Colorado Springs Top Destinations
May 26, 2017 / By Chris Oudean & Katie Hnatik
Colorado Springs is one of those areas full interesting destinations. From secret military bases to groundbreaking fossil discoveries, this area is steeped in mystery and excitement! Home to Cheyenne Mountain Complex, the US Olympic Training Center, the Air Force Training Academy, Americas mountain Pikes Peak, The famous Garden of The Gods, Nikola Tesla’s Experimental Station, and tons of thrilling activities like hiking, rock climbing, white water rafting, zip lines, hot air balloon rides, skydiving, paragliding, horseback riding and more! We’ve made a list of some of the top destinations below to help you plan your visit.
1. Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak is the quintessential mountain exuding the American spirit of adventure. Being just a few miles south of downtown Colorado Springs, this fourteener is one of the few that features a fully paved road (as of 2011) to the very top! There’s tons of stuff to do here too, so long as you can stomach the altitude. The locals seem to pride themselves on their ability to brush off any altitude around here, and they wholly embrace this towering icon. There are annual marathons, bicycle races, and even a vehicle race to the peak. There is a chance of snow and thunderstorms year round at the peak, so be prepared on your trip. The mountain as a whole offers camping, hiking, fishing, boating, picnicking, bicycling, and wildlife watching. There are multiple visitors centers including the Summit House at the very top, equipped with a gift ship and plenty of food and drink options. Pikes Peak has a wild and wacky history, including the story of a man who challenged himself to push a peanut all the way to the top with his nose.
2. Cave of The Winds
Cave of the Winds is a gigantic cave system near Manitou Springs. Build over millions of years, the cave officially opened as an attraction in 1881, and has only grown since. There are a few tours available, including the exciting lantern tour, where you walk around in a group with only lanterns to light your way. There are a number of exciting rooms to view, including one called the Bottomless pit! Be ready for stooping and shuffling around, and there are a number of slippery steps in places, but all in all this is a family friendly experience. Outside the cave, there are recent additions of a number of thrill rides, and a well packed gift shop to top off your day.
3. Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings
About 1200 B.C. To A.D. 1300, the Anasazi Native American Indians dominated the four corners region of the United States, building these magnificent cliff dwellings both designed for defense and shelter. There are literally hundreds of these ruins spread all over the region. As a means of preserving these feats, and to make the attraction more accessible to residents of Colorado, original stone structures were carefully taken apart and reconstructed in Manitou Springs to form an authentic experience. You can walk through the ruins, and visit the multilevel museum to learn all about the history of these intriguing people. This is a great place to start learning about the Anasazi, and once you’ve soaked up all there is to offer here, you can venture out to see even more of these amazing cities built into stone walls in the Mesa Verde National Park, in the southwestern region of the state.
4. Garden of The Gods
Garden of the Gods park is an free to the public park that contains massive spires of sandstone rock formations. The park features a number of hiking trails throughout, along with a visitors center and numerous parking areas. During the summer months, rock climbers can be seen ascending the spires. The park, once owned by the Perkins family, gave the land to the city upon Charles Elliot Perkins passing, with the requirement that the park remain free to the public. The rock formations all have their fault lines tilted vertically due to immense geologic forces over millions of years. It’s quite a sight to behold! The park is open year round and is regarded as a top destination for the state.
5. Seven Falls
Seven Falls is a series of waterfalls, 7 to be exact, cascading down in a row to feed South Cheyenne Creek. The two hundred and twenty four steps that run up to the top of the falls is sure to take your breath away, pun intended. There are a number of hiking trails along the stream at the top of the falls, as well as a thrilling zip line tour. At the base you will find easier walking paths among natural beauty, and a restaurant when you need to refuel. The canyon that contains the falls is absolutely picturesque and has been coined by locals as “The Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado”. I haven’t even mentioned all that the Broadmoor five-star resort has to offer. For those that want an easier way to see the top of the falls, there is also an in mountain elevator for your convenience.
6. Florissant Fossil Beds
This is one of the world most abundant locations of ancient fossilized insects and plants. There are even 14 foot wide petrified redwood trees from 34 million years ago! When you visit, be sure to check out the visitors center and watch the film before venturing out. It sets the stage for the millions of years it took for the land to look the way it does today. There are a few different loop trails that will take you all along some very interesting landscapes.
