A beautiful new addition to my personal library, The Guide to Colorado Insects, recommends two insect museums. On Saturday I visited one of them.
I had never gone to the University of Colorado Natural History Museum before, even though it’s just a couple of miles from my apartment. For good reason.
No museum has ever disappointed me more. The biology section is one basement room that they don’t even bother to light well enough for the rare visitor like me to see the sparse exhibits.
Today I drove exactly half way to Denver to see the other museum that the book recommends. The Butterfly Pavilion is 12.5 miles down the freeway, but I would gladly go ten times as far. It’s a wonderful place for children of all ages.
I had seen the road signs pointing to the Butterfly Pavilion dozens of times before. But I always assumed that it was an arena for sports or music or such and not actually about real butterflies.
The Butterfly Pavilion is unique. It’s the first stand-alone non-profit insect zoo in the nation. It’s a 30,000 square foot facility on an 11-acre campus provided by the city of Westminster.
I found it to be a nature photographer’s paradise. I timed my arrival to coincide with one of the two daily butterfly releases and took 125 photos in the hour that I spent with the butterflies.
Here are those that make me gasp with delight when I saw them just now on my computer monitor:
After I almost filled up my camera’s memory chip with photos of the butterflies, I wandered around the rest of the facility. One of the highlights for young children is the chance to hold a tarantula in their hands. This girl holds a Chilean tarantula, not something that you would even catch an insect hugger like me doing.
Then I finally got a little exercise for the day. Just outside the Pavilion along so-called “Big Dry Creek” is their half-mile nature trail loop. The creek is neither big nor dry. But it was a fine way to top off a wonderful visit for the kid that exists in me.