Summer Science Tours

Summer Science Tours for Adults (and children over the age of 12 with an adult)

Enjoy a beautiful morning outdoors!  We invite you to explore the world of field scientists and learn how they use the Gunnison Valley to understand our world.  You will step into the shoes of scientists to learn about their field research as we explore each week’s topic.

Each tour includes moderate hiking as you follow your scientist guide up the winding footpaths of the Gothic townsite to research meadows, forests and streams. Tours are from 9 a.m. to Noon followed by lunch in the Community Center with your scientist tour leader, $50 per person.

Please consider bringing a small day pack, drinking water, snack, sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen, rain jacket, and sturdy footwear. For your comfort we recommend wearing light colored clothing, a long-sleeved cotton shirt and pants. Walking poles, journals, cameras, and binoculars are also encouraged. Science Tours are considered moderate walking tours on gravel roads and dirt paths.

Meet at the Gothic Visitor Center. If you drive up to Gothic, you may park in front of the Visitor Center or along the county road.  Please consider riding the free Mountain Express bus;  it leaves the 4-way stop in Crested Butte at 8:30 a.m., leaves Mountaineer Square in Mt. CB at  8:40 a.m. and arrives in Gothic at 8:55 a.m.  The bus will leave Gothic for CB at 2:10 p.m.

For questions please email

June 27th   Wetlands Ecology with Isaac Shepard from the University of Maine.

Take a walk to the kettle ponds near Gothic to learn about field and lab experiments in the ponds and wetlands. These experiments are designed to understand why species live where they do. Isaac is conducting field experiments investigating how predation and competition interact to alter growth and survival of a caddisfly that is actively shifting its elevational distribution.

July 4th   Join us for the 1/3 Marathon, John C Johnson Memorial Run! More Information Here

July 11th   This science tour is in conjunction with the Wildflower Festival and registration can be found here.

July 18th   Marmots of Gothic, Dr Dan Blumstein, UCLA.

Join UCLA Professor and long-time marmoteer Dan Blumstein on an informational tour of the RMBL marmot project. Started in 1962 by Ken Armitage, this is one of the world’s longest-running studies of individually-marked mammals.

July 25th   The Stream Bugs of Gothic, Dr Bobbi Peckarsky, University of Wisconsin Madison

Macroinvertebrates have been increasingly used to monitor the condition of streams, replacing chemical testing as the “go-to” protocol used by state and federal agencies in the US and throughout the world. Such “Biological Indices” incorporate not only the diversity of organisms, but also use the “indicator species” concept, ranking species according to their ability to tolerate disturbance or pollution.  We will collect macroinvertebrates in Copper Creek at RMBL and identify them to families (with the help of skilled aquatic entomologists at RMBL) and calculate the Family Biotic Index (FBI).  We will compare samples taken from two different areas in Copper Creek with either high or low densities of a nuisance diatom Didymosphenia geminata (Didmyo – affectionately called “rock snot”) to test whether proliferation of Didymo has negative effects on the habitat for stream invertebrates.  Weather permitting, we will do the entire exercise outside on a meadow beside Copper Creek.  We will provide tables and chairs for your comfort.

August 1st   Butterflies of Gothic, Dr Carol Boggs, University of South Carolina

Curious about how butterflies survive the winter at high elevations? or how they decide what plants to visit for nectar or to lay their eggs on? or what those compound eyes can actually see?  Come learn about butterfly biology and the research being done at RMBL, from a researcher who has been studying local butterflies for over 40 years.

August 8th Using All of Your Senses: How Plants and Pollinators Interact. Dr. Diane Campbell, University of California, Irvine

Plants often depend on insects or other animals to pollinate their flowers and contribute to seed production. The flowers in mountain meadows are colorful and showy, providing strong visual signals. But insects also respond to odors, taste, and texture in ways that can be less obvious to us. We will observe pollinators on a walk. Then we will learn how scientists measure flower color and odor, using new state-of-the-art equipment, and how these sensory aspects of plants are perceived differently by insect pollinators and humans.

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