Colorado Rocky Mountain School

RANKED #1 FOR A REASON.

At Colorado Rocky Mountain School, we believe high school should be incredible. Students here have access to exceptional faculty, highly engaging academics, and an unparalleled outdoor expedition program.

Colorado Rocky Mountain School is a small boarding and day school located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains–steps from endless outdoor adventure opportunities–with 100% college placement. Students enroll from all over the world.

This is a school where students are excited to learn and adventure. It's a place where they are known by teachers and make friendships that last a lifetime.

Interested in learning more?

Accepting applications for Fall 2024

Inquire Below For Admission Details

WHAT OUR STUDENTS & PARENTS SAY ABOUT CRMS


CRMS educates the whole student. Graduates continue to be life-long learners and responsible citizens of the world. It’s a unique and powerful education in the Rocky Mountains.

Sam L.

Best thing I ever did was go to Colorado Rocky Mountain School. It was a magical time and where I made friends for life.

Sandra C.

Fantastic school with fantastic programs. This school has a special place in my heart.

William F.

OUR PROGRAMS

Advisory

community

One of the signature offerings at CRMS is the Advisor Program. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor for the duration of their CRMS experience. The role of the advisor is twofold: the advisor serves as a liaison between the student’s parents or guardians and the school for all questions, concerns, and guidance; and the advisor serves as an advocate, guide, and supporter to the student through life at CRMS. Over time, the advisor often takes on a mentorship role to students, who form a long-lasting relationship with their advisor.

The purpose of the Advisor Program is to develop the character of each student during their time at CRMS. Each student is part of an Advisory Group that consists of their advisor and a small group of students from their grade. Through meaningful relationships that form between the Advisory Groups and advisors, advisees are routinely challenged to define themselves and seek personal growth through the CRMS recognition system to develop perseverance, curiosity, optimism, social intelligence, and self-regulation.

Advisory Groups meet multiple times, including weekly Advisory Meetings, All-School Meeting, and Formal Dinners. During Advisory Meetings, Advisory Groups focus on agenda items such as academic courses, preparation for student-led conferences, active and outdoor trips, and social and wellness issues. Students informally see their advisors and advisory group members throughout the week, whether in the classroom, dining hall, in the dormitories or after school actives. The Advisory Groups ultimately serve as a support program and “family” away from home for our students.

Bike Shop

This crew repairs and tunes bikes for members of the Colorado Rocky Mountain School community in the bike shop on campus. The bike shop service crew teaches students about basic bicycle maintenance and repair. Additionally, the bike shop strives to promote bicycling as an efficient and healthy means of alternate transportation.

Blacksmithing

Students on this crew produce community projects such as bike racks, chandeliers, railings, coat racks, and table centerpieces. The students work in the on-campus forge with direct supervision by faculty.

Boarding Program

community

Kai Testimonial

"One of my favorite parts of CRMS is living in the dorm. I love the close knit community of girls that feels like family. It seems not like we live together, but that we spend time together. For me it is spending 24/7 with my best friends, whether we are throwing impromptu dance parties in the common room, getting ready for Formal Dinners, or talking with each other during dorm check. Everyone is so kind, encouraging, and respectful of each other."

Kai Y. 12th Grade Boarder

Attending a boarding school might just be the most life-changing experience you have ever considered. Sharing a community with like-minded peers and adult mentors is powerful for a young person’s growth at this age. It is also a ton of fun!

Boarding students at CRMS enjoy life in one of the most beautiful mountain towns in the western United States and have built-in access to an incredible faculty who all also reside on campus with their families. In the dorms, students will find their “home away from home.” While living on campus means being away from family and what is familiar, it also supplies an excellent opportunity for students to learn and grow in social and living skills. At CRMS, they are able to do that with the support and care from on-campus faculty.

Students build strong relationships with the faculty and staff as well as their peers. Students get to know the adults in the community not only as their teachers but also as their coaches, their trip leaders, their dining mates, and their co-workers. Alumni frequently cite the relationships they formed with faculty as one of the best things about their CRMS education. When students graduate, they are comfortable with relating to adults and being able to ask adults for what they need. This is a significant skill both for college and for life.

 

Each weeknight boarding students check into the dorms at 7:30 pm and begin with dorm jobs, which are typical household chores. Students then clean their rooms and attend a proctored study hall. Study hall is two hours spent working together or individually on homework assignments, followed by the famous “brush and flush” and lights out. Students needing some extra time on their homework may ask for “late lights.”

