6 Things to do in Colorado Springs - All You Need to Know

colorado springs travel guide

 

For the quintessential Colorado vacation, look no further than Colorado Springs. This year around destination has created a reputation for being a must visit on everyone’s Colorado bucket list. Sitting on the divide between the Rocky Mountains on the west and the Great Planes in the east, this iconic city has inspired the famous patriotic song, “America the Beautiful.”

 

From scenic hikes to inviting small towns, unforgettable views and experiences abound; there are so many things to do when visiting Colorado Springs. Below are just a few of my favorite places to go when vacationing in the region.

 

What to Do

 

Garden of the Gods

 

garden of the gods colorado springs
View of the Garden of the Gods from the Visitor Center viewing deck.

 

Designated as a National Natural Landmark, the Garden of the Gods is one of the most iconic places in Colorado Springs and is usually the first stop by any tourist. The park is characterized by the sharp red rock formations that jut out of the ground like the scaly spine of some prehistoric dinosaur. The aptly named Garden of the Gods offers an array of outdoor activities such hiking, rock climbing, and horseback riding. Miles of trails allow you to wind your way through the forest of stones, take in the scenery and wildlife, and get up close with the different formations and scenic overlooks. There is also a paved road that circles the main formation with parking spots along the way so you can get out and roam. While there you should also visit the Visitor Center to learn about the history and geology of the park.

 

Location: 1805 N. 30th St. (Visitor Center)
Cost: Free
Hours: 5am – 9pm (Nov 1 – April 30); 5am – 10pm (May 1 – Oct 31)

 

Air Force Academy

 

air force academy colorado springs
View of the US Air Force Academy from one of its hiking trails.

 

The United States Air Force Academy is open to the public to visit and it is well worth going to either take a tour and/or go for a hike on one of their many trails. Although you can drive around a large majority of the park, I suggest starting your tour at the Visitor Center where you can learn about the history of the academy and what it takes to be a cadet there. From there should definitely visit the Cadet Chapel and the Honor Court that is just outside. If you are up for a hike or mountain biking, the United States Air Force Academy maintains over 30 miles of mostly single-track trails.

 

Location: From Interstate-25 take Exit 156 (North Gate) or Exit 150 (South Gate).
Cost: Free; will need a valid ID or passport.
Hours: 5:30am – 10pm

 

Pike’s Peak

 

view atop pikes peak colorado springs
View of the Rocky Mountains from atop Pike's Peak.

 

Pike’s Peak, aka “America’s Mountain”, is one of the premier tourist destinations in Colorado Springs. This 14er looms over the city and calls to be seen. The majestic mountain is not only for the adventurous types to peak, but can be done by all ages and abilities. For those that are adventurous, you can take the 14-hour roundtrip hike up Barr Trail. Those less adventurous can either drive (with all of its scenic stops) or take the cog railway. At the top there is a visitor center and amazing views for miles around.

 

Car
Cost: $50 per carload (May 1 – Nov 30), $35 per carload (Dec 1 – April 30). Both are cheaper per person if you do not have a carload.
Hours: Uphill = 9am – 3pm, Peak Closes at 4pm (Oct 1 – Thursday before Memorial Day); Uphill = 7:30am – 6pm, Peak Closes at 7pm (Friday before Memorial Day – Labor Day); Uphill = 7:30am – 5pm, Peak Closes at 6pm (Tuesday after Labor Day – Sept 30);

 

Cog Railway
Location: 515 Ruxton Ave, Manitou Springs
Cost: $58.50 - 13 years and up; $48.50 – 12 years and younger.
Hours: 9:20am and 1:20pm (and 11:20am on weekends)

 

Manitou Springs

 

mineral spring manitou springs
One of the mineral wells in Manitou Springs.

 

Located at the foot of Pike’s Peak, the historic small town of Manitou Springs has been redeveloped with the tourist in mind. Take a stroll through the downtown district and enjoy the many gift shops, boutiques, and restaurants along the way. Don’t forget to visit the mineral spring fountains that give the town its name while you are there. Story says that the fountains bring health to all those that drink from them. Manitou Springs is also the jumping off point for making your way up to the top of Pike’s Peak.

 

Location: Just off US-24 west of Colorado Springs.

 

Old Colorado City

 

old colorado city colorado springs
Street view of Old Colorado City.

 

Old Colorado City still has the same look it did when it was an old 19th century wild west town. Today it is a neighborhood on the west side of Colorado Springs, but in its heyday was a mining town fueled by surrounding gold mines. Once the capital of the territory of Colorado, it grew to be center of industry and a place where miners could spend their money on not just supplies. Today the buildings of this National Historic District are filled by shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Whether you are looking to grab a bit to eat, do some shopping, or just want to take a stroll through history, Old Colorado City is a great place to spend some time when you are in Colorado Springs.

