Fall near the Flatirons — Photo courtesy of Hope Gately
But scientists shaking beakers and presentations for field-tripping kiddos aren't the only things you'll find at this site, where science and nature meet. Community outreach programs, an art gallery featuring local artists' work and one of the most beautiful and well-maintained trail systems in the Front Range are just a few of the attractions NCAR and its surrounding landscape have to offer.
The mountains of Boulder provide NCAR's beautiful backdrop — Photo courtesy of Daderot
Some of the most scenic and popular trails in Boulder sit just to the west of NCAR, and they're easily accessible from the parking lot.
The Mesa Trail connecting NCAR to Chautauqua Park is a family-friendly, dog-friendly route that leads you through the rolling foothills, with impressive views of the Flatirons. Elevation gain on this particular route is minimal, so it's great for runners who want a minimal challenge while they work out.
Dog-friendly trails await at Boulder's NCAR — Photo courtesy of Hope Gately
If you're looking for more of a challenge, Bear Peak can be summited via the Mesa Trail. With nearly 3,000 feet of elevation gain in just 3.8 miles, topping out at an impressive 8,459 feet, this is a stair-stepper of a hike reserved for those who are fit and have taken the time to acclimatize.
Depending on your fitness level, plan for between four to seven hours round trip, and be sure to bring plenty of high-calorie food and water. The panoramic views of Rocky Mountain National Park and Indian Peaks Wilderness are well worth the effort.
For a moderate hike, with just a little challenge thrown in, Mallory Cave is 2.8 miles round trip and sits at just under 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Be mindful that the final 50 to 75 feet of the hike are steep and slippery. Pace yourself and watch your footing.
During the spring and summer months, this trail is often lined with colorful wildflowers, so be sure to bring your camera.
Abundant wildflowers line NCAR's trails during the spring and summer months — Photo courtesy of Hope Gately
Along with hosting an eclectic mix of local artists in their colorful public art gallery, NCAR hosts a variety of community events throughout the year, including Super Science Saturday, which typically involves a scientific experiment or demonstration done for a live audience.
Great for children and adults alike, this is an interactive way to learn about science and learn more about Boulder, the mountains and various weather systems, too.