11 Public Botanical Gardens to Explore in Colorado
Explore Botanical Gardens in Colorado
Colorado's Botanical Gardens or Public Gardens are a great way to enjoy a stroll with friends or family, learn something new about local or exotic flora, take Instagram photos and selfies, and relax in the fresh air. We are fortunate to be home to several of them here in Colorado, and with their winding paths, colorful plants, and beautifully curated landscapes, there’s no better time to see what they have to offer.
Denver Botanical GardensThe Denver Botanic Gardens are without a doubt the most well-known public gardens in Colorado. With two locations—one right in the heart of Denver, attached to Cheesman Park, and one south of the city in Chatfield, the Denver Botanic Gardens contains a tropical conservatory as well as a plethora of winding paths and themed gardens depicting plant life from all over the world. There’s a Japanese garden, a South African Steppe garden, and an Alpine rock garden that shows off flowers and plants you’ll find right here in Colorado. The garden is full of nooks and benches where you can have an intimate conversation or read a book, and it is also home to a cafe, a restaurant, and a gift shop, so you can make a full day of your visit.
Betty Ford Alpine GardensThese beautiful gardens in Vail are the highest-elevation botanical gardens in North America. At approximately 8,200 feet elevation, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are a gorgeous way to see some of the natural alpine wildlife that can be found in Colorado’s central mountains, with over three thousand unique species of plants.
Western Colorado Botanical GardensLocated in Grand Junction, the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens has an indoor tropical rainforest as well as outdoor gardens that showcase everything from seasonal flowers to hardy succulents. Here, you’ll find not just a stunning collection of flowers and plants, but also a sizable population of butterflies, who hatch from their chrysalis’ in the gardens’ puparium and spend the growing season pollinating the plants in the gardens and providing a beautiful sight for visitors.
The Gardens on Spring CreekThis small Fort Collins public garden has 12 acres of cultivated space as well as a butterfly house. They offer a beautiful children’s garden with plenty of interactive activities and features and a wide variety of programs from yoga and tai chi, “read and seed” storytime, cooking classes, and date night events. Young gardeners can join the Garden Explorer’s club, and garden enthusiasts of all abilities, income levels, and needs can find a way to enjoy these accessible, inclusive gardens with their Gardens for All program.
Montrose Botanical GardensWith incredible, colorful gardens set before a backdrop of the stunning San Juan Mountain range, the Montrose Botanic Gardens are jaw-droppingly beautiful. The high desert region where Montrose is located can be a hard environment when it comes to cultivating greenery, but the dedicated team of staff and volunteers who work at the gardens make it their mission to create exquisite beauty from the ground up, where once only tumbleweeds and cactus grew. Their Happy Hollow children’s garden offers a safe space for kids to learn and play, and their beautiful paths meander through a variety of landscape types, including a cactus garden, a native plants garden, and even a xeriscape garden.
Yampa River Botanical ParkLocated near Steamboat Springs, Yampa River Botanical Garden and Park has a one-way path through the gardens to cut down on foot traffic and make your experience as relaxing and tranquil as possible. Each year from springtime until the first heavy snow, the park is open from dawn until dusk, and unlike many of the gardens on this list, the Yampa River Botanic Park is entirely free for visitors to enjoy. Under the clear blue skies of Steamboat Springs, the lush greenery and colorful flowers of the park really pop, making for an excellent spot for an afternoon stroll or an impromptu photoshoot.
Durango Botanical GardensThis lovely park is located at the Durango Public Library, so educating yourself about the plants and flowers you see in the gardens before or after your visit should be easy. The garden is still fairly new, founded in 2011. Still, it has grown year after year into an award-winning part of the community, with gardens showcasing conifers, crevice-dwelling plants, native wildflowers, and even an arboretum to teach visitors about trees. Not only does the garden grow in size every year, but practically every week during the spring and summer, there is something new in bloom, making it a great place to visit again and again.
Andrews ArboretumSince 1948, when a Boulder High School teacher founded the Andrews Arboretum, the Andrews Arboretum has provided a beautiful bit of natural respite in downtown Boulder near the library. This small arboretum provides lush, stately trees, cultivated plants and shrubs, and more, all with beautiful walking trails and plenty of benches where you can sit and enjoy a book or a chat with a friend.
Hudson GardensJust 12 miles south of Denver, the Hudson Gardens and Event Center boasts peaceful walking trails, natural beauty, and more. They host a wide variety of community events and activities, like public art exhibits, painting sessions, fitness boot camps, and guided meditation experiences, all in a scenic, gorgeous environment.
Shambhala Botanical GardensThe 600-acre campus that houses the Shambhala Botanical Gardens is located in Redfeather Lakes, just northwest of Fort Collins, and it is home to a massive population of trees, plants, and other natural wildlife. The cultivated gardens include a Zen garden, full of plants that have a connection with Buddhism; a native garden full of over one hundred plants native to Colorado and the Rocky Mountains; and a beautiful, colorful garden for seasonal produce and cut flowers.
Visiting Botanical GardensThe great thing about public gardens in the spring, summer, and even early fall is that you can have a vastly different experience from week to week, which means there is no best time to visit the gardens—no matter when you go, Colorado's Botanical Gardens are bound to be beautiful.
By Emily Krempholtz