its stunning canyon views. We’ll stop to examine fish scale fossils from over 400 million years ago. We’ll travel on to the Canon City area whose cretaceous shales have yielded some of the finest dinosaur fossils in the world as well as numerous sharks’ teeth, clam fossils and other remnants from the ancient seas which once covered the area.
The Witcher Ranch is part of our property and is the original headquarters of the historic late 1800’s cattle operation. The original blacksmith shop, potato cellar, slaughter-house and buildings are all in tact. We become cowboys here for a half-day to learn about this piece of western history.
The Quick Homestead is also part of our property. The original house, barn and outbuildings are in tact. We become Homesteaders here for a half-day to learn about this piece of United States History.
Hiking to Top of the World, Little Blue or A-Bluff are wonderful experiences where we see lots of local flora & fauna along the way. These are our highest points on the property with a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountain ranges and valleys. These can be accomplished in several hours, depending on how much education we show and do during the hike.
Five Billion Year Geology Walk
The Five Billion Year Geology Walk is a walk though time that shows graphically how recently we’ve come to have what we do. During this walk we describe the immensity of time in the universe and on Earth. This takes a minimum of 2 hours.
We have the State’s 4th largest telescope in our observatory. We provide a ½ hour talk before viewing the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter and craters inside of craters on the moon, of course – depending on what is available in the sky at the time. Seeing deep sky nebula or star clusters while gaining an understanding of what we are looking at and how far away they are, is an unforgettable experience for many students.
- Fish Creek Valley
- Bird Watching
- Beaver Tour in the Florissant Canyon
Natural History Program Rates
Our Natural History Rates are determined by single occupancy or double occupancy for six days and six nights. This includes all room and board starting with a social before dinner on day one and ending with breakfast on day six. Also included are all transportation, educational services during the daily trips, evenings and guided hikes. Afternoon socials with beer, wine and snacks are also included.
To plan a retreat, conference or event, please call 719-748-3475 or email.