Every year countless pleasure-seeking tourists discover Pikes Peak country is filled with great things to do. For more than 100 years, the region has been a mecca, attracting people in search of gold, health and natural scenic beauty. For more information call Fort Carson’s Information, Tickets and Registration Office at (719) 526-5366 or the Colorado Springs Convention and Tourist Bureau at (719) 635-7506.
Zebulon Pike never claimed “his” peak but another famous explorer, John C. Fremont, built the first trail to its 14,110-foot summit in 1843. After visiting the summit of the “Peak,” Katherine Lee Bates went back to her hotel room and wrote the words to “America the Beautiful.” The Pikes Peak Cog Railroad was completed in 1891. Visitors to the Colorado Springs area can take a scenic three-hour trip up Pikes Peak on the railway. The railway, which rises 7,158 feet in nine linear miles, has the distinction of reaching the highest altitude of any scenic railway in the world. The old, puffing steam engines have been replaced by powerful diesel engines. Reservations are recommended.
Call (719) 685-5401.
In 1916, an auto road was completed to the summit and today several hundred thousand people make the 19-mile trip to the summit each year. Toll for the road is dependant on which level you stop. Partway up the summit is a rest stop with a gift store and hiking areas around three lakes. Call (719) 385-7325 for more information. The annual Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb features championship race cars and late-model stock cars competing for the Race to the Clouds championship up the Pikes Peak Highway.
The Garden of the Gods is a beautiful view of Mother Nature at her best. Located north of Highway 24 on 30th Street, this city park contains hundreds of natural rock formations such as Kissing Camels and Balanced Rock. Visitors are allowed to drive through the area on the roads or hike on the many trails throughout the park. The Visitor’s Center, 1805 N. 30th St., features a presentation on the rock formations, a gift shop and hosts periodic free programs. Also in the park is Rock Ledge Ranch historic site. Call (719) 634-6666, for more information.
North of the Broadmoor Hotel on Mesa Road is Seven Falls. It is one of the area’s most famous natural wonders. A clear mountain stream plunges 300 feet down over seven separate falls. There is an admission charge to the Falls, although during the Christmas holidays, there are special days with admission charges consisting of food donations. Call (719) 632-0752, for more information.
Drive west on Circle Lake Drive to the Broadmoor Hotel and follow the signs to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The zoo is well known as one of the finest small zoos in the world. Started by Spencer Penrose, the animals were originally kept on the grounds of the Broadmoor Hotel. Penrose moved his pets to make room for a golf tournament.
If you continue to follow the Cheyenne Mountain Highway, you will come to the Shrine of the Sun. The shrine, dedicated to Will Rogers by his friend Spencer Penrose, has a breathtaking view of the plains and mountains. Spencer Penrose and Julie Penrose are buried at the shrine. Entrance to the shrine is included with admission to the zoo. Call (719) 475-9555, for information.
The United States Air Force Academy is Colorado’s leading tourist attraction. The USAFA, where the United States Air Force trains its future officers, is highly regarded as one of the nation’s top universities. The academy boasts sights such as the Cadet Chapel, the planetarium, a B-52 static display and airmanship overlook. The USAFA sports teams are generally among some of the best in the Mountain West Conference. The Cadet Chapel is open for tours Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. The chapel may be closed for special services from time to time,. Call (719) 333-2025 for more information. For information on the Air Force Academy, visit the USAFA Visitor’s Center or call (719) 333-2025.
Follow Colorado Highway 115 south from Fort Carson to U.S. Highway 50, then head west to Canon City. The road winds through Dead Man’s Canyon over Rainbow Trail to the famous Royal Gorge and the world’s highest suspension bridge. The bridge rises 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River. Breathtaking rides include the incline railway to the canyon bottom and the aerial tram spanning the Royal Gorge. Call (719) 275-7507, for more information.
Built at the turn of the century in 1907 when traveling was difficult, the museum brought the wonders of the cliff dwellings to Colorado Springs. The museum portrays the lives and architectural achievements of the Anasazi Indians of the great cliff dwelling period, 1100 A.D. to 1300 A.D. Travel west on U.S. Highway 24, near Manitou Springs, and you’ll find the museum. Call (719) 685-5242 for more information.
