Denver Parks / Gardens and Zoos
Butterfly Pavilion & Insect Center
6252 W 104th Ave., Westminster CO 80030
(US 36 and 104th Ave.) (303) 469-5441
Daily: 9am - 5pm
The Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center, the nation's only stand-alone insect zoo, is a 16,000 square foot facility covering 5 acres. The 7,200 square foot conservatory houses a tropical forest, complete with a babbling brook and over 1,200 butterflies representing over 50 species from nine countries.
The Insect Center offers visitors the chance to hold tarantulas and get up close and personal with scorpions, black widows, giant cockroaches, centipedes and giant African millipedes.
In addition to the indoor attractions, which include a snack bar and gift shop, there is a half-mile nature trail that winds through the five-acre facility. The trail includes a visit to a butterfly garden and a cactus garden.
Denver Botanic Gardens
909 York Street, (303) 331-4000
May-September: 9am-5pm Wednesday-Friday and 9am-8 pm Saturday-Tuesday
October-April: 9am-5pm daily
Denver Botanic Gardens offers an oasis in an urban setting. Recognized as one of the top botanic gardens in the country, visitors can explore 23 acres of gardens bursting with colorful flowers and exotic plants from around the world. Denver Botanic Gardens is home to more than 15,000 species of plants, several world-renowned gardens, such as the Rock Alpine Garden, as well as nationally recognized plant collections, such as the water lily collection. Tropical Botanica, housed in the Boettcher Memorial Conservatory, is one of the 10 major conservatories in the country and the only major tropical plant conservatory in the Rocky Mountain Region. Visitors can be transported to Japan while they rest in the cool, green shade of the Japanese Garden, escape to the tropics in the warm and misty Tropical Botanica exhibit, experience sheer beauty in the Monet Garden and see a culinary delight while strolling through the French Kitchen Garden. Watch for signs containing plant names, origins and uses, as well as interpretational signs, located throughout the Gardens.
Little Raven Street between 19th and 20th Streets.
open from dawn to dusk year-round.
Shredders and Tricksters alike will enjoy the newest addition to Denver's skyline, a 2-acre Skate Park located within minutes of downtown Denver.
The $2.9 million dollar Skate Park is the largest outdoor free public skate facility in the United States. Located in the South Platte River District, the park features an assortment of concrete bowls ranging from four feet to 12 feet deep. There are ramps of various sizes to keep transition skaters happy. The park also features a very large "street plaza" section with handrails and ledges for grinding and sliding, and pyramids, hips and plenty of gaps to ollie.
Two of the parks more unique features are the Fish Ladder, a chain of shallow bowls ranging from one foot to four feet deep and the Washboard, which connects the "street plaza" with the bowls and half-pipes, allowing skaters to maintain their speed while moving throughout the park without having to push.
Denver Zoo - “Make the Connection”
23rd Avenue between Colorado Blvd. and York, in Denver's City Park (303) 376-4800
Denver Zoo, Colorado’s most popular cultural attraction is where you’ll experience amazing moments and endless opportunities. Internationally respected as a leader in animal care and exhibition, conservation programs, scientific study, environmental education, and public service, the Denver Zoo provides the opportunity to connect with over 4,000 animals. Feed exotic birds. Slide down a hippo’s back. Get nose-to-nose with an orangutan. Attend a wildlife show. For more information on the Denver Zoo, please visit our website at http://www.denverzoo.org/ or call (303) 376-4800
16831 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison CO 80120 (303) 697-3466
9 am - 5 pm Monday-Saturday; noon to 5 pm Sunday
This scenic mountain ridge 12 miles west of Denver is the site where the world's first large dinosaur bones were discovered.
The Visitors Center has interpretive displays that tell the story of how in 1877 a schoolteacher was poking around on the ridge when he discovered the fossil of an enormous bone.
Within weeks, the area became known as the Morrison Dinosaur Quarry. The world's first Stegosaurus was found here, along with bones from the Allosaurus and Brontosaurus among others. The discovery set off the "Great Dinosaur Rush" and dozens of scientists from the East came to Denver in search of additional fossil sites.
Today, the area has been designated a National Natural Landmark and preserves over 300 dinosaur footprints. Seventeen interpretive signs along a mile-long path describe and show how dinosaur bones look to scientists when they are still encased in rock.
Guided tours may be scheduled by calling the information center.
6115 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton CO 80120 (303) 738-8406
10am-5pm daily April-October; hours vary rest of the year.
Just 20 minutes south of Denver, these 16 gardens on 30 acres offer beauty and tranquility along the banks of the South Platte River. The themed gardens have beautiful mountain views and are complemented by pools, pavilions, bridges, sculptures and fountains. There are walks and bike rides available from here along the South Platte River bike path. Butterflies, birds and a family of red foxes are found in the gardens.