 

Take to the Backroads

 

pikes peak rampart road colorado springs
View of Pike's Peak from Rampart Road.

 

Old mining towns means old dirt mining roads through the mountains. There are tons of old mines in the mountains and with them miles and miles of old dirt roads. Fortunately, the mining roads around Colorado Springs are still in fairly good condition and can be traversed with most vehicles. Two roads that are accessed just outside of town are the Rampart Road and Gold Camp Road.

 

Rampart Road is accessed in the Garden of the Gods, just off Garden Dr. before you reach Balanced Rock. This road will take you northwest, all the way to Woodland Park if you want, but the best spot is about 11.5 miles in where you can get a great view of Pike’s Peak. Gold Camp Road can be accessed by driving south on S 26th St, which turns into Bear Creek Rd and then into Gold Camp Rd. It is mostly concrete till just after the 2nd tunnel then cuts off into Upper Gold Camp Rd. On this it winds through the mountains, through/past four more tunnels, and all of the way to Victor on the other side.

 

Where to Stay

 

Colorado Springs is a large city and has a lot of options for accommodation. The three types of accommodation in Ouray are hotels, Airbnb, and camping. Colorado Springs has a number of hotels in and around the town in every price range. When booking my hotels, I always use Agoda to find the best hotel in my location and price range.

 

There are also a few different camping options depending on whether you prefer to tent camp or use an RV. There are a number of campgrounds just west of the city that a perfectly located around many of the great things to see and do while you are in Colorado Springs.

 

How to Get Around

 

Although you will be doing a lot of walking at the different sights around Colorado Springs, you will want to have or rent a vehicle while you are there. Within town you can take a bus, but many of the great things to see are not on the bus routes. Rideshare is another option, but this would get costly.

 

How to Get There

 

colorado springs pikes peak
View of Colorado Springs from atop Pike's Peak.

 

Colorado Springs is a popular vacation destination and is one of the major cities in Colorado. As such there are a number of ways for you to get there.

 

Bus

 

If you have the time and are wanting to travel on the cheap, then taking a bus to Colorado Springs might be for you. Both Greyhound and Jefferson Lines service Colorado Springs and if you are traveling from within the state of Colorado you can also take Bustang. Although a bus is a cheap way of getting to Colorado Springs, you will probably still want to rent a car once your there so that you can see some of the sights that are further afoot.

 

Driving

 

Colorado Springs is located in central east Colorado on I-25. From Denver, Colorado it is just 70 mi south on I-25. From Albuquerque, New Mexico it is 378 mi northeast on I-25. No matter where you are driving from it will be quite a drive, but a beautiful one. It is definitely worth having a car when you make the trip but whether you rent or drive your own is up to you.

 

Airplane

 

Colorado Springs is serviced by the Colorado Springs Airport (COS), located just 1o miles southeast of the city. The airport hosts all of the major US airlines and has direct flights to a number of cities around the US as well. Once at the airport, you can either take the bus into town or pick up a rental car at one of the seven rental companies located at the airport.

 

What was your favorite thing about Colorado Springs?

 

colorado springs travel guide

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15 comments:

  1. I don't know much about Colorado so in the future I'm definitely going to try traveling there.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you definitely should! Colorado is my of my favorite states to visit.

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  2. I don't know much about Colorado so if I ever travel there, this is definitely where I'm gonna go.

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  3. Pike's Peak looks absolutely gorgeous! What an amazing place to visit!

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    Replies
    1. Pike's Peak is great. I visit the peak every time I go to Colorado Springs.

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  4. thanks for the guide! I tried to think up a question but I couldn't! You have it all covered. the place looks amazing as well, I'd totally pay it a visit

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  5. It is on our bucket list to go to the rocky mountains. One of these days we will. It looks so beautiful from your photo!

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    Replies
    1. The Rocky Mountains and Colorado Springs are beautiful. They are a must visit for sure.

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  6. I love all these activities but my favorite is mountain climbing, lol I always feel like I am a bit closer to God.

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    Replies
    1. Mountain climbing is always fun and there is always so much beauty in the landscape and animals that you see along the way.

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  7. I've never been to Colorado Springs, but if I ever do I'm definitely going to try visiting these places you recommended. Adding to my bucket list.

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  8. Ahh, I didn't know that the Air Force Academy was in Colorado Springs. I heard it is a beautiful place, my dad has been there many times.

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    Replies
    1. It is a very beautiful campus. Well worth a visit.

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