The Top Things to Do When Visiting Colorado Springs

We are fortunate to live in Colorado Springs, Colorado and enjoy taking advantage of all of the unique places to see in the area. Even though these are all popular sites for tourists to visit, they are also things that locals enjoy as well. In addition to those things in the city itself, we’ve also included a couple of day trip locations as well. Even though Denver is about an hour north of Colorado Springs, we did not include any locations there as they are worthy of their own list. No matter what you do when coming to Colorado, making sure to get out and enjoy nature is certainly the highlight of any trip to this wonderful state. Here are our recommendations, in no particular order.

IMGP4902
Pikes Peak from Garden of the Gods
  1. Pikes Peak – Whether driving to the top of Pikes Peak, taking the Cog Railway (when it is open), our even hiking to the top of the mountain, it is certainly a must do activity in Colorado Springs. Known as “America’s Mountain” for it being the inspiration to America the Beautiful, the views are absolutely stunning. With an elevation that is over 14,000 feet (4,250 meters), it is important to be aware of the effects of the altitude and people need to be sure to hydrate.

    IMGP4869
    Behind Kissing Camels in Garden of the Gods
  2.  Garden of the Gods – Walking or driving through this geological wonder is one of the most popular things to do when visiting Colorado Springs. To say that Garden of the Gods is truly beautiful would be an extreme understatement. With various rock formations such as balancing rock, steamboat rock, and kissing camels, there is a lot to see when visiting the park.

    DSC_0688
    Cadet Chapel at the Airforce Academy
  3.  The United States Air Force Academy – Located on the northern end of Colorado Springs, visiting this military campus is certainly worth the time. With many different statues depicting various aircraft and a chapel that is truly unique, it is worth going into the academy grounds and not just stopping at the viewing area that is located off of the highway. It is important to remember that this is an active military base, so there are times that it is closed to the public and you will have to show id upon reaching the gates.

    IMGP0922
    View from a Hike in Mueller State Park
  4.  Mueller State Park – We love hiking in this state park throughout the year, but it is definitely our favorite place to go when the leaves change in autumn. It is about an hour drive from Colorado Springs, but it is worth getting into the Rocky Mountains when coming to Colorado. There is also an opportunity to see a variety of wildlife in the park, so be sure to visit the visitor center and speak to the rangers to see where animals might be active.

    DSC_0733
    Downtown Shops in Manitou Springs
  5.  Historic Manitou Springs – Sitting on the outskirts of town, between Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak is Manitou Springs with its western charm. Many people choose to stay in Manitou Springs when coming to Colorado Springs, but even if you don’t stay there, it is worth visiting. There are many different shops, restaurants, and interesting buildings to see in this small town.

    DSC_7394
    Seven Falls from Eagles Nest
  6.  Seven Falls – Visiting this waterfall in the southern part of Colorado Springs is a popular attraction. It gives you a chance to get into the mountains without having to drive out of the city. It is a steep climb to the top of the falls, but it is certainly worth it to see the amazing views. If you even more adventurous, you can zip line in Seven Falls, but just walking through the park and eating at the restaurant at the base of the falls is worth the visit.

    IMGP5476
    Colorado Springs Zoo
  7.  The Colorado Springs Zoo – Although almost every city has a zoo, but the Colorado Springs Zoo is definitely different than any other zoo you may have been to. The zoo is the only mountain side zoo in America and has wonderful views of the city, especially if you go to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun. Make sure that you wear comfortable shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking along paths that take you higher and higher through the exhibits.

    IMGP0059
    Royal Gorge Railway
  8.  The Royal Gorge Train – Going to Canon City, located about an hour outside of Colorado Springs, is worth the drive just to see the amazing canyon. For really adventurous people, you can go whitewater rafting through the gorge, but for a more relaxing time, we’d recommend taking the historic railway along the river at the base of the canyon walls.

    IMGP5168
    Main Street in Cripple Creek
  9.  Cripple Creek – If you want to do a little gambling while enjoying some beautiful scenery, then a drive to Cripple Creek trip for you. It is about an hour and a half outside of Colorado Springs and is an easy day trip, but there are hotels if you would prefer. Since Mueller State Park is on the way to Cripple Creek, it can certainly be combined into a single visit.

