Balarat is both a place and an organization. Physically, the Balarat Outdoor Education Center is a 700-acre, District owned facility that is located in the foothills northwest of Boulder, Colorado. The mountain campus includes representative biotic communities, assorted evidence of prior human inhabitants, and modern facilities that can house the 110 student visitors and staff who reside there virtually every school day.
The Balarat Site is located in Boulder County, Colorado about a mile north of Jamestown and 7 miles northwest of Boulder in Boulder County, Colorado. Balarat is 46 highway miles northwest of Denver, Colorado. Travel to the Denver Public Schools Balarat Outdoor Education Center from Denver is through Boulder and Jamestown via U.S. Highway 36, Left Hand Canyon Road and Jim Canyon Road respectively. Approximately one mile beyond the village limits of Jamestown, Balarat Hill Road ascends another mile to the Balarat site entrance.
Elevation at the entrance, which is located at the southwest corner of the 700 acre oval shaped property, is 8,000 feet above mean sea level. The irregular shape of the Balarat site is accounted for by the intrusion of adjacent mining claims. The site generally drops in elevation from the entrance to an elevation of 7,840 feet at the northeast corner of the site.
The terrain of the site varies from steep mountain slopes to relatively flat meadows with about half of the area in each of these categories. A prominence near the northwest corner of the site (Buck Point) reaches an elevation that is just over 8,100 feet above sea level.
There are several ravines on the site that drain generally to the north, where they conjoin with water flowing down Central Gulch toward the South Saint Vrain River. The Balarat site makes up approximately one-half of the Central Gulch drainage area headwater. A shallow pond is found near the northern boundary of the site.
Private property surrounds the site on the west, northwest and southeast. This latter property is adjacent to Balarat Hill Road, Little Jim Creek and the village of Jamestown, Colorado. Roosevelt National Forest borders the site on all other sides. Roosevelt National Forest’s Fairview Peak is due east of the Balarat site. At 8,560 feet above sea level, Fairview Peak is one of two high promontories that border Balarat in this same vicinity. The other peak is unnamed.
Temperatures on the site range from 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months to 25 to 30 degrees below zero Fahrenheit in the winter. The area is frequently racked by strong winds, especially during autumn and spring. Lightning is a constant weather concern from early spring until winter. Other severe storms include winter blizzards, and a spring flood potential results from the melting of high snow levels.