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Science and scenery intersect on a hike through Colorado’s wildflowers

The Rocky Mountain Biological Lab offers a tour through the 1,500 species that grow in the area near Crested Butte.

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo — Learning and hiking are both fun on their own. The Rocky Mountain Biological Lab (RMBL) combines them this summer.

The lab’s informational wildflower hikes are the brainchild of Rick Reavis, an interpretive guide at RMBL. Visitors wanted to learn more about plants in the area, so he decided to give them what they were looking for.

“It gives the public an opportunity to not just learn how to identify a plant but will also give them the opportunity to learn the science connection,” Reavis said. “What is a research scientist studying about a plant?”

The area around Gothic and nearby Crested Butte is known as the Wildflower Capital of Colorado. The area is a perfect mix of what’s underground, snowmelt and secluded mountain valleys – conditions make it possible for about 1,500 species to grow, Reavis said.

Reavis’ tours include flower identification and the research being done at RMBL. He has a science background, so he loves to highlight work at the lab. He said he’s in awe of it.

“We have scientists who have not just been doing research here for a few years, but for decades,” Reavis said. “We have some really smart people here.”

RELATED: 9 wildflower hikes that are 45 minutes or less from Denver

As a former university-level horticulture instructor, Reavis knows what it’s like to teach. He said he loves to pass on his passion for plants to anyone who wants to learn more.

“To be able to share my enthusiasm for science, especially in a changing world that we have, is just great,” he said. “You stay very humble here. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new.”

The informative tours cost $55 and are open to the public, Tuesdays through Fridays. The hikes are about two hours long and are low impact.

RELATED: Free state park admission offered to the public to celebrate Colorado Day on Aug. 1

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