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Cherokee Winter Nature Tour - At Cherokee Ranch and Castle

Those lucky enough to have hiked Cherokee Ranch know that there are a wealth of habitats and a rich flora that distract your eyes downwards, even as the vistas of the rugged backbone of the Rockies and distant misty towers of downtown Denver tempt you to look further away. We have experienced toasty winter days that were breathless and surprisingly sunny, as well as blustery days in the summer. One thing is for sure—you will never be bored on a Cherokee hike! This year we are starting much earlier—for better birding. But the plants will already be awake!


Whoever says winter is the “dormant” season? Wise naturalists know that nature does not sleep, you can now SEE those birds flitting in the bare branches. Buds are set on everything, and there is much more than just bark, branches and berries to liven a walk. You can see two species of Chickadees and Nuthatches that never stop in their search for food and there are a few last lingering hints of flowers. You will be surprised at how many evergreens there really are; not just pines and junipers and Oregon Grape, but many of our native shrubs and forbs keep living foliage and rosettes through the winter: they are still hard at work chlorophyll pumping! You might also be surprised to know that some Dark-eyed Juncos fly all the way from the Pacific Northwest and even Canada to winter at Cherokee. Other winter species include Flicker, Woodpeckers and a resident Red-tailed Hawk. What better time and place than Cherokee Ranch in the bright, winter light.



$20 member, $25 non-member.


Tour Guides: Panayoti Kelaidis and Lynn Willcockson




* Plants don’t really care how you dress for the field trips but BIRDS DO!! It is easier to see birds if you DO NOT wear white or other very bright colors –i.e. yellow, orange or red. Also, bring your binoculars: they can be used for both birds and plants

* Please wear comfortable shoes and bring your own supply of water for a 2 hour adventure

*Directions and details for your hike will be emailed to your email address approximately one week before your hike



Estes Park Wild Plant Weekend

Become immersed in the fascinating world of wild edibles and medicinals in this weekend getaway. Learn how to rejuvenate yourself with wild herbs for the body, mind and spirit. Explore the ancient art of making restorative teas, salves and soothing natural remedies while you relax in Rocky Mountain splendor.


Hike through gorgeous scenery and explore wildflowers and edible and medicinal plants. Classes are taught on all facets of identifying, harvesting, growing, eating and crafting with wild plants. Participants make and take home customized herbal teas, a soothing salve, recipes and detailed handouts. Weather permitting, most classes are held outside. A variety of activities such as a horseback riding, swimming, craft studio, museum, mini golf, labyrinth and roller skating may be enjoyed Saturday afternoon.


All classes, handouts, samples, meals happy hour and lodging are included. Accommodations are at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park in a new mountain lodge that borders Rocky Mountain National Park. The spacious lodge rooms have two queen beds and a private bath. Six meals are included featuring a variety of main courses and a salad bar at lunch and dinner.





Check in, Wild Tapas Happy Hour, Introduction


Class: Wild Plants 101 – Safety, Identification and the Top 10 plants for eating and healing.




Morning hike to Rocky Mountain National Park – Identification, ethical harvesting practices and edible and medicinal uses of wild plants.


Afternoon free – on site activities include hiking, horseback riding, indoor pool, craft studio, museum, mini golf, labyrinth, roller skating.


Class: Foragers First Aid – How to use wild plants for medicine. Learn common, local plants to safely use for various ailments. We’ll make a soothing herbal oil and salve, demonstrate an herbal poultice, explore herbal teas and how to add nutrition to sauces, smoothies and meals with fresh and dried wild herbs. Custom craft your own tasty, nutritional/medicinal teas from an herbal buffet.




Class - Ritual and Spiritual Uses of Sacred Herbs. For centuries plants have been used in ceremony and ritual. Explore this fascinating ancient art as we make sage sticks and prayer bundles to take home from a selection of local ritual herbs.





Double occupancy: $353 per member, $373 per nonmember

Single occupancy: $442 per person, $462 per nonmember


*Please register by Sat, March 28*


Trip - Big Horn Mountains, WY

Bonfils-Stanton Lecture Series 2015


Trip: Big Horn Mountains, WY

Sat, July 11 – Wed, July 15 2015


Trip Leader: Mike Kintgen, Curator of Alpine Collections


July is peak season for flowers throughout the Rockies, but never more so than in the State of Wyoming and the Big Horn Mountains area. The striking landscape and unique history, combined with the sensational plants and flowers, will make for a memorable summer vacation with top staff from Denver Botanic Gardens.


Departing from Denver, the first day will be spent traveling to Cody, Wyoming, which will be the base of operations for the trip. In Cody we will stay at the Thomas the Apostle Retreat Center. It’s a beautifully situated complex with spectacular views of the Cody valley, lovely gardens that feature many unusual native shrubs and perennials, and is surrounded by acres of pristine sagebrush steppe. Private rooms have two beds and shared bathroom.


In the following days, the group will drive to the summit of the Bighorn Mountains and explore this area that is almost mythical for its wildflower displays. We’ll also visit Beartooth Pass, which is one of America’s most spectacular highways featuring spectacular montane, subalpine, and alpine flower displays that should be at peak bloom. This area also has a fen (specialized bog), where we will see rare boreal and artic plants at the southern edge of their range. Other highlights include a visit to the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody and the Meeteetse Chocolatier in Meeteetse, WY.



Member $498 double occupancy, $678 single occupancy

Nonmember $548 double occupancy, $728 single occupancy


Pricing includes lodging for 4 nights, breakfast, lunch, one dinner, and all transportation costs.

Register by Friday, June 19.


Questions? Call 720-865-3613.


Trip - Steamboat Springs

Bonfils-Stanton Lecture Series 2015

Trip: Steamboat Springs, CO


Fri, July 31 – Mon, Aug 3 2015


Trip Leader: Mike Kintgen, Curator of Alpine Collections


Summer is the perfect time to take a long weekend trip to Steamboat Springs, one of the most scenic places in Colorado. Join top members of our Horticulture staff to experience the area as more than a regular summer tourist.


We’ll stay in town, with accommodations close to the famed and unusual hot springs. Take a tour of the various hot springs and treat yourself to some relaxation time. The trip will also include visits to the Yampa River, one of Colorado’s most scenic and wild rivers. Explore the lovely Yampa River Botanic Park and meet with a local herbalist to learn about some of the edible and medicinal native plants found in Northwest Colorado. Our visit should coincide with the flowering of the Yampa root, a local plant prized for its edible roots which gave its name not only to the river but the local Ute tribe. We’ll also see the headwaters of the Yampa in the Flattops of southeastern Steamboat, as well as the Elk River, an important tributary of the Yampa. As the inspiration for John Fielder’s latest publication of Colorado photography, the Yampa River is truly a great Colorado treasure with much to offer the nature-loving visitor.



Member $456 double occupancy, $624 single occupancy

Nonmember $506 double occupancy, $674 single occupancy


Pricing includes lodging for 3 nights, breakfast, lunch, and entry fees.


*Register by Tues, June 30, 2015.


Questions? Call 720-865-3613.



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