Just twenty minutes from Boulder up the gorgeous Boulder Canyon lies Nederland, our favorite mountain town. Nederland, or “Ned” as many locals call it, embodies mountain town style with small, locally owned shops and restaurants, interesting-to-the-point-of-bizarre town events, a relaxed lifestyle, access to skiing and other winter sports, as well as tranquil hiking destinations. Nederland is nestled away from the urban feel of Boulder, but is an important part of Boulder County.
As far as education goes, Nederland’s public schools are part of the most sought after local district, Boulder Valley School District. BVSD schools are highly rated not only by parents, but by teachers, paying teachers the highest salaries in the state. Nederland averages around 140 inches of snow every year, whereas Boulder tends to receive just under 100 inches per year. Although there is significantly more snowfall, CDOT does a respectable job of keeping the roads clear, to the relief of the many commuters who live in Ned and work in Boulder. Nederland is truly one of a kind. Whether you are heading to Ned to live or to visit, here are 10 reasons to love Nederland, Colorado
#1 Frozen Dead Guy Days
Known as one of the most unique and quirky festivals in America, Frozen Dead Guy Days takes place in Nederland every March. The festival features three days of frosty merriment including 30 live bands in heated super tents and outrageous events like coffin racing, costumed polar plunging, the Blue Ball, frozen t-shirt contests and much more. The home-grown frosty fest pays homage to Bredo Morstol, who is frozen in a state of suspended animation and housed in a Tuff Shed on dry ice high above Nederland. Thousands of adventurous, life enthusiasts come to participate in Colorado’s “most frigidly fun festival” and view the events along with local, national and international media and entertainment.
#2 Carousel of Happiness
We recently listed Nederland’s Carousel of Happiness as one of seven Strange, Interesting and Fun Places to Visit in Colorado. The Carousel of Happiness is a magical menagerie featuring 56 whimsical, hand-carved animals on a restored 1910 Looff carousel! Fun for all ages, this lovely carousel turns to the music of a 1913 Wurlitzer band organ. Witness the 100-year old gears churn by watching from the upper observation window. Wheelchair ramp available. Rides are just $1!
#3 Winter Sports
Just west of Nederland, Eldora Ski Resort is the closest ski resort to the Boulder area, just 21 miles up Boulder Canyon. Eldora receives more than 300 inches of snow every year, making for lovely skiing conditions close to home. The resort offers downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing for all skill levels. Eldora is loved for its ease of access (no need to brave the back-ups of I-70) as well as its relatively inexpensive lift tickets.
Nederland is a small town with a ton of amazing food! For your morning coffee, check out the Happy Trails Cafe‘s cozy atmosphere (and try the amazing breakfast burritos while you are at it!). Kathmandu Restaurant‘s lunch buffet will not disappoint, featuring dishes from Nepal and India. For some mountain pie, order some mouth-watering wood-fired pizza and a beer at Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse!
#5 Nederland Events
In addition to Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland hosts a handful of fun events throughout the year. During the winter, check out the Backcountry Film Festival, produced each year by Winter Wildlands Alliance as a celebration of the human-powered experience and a gathering place for the backcountry snowsports community. In June, Nederland holds its annual High Peaks Arts Festival, a friendly outdoor, juried exhibition of fine arts and crafts complemented by art workshops for children, live music and food booths. Nederland celebrates the end of summer with NedFest, a three-day outdoor music and arts festival. During the Fall, Wild Bear Nature Center hosts the Enchanted Forest, connecting kids with the magic of the Fall season by introducing kids to the forest, and its many magical creatures.
#6 Nederland Mining Museum
Step back into Boulder County history at the Nederland Mining Museum! The museum explores the tools, tales and tragedies of Nederland’s hard rock mining past. Kids will love the hands-on displays and kids play area, especially the working signal bell that rang out to let hoist operators know that miners were ready to be brought out of the mines.
Nederland is home to two craft breweries, brewing up their own styles of delicious mountain beer. Very Nice Brewing Company is a peaceful little spot featuring small batch beers. Very Nice frequently hosts local live musicians! James Peak Brewery and Smokehouse brews its own beer as well as tapping a large selection of other local craft beers. Try Grandpa’s Golden Promise (a nod towards Grandpa Bredo of Frozen Dead Guy fame) along with the smokehouse’s ridiculously delicious BBQ.
Nederland is surrounded by beautiful hiking destinations, which double as perfect snowshoeing trails in the winter. Caribou Ranch Open Space‘s beautifully maintained trails have everything from wide open meadows to thick forests as well as historic sites. Mud Lake is a favorite reflective pool as well as an easy, peaceful hike and scores of wildflowers during the warm season. Hikers also love Lost Lake Trail, a short but steep trail with waterfalls waiting to be discovered, ending at the beautiful Lost Lake.
#9 Wild Bear Nature Center
People of all ages flock to Wild Bear Nature Center for it’s interesting nature camps, workshops and presentations. Started by a public school teacher with a dream of connecting youth to nature, Wild Bear now provides hundreds of programs to thousands of local school kids, as well as adults. Wild Bear has two locations — a nature center in downtown Nederland, as well as a nature center near Mud Lake.
#10 Fishing on Barker Reservoir
Fishing enthusiasts will love Nederland’s Baker Reservoir, where fish are plentiful! Species include Arctic Grayling, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Muskie, Splake, and even Kokanee (Sockeye) Salmon. For info on the best fishing times, as well as weather and tips on good spots, click here.