August 17, 2017

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Colorado Springs, Colorado

SnowFounded in 1871, Colorado Springs has a deep and rich history.  Like many areas in the west, the first natives to the Colorado Springs area were the American Indian including the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other tribes. Current day Colorado Springs was located along the extreme southwestern edge of what was the Louisiana Territory, which was purchased by the U.S. in 1803.  In November of 1806, American explorer Zebulon Montgomery Pike came through the region and is credited for “discovering” Pikes Peak, although he actually named the mountain Grand Peak.  

Soon after, other explorers, trappers and traders followed. With the discovery of gold 60 miles to the west, in 1859, came the “Pikes Peak or Bust Gold Rush.” More than 100,000 people flocked to the area to seek fortune.  In 1869, General William Jackson Palmer, a Civil War hero from Pennsylvania, traveled to the area, and a year later, founded the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and purchased land to create Colorado Springs along its route. A few years later, he built The Antlers Hotel, which is still located downtown on Pikes Peak Avenue. His home, Glen Eyrie Castle, was built for his wife and still stands today as memorial to Palmer.  

In the 1890s, when gold was discovered on the western slope of Pikes Peak (one of the richest gold strikes in American history), Colorado Springs became known as “the city of millionaires.” Millionaire Spencer Penrose used his vast resources to build the Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain Highways and to establish the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Will Rogers Shrine and The Broadmoor Hotel.

In addition to its stunning beauty, the sunny and dry, mild climate of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs made the area popular for people suffering from poor health, especially tuberculosis. It was thought that the climate could significantly improve the health of TB patients. As a result, thousands came to seek a cure. Between 1890 and 1950, they came in larger numbers to seek medical attention in one of the numerous sanatoriums and to drink the natural spring waters of nearby Manitou Springs.

Pike’s Peak is known to have been the inspiration of ‘America the Beautiful,’ written by Katharine Lee Bates. In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates, a professor and poet invited to lecture at the summer session at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, agreed to join a wagon expedition to the summit of Pikes Peak. The view at the summit left her in complete awe and admiration. With pen in hand, she wrote the poem that was later set to the music for “America the Beautiful.”  Later, in the 1940s, the U.S. Army opened Camp Carson, marking the beginning of a strong military presence in the area. Colorado Springs is currently home to major military installations including Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, the U.S. Space Command, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), Shriever Air Force Base and the United States Air Force Academy.

Today, located 80 miles south of Denver’s International Airport and 1½ hours east of world-class skiing, Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region are the gateway to southern Colorado’s ‘Outdoor Adventure Playland’.

Winter/Summer:

Boasting more than 300 days of sunshine each year, Colorado Springs offers outdoor recreation year-round. Although it is not a ski destination, visitors can make day-trips to various ski resorts located about 1-1/2 hours away.  Extensive parks and open spaces set the stage for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Explore more than 350 miles of scenic trails ranging from easy, paved paths along Monument Creek to challenging routes through the trees and sandstone spires in the nearby foothills.  There are also over 20,000 acres of parks and recreational activities to appeal to any taste, from manicured turf to open space teaming with wildlife, peaceful prairies to roaring waterfalls. Other activities include, rafting through the Royal Gorge, fishing, hot air ballooning, golfing, climbing, cave exploring, gliding and horseback riding.  The Broadmoor Hotel complex offers skeet and trap shooting as well as golfing on three challenging courses during the warmer months. Echo Canyon River Adventures offers half- and multi-day rafting adventures on the Arkansas River. Pikes Peak Alpine School offers all levels of instruction in rock and ice climbing, mountaineering, and back country skiing.

Attractions:

You’ll find myriad things to do and see in Colorado Springs.  Hike or horseback ride through huge red sandstone rock formations found in the Garden of the Gods Park. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo features more than 600 wild animals from around the world in the U.S.’s only mountain zoo, while the May Natural History Museum of the Tropics houses more than 7,000 exotic insects from jungles around the globe.  Be sure to make a visit to the U.S. Air Force Academy, one of Colorado Springs’s most popular tourist attractions, or the Olympic Center Complex.  A ride on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway takes you on a 3-hour round trip tour to the summit of the mountain, at 12,110 feet.  For a cultural experience take in a classical, jazz or pops performance at the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, a performance at the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, the Star Bar Players present four plays per season in the Lon Chaney Theater at the Civic Auditorium, whir a musical presented by the REP presents at the Fine Arts Center of Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs is also home to 20 major museums and galleries, including the Museum of the American Numismatic Association, which houses one of the largest collections of coins and medals in the world. Also located in Colorado Springs are the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and Museum and the Pioneer’s Museum, which exhibits displays pertaining to the history of the region.  The Peterson Air and Space Museum displays historic aircraft and a moon rock and the Taylor Collection of Native American and Hispanic Art is maintained at the Fine Arts Center. Other attractions include, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, Pikes Peak, Seven Falls, Cave of the Winds, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and Manitou Cliff Dwellings.

You’ll also find numerous events and festivals to explore. Check out Territory, the International Chili Cook-Off, the Annual Broadmoor Ice Revue at the Broadmoor World Arena featuring Olympic skaters, the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, the Hot Air Balloon Classic, and the Festival of Lights Christmas Parade and Gallery of Trees at the Fine Arts Center, to name a few.

Dining:

You’ll find a wide range of restaurant choices in Colorado Springs, from high-end sophistication to rustic outdoor suppers and barbecue and chuck-wagon fare to five star gourmet meals.  During the warm months, dine al fresco or by a cozy fireplace in winter. Enjoy cuisine from around the world, as well as local Western-style establishments.  For a some entertainment with your meal check out the world famous Flying W Ranch, or the side splitting Iron Springs Melodrama Dinner Theatre. There’s no shortage of nightlife in Colorado Springs. Great clubs, concerts, and night spots range from dive bars to opulent wine-tasting rooms.

Shopping:

There are numerous shopping opportunities in Colorado Springs.  A host of shopping malls provide visitors with an interesting variety of stores, including traditional favorites.  You’ll also find specialty stores that feature homemade fudge and other ‘Made in Colorado’ treats. Discover beautiful jewelry, fine art, unique pottery and fun clothing at many quaint boutiques.

Plan Your Colorado Springs Vacation