While many high school students need to call friends on the phone and ask for homework help or wait until the next day in class to ask the teacher, boarders can work together on assignments and ask their classroom teacher for additional help on what was taught in class. Having the teaching faculty as dorm parents is a huge help to students and their academics; it also provides an opportunity to get to know one another on different levels. Living, working, and playing together promotes a family atmosphere for dorm parents and residents.

Dormitories

Dorm life at CRMS is a good life.  CRMS is fortunate to have seven recently renovated dormitories, which are divided by gender and grade level. Typically two students share a room, and each hallway has a dedicated modern bathroom and shower facility. Student dorm heads have the opportunity to live in a single room because of their unique leadership role. Given the school’s 300+ acres, the dorms enjoy surrounding open space, river frontage, and spectacular views of Mt. Sopris. In addition, the dorms are designed to be energy efficient and incorporate modern finishes throughout, such as beetle-kill pine paneling, expansive windows allowing abundant natural light, and warm inviting colors. The common areas anchor each dorm with large and well-appointed living and kitchen amenities. Students at CRMS love their living spaces and make these dorms become their homes. The friendships built behind these walls last a lifetime.

Weekends

Weekend activities are created, organized, and sponsored by the faculty on-duty team with suggestions and help from the student body. Weekend activities include a range of many different options including bowling, skiing, snowboarding, swimming at the hot springs, art shows, movie buses, gym games, climbing, biking, kayaking, baking, arts and crafts, shopping trips, hiking, and much more. There are often off-campus outdoor trips, such as back-country hut trips in the winter, and climbing, kayaking, and peak ascents in the fall and spring. All activities are announced and presented to the students at the weekly All-School meeting, posted throughout campus, and emailed in the weekly e-newsletter. Students can get around the Roaring Fork Valley by using the local public transportation or getting permission to ride with a day student and parents. All boarding students are required to sign-out before departure from campus for any reason and must sign back in upon returning.On the weekends, students choose from a full roster of activities, many of which take advantage of the school's ideal setting in the heart of the Elk Mountains. From climbing and skiing trips to visits to hot springs or Aspen's museums, CRMS students have plenty to keep them busy. Outdoor pursuits like mountain bike trails head out right from campus. Weekend evenings wrap up with optional planned activities in every dorm that range from board games to bake-offs.

Weekend Rendezvous

Weekend Rendezvous trips are an excellent opportunity for students to explore the beautiful outdoor playground via themed activities. Students have the chance three times a year to venture out on faculty-led outdoor adventures. Sample trips include the Desert Escape in Moab, UT; Backcountry Skiing in Silverton, CO; and a winter hut trip near Aspen, CO.

Why Boarding?

Part of what makes the CRMS boarding experience unique is the purposeful level of contact and attention that students receive from staff mentors throughout their day. CRMS is not a campus where students see their math teacher only in class. Faculty members genuinely enjoy engaging with students and building relationships with them. An English teacher may help run the grilled cheese cook-off in a dorm on a Saturday night. The climbing coach might also be a student's history teacher or run a weekend field trip to a regional youth poetry event. Students are constantly surrounded by caring adult mentors who check in with them beyond the classroom and get to know them as individuals. That sense of connection and adult support is a guarantee at CRMS.

Dormitories

Weekends

Weekend Rendezvous

Why Boarding?

Climbing

BEGINNING, INTERMEDIATE, ADVANCED, COMPETITIVE The climbing program teaches students of all abilities to develop and hone their skills, beginning in the school’s extensive indoor climbing facility and moving to the outdoors at world-class bouldering and sport climbing areas within an hour of campus. This program has broad appeal for students new to climbing as well as for those who are interested in competing on the championship Climbing Team.

Beginners learn the basics, intermediates stretch their skills, and advanced climbers push their limits. For those who participate, climbing is more than merely an after-school sport — it is a fabric of their life at school.

Students can participate in the climbing program all four quarters during the school year. Afternoons, weekends, and extended trips are opportunities to teach and challenge climbers of all abilities. In the first and fourth quarters, the focus of the climbing program is instructional. During those quarters, CRMS climbers head to the school’s well-equipped climbing gym or the great outdoors two days a week to learn the intricacies of climbing safety. During the second and third quarters, the climbing program transitions its efforts to the competitive Climbing Team, where training, teamwork, and strength become the focus.

In all levels of the climbing program, students are taught all the necessary safety and rope-handling skills to ensure they are well versed and capable in the climbing arena. Once proficient in safety, student climbers learn all aspects of the sport, from bouldering to sport and crack climbing and can explore many different areas that are within a day's reach of school. Plus, they train regularly on the school’s indoor bouldering wall, and the competitive team travels throughout the state for competitions.

