There’s lots of things to do in Colorado Springs, whether you’re a local, here on vacation, on a business trip, or scouting out the area to consider relocation. Here’s a few of our personal favorites and recommendations:
Known as “America’s Mountain”, Pikes Peak is the number one attraction in the Colorado Springs area. You can drive all the way up (14,110 feet!) to capture breathtaking view of the city and the prairie to the east and the mountains to the west. Fishing and non-motorized boating is also available on the route. Pikes Peak Highway is extremely well-maintained and is paved nearly all the way to the top. The highway is occasionally closed due to wind or other weather conditions, so call or check the website before heading there. There is a toll for this road, please see the Pikes Peak website for this and even more information. Allow 3 hours to drive all the way to the top and back with a few stops for photo opportunities.
Helen Hunt and Silver Cascade Falls are located in North Cheyenne Canyon Park in the Broadmoor area of Colorado Springs. You can park right in front of Helent Hunt falls and follow the stairs to the top. There’s a trail that goes farther up to Silver Cascade Falls (lots of steps on trail). It’s a gorgeous, peaceful spot, and can be accessed easily. There is no charge for this exhibition of God’s handiwork! Allow about 1 hour if you want to do the hike up to Silver Cascade Falls.
The United States Olympic Training Centers offers you an up-close look at the training facilities for many of our own world-class athletes. Take one of the free tours and you might see a future Olympic gymnastics, wrestling, or shooting gold medalist training! Tours are free and run every half in the fall and winter and every half-hour in the spring and summer. We’d recommending allowing about 2 hours and be sure wear clothing appropriate for the weather since a great deal of the tour is outside. This is a free activity. See the official site for hours and more information.
Garden of the Gods is another of Colorado Springs’ most easily recognized landmarks. Set against the backdrop of Pikes Peak, the red rocks soar to incredible heights and take your breath away no matter how many times you’ve seen them! A paved road runs through the park and many hiking trails weave through the rocks, so whether you want to get out and drive or see the beauty from your car, you can enjoy the Garden of the Gods! Charles Perkins gifted this beautiful land to the city of Colorado Springs in 1909 under the condition that it would always be free to the public, so you are able to enjoy this attraction 100% free of charge! Allow 1.5-2 hours if you only plan to do the visitors center and the main trail.
Colorado Springs has lots of hiking and biking trails, but if you would rather cruise around in your car like us, there are some great back roads that offer scenic views you won’t get on the beaten path. Gold Camp Road used to be a railroad route from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek. It opened to vehicles when the railroad closed in 1922. A tunnel collapsed a couple of decades ago so part of Gold Camp Road is closed. Some maps do not indicate that the road is closed, so if you want to take it all the way from the Springs to Cripple Creek, you’ll need to join up with it where Old Stage Road and Gold Camp Road intersect. The section of Gold Camp between Old Stage Road and High Drive is closed. Despite the long caveat about how to get there, the road is completely passable in a passenger vehicle all the way to Cripple Creek. Just remember to honk your horn when going into the tight corners so other drivers know you’re coming! If you’re interested, you can read some of the history of Gold Camp Road.
Another great out-of-the-way scenic drive is Mount Herman Road, which winds its way from Monument to Woodland Park. There’s great views of the northwest side of Pikes Peak (the prettiest perspective, in our opinion), and some very interesting rock formations. The road leading into the mountains from Monument is a little rocky, but improves as you get into the mountains. Some tight curves, but should be manageable in a passenger car (we took our Honda Odyssey through). Here’s a map of where to start if you’re taking the road from Monument to Woodland Park.
Some of our other favorite drives are Rampart Range Road (very washboarded last time we were up), Shelf Road, and Phantom Canyon Road. If you enjoy these back road scenic drives, you should definitely get the DeLorme Colorado Atlas and Gazetteer.