5 Best Photo Opportunities in Boulder
Lee Van Grack
Located at the base of the Colorado Rocky Mountain foothills, Boulder, Colo., provides a host of photo opportunities. Boulder residents will provide you this list if you ask them about the best locations for taking memorable photographs. While visiting these spots, one can take in Boulder history, panoramic views, and a bit of whimsy. Be warned, once visiting Boulder, the curse of Chief Niwot will cause your eventual return.
The Romantic Photo
Chautauqua Park is a historic landmark located at the Flatirons on the outskirts of Boulder. What began as a summer retreat for Texas schoolteachers is now the location of scenic hiking trails, intimate concerts by nationally known musicians, and views of the Flatiron rock formations.
One can drive west on Baseline Road in Boulder to Chautauqua or take the free summer shuttles from various locations downtown. Looking west from the trailhead parking lot, one can see why this is a romantic spot for locals. One can dine on the porch of the Chautauqua Dining Hall and then take an evening stroll to soak up the views.
The Quirky Photo
Actor and comedian Robin Williams' first big television hit was the TV comedy series 'Mork and Mindy'. Set in Boulder, the opening scenes provided the setting of this fictional series. While the series is long gone, the Victorian house that Mork and Mindy lived in at 1619 Pine Street still stands here.
The house is not open to the public, but people can still be found having their picture taken on the front sidewalk. Spring and summer are the best times to take a picture as flowers surround the yard. The trees along Pine Street will also offer great shade as you walk from downtown Boulder to the house.
The Fun Family Photo
The Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder provides many opportunities for the quintessential Boulder family picture. The mall has several children's play areas including a water spray fountain in summer. Children often run and squeal while playing in this fountain. Be sure to bring towels to dry them off.
The street buskers provide some of the most unusual entertainment. The most famous is the Zip Code Man. He tells a story while making an outline of the USA with a chain. Out of town visitors provide zip codes during the story and he tells them about their town. Stumping Zip Code Man is a challenge. He knows Russian, Lithuanian, Pakistani, and more worldwide zip codes. Upon calling out 28037, Zip Code Man once became befuddled. A picture with Zip Code Man is a Boulder must in summer.
The Scenic Photo
Boulder Creek runs down Boulder Canyon from the west of Boulder into town. Following Boulder Creek is the paved and heavily shaded Boulder Creek Path. Walking or bicycling the path from the roomy Eben G. Fine Park parking lot in west Boulder towards Scott Carpenter Park in the east provides many photo opportunities. Stopping at the Farmers' Market and the colorful Dushanbe Teahouse in Central Park is a must on Saturday mornings.
The best time to travel the Boulder Creek Path is in July and August as the path is usually flooded in spring due to snowmelt. One can then soak tired feet in the cold creek water or go tubing down the creek. Don't worry, Olympic snowboarder JJ Thomas has even been spotted floating down the creek. Traveling the path, it's so quiet that one easily forgets they're traveling through the heart of a city.
The Classic Spot
The top of Flagstaff Mountain west of Boulder provides the most dramatic view of the city of Boulder. To access this Boulder Mountain Park, drive west on Baseline Road past Chautauqua Park. The road winds to the top of Flagstaff with many places to pull over and take pictures of the Flatirons. Near the top of the road, turn right off the main road onto a side road that leads to the parking lot overlook.
An hour or two before sunset provides the most dramatic setting. With the sun behind the Flatirons, the sunlight lights up Boulder and the plains to the east. Set up a camera in front of the open parking lot viewing area to capture this panoramic background.
Flagstaff Mountain can be visited year-round but summer is the best time. The gate is locked at the main road in winter which may mean hiking through deep snowdrifts to access the overlook view from the parking lot. Be sure to buy a parking pass at the bottom of Flagstaff Mountain if you plan on parking in the summer. Parking is strictly enforced.
When visiting Boulder, don't forget to stop and take pictures to create lasting memories. Photo opportunities Boulder provides are unique. As locals say "only in Boulder." You may just see a picnic table bicycle go cruising down the street.
- Overview: Boulder Travel Guide
- When in Colorado: Enjoy a One-Day Beer Tour in Denver [Lonely Planet]
- More Colorado: 48 Hours in Denver [National Geographic]