Heading back south, away from Red Feathers Lake, we were on the lookout for a nondescript dirt road by the name of Boy Scout Road.
Jason had read about a place that needed to be explored and it was located five miles down this dirt road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
What were we seeking? The Shambhala Mountain Center which is a six-hundred-acre mountain valley retreat surrounded by native forests, gentle meadows and rocky peaks.
More than the Shambhala Mountain Center, we were seeking the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya which is located there among the wooded hillsides.
The Great Stupa crowns a meadow at the upper end of Shambhala Mountain Center’s main valley. It stands 108 feet tall, and is one of the most significant examples of sacred Buddhist architecture in North America.
Who would have known that this beautiful Buddhist retreat was tucked away in the Colorado Rockies? Well, obviously, a great many people including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, of Tibet, who visited in 2006.
We found the Shambhala Mountain Center easily, parked in the first parking space we came to and set out on a walk. It is a serene area and the walk was peaceful and refreshing although cold as the sun had already dipped behind a nearby mountain peaks. I wonder how many times we must be cold on an outing before we remember to pack warmer clothes in the Jeep. It’s a little ridiculous because we do it to ourselves every time!
We could have spent many hours in this secluded, tranquil and welcoming land hiking and exploring but we simply did not have much time left in the day. Therefore, we zeroed in on finding the Great Stupa whose golden spire we could see peeking above the tree line in the distance.
Now let me tell you that I know very little about Buddhism and the correct wording and terminology. This little knowledge limits my ability to tell you a lot about the Stupa and it especially keeps me from correct wording. I mean no offense if I say something incorrect, or in the fact that I do not know the correct words.
The Great Stupa did not disappoint. It is a beautiful building unlike anything we had ever seen and is set in a beautiful location.
The dirt path we followed mixed with the early moisture of dew as evening approached and the smell of the fresh earth was invigorating and comforting at the same time. Simply seeing the Great Stupa nestled among the hillsides, the only structure in sight, was enough. But we didn’t stop at viewing it from afar. We walked up to it, slipped off our shoes and quietly walked inside.
The stillness of the inside enveloped us and with it brought a feeling of calm. Jason reminded me of an excited little boy with his smile. He was so happy to be there experiencing something new to us. He and I both smiled at the beauty of the room and were both instantly curious as to the meaning of the different interior items.
The three of us explored the one room for about 30 minutes. We read and touched and listened to the quiet. We even sat for a moment simply to take it all in.
The great Stupa is absolutely a place that needs to be experienced. The land that it sits on beckons to be explored…to be walked upon, the paths to be followed into the mountains and for memories to be made there. There are still quiet places to sit among the trees, to talk and laugh or to meditate and simply be among nature…and the sunsets are magnificent!
If you plan a visit to northern Colorado I highly recommend you take a day and drive up to the Red Feather Lakes region and visit the 600 acre valley of the Shambhala Mountain Center where the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya sits among the wooded hillsides.
NOTE: Below are a few miscellaneous photos that I took. I do not know the meaning behind the items that are left behind on the stone pedestals outside of the building. I tried to research it and from what I understand leaving different items means certain things. Like leaving behind food, or something personal like the Planet Fitness membership card, which is something important to the person leaving it, means generosity. There were many items left behind which I’m thinking were things that the hikers simply had on themselves and the items meant something to them…coins, bracelets as well as other jewelry, a beautiful key-chain, food and a climbing rope among other things. I would love to be enlightened by anyone who has knowledge and understanding of this. Simply comment below.