So, what the heck are the Flatirons?

From right to left, the first three Flatirons on the east slope of Green Mountain.

After living a couple of years in Boulder there are a few things that become ingrained into your psyche about this wonderful place we're so lucky to be able to call home.  Without a doubt, the term 'Flatirons' is number one.  Numero Uno.  Some days it seems every shop or business I pass has the name Flatiron in it somewhere.  Flatiron car dealerships, Flatiron malls, Flatiron coffee shops, Flatiron medical centers ("Doc, do something, I think my flat iron may have kicked the bucket!")  No doubt, with the recent legalization of marijuana it won't be long before I pass the Flatiron Weed Co.  But, before we arrived in Boulder we had no clue what a 'flatiron' was.  I remember a local friend giving us a most uncomfortable blank stare when we said we didn't know what they were.  So, okay, just what are the Flatirons, anyway?  

The Flatirons consist of conglomeratic sandstone of the Fountain Formation. Geologists estimate the age of these rocks as 290 to 296 million years; they were lifted and tilted into their present orientation between 35 and 80 million years ago, during the Laramide Orogeny.
— Wikipedia

Well, thank you Wikipedia, that was refreshing.  Not.  In layman's terms, meaning me, the Flatirons are those things your eyes first see when you crest the rise on CO 36 heading into the Boulder valley on the drive from Denver, making your mouth involuntarily utter the words, "What the heck are those?!?"  They are five, massive, triangular-shaped, sandstone slabs that get their name from looking somewhat like a giant laundry lady's hot iron.  They are the icons of Boulder.  Don't take my word for it.  Check out the Boulder Chamber's website.  Or the City of Boulder logo.  Boulder County logo.  Downtown Boulder's business website.  Yep, all flatirons.  Today the Flatirons attract over a 100,000 visitors each year who come to climb them.  By far the most popular flatiron is the third.  In case you were wondering, you count them from right to left, the largest and most prominent one being the first flatiron.  Chautauqua park sits at the base of the Flatirons and is the perfect starting point for a hike up to any of the three primary flatirons,  but they are not easy hikes.  Check out our Flatirons hike if you are interested in climbing, or at least touching a flatiron slab.  If a challenging hike is not your cup of tea, there are many other hikes which will provide great views of the Flatirons, guaranteed to end up at the top of your best vacation photos!