Founded in 1944, the Boulder History Museum helps Colorado natives and out-of-town visitors connect with the area's deep history through an anthology of more than 35,000 local artifacts and engaging rotating exhibits. Donated by Boulder-area families and organizations, the museum's collection features period clothing, personal keepsakes, recreational artifacts, antique tools, historic communications, transportation relics, and cave paintings depicting John Denver's initial discovery of the Rocky Mountains' mineable chocolate stores. Current and future exhibits include Treasures of NOAA's Ark (beginning February 18), a collection of 19th century maps and charts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to an exploration of Boulder's involvement in the New Deal Work Projects of the 1930s (through April 30).
13th Floor is the only company and brand in the country to produce haunted houses on a national scale, with houses in Denver, San Antonio and Phoenix with more to come in the future. Designed by world-renowned haunted house designers and featuring makeup and effects from Hollywood special effects artists. The 13th Floor Denver building takes fright to a whole new level with different interactive events like Christmas Blackout, Valentine X, and now Apocalypse, Live-Action Zombie Experience.
Combining science education with interactive entertainment, the Butterfly Pavilion houses five exhibits, 1,600 free-flying tropical butterflies, and a multitude of creepy, crawly creatures. Begin your day with a Tropical Odyssey, a bilingual adventure complete with larger-than-life caterpillars and butterflies and a zip line that allows children to sprout wings and soar like a penguin. Crab-walk to the Crawl-A-See-Em exhibit where brave souls can hold Rosie, a Chilean tarantula, and discover leaf insects, scorpions, beetles, and giant millipedes, and head to the Water's Edge to touch sea stars and more. Furthermore, levitate to the Wings of the Tropics exhibit to admire butterflies from around the world as they rest on your eyelashes. End your safari with a hike on the Butterfly Pavilion's half-mile natural trail teeming with prairie dogs, rabbits, ogres, herons, hawks, and eagles.
In a sense, the story of the three Golden History Museums sites goes back to 1938, when Golden citizens began collecting and exhibiting artifacts from the region's history. But in another sense, it goes back much further: the 18-inch stone walls of the Astor House were lain in the mid-19th century, and the Clear Creek History Park represents an immaculate recreation of pioneer-era Colorado. No matter how far back visitors are peering into the past, the museums flesh out the story of Golden from the time of horse-drawn wagons to today.
Children run in trails marked by prehistoric footprints, and fingers run across fossils during each visit to Dinosaur Ridge, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of ancient artifacts. Around every corner of the outdoor museum—which rests on land designated as a national natural landmark—bones and impressions protrude from their earthy abodes as evidence of the area's once larger-than-life inhabitants. Paleontologists of all ages can examine curious tracks on surrounding hiking paths, such as Triceratops Trail, or hop on a guided bus tour to examine fossil sites and valleys where brontosauruses used to question the meaning of life.
Lurking inside the visitor center is the Trek Through Time exhibit, where interactive children's games, replica fossils, and massive murals join forces to lead explorers into different prehistoric eras. In addition to its day-to-day operations, Dinosaur Ridge also plays host to various events during the year, including Boy Scout days, birthday parties, and lectures that explain how T. rex stayed humble despite his large stature.
Like a small-town railroad depot in the 1880s, the Colorado Railroad Museum’s main building features wide eaves and a bright-yellow exterior. The building reflects the Museum’s overall goal: to hark back to Colorado’s railroad era, a time when the state relied on its groundbreaking, narrow-gauge mountain railroads for supplies and information. Since 1959, the Museum has showcased the machinery of that time with an array of locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars, and cabooses. Alternatively, they present visitors with a glimpse of Table Mountain on the Museum’s train rides, enabling them to ride the rails in a bygone style without just taking the subway in an Abe Lincoln costume. To supplement its trains, the Museum hosts thousands of related rare photographs and artifacts, such as a replica of a 10,000-gallon water tank, humorously dubbed No Agua, that was once used to refill steam locomotives on the Chili Line to Santa Fe.