Colorado Springs is a must-visit location for nature lovers and adventure seekers because of its stunning scenery, fascinating history, and exciting outdoor activities. While my son attended the USAF Academy, I spent several years visiting this fascinating city. I must say, Colorado Springs is a city that will never bore you!
Here are some of the best things to do and see in Colorado Springs:
Garden of the Gods
The Garden of the Gods results from the rock’s erosion and glaciation, creating the present unique rock formations that look mystical, which began in the Pleistocene Ice Age. Over time the ancient mountains eroded, dunes moving across the land, while seas retreated. The results you see today are the remains of stunning sediment rock formations.
Go to the south end of the Park and check out the slanted “Balanced Rock.” The Gods’ Garden Towering sandstone rock formations offer excellent hiking and climbing opportunities. You can explore miles of hiking trails, go on tours, horseback riding, and discover the region’s geological past. Bring your camera because the scenery is stunning.
- Hours: Winter Months (Nov.1 – April 30) 5:00 – 21:00; Summer Months (May 1 – Oct. 31) 5:00 – 22:00
Pikes Peak sometimes referred to as “America’s Mountain,” is one of Colorado’s tallest mountains at 14,115 feet, and it provides breathtaking views of the plains and mountains in the area. The highest cog train in the world, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, or a car can be used to reach the summit.
At the Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center, on a clear day, you could see five states: Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Kansas. Here you can see an exhibit that shares the mountain’s history, a small gift shop offering souvenirs, and a café.
One unique experience is riding the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway. The railway recently when through a $100 million renovation and has resumed service. The route will take you through Pike National Forest, along Ruxton Creek, by Diamon Rock, within the steep, rocky wall of Engelmann Canyon, passing the striking waterfalls, and through Deer Park.
- Hours: Oct 1 – Thursday before Memorial Day, 9:00 – 15:00; Pikes Peak Summit Closes at 16:00
- Admission: Adults $15 per person; Carload (Up to 5 passengers $50 per car
- Cog Railway Booking: Standard Ticket – Adult starting $58, Engineer’s View – Adult starting $81
Olympic and Paralympic Training Center
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s premier training facility is open to sports enthusiasts. Visitors to the facility can take guided tours to learn about its history and the training regimens used by the best athletes in the nation.
The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center can house up to 512 athletes at one time and is typically full of Olympic hopefuls who are training to become the best at their sport. The Training Center is also the site of a museum dedicated to past Olympic athletes. For those who enjoy watching the Olympics, the Olympic Training Center and its sprawling 35-acre campus is a place you do not want to miss.
- Hours: Oct. 1 – March 30: Mon.-Fri., 10:00 – 16:00 and Sat. 9:00 – 16:00; April 1 – Sept. 30: Mon. – Sat., 9:00 – 16:00; Tours are offered every hour on the hour.
- Admission: Adults $15 per person
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Voted as one of the best zoos in North America is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Home to nearly 750 animals offering breathtaking views of the city and fun encounters with animals from all over the world.
The zoo offers face-to-face encounters with giraffes, or watch an animal demo where zookeepers teach about animal behaviors and how they care for them. Then, take a spin on the carousel and head to the high ground on the Mountaineer Sky Ride. You can feed the elephants for a small fee as they stick out their trunks for a carrot.
The zoo layout is on the side of the mountain. You can take an elevator up to higher areas and look at the animal exhibits below. Another fun bird-feeding experience is giving them popsicle sticks with the food they love.
Free Things to Do In Colorado Springs
Looking for fun, free things to do in Colorado Springs? Check out the following ideas!
- Garden of the Gods
- Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum
- Red Rock Canyon
- Walk the historic Old Colorado City
- Hike Pulpit Rock
- Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum
- First Friday Art Walk
- Drive Gold Belt Scenic Drive
- Explore downtown Colorado Springs
- Visit the Air Force Academy
United States Air Force Academy
American Air Force Academy Officers for the United States Air Force are educated and trained at the U.S. Air Force Academy, a military institution. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the campus, see the well-known Cadet Chapel, and discover the history and goals of the institution. I wrote a blog post about many sites, so click here for information.
