Chautauqua Park: Boulder’s Historic Landmark and Hangout
Historic Chautauqua Park, once part of a vast circuit of summer educational retreats across America, offers hiking, dining, lodging and cultural events. The Colorado landmark has transformed itself into a Boulder hangout at the base of the dramatic foothills known as the Flatirons.
When songsters aren’t strumming their guitars and filling the park with the sounds of the lively Boulder music scene, friends and families gather to picnic in the grass. The smells of roasting burgers and barbecued hotdogs remind us of why we love being American.
During the late 1800s, the first Chautauqua in upstate New York provided a seasonal school for Sunday school teachers. Chautauquas eventually spread to become educational centers for a variety of people unable to participate in higher education, especially women. Lecturers, musicians and political activists also used Chautauquas as sounding boards. Theodore Roosevelt once described Chautauquas as “the most American thing in America.”
The movement dwindled by the 1930s, and only three Chautauquas have managed to survive.
Boulder’s Chautauqua is the only Chautauqua open year-round and is free to the public. Today, Boulderites may associate the park more as a place to catch a meal, host a wedding reception or take a scenic hike.
Chautauqua Park includes the Chautauqua Green, the historic dining hall, a children’s playground and tennis court, the auditorium, an academic hall, a community house and trailheads through Chautauqua Meadow and the City of Boulder Open Space.
Chautauqua Green provides a perfect picnicking area and place to throw a frisbee. The green is a gathering area for Boulderites, and visitors can be assured of plenty of good people watching.
The Chautauqua Dining Hall, built in 1898 and designated a National Historic Landmark, features classic American cuisine made from natural and local products and dining with a view. The hall accepts private parties, banquets and receptions. A wraparound porch gives diners a choice of four different outdoor settings. The restaurant also offers a full bar.
The Chautauqua Auditorium and Community House host a variety of summer concerts, speakers and forums. Silent films are also shown at Chautauqua, along with dancing and other entertainment.
Boulder Open Space offers a variety of hikes, with all levels of steepness and difficulty. The hike from The Green through Chautauqua Meadows is a local favorite. An easy, scenic trail is a pleasant trek for all ages.
Visitors can also choose to stay overnight at Chautauqua. Efficiency cottages and one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages are available for rent, as well as a choice of two lodges.
The Missions House Lodge, a great place for corporate or family events, was built in 1911 and housed young women who attended the Rocky Mountain School of Missions. The school provided an education to these young women and expanded their opportunities for professional work.
The Columbine Lodge, constructed in 1919, was built to house short-term tourists. The lodge consists of several rooms for individual rentals. The rooms are much more modest than the Chautauqua cottages. All units include a kitchenette and bath.
Not only was the Boulder Chautauqua a pioneer in education at the turn of the 20th century, but today it is a pioneer in the use of green products and technology. In America’s “healthiest city” being green is the norm.
With outdoor activities, music, family gatherings, healthy dining and a strict green policy, Chautauqua Park is typically Boulder. Travelers are encouraged to experience a piece of American history, with a touch of free-spirited charm.
If You Go
900 Baseline Road
Boulder, Colorado 80302