They also have ornamental displays of perennial favorites: daylilies, roses, and irises. The Mordecai Children’s Garden encourages hands-on exploration of soil and water and has stroller parking, picnic tables, and year-round programing. There are many gardens dedicated to the serenity of Japanese strolling gardens and bonsai, a South African garden with hardy plants from their steppe region, and a greenhouse overflowing with tropical and subtropical flowers.
Bent’s Old Fort had an important secondary role as the only permanent settlement on the Santa Fe Trail, and it was a godsend for travelers and soldiers who could stop for repairs, replenish their supplies, and enjoy good food, water, and company. Disaster and disease closed the fort in 1849; reconstruction began in 1876, and guided tours of the fort are a must for families and history buffs.
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science began with one man, Edwin Carter, who in 1868 moved to a one-room cabin high in the Rocky Mountains and singlehandedly amassed the largest collection of Colorado fauna in existence. In 1908, the museum in Denver formally opened, and it made world headlines when in 1926 museum researchers found fossil proof that North America was inhabited over 10,000 years ago.
Tread of Pioneers Museum is a regional Colorado history museum housed within Steamboat Springs' historic 1901 Zimmerman House. Permanent exhibits and artifacts are showcased within the renovated Queen Anne-style home, including pieces from the museum's extensive firearms collection and a replica chuckwagon from the region's pioneer days. Visitors can also view exhibits on the region's indigenous history, skiing industry, agriculture, and infamous Wild West outlaws such as Harry Tracy of Butch Cassidy's Hole in the Wall Gang. Read more & Admission
On the Colorado-Utah border, Dinosaur National Monument is an incredible testament to the natural and geological history of the area. You can see more than 1,500 fossils on display on the cliff face inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall. There are also petroglyphs of lost cultures and the abandoned homesteads of early settlers. For the adventurers, there are camping and whitewater rafting opportunities.
Mesa Verde has been inhabited since 7500 BC by nomadic tribes, and the experts estimate that the first pueblos were built in 650 AD. The impressive cliff dwellings that still bring visitors to the park were built in 1200 AD. See the Cliff Palace and spend some time learning about these native americans at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. Don’t forget to explore the Mesa Top Loop Road for some excellent viewpoints and canyon overlooks.
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The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, about 6mi (10km) outside the center of Golden, pays tribute to Wild West legend Buffalo Bill Cody. It sheds light on his life and Wild West shows and contains artefacts such as Sitting Bull’s bow and arrows, show outfits and other objects from the Old West. The gravesite and museum sit in Lookout Mountain Park, overlooking the natural beauty of the Great Plains and the Rockies. You may even catch sight of the herd of buffalo and other wildlife that live in the area.
Mesa Verde National Park, near Cortez, is perhaps the greatest archaeological wonder in the United States and a Unesco World Heritage site. Learn about the lives and history of the Ancestral Pueblo people as you visit Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House, incredible cliff dwellings and mesa-top villages built between 600 and 1300. There are also a few hiking trails available within the park, including one to a petroglyph panel.
Its original dwellers would have climbed the rock face using narrow toeholds; its limited accessibility made it easy to defend against intruders. Cliff Palace was constructed in the cliff face with sandstone blocks, mortar, and wooden beams. It once had over 150 rooms and 25 kivas and was probably used for ceremonial purposes. As with Balcony House, Cliff Palace is only accessible on a ranger-guided tour.