Colorado Springs, Colorado
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- Pikes Peak Cog Railway is the world’s highest cog railroad, rising to the summit (14,110 feet).
- Athletes at the Olympic Training Center consume 15,000 gallons of milk a year.
- Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write “America the Beautiful” by a trip up Pikes Peak (1893).
- Colorado Springs was originally named Fountain Colony.
- In the 1920s, a Broadmoor room including meals for two cost $14 a day in high season.
Gold dust and gold medals
Colorado Springs has a climate and terrain made for people who want to be active during their vacations. But, other travelers can be just as pleased with the area’s natural attractions without having to run, jump or climb all over them.
The city, about 70 miles south of Denver, has low humidity and sits 6,035 feet above sea level. The result is an alpine desert climate with sunny days and moderate temperatures, allowing for year-round outdoor pursuits.
Adding visual drama, Colorado Springs is at the base of 14,110-foot Pikes Peak, one of America’s favorite lookout points.
Colorado Springs began life as a spa resort; that was 1871. It remains a resort destination but has evolved into a city with considerably more dimensions. The 1890s Pikes Peak gold rush made Colorado Springs a city of millionaires, funding infrastructure development, including the famed Broadmoor resort.
More recently, the U.S. government tapped the city for military bases, as well as the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Tourists visit the academy and museums with military themes. Colorado Springs also is home to a U.S. Olympic Training Center, open to tourists year round.
As for the area’s natural attractions and the ways an active traveler may be diverted, Pikes Peak sets the example. The summit can be approached by car, by rail, by foot (hiking or, more ambitiously, in the Pikes Peak Marathon) or on a bicycle — also quite ambitious!
Similarly, Canon City’s Royal Gorge, billed as Colorado’s grandest canyon, can be experienced several ways, from the Royal Gorge Bridge, 1,053 feet over the Arkansas River; aboard the Royal Gorge Route Railroad; on a zipline, or while whitewater rafting at the canyon’s bottom. Furthermore, visitors may walk or ride horseback in the Garden of the Gods Park, known for unusual rock formations and one of the area’s hot spots for rock climbing, as well.
Finally, Colorado Springs remains an integral part of the American West. Visitors have choices for museums and festivals that reflect historical and current connections to Native Americans, and with pioneers, cowboys and the gold rush.
Things to do for Venturers
- Go whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River.
- Make time for the National Museum of World War II Aviation, a working museum where you may see aircraft restorations in progress. It is the only museum in the world to focus on Word War II aviation. Another option is the Peterson Air and Space Museum.
- Cycle up the Pikes Peak Highway. Or, for a somewhat less challenging ride, cycle down the highway.
- Alternatively, run to the summit during the Pikes Peak Marathon in August. Or, hike the 12.7-mile Barr Trail from Manitou Springs to the summit, overnighting en route at the Barr Camp.
- Right after Christmas, rustle up an aged fruitcake and compete for prizes by heaving the old thing in the Great Fruitcake Toss in Manitou Springs.
- Hone rock climbing skills in the Garden of the Gods Park, on the west side of Pikes Peak or on the granite formations at nearby Turkey Rocks.
Things to do for Centrics
- Hand feed giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Also, participate in a walking tour and private photo session with the residents of the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center.
- Join a foodies’ walking tour in downtown, in Old Colorado City or in Manitou Springs. Also, sample the brews concocted at local craft breweries.
- Take a guided horseback ride through the Garden of the Gods Park, or join a trail ride into the Pike National Forest.
- Time your visit for the Colorado Balloon Classic, when more than 75 hot-air balloons decorate the skies during Labor Day weekend. Take your own ride in a balloon, too.
- Attend the Colorado Springs Indian Center Powwow in June, or come to the Colorado Springs Native American Intertribal Festival and Traditional Powwow a few weeks later. Or, look for Native American experiences sponsored by local museums. Also, learn about earlier inhabitants when visiting the Manitou Cliff Dwellings.
- Try your hand at churning butter, operating a nickelodeon or panning for gold at the Ghost Town Museum, which re-creates what a mining town might have looked like during Colorado’s gold rush. Drink a sarsaparilla, too.
Things to do for Authentics
- Attend the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, the state’s oldest annual rodeo.
- Ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the top of the mountain. For a different scenic and rail experience, choose the Royal Gorge Route Railroad for a lunch or dinner trip along the Arkansas River in the gorge.
- Celebrate the area’s Old West heritage at the Territory Days Festival, held in May in Old Colorado City. Try gold panning, check out the arts and crafts, and relax in a beer garden.
- Play golf. The city has 17 courses.
- Tour the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Athletes from around the world train for the big games here.
- Allow time for your self-guided tour of the Air Force Academy.
For more information, consult the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.visitcos.com