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 & Visitors Bureau at 719-635-7506.
Cave of the Winds
Cave of the Winds is one of America’s most spectacular prehistoric natural wonders. The cave is one of the highest caves in the world open to the public. While the attraction was opened in 1881, the caverns started forming more than 200 million years ago. Stalactites, stalagmites and other formations can be seen in the Discovery and Lantern tours. Daily tours of the caverns are available 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the summer and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winter.
If you’re looking for thrills out of the caves, try the Bat-a-Pult. The ride leaves from the rafters of the Cave of the Winds’ pavilion, launching participants on a 1,200-foot, round-trip flight across the Williams Canyon. Or, conquer Wind Walker Challenge Course, a three-story obstacle course balanced on the rim of a 600-foot drop into the canyon.
Cave of the Winds is located 8 miles west of Colorado Springs off U.S. Highway 24 near Manitou Springs. Call 719-685-5444 or visit www.caveofthewinds.com for more information.
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center features not only unique art collections but also a theater and an art school. The center’s theater company produces musicals, comedies and dramas, while the Bemis School of Art offers classes to the public.
The center is located at 30 W. Dale St. in Colorado Springs. For more information, call 719-634-5583 or visit www.csfineartscenter.org.
Colorado Springs World Arena
Located just north of Fort Carson, the World Arena hosts concerts and sporting and special events throughout the year. Call 719-477-2121 or visit www.worldarena.com for more information.
The arena is also home to the Ice Hall. The hall has been named a U.S. Olympic Training Site for U.S. figure skating and is home to the Colorado College men’s hockey team. Public skating lessons, pickup hockey and other skating programs are offered. Call 719-477-2150 or visit www.worldarena.com/icehall for more information.
Garden of the Gods
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 and Nature 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 or visit www.gardenofgods.com for more information.
Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Opened to the public in 1907, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings bring the wonders of authentic cliff dwelling to the region. The cliff dwellings and Anasazi Museum portray the lives and architectural achievements of the Anasazi Indians of the great cliff dwelling period, 1100 to 1300 A.D. To get to the site, travel west on U.S. Highway 24, near Manitou Springs, to 10 Cliff Road. Call 719-685-5242 or visit www.cliffdwellingsmuseum.com for more information.
Mesa Verde National Park
In the southwest corner of the state, not far from the New Mexico-Colorado-Arizona-Utah border, Mesa Verde National Park holds the history of the Ancestral Pueblo people. The park is home to nearly 5,000 archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. Guided tours of the cliff dwellings are available. Call 970-529-4465 or visit www.nps.gov/meve for more information.
Colorado has more than a dozen national forests and grasslands. Many Forest Service activities are free, though some require fees or permits. For more information on national forests in Colorado, visit www.fs.fed.us.
North Pole/Santa's Workshop
The North Pole is an amusement park located just west of Colorado Springs off Highway 24 in Cascade. The park entertains visitors with all things Christmas: carols, elves, Santa and various shows and activities. The park boasts a number of Family-friendly rides, including the Candy Cane Coaster, Peppermint Slide and Santa’s train. The park is open late May through Dec. 24. For hours of operation and more information, call 719-684-9432 or visit www.northpolecolorado.com.
Olympic Training Center
Some of the best amateur athletes in the country train in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center. Nearly 200 athletes, representing a dozen sports, currently train at the facility. The visitor center hosts approximately 140,000 visitors each year. Tours of the complex are available Monday through Saturday. Tours are 45-minutes long and include a short film and walking tours of the complex. For tour and event information, call 719-866-4618 or visit www.teamusa.org/About-the-USOC/Training-Centers-and-Sites/Colorado-Springs.aspx.
Parks and Recreation Areas
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. For more information on national parks in Colorado, visit www.nps.gov/state/co. For more information on city parks, trails and open spaces in Colorado Springs, visit the city of Colorado Springs’ website at https://coloradosprings.gov.
Lt. 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 Pikes Peak, Katharine 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 to an elevation of more than 14,000 feet, 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 or visit www.cograilway.com for more information.
In 1916, an auto road was completed to the summit. Toll for the 19-mile trip varies depending on the number of people in your party. Partway up the summit is a rest stop with a gift store and hiking areas around three lakes. Call 719-385-7325 or visit www.pikespeak.us.com for more information.
Pikes Peak is also known for its annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The event features automobiles and motorcycles competing in the “Race to the Clouds” championship up the Pikes Peak Highway. For more information, visit www.ppihc.com.
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 and special events each year. The museum is located at 215 S. Tejon St. in Colorado Springs. Call 719-385-5990 or visit www.cspm.org for more information.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park consists of 415 glacially carved square miles, abundant wildlife, wildflowers, lakes and mountain peaks. The park is located about 2.5 hours northwest of Colorado Springs, outside the town of Estes Park, which hosts the famous Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Call 970-586-1206 or visit www.nps.gov/romo for more information.
Follow Colorado Highway 115 South from Fort Carson to U.S. Highway 50, then head west to Canon City. Here the Royal Gorge Park and Bridge offer stunning views. In the summer of 2013, the park was 90 percent destroyed by fire. Fortunately, the bridge itself suffered only minor damage. Visitors can still enjoy guided tours of the world’s highest suspension bridge while construction and rebuilding efforts began in 2014. The park opened Phase 1 of the rebuild in the summer of 2014, which includes a new visitor center, aerial tram and other attractions. For information on the park’s tours and schedules, call 719-275-7507 or visit www.royalgorgebridge.com.
Less than 2 miles from the Broadmoor Hotel on the southwest side of Colorado Springs is Seven Falls. It is one of the area’s most famous natural wonders. Water plunges down 181 feet over seven separate falls. Due to flooding in 2013, the falls were temporarily closed for rebuilding efforts and reopened in August 2015. For more information, call 719-632-0765 or visit www.sevenfalls.com.
The Sky Sox are a Triple-A, minor league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Playing in the Pacific Coast League, the Sox are usually in contention for the league title, making for many exciting summer nights. The Sky Sox play at Security Service Field, the highest professional baseball park in the U.S. For more information, call 719-597-1449 or visit www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t551.
United States Air Force Academy
The United States Air Force Academy is one of Colorado’s leading tourist attractions. 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, a B-52 static display and the Thunderbird Airmanship Overlook.
The Cadet Chapel is open for tours Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For information on the Air Force Academy, call 719-333-2025 or visit www.usafa.af.mil
Will Rogers Shrine and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
The Cheyenne Mountain 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 in 1926 after completing the highway on the eastern face of Cheyenne Mountain. If you travel up the Russell Tutt Scenic Highway 1.4 miles from the zoo entrance, 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 interred at the shrine. Entrance to the shrine is included with admission to the zoo. Call 719-633-9925 or visit www.cmzoo.org for information.
World Figure Skating Museum and Hall Of Fame
The World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame honors national and international figure skaters. The museum features art, costumes and artifacts highlighting the history and science of the sport. The museum is located at 20 First St. in Colorado Springs. Call 719-635-5200 or visit www.worldskatingmuseum.org for more information.