Colorado Springs, Colorado was one of the first places we ventured to after settling in to our home in Denver. We probably make the hour to an hour and a half drive to Colorado Springs once a month to do some exploring. Though we haven’t spent three days in a row in Colorado Springs, I have created this itinerary from our numerous trips.
Although we haven’t stayed in COSprings yet, I am beyond pumped to visit the Broadmoor sometime this year. I have read a number of posts that share all of the wonderful things that the Broadmoor can offer.
Day One – Wander through Garden of the Gods, visit the Air Force Academy and the Olympic Training Center
This may seem like a lot to do in one day, but we have done it and it is doable without wearing yourself out. All three can be visited in any order depending on where you are staying. Be sure to check hours of each activity so that you don’t arrive to closed doors. Hours and closures will change with the time of the year.
Head to Garden of the Gods on your first day. These rock formations will make you think you stepped out on to another planet. There are several ways to explore Garden of the Gods. If you are short on time, stop by the Visitor Center first. After the visitor’s center, head to the Perkins Central Trail. This is a paved trail that takes you past many of the famous formations. You can walk as little or as far as you would like.
The Air Force Academy has a great visitor’s center and is a neat way to learn more about the school and the Air Force. There are not many other places that you can explore, as a civilian, on the campus so stop here first to find out where you can go.
At the Olympic Training Center, you can learn firsthand about how Olympic hopefuls spend their days. Summer tours are conducted every half hour and they are conducted every hour in the winter. When you arrive, you can wander around the Hall of Fame while you wait for your tour. The free tour begins with a short video that is quite inspiring. From there, you will walk through the Olympic Path and see some of the training facilities.
Day Two – Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak is one of Colorado’s famous 14ers. It is one on a very short list of 14ers that doesn’t need to be hiked to the top. You can hike if you wish, but you can also drive or ride the cog train. I highly recommend the cog railroad, which departs from Manitou Springs. The railroad trip is a 90 minute trip up and a 90 minute trip back so it will take up much of your morning. The trip is beautiful and the views from the top are supposed to be amazing. I can not speak to that because, although we have made the trip up the railroad, there was so much fog that we couldn’t see our hands held out in front of us. Despite this, we had fun trying the famous Pikes Peak donuts and exploring the shop.
After Pikes Peak, you can explore Manitou Springs. This is also a good time to catch up and do one of the activities that you might have missed because you spent too much time at another spot.
Day Three – River Rafting and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
There are a number of river rafting companies that you can go through but I was blown away by the service at Echo Canyon. It is about half an hour away from Colorado Springs and is a great way to spend the morning. I recommend going in the morning because the weather can change drastically in the afternoons. If you have never been white water rafting, half a day is plenty. The full day might be too long, especially with children. After you are finished with rafting, eat lunch at the 8 Mile Bar and Grill. We had a delicious lunch that prepared us for the rest of day.
The only place we haven’t visited on this list is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Every time someone finds out we have spent a few days exploring Colorado Springs, they all ask us if we have been to this mountainside zoo. It comes highly recommended and we hope to visit sometime this year.
*Bonus Day – Day Four – Great Sand Dunes National Park
Colorado Springs is one of the closest airports to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and it is over two hours away. If this otherwordly landscape is something that you would want to see, try to plan a day that you can spend exploring the sand dunes.
What is your favorite thing to do in Colorado Springs, Colorado?