Hours: Daily 9:00 – 17:00
Manitou Cliff Dwelling Museum
The Manitou Cliff Dwellings is an ancestral Puebloan cliff house site with more than 700 years of history. Guests can look at the homes and learn about the local history and culture.
The dwellings are preserved under a protective red sandstone overhang and can be explored room by room with a self-guided tour. At the Pueblo and Anasazi Museum, you can see on display the tools and gorgeous pottery created by the people of this region.
- Hours: Daily May – Aug. 9:00 – 17:00; March, April, Sept., Oct., (;00 – 17:00; November 9:00 – 16:00, Dec. – Feb. 10:00 – 16:00
- Admission: Adults $12 per person
Old Colorado City
Old Colorado City is a picturesque historic area with restored buildings, one-of-a-kind stores, and neighborhood eateries. Tourists can wander the brick-paved sidewalks, sip coffee, and browse the neighborhood shops and art galleries.
Enjoy seasonal events like the first Friday ArtWalk and the popular Old Colorado City Farmer’s Market. I fell in love with the wall art and colorful murals. Visit the Old Colorado History Center, which contains a remarkable collection of artifacts and photographs, as well as the written and oral history of the area.
During our visit, the Territory Days celebration filled the streets with vendors, performances, and food trucks. So, if you plan a trip in May, check it out.
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts has rotating exhibits, a theater, and an art school, all part of the world-class art museum. The art facility is over 132,000 square feet hosting major international traveling and everchanging exhibitions.
- Museum Hours: Wed. – Sun. 10:00 – 16:00
- Admission: Adults $10 per person
Broadmoor Seven Falls
These seven cascading waterfalls are the only ones in Colorado on National Geographic’s list of International Waterfalls. This series of waterfalls is in a 1,250-foot wall box canyon. As you walk up 224 steps to the hiking trails, you will see valleys, unusual rock formations, and lush prairies. The Seven Falls were created by the South Cheyenne Creek, one of the main water sources for Colorado Springs.
Once you reach the top of the trail, you will get a magnificent view of the gorgeous landscape. A gift shop, a restaurant, and two sets of stairs lead to a better vantage point called the Eagle’s Nest. Along the trail are benches and look-out points to rest and admire the view.
- Hours: Hours of operation are subject to change due to inclement weather. Check the website for the schedule.
- Admission: Adults $18 per person
Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
Soaring over 956 feet above the roaring Arkansas River is one of the most major historical bridges known as the “America’s Bridge,” built in 1929. Until 2001 the Royal Gorge Bridge was the tallest in the entire world. It was also the world’s tallest suspension bridge until 2003.
At 1,250 feet deep and over six miles long, the Royal Gorge is affectionately known as “the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas.”
As you walk across the bridge, stop at different vantage points and see if you can spot whitewater rafters below. Check out the heavy-duty steel structure, about 18 feet wide, and notice that the wind does not cause the bridge to sway an inch.
You can visit the South Rim and zipline across the Royal Gorge if you are more adventurous. In addition, you can do the Royal Rush Skycoaster, a 50-mph free fall. One of the most popular things to do is the Royal Gorge gondola which spans the width of the massive gorge, gliding 2,200 feet across, 1,200 above the Arkansas River.
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park offers a wide range of activities at all levels, along with restaurants and exhibits telling the story of the site’s construction. It is a must-see destination.
- Hours: January 1 – March 10, 8:00 – 16:00; March 11 – April 30, 8:00 – 17:00; May 1 – May 26, 8:00 – 18:00; May 17 – Sep. 4, 8:00 – 19:00; Sept. 5 – Sept. 30, 8:00 – 18:00; Oct. 1 – Oct. 31, 8:00 – 17:00; Nov. 1 – Dec. 31, 8:00 – 16:00
- Admission: Adult $27 per person
PSST: HERE ARE SOME OTHER BLOG POST YOU MAY WANT TO CHECK OUT IF VISITING COLORADO SPRINGS:
Colorado Springs is a city rich in adventure, history, and natural beauty. In this dynamic city, there is something for everyone, whether you like to hike, admire fascinating art, explore historical places, or unwind in nature.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.