The Great Stupa

Colorado's Shangri-la offers inner peace―and a nice garden

Lori Midson

Two guys softly strum guitars in a wildflower-blanketed meadow. Inside a meditation tent, students strike a yoga pose and hum. At Shambhala Mountain Center―named after the mythical kingdom also known as Shangri-la―celebrating inner peace is a way of life.

Tranquility seekers journey to this 600-acre Buddhist retreat in the mountains near Red Feather Lakes to ponder life through meditation and the study of yoga and nature―and to contemplate the sacred symbolism of the kaleidoscopic Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. The three-tiered structure, dedicated to the center's late founder, Chëgyam Trungpa Rinpoche, is one of the tallest stupas (domed Buddhist shrines) in North America, rising 108 feet above its foundation. Take a guided tour (2 p.m. Sat-Sun; $10 donation) or explore the striking first floor of the Great Stupa on your own; wear comfortable shoes and bring water. Visit on September 3 for the Shambhala Botanic Garden Day ($8), complete with a reception and tours of the native plants and Oriental healing gardens.

INFO: Shambhala Mountain Center (10-6 daily; 4921 County Rd. 68C, Red Feather Lakes; www.shambhalamountain.org or 888/781-7221) is 45 miles northwest of Fort Collins and 110 miles northwest of Denver.