The Garden of the Gods is a public park and United States National Natural Landmark that was deemed a "fit place for the gods to assemble" by Rufus Cable, one of the two surveyors tasked with identifying a site for Colorado City in 1859. With its towering spires of red sandstone pitted against the incongruous greenery of its surrounds, Cable's inspired choice of name is an apt summary of the wonders that it contains. The jagged pinnacles, mammoth needles, and precariously balanced rocks strewn across the landscape are glorious monuments thrust upward, sideways and slanted by tectonic undercurrents, subsequently whipped by the wind into curious shapes. From the biological perspective, the Garden of the Gods is a remarkable merger of the vegetation typical of both highlands and lowlands creating a kind of chronicle of the evolution of planet earth. The land was bequeathed to the City of Colorado Springs by the children of Charles Elliott Perkins who originally owned this parcel of land. The only stipulation was that it must remain “free to the entire world.” Riddled with nature trails and hiking paths, the Garden of the Gods is a popular spot for outdoor activities like horseback riding, rock climbing and hiking that is always free, in keeping with Perkins' wishes.
Towering 14,110 feet (4,300 meters) above Colorado Springs, this mountain serves as one of the nation's most famous landmarks. Believed to be the sacred home of the Ute people, this summit vaults wondrously above mosaicked landscapes, and can be seen at its majestic best from the Garden of the Gods balcony. The Barr Trail, a 13-mile (20.9-kilometer) path meanders itself along precarious slopes, providing an arduous yet rewarding way to reach the summit. The Pike's Peak Cog Railway, and the Pikes Peak Highway, alternate paths that lead to the summit, wind through stands of pine and aspen before cresting above treeline. A soul-stirring experience for many, Pike's Peak is best known for having inspired Katherine Lee Bates to pen the utterly patriotic America the Beautiful.
This scenic pine filled campus with a Rocky Mountain backdrop is home to America's future Air Force officers. Enter Colorado's third most popular attraction at the North Gate for a glimpse of a B-52 bomber. Travel six miles to the visitor center, chock-full of exhibits, short films and a gift shop. Tour the stunning Cadet Chapel with 17 magnificent spires reaching 150 feet into the sky. Or check out Falcon Stadium where the Air Force Falcons Football team plays, and keep an eye above where the skies are colored with cadets practicing parachuting and flying Thunderbird jets.
Bring a light jacket and hike this 54-degree cavern which offers three tours. Learn about geology and history on the Discovery Tour, or go back in time on the Lantern Tour, listening to tales from the past and using only lanterns for light. The physically challenging Explorers Trip is an adventure through undeveloped passageways and chambers. Tours range from 45 minutes to four hours. Check the website for more details.
This 193-acre park offers more recreation and entertainment options than most cruise ships. Besides the usual park offerings of tennis courts, ball fields, jogging paths and picnic shelters, it also offers swimming, fishing and sailing on Prospect Lake, as well as year round ice skating and hockey in the Sertich Ice Center. The park also plays host to the Colorado Balloon Classic and the annual 4th of July Celebration. Picnic shelters can be reserved in advance for family picnics and such.
Broadmoor World Arena is the premier sports and entertainment venue in the Pikes Peak region. Locally owned and managed, the non-profit CSWA and the attached ice hall regularly host sporting events, concerts, family shows, banquets, trade shows, graduations, religious rallies and civic events. With 8000 seats, the CSWA is large enough to host world-class events in an intimate setting.
This alpine school redefines the term of "higher" learning, and, unlike this bad pun, receives strong praise. Well-trained guides can teach you the skills and techniques needed to scale cliffs of ice, ski the back country and mountain climb. Rock climbing lessons, its most popular offering, usually take place on the rocks at Garden of the Gods and are open to all skill levels. Private lessons are given and all equipment is provided. Also popular are guided technical and non-technical Pikes Peak climbs.
Named after Kathryn Lee Bates' poem, the park is a sprawling property with trails, manicured lawns, 40-foot tall obelisks and other installations. America the Beautiful Park overlooks Pikes Peak and at night the obelisks glow. The park is also popular for those interested in UFO sightings. Scores of visitors come with transmitters, trying to contact the other world; it's like a party out there. Opens everyday at 5a.
The Olympic Visitor Center offers free guided tours which include the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, interactive displays and an endless collection of Olympic photos. Be sure to check out the Olympic flame and pretend that you were the torch bearer who ignited it. If you're in search of a Team USA souvenir, visit the well stocked gift shop that shelves hard to find Olympic T-shirts, jackets and caps. And while wandering about, keep an eye open for the many well-known athletes who train here. Admission is free.
This mountain bike tour company is different in that it requires very little uphill climbing. Vehicles transport you to the top of your tour's starting point so all you do is glide downhill. Tours vary in length and ability. The self-guided Easy Rider Tour is perfect for families and allows you to ride at your own pace. Advanced riders love the Single Track Mania Tour which features 25 miles of guided single track riding. All tours use state-of-the-art Kona bikes.
This rare backcountry adventure is easy on the eyes and feet. Custom made jeeps that include built-in binoculars (eat your heart out James Bond) wander through the Pikes Peak mountain region providing views normally only reserved for National Geographic photographers.