Garden of the Gods – One of the most popular and gorgeous attractions in all of Colorado Springs is the Garden of the Gods. You will be able to spot the enormous red rock formations well before you arrive at the Visitor’s Center. We actually spent quite a bit of time at the Visitor’s Center, where the boys were really engaged in the various hands-on animal exhibits and examining the one and only dinosaur of its kind, discovered right in the Garden of the Gods, and nowhere else in the world.
It was extremely crowded, as we went on a summer weekend, and we did struggle to find parking. However, the park was basically set up in a couple large driving loops, which allowed us to stop off in a few parking lots, and then get out and take some trails. The rock formations against the blue skies certainly made it feel like a garden fit for the gods.
We also returned the next week to participate in Colorado Spring’s Gallop in the Garden, a 5k walk/jog/or run on one of three specified trails around the Park. We completed the entire 5k walk in the 90 degree heat, and I was pretty darn proud of my boys! Next time, we run it!
Red Rock Canyon Open Space – Close to the Garden of the Gods was the Red Rock Canyon Open Space, which had a network of biking and hiking trails. We did a 3 mile loop one evening, and we practically had the place to ourselves. It was really peaceful, and we saw several deer. The sky did look a little threatening, with lightening off in the distance, but luckily the stormy skies were moving the opposite direction.
Ute Valley Park – If hiking or biking is your thing, I’d also recommend Ute Valley Park, which happened to be very close to our hotel, and a really nice way to pass an hour or two. At first it didn’t look too impressive, but as the trails started to loop around, we realized there were some really nice sandstone cliffs and beautiful views within this park. I was surprised by all the bikers braving the steep, rocky paths, but it seemed to be an extremely popular bike path.
Helen Hunt Falls – Another afternoon we drove the steep road to Helen Hunt Falls, which was part of North Cheyenne Canon Park. I was really not impressed with the drive, and feel lucky that we did not bust a tire on the drive there or back, because the pot-hole filled road was atrocious. The Falls were visible right from the parking lot, but the steep 3/4 mile hike was worth it for the nice views alone. There was another waterfall at the top, but not too much water actually flowed from it. I did find the trees interesting, as pictured below, because the roots seemed to grow partially above the soil, from the steep hills.
United States Air Force Academy – We really liked our visit to the Air Force Academy, which was just north of Colorado Springs, on some beautiful land! Make sure you follow the directions on the website, and don’t listen to your GPS so you arrive at the correct gate. After getting through the security gate, we followed the signs to the Visitor Center, which had a 20 minute movie that took you through the life of a cadet from basic training through four years at the Air Force Academy. The grounds were so impressive, beautifully manicured. The Visitor Center had a huge shop, as well as a museum.
Then you could drive or walk the 1/3 mile trail (which I highly recommend for the views) over to the gorgeous Air Force Academy Chapel, which has an all-faith room, plus separate chapels for Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Buddhist faiths.
The Garden of the Gods and the Air Force Academy were two of my favorite places in Colorado Springs!
Next week look for another post about things more amazing activities to do in Colorado Springs.