Celestial Seasonings Tour Near Boulder

Celestial Seasonings is one of the largest tea makers in North America. It was merged (bought out) into the Hain Celestial Group in 2000. However, all the Celestial Seasonings teas are still made in the original factory near Boulder, Colorado.

celestial seasonings tourThere are free tours of Celestial Seasonings every day except major holidays. Tours leave on the hour and are first-come first serve. If you go during the week, you can usually just walk up and get on the next tour. On weekends, that may not be the case. The best way to avoid having to wait too long for your Celestial Seasonings tour is to show up near the half hour. That is, if you want to take the 11:00 am tour, show up before 10:30 am. Also, the people who missed the previous tour builds up as the day goes on, so if you get there early, you’ll be less likely to have to wait.

Go past the Tea Shop (gift shop) and straight to the tour desk to put your name down on the list. The tour ends in the Tea Shop, so don’t worry, you won’t miss it.

Celestial Seasonings Sampling

Once you have signed up for the tour, they will give you a cup and you can sample their teas. The tour desk is in the sampling room. There are five or six teas already sitting there ready for tasting (plus usually two around the other end of the counter that are iced teas). However, those aren’t the only teas you can sample. To sample other teas, you simply ask the workers behind the counter. They’ll pour some hot water into your tea cup and put in a bag. That way you can sample almost all of the Celestial Seasonings tea varieties.

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Free Celestial Seasonings Tour

They’ll announce the tour in the Celestial Seasoning taste test area. The tour starts with a 10 minute video about the company and a little of its history. Then, they pass out the hair nets. Since the tour goes through the actual production facility, all visitors have to follow health code rules including full hair nets. For super fun, and ridiculous pictures, visitors with beards have to wear beard nets as well.

The tour guides are generally pretty knowledgeable, so feel free to answer questions. The first stop is a look through the window into the Milling Room where they actually sift and chop the various ingredients that go into the tea.

Next up is a look at the large bins those ingredients are stored in. Then, there is a look into the Tea Room. As it turns out, the three most popular Celestial Seasonings teas have no tea in them at all. They are Sleepytime, Chamomile, and Peppermint. They are called Herbal Teas mostly because the public didn’t understand earlier names like “infusions.”

However, many of the varieties do contain actual tea. And tea, is absorptive. That means that if they left it out on the main floor with other ingredients it would absorb those flavors and smells. The fun part for tour takers is that the tea room smells wonderful since it is a closed room with no ventilation.

Mint, it turns out, is the opposite. Mint is invasive, giving off its flavor and smell to other things.As the tour guide says, if they left the mint out in the main area, they would have 80 varieties of mint tea. It seems that some people can handle strong mint smell, and others can’t. If you can, be sure to stand in the mint room. Your nasal passages will never be clearer. (Mint pulls water out of your body, so you’ll also be thirsty when you are done with the tour.)

Finally, the tour goes to the packaging area. It’s everything you would hope for in a modern manufacturing facility. Automated machines, robot arms, and conveyor belts rushing boxes of tea by.

The tour ends in the Tea Shop, which is a great little shop with tons of great little gifts in addition to most (if not all) Celestial Seasonings teas.

Celestial Seasonings Fast Lane

While you are in the Tea Shop look for the Fast Lane tea. Currently, it has a picture of three flying superhero types on the box. Fast Lane has more caffeine than a cup of coffee. The company claims that it is a smoother, more natural caffeine than others as well.

If you can’t remember ever seeing it on the shelf, you aren’t wrong. Fast Lane is sold on the CU Boulder Campus, in nearby Boulder, Colorado. According to the tour guide, they’ve canceled that variety a few times, and every time, they call up and beg them to bring it back. A¬†high-caffeine tea isn’t really what Celestial Seasonings is known for, so you can only get it on campus, or order it online. Of course, you can also get it straight from the manufacturer by buying it in the Tea Shop.