7. Visit a Castle
There are a surprising number of actual castles in the state of Colorado, and have long been apart of the states history. Check out these 3 listed below around Colorado Springs:
- Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun
Built as a dedication to Will Rogers, who died in a plane crash in 1935, this shrine sits atop an overlook of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo at 8136 feet, and can be accessed via the Russell Tutt Scenic Highway with an admission to the zoo. The five story castle contains multiple rooms filled with antiques entailing Colorado’s rich history and of Will Rogers many travels.
- Miramont Castle
Located a few miles outside of Colorado Springs, this sprawling castle is composed of 30 rooms that have been decorated in authentic Victorian era furnishings by the Manitou Springs Historical Society. The castle was added to the national register of historical places in 1977 and restoration of the castle to its original design continues to this day.
- Glen Eyrie Castle
Built by William Jackson Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs, this seventeen room castle was William and his wife’s home for many years. After his wife’s passing, it was rebuilt by William as a stone castle in memory of his wife. It is now owned by the the Navigators, a Christian disciple ministry. Though the castle is used as a retreat and conference area, utilizing its many meeting rooms & dining areas, you can also call ahead to reserve a tour of the castle, which includes a 90 minute historical tour, and a brief video entailing the history of the Palmers and The Navigators.
8. Hot Air Balloon Ride
The residents of Colorado Springs are huge fans of balloons. Not the birthday party kind, I mean the silently sailing over a majestic mountain kind! They’ve been host to an epic annual hot air balloon festival for the last 40 years, and have no plans of stopping soon. Imagine somewhere around 70 hot air balloons lifting off all at once and filling the sky in all directions! That’s what you get at the Colorado Springs Labor Day Liftoff, held in 2017 from September 2nd-4th. If you happen to miss this though, there are endless occasions to hitch a ride on your very own hot air balloon ride. It’s an amazing experience to be gliding through the air completely silent aside from the occasional blast of flames to stay aloft. Here are just a few businesses with stellar reviews:
9. Wild West Ghost Town Museum
Walking through this place is like taking a time machine smack dab in the middle of the early 19th century, when typewriters and messages sent via “cable” were the latest in technology. The buildings and antiques that make up this ghost town were salvaged from all over the Pikes Peak region. The museum and reconstructed town are all indoors and can be visited year round.
10. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
About one hundred thousand people visit this place annually. The place is home to a large variety of fossil specimens on display that have been discovered throughout the US. It was originally designed as a repository for fossil specimens as they were discovered throughout the country, but in 2004 it became a full fledged public attraction. There are a number of impressive exhibits on display, and an active archeological community that works here. It’s a dynamic environment where discoveries are made daily!
11. Michael Garman Magic Town
Imagine if one man dedicated himself to creating the most detailed cityscape ever, and spending over 40 years perfecting every little nuance of the buildings , alleyways, windows, and even the people in extreme detail. Now image this place brought together in a 1/6th scale but covering 3000 square feet of space! There’s even illusionary effects to boot! It’s an unexpected treat right in the heart of Colorado Springs. This is Magic Town.
-If you don’t mind traveling just a bit outside of town, here are a couple more destinations to sink your teeth into:
12: Royal Gorge Bridge
About 1 1/2 hours drive southwest of Colorado Springs, just outside Canon City, is a rather dizzying bridge that’s one of the highest suspension bridges in the entire world! Crossing over the Arkansas River far below, this 1260 foot long, 955 foot high marvel bends and sways in the wind as you make your way across, taking in the views from all directions. There is also a visitors center, gondolas, a zip line, and the scary as hell Royal Rush Skycoaster. To top it off, there are regularly scheduled live bands that play on the far side of the bridge!
13. Castlewood Canyon State Park
A short drive just north of Colorado Springs is Castlewood Canyon. This quaint little canyon is home to a number of hiking trails that traverse the canyon’s upper and lower areas and is a popular location for trail runners. The lower section wanders through numerous unusual rock formations along with the opportunity to see many different types of wildlife (coyotes, foxes, black bears, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, turkey vultures, eagles, falcons, frogs, and even the meadow jumping mouse). The remnants of the Castlewood Canyon Dam can still be seen today, whose infamous history was sealed in 1933 when the dam catastrophically burst, sending a wall of water 15 feet high through downtown Denver. Check out some of our most popular photospheres of the area:
Share this Post