Nederland – Moose, Mining and Mud (Lake)

Nederland, CO was a surprise on an afternoon of exploring this fall. Moose and a mining museum were more than we expected when we left for a hike!  Ned (as the locals affectionately call it) is a little mountain town nestled on a beautiful lake in southwestern Boulder County, just 17 miles up the canyon from the city of Boulder.  It was known for mining silver and tungsten but now is known as the base of Eldora Mountain Resort, a favorite of us locals.  Nestled on the Peak to Peak Highway, the drive is half the fun!

Drive-to Mud Lake - Nederland

We took a hike at Mud Lake, which is an interesting name considering how beautiful it is! It was a nice, easy hike if you have people visiting from lower elevations or children with you. (We had both.) Considering it was late September the fall colors were spectacular. As usual, a crystal blue day in the Rockies.

Mud Lake - Nederland

aspen leaves on lake

autum on mountain lake

Our biggest treat was on our way home.  While driving, I pointed out to our guest that the area beside the road was very similar to the places we always see moose.  Boom – traffic jam!  A mama moose and her twin yearlings having their afternoon snack!



moose having a drink

mama and baby moose

twin moose

Two park rangers were there because of all the commotion, the traffic was backed up on the Peak to Peak Highway.  From them we learned that moose have very few natural predators, so they don’t feel threatened by humans.  That’s why they were tolerating dozens of spectators gawking at them.  The ranger also told us twins are an indication that the herd is healthy and growing, a wonderful sign that they’ve only seen in the past few years. Another thing she taught us was that dogs are seen a huge threat because moose consider them wolves.  If you’re ever hiking with your dog, walk a HUGE circle around moose or they will charge you because of your dog.  (Glad our pup stayed in the car!)

nederland steam shovel

In town, by the round-a-bout, we had to stop when my kids saw a huge steam shovel.  The sign said it helped dig the Panama Canal.  How it ended up in the mountains of Colorado, I never figured out!  But, my boys loved it!

Nederland Mining Museum

Although we’d just stopped for a photo, we realized we were next to a mining museum ran by Boulder County Parks.  It was fascinating! There were three fantastic volunteers there who took their time with my kids explaining everything they were seeing and how mining worked in early Colorado history.  It’s only open June through October, so visit before the snow flies!


Nederland Mining artifacts

Forest Mine sign Colorado




Make sure you stop in town at the Carousel of Happiness.  It is a revived antique carousel with 56 hand-carved animals. Anyone can ride for $1!  It is a beautiful story of a local resident who wanted to spread joy after returning home from the Vietnam War.  He’s carved all the animals because the carousel he purchased had been stripped of all the horses.  He’s truly an artist! Kids of all ages will love it!

gorilla carousel of happiness

It was a spectacular day! And exactly what life is about…creating memories!