Chautauqua Park is definitely one of Boulder’s jewels.  Located directly below the Flatirons, Chautauqua has been a premier destination for over 110 years.  Most people know Chautauqua as a great place for a hike or a picnic but it is so much more.  If you ever wanted to learn more about Chautauqua here is your chance.

History:

Here is some information from The Colorado Chautauqua Association’s website.

On July 4, 1898, over 4,000 people gathered for the opening day of the Colorado Chautauqua. Boulder civic leaders and Texas educators had joined together to create a cultural and educational summer retreat. Today, the Colorado Chautauqua is one of three remaining Chautauquas in the United States, and the only site west of the Mississippi River, in continuous operation, with its original structures intact.

Before radio and television, the Chautauqua Movement united millions in common cultural and educational experiences. Orators, performers, and educators traveled a national Chautauqua circuit of more than 12,000 sites bringing lectures, performances, concerts, classes, and exhibitions to thousands of people in small towns and cities. Theodore Roosevelt called Chautauquas, “the most American thing in America.”

Located at the base of Boulder’s Flatirons, Chautauqua Park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a local landmark. The Colorado Chautauqua Association, a 501 (c) (3) organization, leases twenty-six acres of land from the City of Boulder, on which are situated:

The Auditorium (1898) included on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been voted one of the top ten places artists love to play because of its superior acoustics and intimate feel.

The Dining Hall (1898) is now open all year, offering excellent cuisine.

The Academic Hall (1900) houses Chautauqua’s administrative offices and housed the first collegiate-level summer school in Colorado.

The Community House (1918) is a stunning example of Arts and Crafts architecture and has been winterized and renovated.

Chautauqua is not just a park with a few community buildings in which to eat, meet or enjoy a concert.  Chautauqua is a collection of charming cottages set apart from the rest of the city.  There are 100 cottages.  60 are owned by the Colorado Chautauqua Association and 40 are privately owned, many by the same family’s who built them five generations ago.

Activities and Programs

The founders of our Chautauqua were a group of educators from Texas.  They came for the summer to enjoy the mountain climate (pre-air-conditioning) and engage in a program of art, exercise and cultural events (pre-TV).

There are three remaining Chautauqua’s in the United States and ours is the only one that is active all year long.  The program schedule definitely peaks during the summer months but there are activities all year long.  The highlights of the year, in my opinion, are the summer concerts and movies in the wonderful Chautauqua Auditorium.  This wonderful building has not been noticeably improved since it was built.  I remember as a kid that part of the fun of going to a movie there was to see the bats fly in front of the screen.  Events and programs have a wide variety and include, classical music, folk music, popular music, films, ecology talks, current issue forums and much more.

Location

Chautauqua is a park, it is a trailhead, it is a destination, it is a trailhead.  It is located on the farwestern part of Baseline Road (40th parallel) at 9th Street.  It is adjacent to the University Hill neighborhood to the North and the Bluebell or Chautauqua neighborhood to the East.  To the west you will find The Flatirons which is the unique rock formation that can be seen on most postcards.  To the south you will find hiking trails which are part of the Boulder Mountain Parks system.

Trails

I would say the Chautauqua trailhead is the busiest in the area.  No matter the time of year you will find walkers, hikers, climbers and photographers taking advantage of trail system which starts in Chautauqua Meadow.  The beauty is that you can take a 15 minute stroll or a 15 mile hike and start off in the same spot.  There are trails along the base of the Flatirons (these tend to be easier) and there are those that go vertical and end up above the them.  Choose your level of commitment and go for it.

 

Links

Map of the Chautauqua property

Lodging Information

Still want to learn more watch this great VIDEO

Hiking Map

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