Opened in 1898, the Colorado Chautauqua in Boulder has been a hub for concerts and outdoor recreation since its founding when Boulder purchased 80 acres of land. At the time, there were many Chautauquas around the country for the original purpose of adult education. Boulder Chautauqua was started because the Texas Board of Regents wanted to create a summer school for teachers in a cool climate. Sitting against the gorgeous Boulder Flatirons, Chautauqua is one of 25 National Historic Landmarks in Colorado and brings in thousands of visitors every year.
Hiking in Chautauqua
The list of possible activities at Chautauqua is endless. Chautauqua is home to numerous hiking trails that lead into the Flatirons, the small oddly-shaped mountains looking over the city. Choose First-Second Flatiron Trail for a strenuous hike (2.2 miles round trip) which ends between the First Flatiron and Sunset Rock. For a shorter trail check out Woods Quarry (0.6 miles round trip) which ends at an abandoned quarry.
Dining and Lodging in Chautauqua
Chautauqua is also home to a dining hall and 58 cottages (available to rent) as well as two lodges that can be reserved in the summer. These beautiful cabins perch on the Chautauqua hillside overlooking Boulder. Some sit on the Bluebell hiking trail going up to the Flatirons, delivering gorgeous views of the mountains. Reservations flood in for these types of accommodations and available lodging goes quickly.
Ann Obenchain has worked at the Colorado Chautauqua as the director of marketing for seven years since 2010. She gives some advice for the up-and-coming summer months in the park.
Q: When should visitors reserve a cabin for the summer months?
A: We take reservations up to two years in advance. We have guests staying from one night all the way to a month.
Q: Could you tell me a little more about the Summer Concert Series?
A: This will be our 120th Summer Series (in 2017). Events include popular concerts, classical music, silent films with live musical accompaniment, contemporary dance, theatre hikes and film festivals. There is truly something for everyone. Headliners this summer include Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo', The Gipsy Kings, The Punch Brothers and Blind Pilot.
Q: What are three things visitors should focus on for their stay?
A: A concert at the Chautauqua Auditorium, a picnic on the Chautauqua green with a view of the Flatirons and a hike to Royal Arch (1.6 miles round trip).
Q: How is parking going to be handled for the busy summer months?
A: Chautauqua was built in 1898 without automobiles in mind so parking can be a challenge. There is limited parking in lots at Chautauqua and there is a free bus shuttle on concert nights. Car pooling and bike riding is highly encouraged!
As the park is being loved to death, there is a parking and transportation pilot this summer on weekends from June 1-Aug 31, 2017. During that time, there will be paid parking in the lots and on Baseline Road and a free bus from various locations in Boulder that runs 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Shuttles start at 27th Way Park-n-Ride and 13th & Pearl. The shuttle comes 90 minutes before show time and then every 15-20 minutes until 30 minutes after showtime starts. Concert goers are dropped off between 10th and Lincoln Place, which was the original trolley stop for Chautauqua. It is then a four-minute walk to the Chautauqua Auditorium with 100 feet in elevation gain. Get picked up by way of the east entrance of the auditorium to get back to where you left your car ]
Q: What are some must-sees and secret spots in Chautauqua?
A: The Flatiron views, the beautiful grounds (of Chautauqua), the auditorium and (for secret spots) homemade ice cream at the General Store, which is open daily at 8 a.m.
Q: Chautauqua has a dining hall, which serves delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. What is your favorite dish there?
A: The Big Country Salad. And, after work, the cilantro jalapeño margarita.