Curiosity Under the Stars

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Date(s) - 08/05/2016 - 08/07/2016
All Day

Starry Meadows


Join other curious folks under the dark, dark skies of Gardner, Colorado for a weekend of exploration both near and far.

Your registration includes access to a range of telescopes (up to 20″) where expert amateur astronomers will point out constellations, planets (maybe even Pluto!) and other night sky objects.

The legendary Hal Bidlack will be on hand to share his love of Colorado and the universe that contains it, and others will regale us with tales of Native American astronomy and experts will be on hand to show us how to best enjoy one of the darkest skies you’ll ever see.

You’ll be able to dry camp on the site (portapotty available) at no additional charge or arrange for a hotel in the nearby town.

Bishop’s Castle

During the daylight hours, we’ll visit local attractions such as Wolf Mountain*, a shelter for wolves, and Bishop Castle*, a sprawling eclectic fantasy castle made by one man.

Saturday night, we’ll enjoy a meal prepared on site as the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains.

On Sunday, we’ll sleep in leisurely and head off to do our own individual things on the Continental Divide.

Registration fee: $79

*Subject to change as details are finalized.

Registration includes:

  • Access to dark sky site
  • Dry Campsite for tent or RV (Hotels are available on your own as well)
  • Portapotties on site
  • Camp dinner Saturday Night
  • Coffee and snacks in the morning
  • Guided tour
  • Talks
  • Access to telescopes, with instruction
  • Other College of Curiosity things (you’ll see).

Not included:

  • Transportation (car rental is recommended)
  • Camping equipment
  • Hotel if you choose to stay in one
  • Meals except as listed


Click for interactive map with hotels and event spaces marked.

Click for interactive map with hotels and event spaces marked.

Frequently Asked Questions:


How dark is it?

As dark as possible. We’ll have darkness protocols in place to preserve our night vision. We’ll be at 8,000 feet, miles from any light pollution. Most people have never seen a sky this dark.

How will the weather be?

Between 40ºF and 80ºF. It’s dry, so it gets cold at night. Light gloves and a hat are recommended, as is a sleeping bag that is rated for 32ºF or so. The sky should be clear.

What will dinner be?

Something simple, like burgers and hot dogs or spaghetti. If you have dietary concerns, please let us know and we’ll try to make arrangements.

How rural is this?

Rural enough that we’ll have to secure our food against bears, but there is a town about 25 minutes away with food, gas and lodging.

Should I worry about altitude sickness?

You might feel different, but it shouldn’t be severe. The best advice is to take it easy and stay hydrated. If you have a history altitude sickness, or any kind of chronic disease, consult your doctor. There are medications that could help.

What if it rains?

It doesn’t rain much here, and we’re holding the event rain or shine. If we’re unable to view the sky, we’ll have other activities planned.

Can I bring my own telescope?

Yes! Please do! And bring binoculars if you have them, as you’ll be able to see amazing things with those too.

Can I hike or do something other than what’s planned?

Absolutely. There will be staff at the site at all times, and you are free to do whatever you’d like at Starry Meadows or in the area.

Can I visit Great Sand Dunes National Park?

Yes, but you are not a crow. Though we’re relatively close to the site, it’s about a two hour drive. I recommend this as an activity on Sunday for those who have time.


What airport should I fly into?

Colorado Springs (COS) is the closest airport of any size, and it has several car rental agency. Denver (DIA) is an obvious choice, but it’s at least three hours away.

Can I share a ride with someone?

Yes, and we’ll try to arrange that for you, but for the price, we can’t afford to provide buses or vans. We think there will be enough space in cars to accommodate everyone.


What facilities are nearby?

In Gardner, there is the Wildflower Cafe that has food and sundries. They also have WiFI and have given us permission to fill water cans. And they have a dump station for RVs. They’re nice folks, and we will spend money there.

What hotels are available?

The closest hotels are in Walsenburg, CO 81089.

La Plaza Inn $89 as of April 5.
Best Western Rambler $91 as of April 5.


Can I have a campfire?

We’re under strict fire avoidance, so no open flames will be allowed, with the one exception of gas powered stoves. No campfires, torches, model rockets, fireworks, or anything like that are allowed. Gas lanterns are allowed.

Can I Smoke?

Smoking is allowed, but only in cars or in your tent/RV. There is a fire hazard.

And alcohol?

Alcohol is also allowed, and can be open carried. Laws of Colorado apply.

Can I bring my dog(s)?

Yes, provided you clean up after them and do not allow them to bother others (including barking after hours.)

How about firearms?

Our policy on firearms is this: anyone seen with a firearm will have one chance to lock it in their vehicle. On the second sighting, they’ll be asked to leave with no refund. We will have trained people on site in case there is a problem with a wild animal.

Do you have a harassment policy?

Yes, and it is this: any person who is harassing another person for any reason will be asked to leave with no refund. Harassment will be defined solely by the College of Curiosity staff, and shall include, but not be limited to unwanted sexual attention, abusive language, or denigration of others based on religion, sexual orientation, gender, or cultural background. In short, DBAD. Anyone experiencing a problem should bring it to the attention of Jeff Wagg or Hal Bidlack. Information will be provided on site.


Dry camping means there is no running water or electricity. It’s also called primitive camping. We will have portapotties on site, but you’ll be responsible for bringing your own food, water, and equipment. There will be picnic tables and trash collection on site. We’re going to try to have some stoves people can use, but we can’t promise that at this time.

If you have an RV, you’re allowed to use your generator until 11PM at night, which we are designating as quiet time. You can start it again at 8AM.

The REI in Denver rents stoves, tents and sleeping bags/pads. We have folks in Denver willing to pick them up and deliver them to the site for you.


Please register below. You’ll receive a confirmation with an invoice which can be paid by PayPal, Credit Card or Check. You are not officially registered until payment has been received and confirmed. Checks should be made out to “Absolutely Cruising,” the business end of College of Curiosity.

You can cancel with a full refund up until July 31st, after which there are no refunds.

(Photos courtesy Colorado Springs Astronomical Society)


Bookings are closed for this event.