On a recent trip to Denver, Middle Age Miles daughter Katie (KB) and I paid a visit to a cool local attraction, the Butterfly Pavilion. In addition to enjoying the main rain forest exhibit containing 1,000+ butterflies and moths, KB and I got to meet the Pavilion’s most famous resident, a Chilean rose-hair tarantula named Rosie. And yes, we got to hold Rosie!
We didn’t know quite what to expect when we headed to the Butterfly Pavilion, so we wanted to share our experience with Middle Age Miles readers. Like so many things travel-related, pictures often tell the story much better than words, so we have a ton of beautiful butterfly photos to share with you.
Where is the Butterfly Pavilion Located?
The Butterfly Pavilion is located in the northern Denver suburb of Westminster. It’s just off US Highway 36 (the Denver Boulder Turnpike), at the 104th Avenue exit. Across the street is the Westminster Promenade Center, which has several restaurants and a 24-screen AMC movie theater. The Westin Westminster hotel is also nearby. And just across US Highway 36 is the Shops at Walnut Creek center, with shopping and more restaurants.
The actual address of the Butterfly Pavilion is 6252 W. 104th Avenue, Westminster, CO 80020.
Here is a map showing the Butterfly Pavilion and the closely-surrounding area, plus a map showing the Butterfly Pavilion’s location in relation to the Denver area as a whole:
There seems to be some movement afoot to relocate the Butterfly Pavilion further north, to Broomfield, but we’re not sure where that stands at the moment. The articles we read suggested that a move might occur in 2021.
What Are the Ticket Prices and Operating Hours?
The Butterfly Pavilion is open daily from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, with last entry at 4:15 pm. It’s closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. It closes early on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, and it opens late on New Years Day.
Ticket prices on-site are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (65+) and Westminster residents with ID, and $8 for children 2-12. You can purchase advance tickets online and save $1 off each of these prices.
That said, the charge for KB and me to enter was $22.66. I believe this was $12 for me, plus $9 for KB as a student with ID, plus tax of $1.66.
Enough with the Boring Details, Let’s Visit the Butterfly Pavilion and See Some Pictures!
Entrance and Arrival
KB and I arrived at the Butterfly Pavilion early afternoon, around 1:00. We stayed for 1½ to 2 hours. One thing we didn’t realize beforehand is that the Butterfly Pavilion is almost entirely an indoor experience. There’s a large park and nature trail adjacent to the Pavilion, and you could definitely go for a walk on a nice day – but for all intents and purposes, you’ll be indoors.
Another thing we didn’t realize beforehand is that the Butterfly Pavilion houses more than just butterflies. As we’ve already mentioned, the Pavilion is the home of Rosie the Tarantula. And in fact, the Butterfly Pavilion is one of two invertebrate zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
We felt very lucky to be at the Pavilion at a time when there were no tours of school children visiting. I suspect that there are many school tours, and it would have been a lot more chaotic and less relaxing if we’d encountered one!
Visiting and Holding Rosie
The first major highlight of the Butterfly Pavilion is Rosie the Tarantula. Rosie, who apparently has some measure of fame, has her own special area of the Butterfly Pavilion. Visitors, even children, are invited to meet Rosie up-close-and-personal, and even hold her!
Of course, KB and I had to hold Rosie. A patient and knowledgeable volunteer named Greg introduced Rosie to us, helped us relax, and nudged Rosie down and onto our hand. Rosie remained quite calm – and we tried to do the same! Greg let Rosie stay on our hand for a few seconds each, and then we got an “I held Rosie” sticker for our bravery.
We suspected – and confirmed later – that there are actually multiple “Rosies” who each have limited exposure to the public. But whether there is 1 “Rosie” or many, it was a cool and not-scary experience to get to hold her.
The Butterfly Rainforest
The main attraction of the Butterfly Pavilion is the indoor tropical rain forest. It’s a large, square-shaped, greenhouse-like room, roughly 7,000 square feet. It contains numerous different species of tropical plants, and pathways wind their way through the greenery. And the stars of the room are the many beautiful butterflies. The room contains more than 1,000 butterflies and moths, so you’ll see them at every turn. It’s remarkably engaging and relaxing to watch the butterflies and spot the ones that are hiding.
One corner of the butterfly rainforest contains a case with hundreds of chrisalides, some with butterflies emerging from them. The Butterfly Pavilion purchases these chrisalides from all over the world, and it’s fascinating to see them and watch the new butterflies in different states of emergence.
I don’t know the different species of butterflies – aside from the giant African moon moth, which I don’t think you’ll have any trouble identifying – so I’m going to include some of my best pictures of the various types of butterflies and let them speak for themselves.
There were a number of other exhibits in the Butterfly Pavilion. We especially enjoyed the tide pool where you could touch starfish and a few other sea creatures, the small aquariums, and the beehive exhibit which included a (not-very-accurate) counter of how many bees were coming and going from the hive. There was also a large open play space for young children.
Leaving the Butterfly Pavilion
There was a nice gift shop with lots of goodies for kids at the end of our trip through the Pavilion. Once we passed through that and exited, we briefly considered a walk on the Nature Trail. But it was chilly and breezy, and by mid-Friday afternoon, happy hour sounded better.
Our credit card aficionados will appreciate that we went across the street to the Rock Bottom Brewery for happy hour. There, we found some good specials – and we also took advantage of Amex Offers that KB and I had loaded to our cards. Our Amex Offers were for a $10 statement credit when we spent at least $30 – not a bad deal at all! And KB and I were able to split the check onto 2 cards to double up on the statement credit.
Have you been to the Butterfly Pavilion? What was your favorite thing there? Please share with us in the Comments!
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