NCAR Tour (Boulder)

What: National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) tourNCAR Science museum (Boulder CO) - free admission
Where: Boulder
When: Self-guided tours Weekdays 8-5; weekends and holidays 9-4;
Guided Tours at noon Mon.,Wed., and Fri., except holidays

In Woody Allen’s 1973 movie Sleeper, Woody tries to load a huge magnetic tape on a super computer, and ends up dangling out a window tangled up in tape. The futuristic building featured in this scene is the beautiful structure designed by world famous architect I.M. Pei, and the home of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). It is situated in a spectacular setting, nestled beneath Boulder’s dramatic Flatiron rock formations.

Adults and children alike will find fascinating hands-on displays that demonstrate how tornadoes form, how eddies form in water and air, and various electrical phenomena such as lightning and static electricity. These and other exhibits demonstrate processes that affect weather and climate.

NCAR Science museum (Boulder CO) - free admissionVisit the impressive computing center, utilized by researchers working to provide more accurate weather forecasts, improve hurricane warnings, understand climate change such as global warming, measure wind shear and turbulence, and much more. Learn how the use of the on-site 3D Visualization Lab has helped scientists make breakthroughs in analyzing data.

If terms like gigaflops and terabytes mean something to you, you’ll find additional details on the computers currently being used at NCAR, which runs one of the 10 fastest supercomputing centers in the world. Computer history buffs will enjoy a close-up view of part of the old Cray Supercomputer used by the center starting in the late 1970s.

After enjoying the indoor displays, head outside to the 0.4 mile Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail, where you’ll hike through a nature preserve and learn about weather phenomena that may be visible around you while you walk! View the infamous Brown Cloud, look for Mountain Waves in the clouds, and learn about cold fronts, snow, ultraviolet light, erosion, fire, drought, and thunderstorms (oops, time to head back inside!) Be on the lookout for mule deer, rabbits, and lovely springtime wildflowers in the woods around you. Numerous other hiking trails are available in this region as well.


For more information, contact:
National Center for Atmospheric Research
1850 Table Mesa Drive
Boulder, CO 80305

Additional directions:
Drive to the intersection of Broadway and Table Mesa Drive on the north side of Boulder. Turn west on Table Mesa Drive, and continue to the end of the road, which is the entrance to the parking lot for NCAR.

Geology Museum (Golden)

What: Colorado School of Mines Geology MuseumGeology Museum exhibit (Golden CO) - free admission
Where: Golden
When: Monday-Saturday 9-4, Sunday 1-4
Closed Sundays in Summer & all CSM holidays
School group tours must be scheduled in advance

We suppose you might groan if we said this museum is a “gem of a place.”

You won’t have that reaction when you peruse the display of approximately 50,000 minerals, fossils, gemstones, and artifacts which the museum has to offer. You’ll simply “ooh” and “aah” over this outstanding collection of material. About the time you think you’ve seen “the best” crystals, you’ll be dazzled by the display in the next case. From the blues of Azurite to the reds and pinks of Rhodochrosite, the whites and yellows of Quartz to the oranges and yellows of Wulfenite, the wide variety of rich colors along with impressive sizes and shapes make this museum tour a memorable event.

Geology Museum exhibit (Golden CO) - free admissionThe displays are well lit and documented as to type and origin of the specimen. View the official State Gems and State Minerals from each state. You’ll find articles from all around the globe as well as right here in Colorado. Speaking of Colorado, there’s a fine display of good old Colorado gold. While you’re lusting after all that gold, the kids can enjoy spending some time in the “kids corner.”

The lower floor contains an interesting display of Colorado mining history as well as some interesting fossils.

If you would like to donate $5,000 – $10,000, you can take home some really fine crystals. Check them out; don’t you think they would make a fine conversation piece on the family coffee table?

For more information, contact:
Colorado School of Mines
Department of Geology and Geological Engineering
16th and Maple Street
Golden, CO 80401
(303) 273-3815


Earthquake Information Center tour (Golden)

What: National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) tourNational Earthquake Information Center (Golden CO) free tour by appointment only
Where: Golden
When: By advance appointment only

The greatest “earthshaking” event in recent history occurred in Chile in 1960. This was an earthquake which registered at 9.5 on the Richter scale. The Chilean earthquake was followed just a few years later by a magnitude 9.2 quake in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The 9.0 quake in Japan in 2011 was the worst ever recorded in that country. Earthquakes of magnitude 9.0+ are very rare and produce major damage over a 600 mile area. Learn these and many other interesting facts during your 30-45 minute tour of the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC).

Seismologists at the NEIC track data from monitoring stations located around the world. This is the only facility on earth that tracks seismic activity for the entire globe. This information is recorded on a series of computer screens and seismographs which are located at the Center. The scientists use the tracking data to monitor not only earthquakes, but also tsunamis, giant sea waves produced by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This information can be used to activate emergency response teams around the world within minutes after the earthquake has occurred.

National Earthquake Information Center (Golden CO) free tour by appointment onlyYou can log on to to view a variety of the most recent earthquake information as well as some outstanding photos of the 1964 Alaska earthquake. This site is really cool and even has a special section for kids only. Don’t miss viewing this exciting website.

After your tour ends, you will have an opportunity to create your own personal earthquake by jumping up and down on the special platform located on the first floor. Watch as the seismograph registers your impact. We hope you didn’t create a 9.1 quake!


For more information, contact:

U.S. Department of Interior
1711 Illinois Street (Corner of 18th & Illinois)
Golden, CO

Phone for appointment: (303) 273-8420