Carousel of Happiness, Nederland

4.9
#1 of 8 in Things to do in Nederland
Must see · Ride / Activity · Fun & Games
The story of the Carousel of Happiness is the story of a young Marine, a derelict carousel, and the small mountain town of Nederland, CO. It starts in 1910 when a Looff carousel was installed at Saltair Park, outside Salt Lake City, Utah. During its 49 years at Saltair, the carousel survived fires and wind storms. It was moved to the Utah State School where it was enjoyed by people with disabilities until 1986, when it was sold and stripped of its wooden horses.

Meanwhile, a young Marine in Vietnam, Scott Harrison, received a tiny music box that he held to his ear to balance the horror of war. He began to dream of building a carousel in a mountain meadow. Decades later, when Scott heard of the empty, abandoned Utah carousel, he rescued it. He would spend 26 years carving animals to bring it back to life. As he finished the last of 35 animals, the community of Nederland pulled together and raised money to build it a home.

The Carousel opened on Memorial Day Weekend, 2010, with the first ride a silent memorial to veterans. Since then, the Carousel has become a destination for families, senior groups, organizations serving people with disabilities, parties and weddings. A local dating website called it a perfect place for a first date.

As a non-profit organization, the Carousel relies on charitable donations along with the work of many volunteers so that everyone can experience that feeling of joy at a low, affordable price.
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Carousel of Happiness reviews

Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
248 reviews
Google
4.9
TripAdvisor
  • Wonderful experience. You can't help but smile from deep inside while riding the Carousel of Happiness. As hokey as it sounds, it's true. I'm a grumpy old guy and was very skeptical - totally caught.....  more »
  • Heard about the Carousel many years ago, and finally got a chance to ride. What a charming, lovingly maintained attraction. Seven of us (adults and kids) were all pleased by our visit. Good COVID...  more »
  • We were so excited when we were able to ride this carousel after tasting wine at Augustina's winery next door during Nederland's Frozen Dead Guy Days. It's iconic.  more »
Google
  • What a wonderful experience! Beautiful hand carved animals and fascinating history. Carousel was saved from destruction by a Vietnam Vet and built in honor of his fallen friends. Very in expensive ($2) for what you get. Our conductor was extremely friendly and knowledgeable with the biggest smile. Highly recommend for fun and all the history!
  • Loved it! Beautiful hand carved animals all by one incredible artist and Vietnam vet. Really enjoyed the ride. Great music, friendly staff, beautiful artwork besides the carvings. Highly recommend a visit and ride if going through Nederland.
  • Beautiful craftsmanship. Fun history. Friendly staff. Reasonable price for a good ride. Fun for all ages! Has a wide variety of animals to ride on so everyone can enjoy!
  • Don't avoid joy, take the ride the man kept telling the wife and I. I had tears in my eyes after reading about the young men who died in Vietnam and I just wanted to appreciate the monument, not actually ride.... I rode the damn ride... I felt such joy. This is a beautiful place take a moment and don't avoid the joy!
  • Very cute and nostalgic carousel. Definitely worth a stop if you are driving through Nederland. The carousel has an antique Wurlitzer that plays fun music like "Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" and "Another Saturday Night." You can't help but smile as you go up and down on a bright colorful animal. :-)

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