Getting There

The Celestial Seasonings manufacturing plant is just outside of Boulder, Colorado off of the Diagonal Highway (runs between Boulder and Longmont) and Jay Road. While you could theoretically get to there via public transportation, that would take a lot of time and effort. A cab ride from Denver (and maybe even Boulder) would be very expensive. So, this is a Denver day-trip that you’ll need a car to get to.

Don’t worry, there is plenty of free parking, and traffic is an non-issue unless it’s rush hour, or there is a major event like the Bolder Boulder or a CU football home game.

Rocky Mountain National Park

rocky-mountain-national-park-graphic Rocky Mountain National Park, RMNP, is the crown jewel of Colorado’s great outdoors. Covering some 415 square miles, the park lies north and west of the Denver area. Of course, the park envelopes part of the Rocky Mountains mountain range that runs from Canada down across virtually the entire width of the United States, finally petering out somewhere in New Mexico.

Within Rocky Mountain National Park are 17 peaks higher than 13,000. The highest mountain in RMNP is Long’s Peak, with a peak elevation of 14,255, making it one of Colorado’s famed “14ers,” mountains with a top elevation above 14,000 feet. But, there is more to Rocky Mountain National Park than just high mountain tops.

Much of the park’s land has an elevation of just 7,500 to 9,000 feet. While, still most defiantly mountainous, the terrain and scenery at this elevation can be beautiful and lush. In addition, it is packed with all manner of animals including, elk, bears, wildcats, several species of deer, moose, beavers, and the official state animal of Colorado, bighorn sheep. Recently, Canadian Lynx were also reintroduced to the park, as part of a national effort to repopulate the Lynx’s former habitat within the United States.

Trail Ridge Road

One of the favorite ways to enjoy Colorado’s largest national park is by taking a scenic drive over Fall River Pass on Trail Ridge Road. In addition to consistently being named one of America’s most scenic drives, Trail Ridge Road holds the distinction of being the highest paved road in the U.S.

There are numerous places along the road to pull off and take in the beautiful mountain scenery. Watch for signs designating scenic viewpoints. The twisty nature of the mountain road can make it hard to see these areas until drivers are right on top of them, so the signage warning, is the best way to ensure that you don’t miss anything, while not having to jam on your breaks and crank the steering wheel to avoid missing it.

Near the summit of Trail Ridge is the Alpine Visitor Center on Fall River Pass. The visitor center itself sits at 11,796 feet. The large wooden sign outside makes a favorite tourist photograph and a great keepsake souvenir of any traveler’s visit to the Rocky Mountains.

The full drive is 48 miles long and takes around 3 hours for those used to driving in the mountains, and a bit longer for “flatlanders” or those from areas without any hills or mountains. Trail Ridge Road is only open during the summer months. During the winter, snowfall and wind make it impossible to keep the road open. Highway crews try to get the road open by Memorial Day each year. It usually closes sometime in October when the snow drifts start to overmatch the plows.

Trail Ridge begins as branch off of Fall River Road which passes through the Fall River Entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. It is also designated as U.S. Highway 34. It winds its way up the mountains until Milner Pass which sits astride the Continental Divide. From there, it runs back down to the Southwest side of the park and the Grand Lake Entrance.

Estes Park

To get to the road from Denver, visitors head for Estes Park. Estes Park is a small mountain town whose primary purpose is to be the town next to the national park entrance. For the most part, it is composed of a main street and two or three blocks extended outward on either side. However, there are some great little pockets of charm, beauty, and fun to be explored. These include the Stanley Hotel, made famous by the movie The Shining — the good one with Jack Nicholson. The exterior shots of the sinister Overlook Hotel are of the Stanley Hotel, though the interior of the hotel was not used for the movie which was shot on a Hollywood movie set.

The quickest way to Estes Park is to take I-25 northbound to U.S. 36 (a.k.a. Boulder Turnpike). Travel on U.S. 36 through Boulder and Erie. The highway then winds its way all the way up to Estes Park.

Numerous signs in Estes Park point the way to Rocky Mountain National Park and the nearby Fall River Entrance.