Colorado School of Mines

The Colorado School of Mines, which was founded in Golden in 1873, is enough in itself to earn Golden Geek-Central status.  Its students study science, engineering, mathematics, and economics.  Historically, the school has trained students for the extractive industries–mining and petroleum.  Those programs are still going strong, but the school is also heavily involved in renewable energy research and development.

In addition, we are the home of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the National Earthquake Center, a Geology Museum, and a fossil hike.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Visitors Center

Golden is fortunate to be the home of the National Renewable Energy Lab. Founded in the 1970s by the Carter administration, NREL has been working on solar, wind, biomass, and other forms of sustainable energy for more than 30 years.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Education Center features programs on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Education programs for grades 4-12 and adult groups are available. E-mail or call 303-384-6565 for reservations. Walk-in visitors can take virtual tours of NREL research labs and learn more about selected technologies.  For hours, directions and special events, visit

Address: 15013 Denver West Parkway – Exit 263 off I-70
Distance from Downtown: 5.3 miles
Drive Time: 16 minute
Phone:  303-384-6565

National Earthquake Center

The National Earthquake Center is located on the School of Mines campus, though it belongs to the U.S. Geological Survey.  The Center is dedicated to tracking and studying earthquakes around the world. Public tours are free, but offered only on Mondays and Tuesdays and only by appointment. Call 303-273-8420 to schedule a tour.
Address:  1711 Illinois Street
Phone:  303-273-8420

Rocks, Fossils, and Dinosaurs

Golden is also a haven for fossil and dinosaur-lovers.

Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum
Thanks to the generosity of many Mines graduates over the years, the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum offers an extraordinary collection of specimens in a large and beautiful museum. Don’t miss their simulated uranium mine. Admission is free.
Address: 1301 Maple Street – Downtown
Phone:  303-273-3815

Fossil Hike
Paleontology fans should try the “Triceratops Trail,” which runs along the west side of Fossil Trace golf course and includes some interesting fossils embedded in the limestone.
Address: 1 block east of 19th Street and Highway 6
Distance: 1 mile
Drive Time: 4 minutes

Dinosaur Ridge
Located a few miles south of Golden is a world-renowned “outdoor museum” dedicated to the dinosaur discoveries made in the Golden area. Many dinosaur fossils have been extracted from this area, and fossilized footprints are easy to spot. The museum includes a Visitors’ Center and trails filled with interpretive signs to help visitors understand what they’re seeing in the rock formations.
Address: 16831 W. Alameda Parkway – Morrison
Distance: 6 miles
Drive Time: 11 minutes