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Inside the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), scientists study the behavior of the planet's atmosphere and how it affects life on Earth. Devote at least half a day to exploring the visitor center to learn how weather works and the importance of climate research.
To reach the laboratory you will travel up a steep, scenic road. Before going inside, admire the views from the hill on which the research complex sits. You can see the city of Boulder below, and occasionally, deer grazing in meadows.
Exhibits are spread over two floors and housed in themed areas such as Layers of the Atmosphere. Start your visit in the Weather Gallery near the main entrance on the first level. Go over to the cloud chamber to touch clouds and note how they feel. Stand beside the 8-foot (2.5-meter) tornado and pump the handle on the fog chamber to see how mists form.
At Sun-Earth Connections on the second level, see inside the 3D model of the sun to learn about its different layers. Discover what happens when the sun blasts out billions of tons of fiery plasma. In Climate Discovery, study information panels and exhibits that explain the greenhouse effect and the impact of climate change.
Admire climate-inspired artworks by regional artists at the Art-Science Galleries. Then, venture outside the building to see the Weather Trail. This is a 700-yard (650-meter) trail loop with signs that explain such weather phenomena as wind, drought and snow.
You have numerous options to explore the center. They include guided, self-guided and cell phone audio tours. The tablet tours offer children and adult-friendly tablet computers that are loaded with graphics, audio material and videos.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research is open 363 days of the year and admission is free. The complex is situated approximately 5 miles (8 kilometers) south of downtown Boulder, and taxi or rental car are the most convenient travel options. There is ample free parking on-site.
Located in Central Boulder, this historic hotel is steps from Boulder Theater and Pearl Street Mall. University of Colorado-Boulder and Folsom Field are also within 2 mi (3 km).
Located in Devil's Thumb - Rolling Hill, this vacation home is 0.8 mi (1.2 km) from National Center for Atmospheric Research and within 3 mi (5 km) of University of Colorado-Boulder and Chautauqua Park. Folsom Field is 3 mi (4.8 km) away.
Located in Devil's Thumb - Rolling Hill, this historic vacation home is 1.1 mi (1.8 km) from National Center for Atmospheric Research and within 3 mi (5 km) of University of Colorado-Boulder and Chautauqua Park. NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory and NIST Headquarters are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Located in Central Boulder, this cottage is within a 5-minute walk of Flatirons and Chautauqua Park. Fox Theater and University of Colorado-Boulder are also within 1 mi (2 km).
Located in East Boulder, this eco-friendly hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of University of Colorado-Boulder, NIST Headquarters, and Folsom Field. NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory and Naropa University are also within 2 mi (3 km).
Located in Highland Park, this vacation home is 0.7 mi (1.2 km) from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory and within 3 mi (5 km) of University of Colorado-Boulder and Folsom Field. Chautauqua Park is 2.3 mi (3.6 km) away.
Located in the heart of Boulder, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of University of Colorado-Boulder and Folsom Field. Fox Theater and Pearl Street Mall are also within 2 mi (3 km).
Located in Central Boulder, this motel is steps from Naropa University and University of Colorado-Boulder. Pearl Street Mall and Folsom Field are also within 15 minutes.