Step into a lush simulation of a tropical rainforest where butterflies soar free, at the Butterfly Pavilion. Photo Courtesy of the Butterfly Pavilion
by Jamie Siebrase
Butterfly Pavilion is home to 1,600 butterflies, and its signature event—daily butterfly releases—is included with the price of admission, and will have you awestruck over oodles of colorful, soaring insects. Take your time exploring the creatures and foliage in Butterfly Pavilion’s lush Wings of the Tropics exhibition, a simulation of a tropical rainforest. There are 100 different species of butterflies to see in this section of the invertebrate zoo alone.
Keep in mind, though, that butterflies are just the beginning. “We have many more offerings packed into our building,” says Jessy Clark, Butterfly Pavilion’s senior VP of operations. The site houses more than 5,000 animals, Clark estimates. Rosie the tarantula is the organization’s ambassador, and you can hold her anytime you’d like in the Crawl-A-See-Em, a terrestrial invertebrate room featuring desert, grassland, and rainforest displays. During this self-guided experience, children get eye-to-eye with scorpions, beetles, centipedes, and more—and there’s a pollinator-friendly beehive, too.
The educational facility also delivers Water’s Edge, which makes a big splash with jellyfish, lobsters, scallops, snails, and two hands-on stations where guests can touch sea stars and horseshoe crabs. “The live coral tanks are one of my favorite exhibits,” Clark says, noting that curious families also have access to streaming videos, allowing them to observe coral reefs in action.
End your adventure al fresco, in Butterfly Pavilion’s outdoor gardens, which were designed with butterflies in mind, with hundreds of species of plants offering up food and shelter for winged insects and other wildlife. “The nature trail is awesome,” Clark adds. A half-mile path loops along Big Dry Creek, where guests might spot a heron, hawk, or eagle soaring high above interpretive signage, and find a few interactive activities.
From recurring workshops to summer camp (sign-up is now open online), there’s a lot to love at Butterfly Pavilion—but the nonprofit’s extensive and ongoing conservation efforts are especially impressive, including research projects and programming.
Check it Out
6252 W. 104th Ave., Westminster
Need to know
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
$11 adults, $9 seniors and Westminster residents, $7 children ages 2 to 12, free under age 2
In honor of Earth Day, admission is only $5 on Saturday, April 22. Special pricing comes with more than a few festive activities. Butterfly releases happen in the conservatory two times daily, at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.