Colorado, once inhabited by the stegosaurus and other oversized giants, has proved to be a paleontological jackpot. One place to take a prehistoric journey is, of course, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Another is the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History on the University of Colorado Boulder campus.

Although not quite as spectacular or large as the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Boulder museum has one advantage — it’s free.

Visitors to the museum’s Paleontology Hall can touch petrified wood, giant fossil clams, and a dinosaur footprint.

The University of Colorado Museum of Natural History boasts one of the largest natural history collection in the Rocky Mountains. It houses more than four million artifacts in the fields of anthropology, botany, entomology, paleontology and zoology, which faculty members use to conduct research.

Current research includes the study of the colonization of the Americas, algal ecology of lakes and streams, and dinosaur diets.

The museum features five exhibition halls, with some exhibits changing about once a month. Exhibits range from Colorado natural history to natural history of the world. The museum also has four permanent exhibits.
The Anthropology Hall explains how University of Colorado researchers work to understand the past lives of the native peoples of the Southwest. The exhibit features artifacts and photographs displaying examples of linguistic anthropology, physical anthropology and archaeology.

The Anthropology Hall also includes a Southwest weaving traditions exhibit, the Yellow Jacket site (an ancestral Puebloan site near Mesa Verde), and a dedication to pioneering archeologist Earl Morris.

The BioLounge offers visitors biology-based exhibits where they can also enjoy a cup of coffee.

The Paleontology Hall features fossils that can be touched, seen and felt, including petrified woods, giant fossil clams and a dinosaur footprint. See reproductions of several prehistoric animals that used to roam the earth. Discover how paleontologists use fossils to learn about the climate and ecology of the earth in the past, and about the geology of Boulder and the surrounding area.

The museum offers exhibits and activities like the Discovery Corner that are geared toward children.

The Discovery Corner is a hands-on exhibit geared toward children, with displays such as puzzles, animal lunch boxes, puppets, bones, antlers and artifacts. The gift shop also offers books, jewelry, toys and kits for children and adults.

If You Go

The University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
Henderson Building
15th and Broadway
Boulder, Colorado 80309

Visitors should be aware that the museum itself does not have its own parking lot. The Euclid Avenue AutoPark is one block east of the museum on Euclid. Street parking is scarce.