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How to Make the Most of Your Colorado Springs Vacation

Tucked at the foot of 14,115-foot Pikes Peak, the Colorado Springs area showcases the best of Colorado: endless opportunities for adventure, matchless natural beauty and the unspoiled spirit of the Wild West.

 

Pikes Peak Highway
Pikes Peak Highway
Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Cripple Creek, Colorado
Cripple Creek, Colorado
ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs
ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs
Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

There are so many things to do in the Pikes Peak region that it’s hard to know where to start. Read on for some ideas that will help you make the most of your trip.

Appreciate the famous views.

No matter how you summit 14,115-foot Pikes Peak — by car, bike or on foot — it won’t take you long to realize why the mountain is one of Colorado’s most famous. Discover “America’s Mountain” from the comfort of your vehicle as you cruise the Pikes Peak Highway, a route to the top with plenty of notable stops along the way, including scenic outlooks, alpine lakes for fishing, picnic areas and hiking trails.  

If you prefer to have an expert at the wheel, book an excursion with Pikes Peak Tour by Gray Line, who will take you on a four-hour journey up the mountain that includes scenic stops and commentary on the history and geology of the area. Or Challenge Unlimited – Pikes Peak by Bike gives cyclists the chance to cruise down the peak without the climb. Ride up to the top in the company’s van, then embark on a 20-mile downhill excursion. Bonus: They’ll supply everything you need, such as layers for the cooler temps at higher altitude, safety gear and a post-ride lunch.

Reach new heights.

Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, one of the world’s highest suspension bridges, sits 956 feet above the Arkansas River. Walk across the bridge’s nearly 1,300 wooden planks; or glide across the gorge via zipline or in one of their aerial gondolas. For view seekers, the visitor center boasts wraparound panoramas of the gorge and surrounding area, while the Royal Rush Skycoaster dangles adrenaline junkies 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River and sends them flying through the air at 50 miles per hour.

Broadmoor Seven Falls, a series of waterfalls situated in a box canyon, is another must see. Take in vistas of sprawling valleys and rock formations as you climb the 224 stairs along the cascades or stretch your legs on two hiking trails.

Experience a geologic wonder.

Gravity-defying 300-foot red-rock formations greet visitors at Garden of the Gods Park. Before or after admiring the National Natural Landmark, mosey over to Garden of the Gods Trading Post to peruse 90,000 one-of-a-kind gifts, including a splendid collection of American Indian jewelry, art and textiles. Cave of the Winds Mountain Park boasts the chance to encounter stalactites, stalagmites and underground geological features in one of the coolest show caves in the U.S. Choose from a variety of tours; or opt for the Terror-Dactyl, Bat-A-Pult or Via Ferratta, adrenaline-packed aerial rides in Williams Canyon.

Embark on an unforgettable adventure.

Whether you want to soar through the sky in a hot-air balloon, soar through the forest on a zipline or investigate less-traveled trails in a 4x4 vehicle, Adventures Out West can help you plan the excursion of your dreams. Or go for a challenging whitewater-rafting trip or kid-friendly float with the experts at Echo Canyon River Expeditions, a trusted Colorado outfitter since 1978.

The Pikes Peak Region’s iconic natural landscapes are even more spectacular on horseback. Academy Riding Stables will pair you with the perfect equine companion, then take you on a guided ride along peaceful trails in Garden of the Gods Park to admire the mountain scenery.

Delve into Colorado history.

Long before the West was won, American Indian tribes made their homes in the Centennial State. Learn about some of our earliest residents at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, where you can survey the architectural talent of the Ancestral Puebloan people who inhabited Colorado’s Four Corners region more than 700 years ago. The Anasazi Museum, which opened to the public in 1907, offers a unique look into the daily lives of these ancient people.

The ProRodeo Hall of Fame chronicles the lives of professional rodeo cowboys through displays that interpret the all-American sport and tributes to some of rodeo's toughest competitors, including Chris Ledoux and Casey Tibbs. For an overview of the region’s mineral-rich history, head to the Western Museum of Mining and Industry to find out what life was like for miners and their families in the 1890s and how mining impacts our daily lives.

National Historic Districts in Cripple Creek, Manitou Springs and Colorado City offer a window into Colorado’s colorful past, when railroaders, gold rushers, cowpokes and bandits mingled in a brave new world.  A former 1890s mining camp, Cripple Creek’s golden history lives on through Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge RailroadMollie Kathleen Gold Mine, Cripple Creek Heritage Center and many other museums in the area. Admire the lovingly restored brick buildings along Bennett Avenue, a lovely sight surrounded by the neighboring mountains.

Meanwhile, you can still sip water from Manitou Springs’ eight preserved natural mineral springs, which have attracted patrons for centuries, from American Indian tribes to riders of the 1880s-era Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. Stroll the town’s collection of locally-owned shops and eateries housed in Victorian buildings; or treat yourself to tea at Miramont Castle Museum, an architectural gem tucked in the hillside above town. The eclectic boutiques and art galleries of historic Old Colorado City, once a supply hub and ore-processing center established during the 1859 Pikes Peak Gold Rush, are also worth a stroll.

Keep the kids smiling.

It’s Christmas year-round at North Pole – Santa’s Workshop, where early two-dozen rides like the Candy Cane Coaster and classic Tilt-O-Whirl delight the young and young at heart. Other beloved family destinations include the Ghost Town Museum, filled with authentic Old West artifacts and buildings, and the Space foundation Discovery Center, a museum with hands-on exhibits on space exploration and technology.

Only in the Pikes Peak region can little ones visit one of the largest giraffe herds in the world. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the nation’s only mountain zoo, has more than 750 animals from all over the world, including African elephants, Amur leopards and zebras. Interested in inspecting smaller creatures? The May Natural History Museum houses more than 8,000 insect specimens — one of the largest private collections of its kind in the world. 

A dinner and theater show at Iron Springs Melodrama and Dinner Theater is the perfect way to end the evening. Indulge in a hearty three-course meal while the entire family enjoys an old-fashioned melodrama, where booing the villain and cheering on the hero is encouraged.

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Planning your trip?

Browse coupons for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region, check out the Pikes Peak blog and view the events page to learn about happenings during your visit.