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Butterfly Pavilion

The Butterfly Pavilion, located in the Denver suburb of Westminster, is a truly unique exhibit that offers an appreciation of invertebrates that is designed to change the way people think about them.

It is an outstanding invertebrate zoo, home to hundreds of insect species. It’s located just fifteen minutes north of downtown Denver in Westminster, on the corner of 104th Avenue and Westminster Blvd. Guests can access the zoo every day of the year, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Founded in 1995, the Butterfly Pavilion was the first non-profit, stand-alone insect zoo in the U.S. Wander through 30,000 square feet of tropical rainforest as thousands of butterflies of myriad colors, shapes, and sizes flit around you. It aims to be the leading research, conservation, and education institution on earth for invertebrates. It’s a fun and entertaining way for the entire family to learn about conservation. Westminster, CO residents with a valid ID receive discounted admission.

It is a little bigger than an insect house at a large zoo, so if you have an insect house or butterfly house at your local zoo you might want to skip this place. If you do not have a nice butterfly house at your zoo then this place is worth checking out. Also if you are any sort of a photographer and like taking pictures of butterflies it does not get much better than this.

The Wings of the Tropics forest walk is one of six permanent exhibits alongside aquariums, insect displays, and outdoor gardens. The rainforest is an impressive habitat and is kept warm and humid throughout the year. It’s the closest thing to a tropical holiday during the long winter in Colorado. About 600 to 1,000 butterflies are brought every week from butterfly farms throughout the world as part of the Butterfly Pavilion’s conservation efforts.

Another one is Crawl-A-See-Em Survival. This highlights the earth’s smallest residents, and how they fight, feed, hide and move. They use their unique bodies to their advantage, exceeding all expectations.

There’s also an exhibit called Water’s Edge which showcases the world of underwater invertebrates. These dependent animals range in size from tiny shrimps to giant squid. They offer a touch tank, which is just like a petting zoo, except with sea stars, hermit crabs, and horseshoe crabs in Atlantic and Pacific Ocean tide pools.

These and the other three exhibits are open year-round and included in general admission. There is also a live chrysalis camera to watch butterflies emerge. Butterfly Pavilion also hosts multiple events throughout the year, including the new Living Lights experience that occurs from mid-December through early January. Great for the entire family, there are aerial artists, glowing exhibits, and a kid-friendly dance party.

Through entertaining and educating they hope the public will understand the necessity of preserving the threatened habitats in the tropics and around the world. Each week they buy 600-1000 butterfly chrysalids from rainforest farms, which contributes $80,000 annually to sustainable farms in endangered ecosystems in Westminster.

In addition to the beautiful butterflies, the 7,200 square-foot Wings of the Tropics is also home to more than 200 plant species from around the world, as well as unique photo opportunities galore. It also has a half-mile nature trail that is home to prairie dogs and rabbits along with native insects.

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