When I was in high school many years ago, my friends and I would buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and hike up one of the trails just behind the dining hall to this secret outlook above Boulder. We would go just after the sun set, so no one would see us and we would break open our ice cream and make high school jokes for hours while the lights of Boulder twinkled before us.
Like I said, that was many years ago. When the Holiday movie theater was just an old abandoned theater several minutes out of town and the only holistic grocery was that weird store called Alfalfa’s (which I still affectionately refer to as Falfs).
A lot has changed in Boulder since then. Some of it for the better, some of it not so much; but Chautauqua Park has always held a special place in my heart through all of these years.
So. Much. Hiking.
There are somewhere around 2 million hiking trails that originate in Chautauqua Park. Ok, so it’s more like eight, but that’s still a lot for one trailhead and the level of challenge offers something for everyone, from the novice to the hardcore hiker who will end the hike with a climb up one of the Flatirons, so they’re carrying their crash pad with them as they hike.
Throughout childhood and into my young adult life, Chautauqua has been one of my favorite places to celebrate Fourth of July, from the picnic in the park, to the hike into the field to watch fireworks from Folsom Stadium. I don’t think they have that celebration on the Fourth anymore, but you can find all sorts of fun activities, from Frisbee to lounging, to do in the park.
If you haven’t seen a show at Chautauqua Auditorium, you’re missing out. This space plays host to a number of local, national and international musicians, performers and speakers in a setting that is unlike any other.
Magnificent historic neighborhood.
While new construction is popping up all over Boulder creating monolithic eyesores that offend my senses, the neighborhood surrounding Chautauqua is still blissfully ensconced with turn of the century buildings and quaint cottages and bungalows from the midcentury. Even a walk around the neighborhood is a feast for the eyes.
There’s something about Chautauqua Park that moves more slowly than the rest of Boulder, which, let’s be honest can move at the frenetic pace of a town that thrives on competition, entrepreneurialship and hyper-involvement in the community. That slow pace is why I love it so much and why I think so many other fall in love with it as well.