Students enjoy a wide variety of climbing designations that offer the best possible training options available. From desert-crack climbing in Utah to the world-class sport climbing area of Rifle to the massive conglomerate boulders of Redstone, CRMS climbers experience firsthand all the different climbing options.

Plus, when the snow flies, CRMS climbers head inside and train on set routes and problems on the extensive competition indoor climbing wall. The CRMS wall was built by students and faculty with help from outside designers and structural engineers. The gym includes 2200 sq. ft. of a well-designed bouldering wall.

The school Climbing Team competes in the Colorado High School Climbing League. Competitions occur throughout the state and climbers will travel to the Regional and State Championships if they qualify. Every year, the CRMS girls’ and boys’ varsity teams compete for first place in the state of Colorado. CRMS always finishes well in these competitions, but what sets CRMS apart from other schools is that CRMS students fall in love with climbing and find passion within the sport.

Glassblowing

The purpose of this activity is to serve the school community through the creation of valuable pieces of blown glass. In order to accomplish this, students go through an extensive safety orientation and then spend a good deal of time developing the skills needed to work in this medium. Teamwork is a vital element in the actual making of pieces and in the sharing of knowledge. Students have made drinking glasses for the dining room as well as bowls and other items. Students also have a bit of time to make their own work.

Horseback Riding

With over 300 pastoral acres that were formerly a working ranch, CRMS has a rich history with horses. The horse program is divided into two sections – a start-up section and an intermediate/experienced section. Both sections follow a “whole horse” curriculum based on the following fundamental values: the horse/human connection; horse care and well-being; groundwork and training principles; fundamental riding skills; and agility series. The overall goal of the CRMS horse program is to develop a rich and rewarding relationship with horses as a way to foster such traits as confidence, connection, and mastery of basic equine skills.

Horticulture

Students work in the school’s organic vegetable garden. They have the opportunity to learn all aspects of horticulture, from soil preparation to harvesting. The student-built geodesic-dome greenhouse, straw-bale building, and hoop greenhouse serve as the hub of the garden, and students maintain those spaces in working order. Food from our garden provides organic vegetables for our dining room.

Interim

Programs

Interim is a two-week period in February where students pause their regular coursework and engage in an intensive project or experience. The goal of CRMS Interim is to offer students experiences and pursuits that enable them to learn by doing and expose them to new ideas, experiences, and environments. The opportunity to immerse themselves in this quest for knowledge in a specific discipline beyond a regular academic schedule allows students to broaden their skills, appreciation, and awareness for the world in which we live.

The purpose of Interim is to:

  • Challenge students to learn and develop new ideas, awareness, and skills
  • Help students better understand the workings of communities and the value of service to others
  • Promote active learning and experiential education
  • Assist students to develop sustainable life skills that will help them reach their full potential and personal goals

Sample Interim projects include:

  • Ancestral Puebloan: At Native American sites in southeastern Utah, students study rock-art panels, ruins, and archaeological sites.
  • Avalanche safety and winter skills: At locations near campus and in the high peaks of the San Juan Mountains, participants study avalanche science and avalanche safety.
  • Glassblowing: Through demonstrations and hands-on instruction, participants explore different ways of shaping molten glass to create beads, vases, and other objects.
  • Ski Building: Students learn the art of building their own pair of skis; from determining the size to the final graphics. 
  • Language and cultural trip, Mexico: By taking formal language classes and living with host families, students immerse themselves in another culture and language.
  • Tropical Ecology, Costa Rica: In seminars with respected field biologists and individual research projects, participants study flora and fauna of the tropical forest canopy.
  • Cooking and Culture in Santa Fe, NM: Students participate in a multi-day cooking school and discover art and food throughout the southwest region.
  • Civil Rights History and Refugee Activism: Students travel to the southern United States to learn about the history of the Civil Rights Movement, all while considering issues of social justice and equity.
  • Volcanology and Island Chain Succession. Students explore the shield volcanoes of Hawaii and the many terrestrial and marine expressions and the processes that created them.

Senior Project

Programs

Senior Project is an integral part of a student’s final year at CRMS, requiring students to exercise self-reliance and responsibility. This project forms an essential aspect of the transition from the relatively comfortable and familiar school community to the world beyond. Successful completion of the project is a CRMS graduation requirement.

Each senior organizes and carries out an independent, three-week project away from school and home, in which they under a mentor, employer or with an organization. Upon their return to campus, seniors present their real-world learning experiences to peers, family, and a panel made up of students and faculty. Both the quality of the project completed and an oral presentation (a pivotal opportunity to exhibit public-speaking skills) are evaluated, as is a reflective essay designed to help students chronicle their reflections and learning experiences.