The museum is a tour into the past of Colorado Springs. History comes alive through period rooms featuring furniture, clothing, tools, firearms, toys, medical encirclements and medicines. The museum also has a wide variety of rotating exhibits each year, it is located at 215 South Tejon St., Colorado Springs. Call (719) 385-5990 for more information.
Cave of the Winds is one of America’s most spectacular prehistoric natural wonders. The caverns started forming more than 200 million years ago. As time passed, stalactites, stalagmites and other formations formed. The Cave of the Winds was discovered in 1881, when two brothers discovered the cave while on a church picnic.
Tours along the Cave’s Discovery Trail are available daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the summer, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in winter. Cave of the Winds also has a spectacular laser light show called “Legends of the Night,” which is held after dark each night from May 1st through Labor Day weekend. The show uses the cliff faces as a screen to project upon.
The cave is the highest in the world open to the public. Cave of the Winds is located four miles west of Colorado Springs on U.S. Highway 24 near Manitou Springs. Call (719) 685-5444 for more information.
The North Pole is an amusement park located just west of Colorado Springs on Highway 24 in Cascade. The park makes it possible to experience Christmas every day of the year with its Christmas carols, elves, storybook characters and Santa. At the North Pole, visitors can ride the world’s highest Ferris wheel and carousel, as well as many other rides. It is open May through Dec. 24, although the season may be extended. Call (719) 684-9432 for more information.
Colorado’s Number 1 vacation attraction consists of 410 glacially carved square miles, abundant wildlife, wildflowers, lakes and mountain peaks. The park is located outside of the town of Estes Park, which hosts the famous Stanley Hotel, setting of Stephen King’s “The Shining,” and is about three hours northwest of Colorado Springs. Call (970) 586-1206 for more information.
The Hall of Fame honors national and international skaters. The museum features art, artifacts, costumes, national/international medals and trophies from the 16th century to present day. The museum is located at 20 First Street in Colorado Springs. Call (719) 635-5200 for more information.
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center houses not only two unique museum collections, but also a theater, music and lecture room, and an art library. The Center was recently renovated and there is FAC Modern located next to the Pioneers Museum. The museum’s gallery sale features fine books, prints, jewelry and artifacts of the West. The museum also runs the Bemis School of the Arts, offering classes to the public. For more information, call (719) 634-5581.
Whether your interests are in the sheer scenic wonder of Colorado or the fascinating history of the state, you will find plenty of both in Colorado.
In the southwest corner of the state, not far from the New Mexico-Colorado-Arizona-Utah border, are the ruins of a culture which disappeared before Columbus discovered America. Called the Anasazi, the “old ones,” by the Indians, this culture survived in the area for hundreds of years. The Anasazi culture, at its peak about 1300 A.D., built a series of cliff dwellings in the sides of mesas and canyons. The ruins can be visited using ropes and ladders maintained by the National Park Service. Call (970) 529-4465 for more information.
Colorado has 10 national forests and there is no charge for using the land, except for camping fees. For information on hunting and fishing, contact the Fort Carson Outdoor Recreation Complex at (719) 526-2083. The post’s Community Recreation Division sponsors many trips to these areas.
Parks and recreational areas abound in the Colorado Springs area. City and county parks are free for use, like Garden of the Gods and Red Rock Canyon. State parks have a fee. The newest state park, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, is located across Highway 115 from Fort Carson’s main gate.
Located just north of Fort Carson, the World Arena hosts many concerts and sporting and special events throughout the year. Call (719) 477-2121, for more information.
Part of the World Arena complex is the Ice Hall. Open skating and ice skating lessons are offered and occasionally Olympic athletes train in the facility. Call (719) 477-2150, for more information.
The Sky Sox are a minor league affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Playing in the Class Triple-A Pacific Coast League, the Sox are usually in contention for the league title, making for many exciting summer nights. The Sky Sox play from April to September in the world’s highest professional baseball park. Tickets for the Sky Sox can be purchased at Security Service Field, which is located at 4385 Tutt Ave., before the game or at the gate. For more information, call (719) 597-1449.
Some of the best amateur athletes in the country train in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center. The OTC is home to more than 150 athletes, representing 10 sports. Each year, more than 7,000 athletes train or compete at the center.
Tours of the complex are available Monday through Saturday. Tours are an hour and a half long and include walking tours of the complex and a short film. The hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last tour at 4 p.m.); and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For tour and event information, call (719) 866-4618.