The highest botanical garden in the world is the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens at 183 Gore Creek Drive in Vail, Colorado. They can be found over eight thousand feet in the Rocky Mountains. From Memorial Day until after Labor Day the public can visit the gardens. In 1985 Denver and Vail horticulturists founded the garden.
Access to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is free of charge. The garden is a charitable organization that's goal is to encourage a love of plants though education and conservation in addition to research programs. The gardens were named for first lady Betty Ford during 1988 for the contributions that she made not only to the nation but to the Vail Valley. The garden is beside the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in the Gerald R. Ford Park.
There are four sections to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens today. In 1989 the Mountain Perennial was created, 1991 the Mountain Meditation Garden, 1999 Alpine Rock Garden and during 2002 the Children's Garden was created.
A diverse and independent Board of Trustees governs the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. The trustees guide the organization to ensure that it is used as a resource for education. Donors are relied on to fund the programs and operating of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Business, individuals, public foundations, private foundations and the town of Vail itself are all donors to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.
Those planning a visit to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are encouraged to remember sunscreen, a wide brimmed hat and water. Water may be obtained from the gift shop during its normal hours of operation. The garden opens at dawn and closes at dusk; while the facilities do not charge a fee for admission donations are always welcome. Visitors can find donation boxes in various places in the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.
The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens do not have the ability to provide wheelchairs however the facility is handicapped accessible. From the middle of June until the middle of August the gardens offer programs for children on Wednesdays each week from 10:30am until 11:30 am. These programs are targeted at children between the ages of five and ten years old; interns run the programs. The Children's Garden Amphitheater is where the classes are gathered and held. Interns run the program and provide children with activities that are hands on.
There are also adult programs at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens such as Garden Volunteer at 9 in the morning on Mondays and Thursdays. There are guided tours available at 10:30 am on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. A donation of $5 is suggested for the tours. Monday and Friday there is yoga at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens with a $12 charge.
There are two gift shops at the gardens. The Alpine Treasures is open all year long and can be found in suite seven of 183 Gore Creek Drive. The Schoolhouse is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day Weekends in the Ford Park. Anyone interested in horticulture should make it a point to visit the gardens.