The Flatirons#1 in Best Things To Do in Boulder
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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.
Overlooking Boulder from the city's southwestern edge (near Chautauqua Park), the Flatirons are free to visit every day from sunrise to sunset. If you decide to drive, you'll have to pay a $5 parking fee (the lot is located on the west side of Highway 93). To avoid the fee, consider taking the bus. According to the city, many trails are accessible via the bus (visit this page on the city website to see which routes service the area). Taking public transportation may also help you avoid the parking lot congestion that past visitors have encountered on the weekends.
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#2 Chautauqua Park
Perched on the southwest edge of the city, this tiny extension of Boulder Mountain Park offers some of the city's most photo-worthy vistas. Originally established in the late 1800s as a verdant retreat, this National Historic Landmark now hosts a handful of community events like concerts and festivals. Even when there isn't anything marked on the social calendar, Chautauqua is still a place to go for a breath of fresh air: Numerous paths and gardens await hikers, bikers, picnickers and dog walkers, while more adventurous travelers explore the rugged mountains nearby.
Visitors are blown away by the park's landscape and its facilities, which include lodging, dining and auditoriums. However, some reviewers were less satisfied with the crowds and limited parking. Because of the park's accessible location just minutes from downtown Boulder, Chautauqua sees more visitors than some of the city's other hiking spots like Eldorado Canyon State Park and Flagstaff Mountain. If you can, try to get to the park early before your fellow hikers start clogging the trails.
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