Adventuring in Boulder: Royal Arch, NoBo’s immersive performance + Upper Dream Canyon

Second installment of ‘My Boulder Adventure’ series

By Tatyana Sharpton Jun 12 2020

Editor’s note: June is our adventure issue. We’ll be exploring adventure topics throughout the month, including profiles of Boulderites and their adventures in this “My Boulder Adventure” series.

As we continue with our “My Boulder Adventure” series, we visit the idea of adventure acting as a catalyst for a new lifestyle and a way to spend time with people in the community, getting out of our norms and routines to try something new.

Life constantly throws us loop trails and curve balls, and if we can learn to adapt on the fly, things manifest and transpire much more fluidly than if we resist.

Adventure works similarly — it doesn’t always look like smooth sailing but it almost always earn a story. Even when you’re not looking for it, learning how to handle anything life throws at you with grace and a positive attitude can make all the difference.

Amanda Gutierrez + family adventure

Mom of three active kids, Amanda June has lived in Boulder since 2013 with her husband Michael Gutierrez and Lyric, 8, Thomas, 6, and Maya, 4, after moving back from New Mexico.

The Gutierrez family’s backyard literally leads to countless trails. Image: Patricio Rodriguez.

“I think anything from exploring your block to undertaking a 14er qualifies as an adventure,” says Amanda. “I try to make everyday activities into adventures. As far as outdoors, Marshall Mesa Trail is one of my favorites. It’s easy enough for the kids and easy on the eyes!”

Waking up early to hit Marshall Mesa! Image: Amanda Gutierrez.

Some of Amanda’s favorite Boulder adventures include hikes up Sunshine Canyon, a 2.3 mile trail full of wildflowers rated moderate on a scale of difficulty, and McClintock Trail which starts just south of the Chautauqua Auditorium,descending into a lush forest by a stream where it continues up a water-worn ravine and intersects with Boulder Mesa Trail.

The biggest adventure she’s ever been on, Amanda tells BLDRfly, was hiking the Royal Arch Trail while wearing Baby Maya. “That was intense.”

For those who don’t know, the Royal Arch Trail hits 1,492 feet of elevation and spans 4 miles of heavily trafficked, rated-difficult trailway located south of Sentinel Pass and the Flatirons, coming up from Boulder’s Chautauqua Park. It qualifies as a serious workout any day, but definitely with a baby on your back.

Lyric, age 8, at Valmont Bike Park, which stretches out with scenic views for miles. Image: Amanda Gutierrez.

Lauren Click + community art love

Lauren Click

Lauren Click, Cultural Grants Administrator at the City of Boulder Office of Arts and Culture and photographer, came to Boulder in early 2017 after a decade in NYC.

“To me,” Lauren says, “adventure means surprising and unique and interactive. And something that you’re not really able to repeat.”

The first thing that jumped to Lauren’s mind when we asked for her take on a Boulder adventure: the closing party for the Bustop Strip Club in North Boulder.

Dancers spinning over a fire. Image: Lauren Click.

“Dancers from Conscious Burlesque came to honor the Bustop dancers and danced on a pole, over fire, in the parking lot,” writes Lauren. “It was such an awesome surprise. Also, the Catamounts hosted an interactive theater piece called RAUSCH — an immersive performance in a Boulder Open Space area. So, excellent theater in our beautiful environment? YES, PLEASE.”

Some other adventures Lauren recommends for Boulderites looking to do something different include the pre/post Covid-19 NoBo Art District First Fridays where you get a map and go on a scavenger hunt to find artists in their natural habitats and, any day of the week, Boulderites can go on a Covid-friendly walking or biking tour of murals through the Creative Neighborhoods: Murals project.

“The great thing,” Lauren tells BLDRfly, “is that they’re in Boulder neighborhoods, so you really walk to see parts of the city that you may not go to otherwise. They’re literally on people’s houses and fences.”

Patrick Maxcy paints a fence mural on Boulder’s 2808 Elm Avenue through the Creative Neighborhoods: Murals project. Image: Lauren Click.
Artist Chris Huang stands with the happy owner of the garage he recently painted through the Creative Neighborhoods: Murals project. Image: Lauren Click.
Butter flight a la Bella la Crema. Image: Lauren Click.

And if you’re in the Lyons area anytime soon, Lauren’s stomping grounds, she recommends its Arts and Humanities Commission’s sculpture walking tour: Lyons Public Art and the heARTS of LYONS, An Art Collection All Over Town. While you’re at it, hit up Bella La Crema for a flight of butter from “the world’s first butter bar,” featuring European, gourmet food and organic butter!

Evan Contreras + van life

Evan Contreras at Boulder’s Zeal restaurant.

In 2013, Evan Contreras, an avid rock climber and hiker, moved from Long Beach, California, to Boulder, where he works at a compliance marijuana testing lab.

“All of my climbing buddies were talking about moving to Boulder,” Evan recounts, “and about six of us decided to move out to have climbing in our backyard. Within a three-month window all of us were out here!”

Evan actually moved here just in time for the 100-year flood to hit, moving in on Labor Day weekend and shortly after, the basement apartment he lived in flooded.

To Evan, adventure means starting an event in life where you don’t have all the answers going into it, an unknown factor. Adventure allows room for not having a plan and making it up as you go along and can look like anything from a hike to a new career path.

Fittingly, for our June Adventure issue, Evan’s biggest adventure in Boulder happened when he moved into a van in 2015. His path of minimalist living stemmed from his true goal of quickly saving money to through-hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

Evan in Estes Park near Lilly Lake on the Edge of Time climb.

“When I did it,” writes Evan, “there wasn’t the large craze there is now for #vanlife. There were like 3 people I knew were doing it. I had a white Ford E350 that I called Albert and I wanted to take it everywhere to go climbing. I remember the first night that I was in the van, I probably drove around for an hour trying to figure out where to sleep.”

He ended up picking a flatter spot near Chautauqua for night one in the van, but tells BLDRfly that spot had too much traffic in the morning so it wasn’t one that he chose often.

During his van days, he would shower at places he trained at, like Boulder Rock Club, or Easton Training Center, typically revolving around when he trained Jiu Jitsu — one before and one after training!

“It wasn’t like moving into a new apartment,” says Evan, “but it was one of the best adventures I did in my life.”

“Top of the First Flatiron for my 30th birthday Free Solo” — Evan

Evan’s favorite spot to climb in Boulder is Upper Dream Canyon, which has a creek to keep you cool on hot summer days and some of the best sport climbing in the Boulder Canyon.

“The granite up there is so good,” says Evan. “Plus you can get into some pretty fun multi-pitch climbing up there.”

At an elevation of 7,500 feet, the area does have a reputation for being a nudist hotspot, so while it may be exaggerated, be prepared!

Header Image: Evan bouldering in Eldorado Canyon on Resonated. Image: Evan Contreras.