Colorado Springs is just a 68 mile drive South of Denver, but is often overlooked on travels to the state. I spent a week in and around this city for the New Year’s holiday with friends and it has a lot to offer. Everywhere we went I was amazed at how beautiful our surroundings were (as well as very nice people everywhere we went). If you like being in the outdoors and experiencing nature this state is a little slice of paradise. If it wasn’t so cold (not a fan) I’d love to live in Colorado for a short time. Anyway, on to the list of my favorite places and experiences:
1. Pikes Peak
This is the most visited mountain in North America and the second most visited mountain in the world; only behind Japan’s Mount Fuji and it’s easy to see why. At only 10 miles west of Colorado Springs it’s a quick drive there and what I consider an absolute must see. Topping off at 14,115 feet once you reach the top you find yourself above the clouds and can’t help but be in awe. You can be drive to the summit on the Pikes Peak Highway (19 mile/31 km paved road) like we did, or you can take the scenic Cog Railway up. The drive up is breathtaking and the so is the top… but be prepared because it’s COLD! At the peak, the oxygen levels are only about 60% of that at sea level so it’s easy to lose your breathe up there.
More at the official website here: www.pikes-peak.com
2. Garden of the Gods
There’s a reason this is Co. Springs most visited park. It’s a beautiful 3,000+ acres that are completely free to visit. With over 15 miles of trails, and hundreds of unique rock formations this park is perfect for walking, hiking, biking, rock climbing and horse riding. We climbed huge rocks, hiked a few trails, and watched the sun set here.
More at the official website here: www.gardenofgods.com
3. Seven Falls
Made up of seven waterfalls flowing down steep canyons. It was mostly frozen when I visited, but still quite beautiful to see. Enjoy a steep walk up the 224 stair-steps or ride inside the mountain elevator to the Eagle’s Nest lookout. I’d say you’re missing out if you don’t take the steps! Once you’re up on top of the falls there are breathtaking views to be had.
More at the official website here: www.sevenfalls.com
4. Cave of the Winds
Once covered by shallow seas this limestone cave is one of my favorites I’ve ever visited. Even if your slightly claustrophobic (I am) it’s never too narrow or crowded to make you freak out. Take a 45 minute tour walking nearly a mile through this incredible cave. Open since 1881, Cave of the Winds sits at a high elevation of 7,000 feet and is a chilly 54 degrees (F) inside. Featuring hundreds of unique speleothems, stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone (frozen waterfalls) this cave has been millions of years in the making and well worth a visit.
More at the official website here: www.caveofthewinds.com
5. The Kempf’s Sculptures
Starr Kempf (1917–1995) was a famous architect and sculptor, and made one of a kind kinetic metal artwork that is now displayed for the public in the yard of the Kempf family home.
See my photos here.
There are a couple other things of interest that I just didn’t have the time to see and do while I was there. Both of which look like they could be fun experiences that I will hopefully get to see (maybe sooner rather than later).
Glen Eyrie Castle
Take a (cheap) tour or stay overnight in this 67 room English Tudor style castle. It was built in 1871 by the founder of Colorado Springs.
More at the official website here: www.gleneyrie.org
Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Relocated Native American (Anasazi) cliff dwellings. Although these weren’t ever actually lived in, they were built with authentic Anasazi stones from a collapsed site in the 4-corners region of southwest Colorado. Built in 1904 as a museum and tourist attraction, I’m always interested in visiting and seeing this kind of history.
More at he official website here: www.cliffdwellingsmuseum.com