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Five Green Spaces Around CU That Make Going to Boulder Worth It

Let’s face it: it’s hard to not consider the beautiful surroundings of Boulder, Colorado when trying to decide between colleges. The picturesque Flatirons are plastered on every admissions letter, flier, and website that CU Boulder creates, but you can’t really blame them for that. I know for me, the fact that I’d have hiking trails, views, and green spaces on-hand year-round was one of the deciding factors when I committed to Boulder my senior year of high school. That being said, there are some particular spaces on and around campus that every prospective student should be aware of.

1. Chautauqua Park 

By far the most well-known recreational area in Boulder, Chautauqua has a special place in the hearts (and Instagrams) of CU students. Created in 1898, Chautauqua provides everyone with access to picnic areas, hiking trails, photo backdrops, and even sledding hills in the winter. Chautauqua is also somewhat walkable from campus.

This area is such a staple that it’s impossible not to visit it during your time at CU Boulder (pro-tip: parking is free on weekdays) and is a beautiful spot to enjoy the Colorado sunshine! Plus, it’s rumored that Harry Styles hiked here during his most recent tour, and that’s enough to convince me of Chautauqua’s value. 

If you’re hungry after exploring this area, all you have to do is walk over to the Chautauqua Dining Hall, a scenic and historical (albeit pricey) restaurant near the trails. It’s definitely worth visiting for a special occasion!

2. Farrand Field

Like Chautauqua, Farrand Field is an iconic view in Boulder, but this one is even closer to home! Located on main campus near Farrand and the C4C, Farrand Field is always bustling with students picnicking, studying, playing sports, hammocking, or just enjoying the view. 

Farrand Field is another highly Instagrammable spot that can be used for both athletics and leisure, and it’s a great place to meet fellow students!

3. Scott Carpenter Park

Her Campus Philanthropy Assistant Mariana Bastias highly recommends Scott Carpenter park, especially for sledding in the winter. Located in East Boulder and near Boulder Creek, this space is perfect for anyone looking for some outdoor time away from the more crowded locations above and is fun at all times of the year.

4. Varsity Lake

For the students seeking solace, reflection, or time away from the hustle of some parts of the CU campus, Varsity Lake is perfect. The lake is an on-campus beauty, meaning you can check it out in between classes or for a lunch spot during a busy day. 

If you’re lucky, you might even be able to see some ducks and other wildlife enjoying this spot as well. 

5. The Flatirons

The mountains, the flatties, the Flatirons —whatever you like to call them, the iconic rock formations that are in the background of every site you see in Boulder definitely deserve recognition. While you can access views of them from Chautauqua, there are hundreds of trails to explore. If you need some guidance, you can check out the guide to hiking in Boulder I wrote last year.

Whether it’s positive or not, the atmosphere and surroundings of a university are so crucial in deciding how much you enjoy your time there. For Boulder, luckily, students are surrounded by beautiful spaces to explore, learn, and make new friends, which should definitely be considered when looking at colleges.

Genevieve Andersen

CU Boulder '24

Genevieve is a CU student studying Political Science and French. She loves reading, dogs, and all things outdoors, and in her free time you'll find her on a hiking or ski trail!
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