Heading to Colorado? Check out “The Springs”. That’s the locals’ name for Colorado Springs, a great city nestled at the base of 14,000 foot Pike’s Peak on the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains. About a ninety minute drive south of Denver, Colorado Springs seems to have something for everybody and that includes the photographer and traveler. It’s really hard to choose how to spend your time in “The Springs.” Here is a list of a few favorites – some well known, others less so – but all worth checking out.
1) Pikes Peak – OK, you can see this peak from just about any place in “The Springs”. But for an up close and personal look you have three options. You can drive up the 12.4 mile Pike’s Peak Toll Road Scenic Drive. You can ride the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Rail Road. Or, if you are in really good shape and have some time, you can hike up the four mile Barr Trail. Whichever way you go, your trek will rise over 7,400 feet from base to summit – the greatest elevation gain of any peak in the State of Colorado. The view from the top is great – if the weather is clear. Be prepared for quick temperature and weather changes, however, as well as possibly strong winds.
2) Air Force Academy – Colorado Springs is home to the U.S. Air Force Academy. The Barry Goldwater Air Force Academy Visitor Center provides exhibits and information on the Academy’s history as well as the life of the Academy Cadet. From there it is an easy walk to iconic Cadet Chapel. The Academy enjoys a beautiful setting against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.
3) Manitou Incline Hike – Perhaps one of the most popular of Colorado’s Hiking Trails, the Manitou Incline rises as a straight one mile hike, gaining 2,000 feet in elevation in the process. It is actually follows the route of an earlier cog railway. The path itself is made up of about 2800 railroad ties and provides a really serious workout. It is not for the casual hiker, and also not for those who are unacclimated to the Colorado altitude.
4) Manitou Springs – A tiny community tucked at the base of Pike’s Peak, Manitou Springs is full of delightful shops, cafes, and parks. You can find lots of fun local arts and crafts and take in some beautiful Colorado Scenery. It is a comfy little spot, a great place to kick back, have a coffee, and do some people watching.
5) Caspian Café – Once you tire of eating Colorado steaks, give the Caspian Café a try. A favorite with locals, and a lucky find for visitors, the Café offers a variety of delicious and reasonably priced Mediterranean dishes in a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. Owner Moe Sharifi and his courteous staff make every visit a great experience. ( Last time I had the Tzatziki Cucumber Yogurt Dip with olives, pita, feta and tomatoes for starters, followed by Lamb Tangine with Apricots & Toasted Almonds. They were wonderful – highly recommended!)
6) Garden of the Gods– A definite “Must See” in Colorado Springs, The Garden of the Gods is one of the most special city parks you’ll ever find. Deep red rock geological formations present dynamic vistas. Many thrust straight skyward from the ground, creating spectacular steep cliffs and ridges. It’s a rock climber’s paradise (but a city permit is required). If rock climbing isn’t your thing you can enjoy the park’s many hiking and jogging trails that wind their way between rock formations. It’s one of those special places that is a visual treat – don’t miss it.
Enjoy “The Springs”…..and as always……..Enjoy The Adventure!
Dr. B, The Photo Trekker