The Colorado Springs region is home to a variety of natural and man-made landmarks that make the area stand out from the rest of the world. With landmarks that include Garden of the Gods Park, Seven Falls, the Royal Gorge, Olympic Training Center and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, there are plenty of things to keep your family entertained. But those seeking a dose of Colorado history also have many options, including strolling the historic district of Old Colorado City — the territory’s original capital — and checking out the following National Historic Landmarks.
1. Cave of the Winds Mountain Park
Cave of the Winds is one of the region’s oldest attractions open to the public. History books might indicate that Cave of the Winds was discovered 147 years ago, but the caves are actually millions of years old. According to ancient legends more than a thousand years old, the Jicarilla Apaches spoke of a cave near Manitou Springs where the Great Spirit of the Wind resided. Explore this underground wonder like no other on a Discovery, Lantern or Caving 101 tour. Other onsite adventures include the Wind Walker Challenge Course, TERROR-Dactyl and Bat-a-pult.
2. Colorado College
Colorado College was founded in 1874 as part of Colorado Springs founder General Jackson Palmer’s vision for a model Western city. Established before Colorado became a state, the school gathered a small faculty who believed in traditional New England scholarship. Beginning in the mid-1950s, the campus was virtually rebuilt in its entirety, with additional residence halls, a campus center, new library and science center, as well as an impressive array of health, sports and art facilities. Colorado College’s history lives on in several turn-of-the-century structures that remain and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
3. Colorado Prison Museum
Colorado Prison Museum welcomes visitors to explore the history of Colorado corrections. Individual audio tours guide visitors through 32 cells filled with exciting exhibits and life-size models that link the past to the present in dramatic presentations. Other artifacts and exhibits include the last hangman’s noose and gas chamber used for execution, confiscated weapons (some used for actual murders), contraband and more. If those don’t make your spine tingle, the mannequins used in many of the exhibits might just do the trick.
4. Glen Eyrie Castle
Glen Eyrie Castle, an eye-catching property and retreat center, was once home to General Palmer and his wife “Queen” Palmer. Nestled next to Garden of the Gods Park, Glen Eyrie is home to more than 800 acres of stately pines and whispering aspen, lush lawns, sparkling waterfalls, majestic sandstone rock faces and the area's wild Bighorn Sheep herd. Glen Eyrie has a variety of comfortable and affordable sleeping rooms that range from hotel-style standard accommodtions to Premier Castle suites. For a one-of-a-kind experience, take a tour or book a Victorian tea.
5. McAllister House Museum
Army Major Henry McAllister built what’s now known as the McAllister House Museum in 1873 with brick after he learned that the winds in Colorado Springs could be strong enough to blow a train off its tracks. The property has many original features, including three magnificent marble fireplaces. Today, the beautifully maintained home is owned by the Colonial Dames of America, and friendly volunteers lead one-hour guided tours. The McAllister House guides and staff bring the original occupants to life through their extensive knowledge of the city and McAllister family history.