Registration for all excursions includes bus travel to and from CU-Boulder’s campus.

If you have already registered for the conference and wish to add an excursion, please contact CU Boulder Conference services either by phone (303-492-5151) or email (conferences@colorado.edu).

June 11 Pre-Conference Excursions


Tour of National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, $25

NCAR’s site is nestled just outside Boulder, against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Built in the early 1960’s, the Mesa Laboratory was designed by well-known architect I.M. Pei. The building includes research facilities, common areas, and courtyards that blend with, and open onto, the magnificent environmental setting. A visit includes a tour of the facility (highlighting its architectural history), as well as informative discussion of NCAR’s research. This visit also includes a visualization demonstration highlighting the work of NCAR's computing division: the "Vis Lab" showcases state-of-the-art scientific visualizations from supercomputer models or observed data.

Tours of NCAR are restricted to groups no larger than 25 attendees.

Tour of National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

8:30 am – 11:30 am, $25

Located outside the city of Golden, touring NREL gives and overview discussion in the Educational Center, followed by a tour of the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF). ESIF is one of the only megawatt-scale test facilities in the United States that integrates electricity, thermal, and fuel systems with high performance modeling and simulation capabilities. NREL scientists and engineers at the ESIF research and test integrated energy systems, devices, and concepts for electric supply and demand systems.  

All visitors must follow NREL’s security procedures. Tours of NREL are restricted to groups no greater than 20 attendees.  Comfortable closed toed/heel walking shoes (no sandals or flip-flops), and long pants, are necessary to tour the facilities.

Tour of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) David Skaggs Research Center

1:00 pm - 3:30 pm, $25

Located just south of CU-Boulder’s campus, the NOAA’s David Skaggs Research Center includes the Space Weather Prediction Center, as well as the home of NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division, whose work focuses on monitoring carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. The site also includes the regional offices/forecasting systems of the National Weather Service. The visit will be divided between tours of these facilities, with stops to show/talk about NOAA’s work. We will round out the visit with a presentation: Science on a Sphere, featuring 3D computer imaging of global climate patterns/changes.

All visitors must follow NOAA’s visitor policies. Tours are limited to groups no greater than 25 attendees.

June 15 Post-Conference Excursions


Rocky Mountain National Park

8:00 am - 5:00 pm, $125

Founded by President Woodrow Wilson on January 26, 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is celebrating its centennial. The park encompasses 415 square miles or 265,761 acres, and contains ecosystems ranging from grasslands to alpine tundra with summits surpassing 12,000 feet. The continental divide bisects the park from north to south, giving both the eastern and western side of the park distinct characteristics. The east side of the park tends to be drier with glaciated peaks, while the west side of the park is more wet and lush with deep forests. 

The Front Range mountain system is a product of the Laramide Orogeny, the last of three major mountain-building events to occur between 70 and 40 million years ago. Tectonic activity during the Cenozoic Era changed the Ancestral Rocky Mountains via block uplift, eventually forming the Rocky Mountains as they exist today. Many sedimentary rocks from the Paleozoic and Mesozoic Eras still exist in the area surrounding the park. Currently the park is dominated by Longs Peak, which reaches an elevation of 14,259 feet; many try to climb this peak each year but not all succeed!

The park is also considered one of the top wildlife viewing destinations in US. Some of the larger key species to this area are the black bear, mountain lion, elk, and big horn sheep. At high elevation, one can find yellow-bellied marmots and the North American pika. There are hundreds of bird species, include bald eagles, great horned owls and ravens. A few amphibian species, including the endangered boreal toad, can be seen in RMNP’s wetlands. You can view live feeds of ecosystems within the park at the link provided.

The Colorado River, one of the largest rivers in the United States at 1,450 miles long, also has its headwaters within the park, starting at La Poudre Pass at over two miles above sea level. This river creates a 246,000 square mile watershed, supplying much of the Southwestern US and some of Mexico with water. In its natural state the river poured 16.3 million acre-feet into the Gulf of California each year, with an average flow rate of 22,500 cubic feet per second. Prior to the construction of dams the Colorado was a river of extremes like no other.

