Natural History & Environmental 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.
- Morning activities exploring fossils, glacial cirques, geology walks, birds, and more!
- Afternoon activities such as crafts, fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, or free time
- Evening activities include natural history discussions and the opportunity to view the spectacular night sky through our 17.5" telescope with our experienced astronomer.
The Nature Place is a perfect location to explore the natural beauty Colorado has to offer!
Day Trips include:
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. 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 subalpine 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. We can also 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.
Great Hikes on our property include:
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 through 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.
Contact us today about having
The Nature Place host your next event!
“This is the most life-transforming event I have encountered in 30 years around the globe. Participants come hoping to sharpen their technical skills; they leave inspired to become a better person. What better place to discover what really matters? The atmosphere is enchanting, the peaks are breathtaking, and then something magical happens.”
“I never knew how good it feels to be treated like ‘Queen For the Day’ for 4 days in a row! Thank you!”
“Our program really emphasized teamwork within our leadership team and I certainly got that. I have more confidence and my relationship with the other members is now very strong, and we started as strangers.”
“The purpose of our workshops was to develop and cement relationships. We were able to do this because of the isolation from social distraction, the relaxed atmosphere, and the comfortable, well-planned programs and meeting areas."
“After jumping off a pole and walking across cables with the team's support, I now know that if I put my mind to something, I can and will accomplish it. I also learned that I am a cheerleader at heart and am able to encourage others. This is an area where I lacked confidence previously.”
"Not only is this a beautiful facility, with GREAT FOOD, the best we have seen in 10 years, but you are kind, loving, supportive people. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."
“Having done the team challenges I am more able to be creative with my team, and to think critically.”
“The orienteering course was absolutely energizing for me. I now have a clear understanding of the differences and likenesses between me, and others. My patience has grown as I now take time to discover where others are on the ‘map’. This was a very powerful training for me. Rich in benefits.”
“On behalf of the M---- M------- staff, I would like to thank you for facilitating such an amazing team-building experience for us… I feel extremely confident in saying that our experience at The Nature Place proved rewarding, both personally and professionally. We all learned something about ourselves as educators and collaborators. This learning experience for the staff will most certainly have a positive..."
“Leaders cannot command commitment; they can only inspire it. What may begin as “my” vision emerges as “our” vision."
“I have continued to live and relive portions of the experience over the past month and I continue to be impressed with the change wrought in my own life just because I have ‘been to the mountain top.’ Of all the seminars I have been to in my lifetime, this event will always stand out as one of the most memorable and significant.”
“Compared to other training programs that I have attended, I can honestly say that this is one program that I felt was totally worth my time and that was building my abilities from the moment we started until the very end. It was the toughest training program I’ve been to and yet somehow I felt very comfortable with the atmosphere at all times. I would like to congratulate you on the quality of instructors that..."
“My perception about being successful has changed. The Nature Place program with Insights Discovery helped me understand how to overcome the fear that I had of the ‘sticking points’ that exist in our team. I am much more confident and skillful now in getting past these challenging points."
“Our week in the Rockies simply wouldn’t have been nearly as successful anywhere other than The Nature Place. We can’t rave enough about your hospitality (and food!), and the facilities were even better than we thought possible."
“I’m more reflective and confident when my leadership is sought. I react differently now to situations. And I just know that I have been transformed as a leader."
“I just wanted to thank you for another great family reunion at The Nature Place. Your staff was great – I’d say the best yet. Shelley was the best. The facility and grounds looked great, and you’ve obviously made some additions and improvements. Though we never seem to get everything done that we plan, I left wondering how I could have squeezed any more into any day! The Nature Place, you, and your staff..."
“Rob, Thank you for all that you and your terrific team do to make Next Level look good. Wow, can you believe we did TWO weeklong programs with you this year? My colleagues and I are grateful to call you teammates. And we do not use that term lightly."
"Our Chief Officers just attended a 3 day leadership training and development program at The Nature Place. The program was nothing short of outstanding. I recommend the Insights Discovery System, the high ropes challenge course, and going to the observatory, although every activity we participated in was fun and educational. The staff was very service oriented and fun to be around..."
“I was extremely impressed by the performance of the entire staff and have truly never received such prompt and courteous attention at a conference. The facilities were beautiful, the food terrific, all in a setting that was breathtaking. I have received glowing remarks from everyone who participated. Morale is up 200%!."
“This program provided me with an enriching experience that is beyond compare. Our facilitator was superb, he challenged but didn’t force. It was an awesome experience to help me think beyond the norm from now on.”
"Please accept my appreciation for the exceptional services provided by you and your staff in support of Forces Command. The Nature Place is the ideal site for this exciting and meaningful event, for it provides the optimum atmosphere for focusing on the important topic of character and leadership development. The comfortable quarters, delicious food and gorgeous setting only serve..."
“The Nature Place turned out to be so perfect. And to think I had worried a bit after making my decision last fall—was it ‘spectacular’ enough to satisfy?’ What we enjoyed of course in this lovely setting was more simple than spectacular… Plus, an unbelievably gifted staff to help us see and appreciate more fully the beauty around us (and helping us climb those gorgeous Witcher rocks). Add to that the..."
“The challenge activities you planned were perfect. Your facilitators did an excellent job connecting with our work environment and the way they made the experience like our real life enhanced the takeaways for us. We will be back.”
“My sincere appreciation for the team building experience The Nature Place provided for my group and their families. The facilities are top notch and the location is truly magnificent. I know that the benefits gained during our time spent at The Nature Place will be long lasting."
“The High Rope Course was a moving and memorable experience for me. I am now more open to stretching myself and am working on creating a safe environment to challenge and try new things with my team at work.”
“The S------- family would like to express our appreciation to you and the entire staff for making our reunion such a success. To entertain and meet the needs of a group whose ages range from two months to seventy-five years is no small task and you were able to pull it off to perfection. The meals, accommodations, and variety of activities were outstanding, but the most important contributing factor..."
"Thank you for a wonderful setting for our program. The food was great, our rooms were clean, everything ran smoothly and everyone was friendly. You are all appreciated."
“I am now willing to take on more responsibilities at work that were outside of my comfort zone before.”
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