We’ve made a few trips to Colorado over the years. The views are breathtaking and beautiful (duh statement, I know). It’s difficult to choose one area over another. We’ve mainly been to the front range of Colorado – Colorado Springs, Denver area and Estes Park.
We really like Colorado Springs. Garden of the Gods is a beautiful park for walking and photography. When our daughter Mallory was about 14 or 15, we stopped on our way home from New Mexico. She wasn’t interested in it then, calling it a bunch of big rocks sticking out of the ground. A friend of hers had referred to the Grand Canyon as a big hole in the ground. Young teens, what cha gonna do?
About four years ago, on another trip home from New Mexico, she really enjoyed the Garden of the Gods.
What’s not to like about the park? The rock formations are impressive. From the Kissing camels to the Spires Cathedral, the park has some great views.
During our last visit, we had a great view of big horn sheep. They literally stood still and posed for us.
What is a trip to Colorado Springs without taking the cogway train to Pike’s Peak? I’ve been there twice. The first time was in late September, so there was some snow on the mountains. I loved seeing a view finder covered in ice.
The last time we took the cogway up, it was short notice. If I may offer some friendly advice – drink water on the ride up. My daughter and I each had a bit of altitude issues. Nothing some fresh water didn’t fix, though.
If you are a fan of challenges – or just plain crazy – you can drive up the mountain. The road is unpaved much of the way and doesn’t have guard rails. I’d rather hike than take that drive.
The view from the top is spectacular. During the late 1800s, it inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write a poem – “America the Beautiful.” It was later put to music and became the patriotic song most Americans know by heart.
Bates’ work has been immortalized in Colorado Springs with a display in town.
The United States Olympic Training Center calls The Springs home.
American athletes from several sports can train at the facilities. During my visit there, our guide – a gymnast – said several sports are represented from gymnastics, swimming, weightlifting, as well as Paralympic sports.
The facilities are among the best in the world. Olympic-sized pools are available for swimmers and divers. A center houses facilities for fencing and pentathlon training. Olympic shooters can train at the center in their own building.
The athletes stay on campus while they train. More than 500 beds are available in 242 rooms. About 300,000 meals are served annually to the athletes.
Colorado Springs is also home to the United States Air Force Academy. About 4,400 cadets strive to complete their education and become officers in the Air Force. Typically, about 1,200 students enroll annually, with about 1,000 expected to complete their four-year education. Female cadets joined the Academy in 1976, as part of the Class of 1980.
Air Force is home to one of the most beautiful chapels in the world (in my humble opinion). The all-denominational chapel stretches about 150 feet skyward. The chapel has 17 spires.
Not far from the chapel is “The Study Hall,” an outdoor sculpture garden featuring several airplanes. It was an historic stroll to take, with the variety of planes dotting the landscape. The planes range from a B-29 bomber to a P51 “Mustang” fighter.
Not to be outdone, downtown Colorado Springs has a sculpture walk of itself. It recognizes the western and frontier history of the area. The “Range Riders” statue recognizes the cowboys of the area.
Several sculptures honor Colorado Springs’ history.
William Seymour was one of the first freed slaves to move west. His sculpture honors the “unknown” people not recognized in the history of the westward expansion.
“The Pumpkin Man” was a sculpture we liked. The statue honors Nick Venetucci for his generosity in opening his farm to children annually, so they could pick out a free pumpkin. The statue was commissioned in 2004, following his death.
Near Colorado Springs is Manitou Springs. The city is the location of the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings. The dwellings were the cliffside home of the Anasazi Native Americans. The Anasazi lived near the Four Corners region. The structures were relocated to Manitou Springs in the early 1900s as a museum and tourist attraction.
I’ve always liked the statue welcoming people to Old Colorado City.
Colorado Springs has a lot more to offer visitors, including the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Peterson Air Force Base air museum.
For more information on Colorado Springs and the area, please visit the visitors bureau’s website at www.visitcos.com.