General Info:

  1. Bus transportation will leave campus at 08:00 with an estimated return time of 17:00
  2. A box lunch will be provided to all participants.
  3. Tour guides, most or all of which will be faculty, graduate students, and/or undergraduate students, will see over the excursion.

Suggested Packing List: appropriate clothing, snacks, binoculars, hiking boots, bottled water, sunscreen, wide-brimmed hat

Altitude Sickness Warning:  While oxygen is always at 21% of the total composition of the air at any altitude, the body’s ability to absorb it is severely decreased due to the decrease in air pressure. Acute Mountain Sickness symptoms (including nausea, headache, fatigue, nosebleeds, dizziness, insomnia, or swelling of hands, feet and face) may set in at any altitude above 6,000 feet. At 10,000 feet, the pressure of the atmosphere is only 50% of that found at sea level. Breathing can become difficult, even for those in good physical condition. Taking it slow and drinking plenty of water are crucial to staying safe and healthy.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

8:00 am - 5:00 pm, $125

Established in 1900 and located in the heart of Denver, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a great place for a family excursion. It was originally run out of a log cabin owned by the founder, Edwin Carter, who devoted his life to the scientific study of Colorado birds, mammals and fauna. Since then the museum has grown and evolved into a 500,000 square foot complex with over one million objects in its collection. A member of the Alliance of Museums (AAM) and a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, there are 6 main programs the museum covers: anthropology, geology, health science, paleontology, space science, and zoology.

The Museum is known for its children’s discovery areas, the Space Odyssey exhibition, Gates Planetarium, the Prehistoric Journey exhibition, IMAX films, Egyptian mummies, wildlife exhibits, colorful gems and minerals, Expedition Health exhibition, temporary exhibitions, and education programs. A great exhibition on Mythical creatures  will be underway during your visit, making this an ideal choice for those with young children or children at heart.

Also located on the premises are an amazing IMAX theater which seats 440 people and shows large format IMAX films daily, and Gates Planetarium with 125 unidirectional, semi-reclining stadium seats to give you a great view of the dome. There are small additional fees associated with both of these attractions, but it is an experience that will last forever. The museum also offers chances to learn about current scientific research being conducted through the site.

Few have noticed the hidden surprises camouflaged within the museum's exhibits. Kent Pendleton, one of the museum's diorama painters, was unable to sign his work. In lieu of a signature, Pendleton painted a total of 8 elves in his work hidden throughout the museum; can you find them? There are also a few other hidden treasures located around the museum for the most curious of people to discover.

General Info:

  1. Bus transportation will leave campus at 08:00 with an estimated return time of 17:00
  2. A box lunch will be provided to all participants.
  3. Tour guides, most or all of which will be faculty, graduate students, and/or undergraduate students, will see over the excursion.

Sylvan Dale Ranch

8:00 am - 5:00 pm, $125

Join CU Professor Emeritus Dr. Dave Armstrong for a day-long hiking exploration of Sylvan Dale Ranch. Nestled in foothills west of Loveland, Sylvan Dale is a working cattle and guest ranch with a rich history and a wonderfully diverse habitat. You’ll appreciate Dave’s entertaining and information-packed interpretation of the landscape, conservation and ecology of Sylvan Dale. Halfway through your hike, partake in a gourmet trailside lunch.

The hike will traverse 4 miles (6.5 km); uphill in the morning and downhill after lunch, it’s a moderate to challenging hike. Plan on hiking 4 hours at a “biologist’s pace” (meaning lots of time to stop, look over the landscape, talk about the environment, and ask questions). When returning to the hike’s starting point, enjoy a Q&A conversation with Dave over a free, cold beverage.

Sylvan Dale is very proud of their green practices. Since 1946, Sylvan Dale has been making conscious efforts towards sustainability. Raising healthy, grass-fed, hormone and chemical free cattle in a stress-free habitat has been part of Sylvan Dale since the 1960’s. In 2008 they were given a Conservationist of the Year award for their long-term efforts. Find out more about Sylvan Dale’s award-winning efforts to sustain its environment at SylvanDale.com.

General Info:

  1. Bus transportation will leave campus at 08:00 with an estimated return time of 17:00.
  2. A trailside lunch will be provided to all participants.

Suggested Packing List: appropriate clothing, binoculars, hiking boots, bottled water, sunscreen, wide-brimmed hat