There are a few other places that are often on people’s itineraries including the Cave of the Winds and the North Pole, but we found the above listed places to be some of the best of Colorado Springs. It is certainly a beautiful area and we would definitely recommend dedicated at least three days to the Colorado Springs area if you are planning a visit.

Oktoberfest Celebrations

Although the official Oktoberfest takes place in Munich, celebrations can be found all around the world. Any excuse to get gather, drink beer, eat food, and dance to traditional folk music will likely draw a large crowd. There are several places in Colorado where you can go to an Oktoberfest, most notably is in Breckenridge, but there is a very large one in Denver as well as one in Colorado Springs. We went to our first Oktoberfest back in 2015 and had an absolutely wonderful time.

Pretzel Stand
Pretzel Stand
Young Dancer
Young Dancer
Dancing to the Band
Dancing to the Band

We had a very nice Hefe-Weizen wheat beer as well as an excellent Marzen amber ale from Paulaner Brewer, who are from Munich.  We needed the cold beers after literally kicking our heels up with the dance troupe, The Denver Kickers.  We have a lot of respect for them, all of whom are family members, as they danced the entire day and evening, entertaining the crowd.  That certainly can’t be easy, especially wearing lederhosen as warm as it was that day.  In addition to the dancing, there was plenty of music by The Prime Time Band featuring Klaus.

Pete and Dona with the Dancers Enjoying Some Beer
Pete and Dona with the Dancers Enjoying Some Beer
Beer Steins
Beer Steins
Beer Mug Table
Beer Mug Table

If we had tried all of the different food that was offered, we would have probably put on ten pounds.  The food that we did eat was delicious, especially the bratwurst with sauerkraut.  In addition to brats, there was Weiner Schnitzel, giant pretzels, German chocolate cake, and a variety of sweets.  Along with the beer, we definitely had our fill of good food.

Sweets
Sweets
Bratwurst
Bratwurst
Weiner Schnitzel Vendor
Weiner Schnitzel Vendor

It was a great day of dancing, drinking, eating, and people watching.  Regardless of your heritage or where you live, going to Oktoberfest is well worth the time.  It is a great event for families as well as for couples like us.  We really had a lot fun, made some new friends, and even learned a new dance, all in all, a wonderful day.

Cooking Some Brats
Cooking Some Brats
Traditional Folk Dance
Traditional Folk Dance
Smoked Salmon
Smoked Salmon

 

Monument Rock Trail in Monument, Colorado

We decided to look for a trail near Colorado Springs that we hadn’t hiked previously and found the Monument Rock Extended Trail that is located in the nearby town of Monument. The trail is rated as moderate and takes you by an impressive rock feature known as Monument Rock. The trail itself goes through the woods, across meadows, and has views of the mountains. There are several intertwining trails, some of which will take you to the top of Mount Herman, which is the peak that sits above the trail. There are also some that are rated hard, so it is important to pay attention to which trail you are following as it isn’t well marked.

DSC_1256
Hiking in the Woods
DSC_1269
Looking Up at Monument Rock
DSC_1274
Purple Wildflowers
DSC_1268
Trail Passing by Monument Rock
DSC_1258
Mountain Views

The Monument Rock Extended Trail is a loop that goes right next to Monument Rock, which is quite impressive. The full loop is about 2.7 miles, so it makes for a nice hike with an elevation gain that is less than 300 feet. The views are spectacular and, as is typical for this time of year, there are many wildflowers along the trail. The highlight of the hike is certainly Monument Rock, which stands out due to its size, color, and shape. It was certainly an enjoyable hike and we were able to complete it before the afternoon rain started.

DSC_1271
Blue Skies and Monument Rock
DSC_1277
Rocky Terrain
DSC_1264
Hiking Towards Monument Rock
DSC_1254
More Wildflowers
DSC_1275
Someone Put a Glove on a Tree
DSC_1250
Meadows and Mountains
DSC_1249
Multiple Trails