Planning the project can be an exciting and thought-provoking process. Students are encouraged to begin exploring project options at the end of their junior year, making the program one of the hallmark experiences of their transition to the new challenges and responsibilities of preparing to graduate. Students often identify unexplored passions or compelling service opportunities, or they may design a program that intensifies current interests.

Sample senior projects include:

  • Volunteering in a Balinese orphanage
  • Learning organic farming techniques
  • Internship at a glassblowing studio
  • Working at a dolphin research center
  • Internship with Bridging Bionics (exoskeleton development)
  • Beekeeping and urban gardening
  • Tagging and tracking sea turtles
  • Internship with a public radio station
  • Teaching English in Spain
  • Internship for a senate campaign

Snow Sports

CRMS is synonymous with winter activities, being located just 30 miles from the world-renowned Aspen-Snowmass ski areas and only seven miles from the extensive Spring Gulch Nordic trail system. From snowshoeing, alpine, and snowboarding to Nordic and telemarking, there is no better place for the beginner to learn a new snowsport or for the advanced winter athlete to experience such a vast array of terrain. Find out more about our Winter Sports here.

Wellness

community

At CRMS, we believe in helping students develop skills to lead a balanced, healthy and fulfilling life. The process of nurturing these is ever evolving. Faculty, staff and students continuously engage in conversations about the many ways we can support one another and help students successfully navigate any mental, physical, emotional, or academic hurdles in front of them during these important high school years.

Activities That Promote Wellness

Many of the initiatives and programs that promote wellness have long been ingrained elements of our program and community. The sheer abundance of outdoor activity offerings and time spent in nature is core to what we do. These opportunities offer students a chance to unplug from technology and other daily stressors, learn skills that build confidence and kindness, strengthen relationships with faculty and peers, and practice mindfulness during long days on the trail or laying under the stars at night. The sport and service programs required for all CRMS students—offer important outlets for busy minds and can promote mental and physical well-being. Additionally, the emphasis of belonging to a community and being connected, seen, and heard contribute hugely to a young person’s well being.

Resources When They Are Needed

CRMS students are fortunate to have access to a wide range of support when it is needed. Our newly renovated Wellness Center in the center of campus is home to our full-time Registered Nurse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Students can meet with our school clinician or be referred to meet with outside counselors. Regular yoga and meditation classes are available to everyone in the community. Freshmen and Sophomores put away their cell phones throughout study hall in the evenings so that they learn to build healthy habits around technology. Freshman Seminar, a bi-weekly integrated class, is required for all 9th graders and features topics such as self-esteem, diversity, physical health, human sexuality, drug and alcohol awareness, and study skills. Throughout the year, “no homework” days are peppered in the schedule to allow for a time to truly rest, recharge, and reconnect during the busy school year. At every turn, we  aim to support the health and well being of all CRMS students so that they can thrive in our program.

Outside Experts

Each year, we bring outside experts to campus to work with students and host conversations on topics such as managing and engaging with stress in a healthy, productive way; sexuality, consent, and healthy relationships; substance abuse; and other topics related to living a healthy and balanced life.

The Garden

The garden sits centrally on the CRMS campus. It spans nearly two acres of organic vegetable gardens, a nursery, composting program, a greenhouse, hoop house, potting shed, and a small apple orchard. In keeping with the school’s academic mission, the garden serves not only as a key source of food for the CRMS kitchen but also as a vehicle to provide hands-on agricultural education.In season, the garden produces a wide array of produce including carrots, onions, beets, turnips, rutabagas, potatoes, raspberries, leeks, kale, chard, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, summer and winter squash, pumpkins, rhubarb, asparagus, beans, peas, garlic, basil, melons, and a multitude of culinary herbs. In addition, the orchards produce apples and apricots.One hundred percent of this harvest goes to the CRMS kitchen program; any surplus is donated to LIFT-UP, a local food bank. CRMS offers a first-quarter “garden harvest” service crew where students help to harvest and store over 6,000 pounds of the remaining produce. In this way, the kitchen can utilize stored carrots and onions well into the winter months.Fun fact: Over the course of a year, approximately 40% of the produce (approximately 8,000 pounds) used by the school will have originated from the CRMS garden.

Activities That Promote Wellness

Resources When They Are Needed

Outside Experts

The Garden

Advisory

Bike Shop

Blacksmithing

Boarding Program

Climbing

Glassblowing

Horseback Riding

Horticulture

Interim

Senior Project

Snow Sports

Wellness