National Center for Atmospheric Research

#11 in Best Things To Do in Boulder
National Center for Atmospheric Research picture
Wally Gobetz/Flickr

Key Info

1850 Table Mesa Drive

Price & Hours

Free
Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-5 p.m. | Sat-Sun 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Details

Museums, Tours, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
3.9

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Most people consider a conversation about the weather to be a desperate attempt at small talk. But at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, sun, rain, wind and snow are always important topics. At this stunning sandstone building atop Table Mesa  a landmark some might recognize from Woody Allen's film, "Sleeper"  scientists study weather-related phenomena such as ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect. On a visit to the center, you can see some of the tools used to conduct experiments, like weather balloons, satellites and even robots. Meanwhile, hands-on exhibits are sure to excite the budding meteorologist in your family. After you've sufficiently toured the complex, get some fresh air along the Walter Orr Roberts Nature and Weather Trail, where you can learn all about Table Mesa's wildlife.

Guided tours of the center are available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between noon and 1 p.m., and recent visitors recommend coming prepared to learn as knowledgeable tour guides are eager to answer your questions. You can also opt for a tablet or cellphone tour; whichever option you choose, travelers highly recommend taking some time to explore on your own before grabbing a snack and enjoying the view from the on-site cafeteria.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is open to visitors Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the center and guided tours are free. The center is located about 15 minutes south of downtown Boulder; a car is the best way to get here. For more information, check out the center's website.

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More Best Things To Do in Boulder

The Flatirons1 of 10
Chautauqua Park2 of 10
Type
Time to Spend
#1 The Flatirons

These jaw-dropping rock walls flanking Green Mountain have become the symbol of the city, with many Boulder businesses sporting their image as a logo. Flatirons One through Five are the most prominent, but there are also several smaller formations  with more creative names  to explore. Altogether, these picturesque slopes are the most popular rock climbing areas around (you can even see markings left by some of the first climbers, dating back to the 1940s, on Number Three). But for those of you who aren't quite comfortable entrusting your life to a harness, you can still take in the Flatirons from one of the area's hiking trails – recent visitors said there's a trail for every age and skill level. For information about Flatiron trails, visit the City of Boulder website.

Previous visitors say that no trip to Boulder would be complete without spending time admiring the rocks. But if you plan on hiking, travelers recommend coming prepared: The trails can be steep in places, not to mention slippery. And don't forget your camera – reviewers said you'll want to capture the stunning views.

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