US Travel | 5 Local Colorado Springs Favorites
Colorado Springs Garden of the Gods
(image courtesy of Experience Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau)
by: Chelsy Offutt
Being a native of Colorado Springs, I definitely have “insider information” on this beautiful region. However, my list of the top things to see and do tend to be exactly what tourists want to experience upon arrival. It seems the lines of traveler and resident are easily blurred when taking a trip to any of these attractions because they can be enjoyed over and over.
America’s Mountain, stands at a towering 14,115 feet above sea level. This often snow-capped geological giant offers an unparalleled view from the summit. It’s said on a clear day you can see to Kansas-really. Part of the fun of Pikes Peak is getting there. The most popular option includes a roundtrip ticket on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the highest cog train in the United States. A more adventurous option includes a hike via Barr Trail. Those wishing for something different can get a ride to the top and ride a bicycle down with one of the area tour companies. Don’t forget a fresh tasty donut at the Summit House.
It’s easy to see where this wondrous “garden” of vertical bright red rock spires gets its name. The park, which has always been free to the public, offers biking, hiking and walking trails that meander through this larger-than-life natural wonder. Horseback riding is available as well as an unpaved road if you’d like to drive to Rampart Reservoir. The new HD movie “How’d Those Red Rocks Get There” is worth watching before or after your time in the park. For the best photos, arrive at sunrise when the rocks are bathed in a beautifully warm, pink light.
Colorado Springs is home to the United States Olympic Training Center as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee. The training center houses athletes from all over the globe as part- or full-time residents. Tours of the facilities are complimentary. Get a glimpse into the life of the best sports-competitors our nation has to offer. While there, the tour provides close access to actual training areas, so close in fact the tour guides request that visitors remain quiet so as not to disturb the athletes.
Just an hour south of Colorado Springs you’ll find the highest suspension bridge in the world, the Royal Gorge Bridge. The bridge overlooks the grandeur beauty of the Royal Gorge Canyon. There’s a lot to do in the actual Park, including riding the aerial tram 1,000 feet above the canyon, the adrenaline-inducing Skycoaster® sweeping you 50 miles per hour over the Arkansas River. Take a ride on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad train or increase the fun with whitewater rafting through the gorge. Make sure to stop by the mock old west town of Buckskin Joe before you leave to see the Old West come to life.
Designed for the future, the United States Air Force Academy campus boasts state-of-the-art facilities. Other landmarks include the cadet chapel with its seventeen spires that soar 150 feet toward the Colorado sky. Nestled against the Rocky Mountains, the Academy draws thousands of visitors from around the world each year. Stop by the visitor center, and if there just before noon, you may be able to observe the cadet wing marching to lunch.
Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region offer over 50 attractions and activities in addition to my favorites above. Find out more at www.VisitCOS.com.