Top 5 Things to Do in Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is a decent-sized city, nestled comfortably in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Because of its unique location, there is no shortage of fun things to do for Colorado Springs residents. There are plenty of the expected outdoor wonders, like the Garden of the Gods or Pikes Peak. Lovers of military history will feel at home at the United States Air Force Academy or the National Museum of World War II Aviation. And for families, people of all ages will love the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
Known by some as the “most beautiful park in the world,” the Garden of the Gods is a collection of 300-foot sandstone rock formations located within the Colorado Springs metropolitan area. Visitors flock to this public park for breathtaking views of the red rock, with Pikes Peak towering in the background. A 1.5-mile trail goes right through the center of the park, making it accessible for all visitors.
Popular activities in the Garden of the Gods include hiking the park’s 15 miles of trails, road and mountain biking, rock climbing, off-roading, and photography. The Visitor and Nature Center features a recently built museum, with exhibits on geology, dinosaurs, local flora and fauna, Native American history and culture, and the early explorers of the area.
Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in America, with more than 600,000 people coming to see it every year. It’s one of Colorado’s 53 “fourteeners”— peaks that rise above 14,000 feet in elevation. The 14,115-foot peak, named for the explorer Zebulon Pike (who never reached the summit), rises 8,000 feet above Colorado Springs. Many come to the city for its views of the peak, which is composed mostly of a unique pink granite called Pikes Peak granite.
Visitors can drive to the top using Pikes Peak Highway or hike to it via the Barr or Crags trails. Pikes Peak is one of the only places in the world where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy the view from a 14,000-foot mountain peak.
Founded in 1954, the United States Air Force Academy is an elite military educational institution. Admission to the Academy is highly competitive; only 1,200 recruits are admitted every year. However, the Academy is open daily to the public. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Colorado, with more than one million annual visits.
Popular highlights of the Air Force Academy include the remarkably designed Cadet Chapel, which is open to the public unless it has been reserved for a private event. Visitors also enjoy Arnold Hall, a military and Academy museum. Other Academy sights admired by visitors are the cadet lunch formation, the Honor Court, the Field House, and the Falcon Athletic Center. The Academy has several trailheads on its grounds that hikers often use.
Because of its military aviation history, Colorado Springs is home to the National Museum of World War II Aviation. This museum is the only one in the world that focuses only on the unique role that aviation played during World War II. More than 30 World War II-era aircraft are on display, most of which have been restored to flying condition. The collection includes trainer, ambulance, cargo, bomber, fighter, amphibious, and jet aircraft.
In addition to the restored aircraft, the museum houses a handful of support vehicles that have been restored to working condition. The museum also has exhibits of more than 3,000 artifacts and documents important to aviation history. Visitors are free to tour the exhibits themselves, or they can take a docent-led tour, which includes a tour of Westpac. At Westpac, visitors can see workers as they restore the aircraft.
In the foothills of the Colorado Springs mountains lies the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the only mountain zoo in America. The zoo’s 6,800-foot elevation also makes it the highest zoo in the country. The zoo features more than 750 animals from 170 different species. Its claim to fame is its herd of reticulated giraffes, reported to be the largest herd at any zoo in the world. Visitors can even hand-feed the giraffes.
The grizzly bears, wallabies, Amur tigers, and rare wooly tapirs are some of the other popular residents of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The zoo is currently building a new aquatics exhibit, due to be completed in 2019, to house its hippos and penguins. Another fun attraction at the zoo is the antique carousel, which was built in 1924.
Whether you like spending time in the great outdoors, learning about military and aviation history, or seeing the animals at the zoo, you’re sure to enjoy your time in Colorado Springs. If education is also on your list of things to do, visit CollegeAmerica’s newly remodeled, 21,000-square-foot Colorado Springs campus.