When AAPG’s Annual Convention and Exhibition hits Denver on May 31, approximately 8,500 geologists, geophysicists and engineers will be in attendance, participating in oral and poster presentations, meeting and sharing ideas with industry experts and students, and engaging in field trips and symposiums.
But what about afterward – after the papers and prizes and nametags are put away?
Will it be possible to get free beer, see large predators and take a tour, say, of downtown Denver in a converted hillbilly shack/old school bus and hear crime and ghost stories?
Are you in luck. But more about that in a moment.
For now, though, Deborah Park, associate director of communications for VISIT DENVER (the Convention and Visitors Bureau) wants visitors, especially geoscientists, to take in as much of the place as they can.
And there is much in and around the place to take.
Here’s just a sampling.
♦ Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which will feature Mythic Creatures during the AAPG meeting, encompasses a variety of exhibitions, programs and activities to help museum visitors learn about the natural history of Colorado.
♦ The Denver Zoo, an 80-acre facility located in Denver’s City Park, which currently houses a unique gasification/natural energy program in its Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit.
♦ Dinosaur Ridge, a world famous part of the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark located just west of Denver in Morrison.
♦ History Colorado Center, a museum right in Denver, dedicated to the state’s history.
♦ Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, a naturally formed, world-famous outdoor venue just 15 miles west of Denver that is recognized for its star-studded concert roster, natural acoustics and ambience, and its awe-inspiring hiking and biking trails.
♦ Tour of National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), a 305-acre area that comprises field test sites, test laboratories, industrial high-bay work areas, machine shops, electronics and instrumentation laboratories. In addition, there are hundreds of test articles and supporting components such as turbines, meteorological towers, custom test apparatus, test sheds, storage areas, and calibration and measurement instruments.
♦ The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), where you can enjoy interactive exhibits, an outdoor weather trail, supercomputers, an art gallery and more.
♦ Broomfield Walk Through Time, created by students and teachers from a local middle school – along with help from the Geological Society of America – this is a 600-foot long loop path that represents the most recent 600 million years of earth’s history using rock samples, drawings and interpretive signs.
♦ Morrison Natural History Museum, located on the Denver’s southwest outskirts, includes several dinosaur fossils that were found nearby. Hands-on exhibits are designed to appeal to both children and adults, scientists and nonscientists.
♦ Wild Animal Sanctuary, a 720-acre animal sanctuary located near Keenesburg, specializing in rescuing and caring for large predators.
♦ Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, located northeast of Denver, is a fully restored,15,000-acre expanse of prairie, wetland and woodland habitat – and is among the country’s most fascinating ecological sites.
♦ Buffalo Bill’s Museum and Grave, a historical complex located just outside of Denver on Lookout Mountain, containing memorabilia from Buffalo Bill’s life and Wild West shows, Native American artifacts, antique firearms and other historical relics.
♦ Colorado Railroad Museum, located on 15 acres at a point where Clear Creek flows between North and South Table Mountains in Golden, just west of Denver.
♦ Coors Brewery tour in Golden, is a 30-minute self-paced tour through brewing and packaging processes, and, of course, a sampling of Coors’ fine products.
♦ Idaho Springs – featuring several gold mining tour offerings of the 1893 construction of the Argo Tunnel, created to provide water drainage, ventilation and economical transportation of the gold-bearing ore from the many mines it would intersect along the way.
♦ Georgetown Loop Railroad is a three-foot narrow gauge heritage railroad located in the Rocky Mountains in Clear Creek County.
♦ The Lafayette Miners Museum, located north of Denver, contains a wealth of Lafayette history, from the early days of pioneer heritage, through the coal mining years and into the present. Complete with household items used by Lafayette's founding families, there is also a collection of mining tools and equipment and memorabilia.
♦ Denver Beer Trail (self-guided), is just as advertised (http://www.denver.org/denver-beer-fest/denver-beer-trail/).
♦ And then, as promised, there’s that hillbilly shack business.
Although the bus follows the same route every time, no two tours are alike. Passengers get to vote at multiple stops for what they want to hear about – whether it’s a ghost story, a bizarre tall tale, or historical facts. The tour is 90 minutes long, but we guess you’ll be hoping for more.