Fear of Heights
Many visitors to the Rockies ask about attractions for people who have a fear of heights. It’s a very reasonable question when you consider that Colorado bragging rights include having 58 mountains over a height of 14,000 feet and a suspension bridge crossing a chasm. There’s good news for you more grounded folk, though. You truly can enjoy your time in Southern Colorado and the Pikes Peak region. We are sharing some attractions that keep you safely on the ground, including any potential scary moments.
Cripple Creek, Colorado
If you want a little altitude, but don’t want to brave the steep, guardrail-free hairpin turns of the Pikes Peak Highway, Cripple Creek offers the high mountain terrain, without the feeling of being out of control or triggering vertigo every time you look in a new direction. There will be a few moments that might spike your adrenaline along the drive to Cripple Creek, but it won’t be nearly the same as ascending Pikes Peak or cruising Skyline Drive in Canon City (a definite no for anyone with a fear of heights).. Highway 67 has a few points with huge valleys on the passenger side and the descent into Cripple Creek can be a bit scary. Just close your eyes and trust your driver. Cripple Creek also has a few shuttles that run up the pass to the gaming establishments and riding in a giant bus is a great way to feel safer and avert your attention from the views.
Once you’re in Cripple Creek proper, there are historic streets, unique shops, a museum, a great theater and wild donkeys! Cripple Creek has a lot of cool events year-round, like Donkey Derby Days and the newly added ice castle exhibits. Check out the old cemeteries, try your luck, catch a show and enjoy a day of hanging out at ground level with altitude.
Garden of the Gods Trading Post
The world-famous Garden of the Gods Trading Post is a huge shop located just within the boundaries of Garden of the Gods. It is packed (and we mean packed) with gear that puts the rad in Colorado, like shirts, art, jewelry, gifts, fudge and collectibles. They have their own sluice and they sell bags of dirt with gems you can uncover in the water. Just a note about the Garden — while the formations are towering, the paths around them are not. You can get your fill of the award-winning park without any climbing whatsoever. Take a walk, enjoy the rocks and then hang out on the Trading Post patio with ice cream, hot cocoa or a pound of fudge.
Western Museum of Mining and Industry
Visiting areas with actual mines can get a bit scary if you’re terrified of heights. They tend to be located way up at high altitudes in precarious places. You can still learn all about Colorado’s rich (literally) mineral history, the values of mining in our daily lives and a whole lot about the various processes to extract valuable metals and minerals. The Mining Museum has an enormous campus filled with antique mining equipment you can explore during your visit. They also have one of the most-loved experiences in the Pikes Peak region — gold panning! The crew is down to earth and the attraction is too.
The Bug Museum
The May Natural History Museum is another great attraction for people who don’t like getting too far off the ground. Located south of Colorado Springs, the roadside attraction is home to thousands of carefully preserved insect specimens. Case after case of unique, cool and creepy bugs await your perusal, like giant butterflies, exotic beetles and an enormous walking stick. You’ll know the museum is nearby when you see the giant Hercules beetle that guards the turn-off. Herkimer is perched a little bit high on the hill for some people, so you may prefer to snap your selfies from the ground. The Bug Museum is a fascinating little place that is rich with history and science and offers a great time no matter your age.
Historic Old Colorado City
Another gorgeous mountain town, another fairly level place to play for acrophobics. Old Colorado City is home to excellent dining, local shopping and all the charm. Eclectic stores abound in OCC, like the Michael Garman Gallery filled with finely detailed miniatures, or the shop dedicated entirely to British teas and snacks. Dining options are just as varied, with Greek, Ethiopian, American, Salvadoran and Italian cuisine all available just a brief walk from the heart of the city. OCC is reachable by bicycle if you’re cool with that level of distance from the ground. If not, we totally get it.
Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Cowboy Museum
If you’re into rodeo, western tradition and equine sporting events, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame is an excellent place to immerse yourself in cowboy magic. Like our other suggestions, the Hall of Fame won’t toss you off a platform or make you ascend anything more than a few stairs. The museum is packed with cowboy artifacts, homages to great horses, bulls, riders and ropers, not to mention the importance of cowboys and horsemanship in the development of the west. In the summer, you can even meet a few horses in the pens. Some of them are even famous!
Miramont Castle Tea and Tour
The scariest part of this adventure will be the stairs to the tea parlor. Miramont Castle has existed in Manitou Springs for more than 100 years. At one time, it even served as an apartment complex of sorts. Today, it is a cool architectural monument lovingly maintained by a local historic society as part of preserving Manitou’s long and fascinating history. The castle offers daily tours to guests for a small fee, which includes a self-guided exploration of the antique fixtures, oddly-shaped rooms and other interesting artifacts.
The castle is also home to the absolutely lovely Queen’s Parlour Tea Room, where you can enhance your visit with exceptional tea served in a Victorian dining room. The space is decorated in all the lace and trim you would expect, including a rack of loaner hats coated in feathers and frippery. The tea selection offered is incredible and the more guests you bring means the greater the number of teas you can sample during your visit. We recommend the high tea, which includes finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and an assortment of tiny desserts. Any tea you fall in love with can be purchased in the gift shop. Be sure to get your discounted castle tour tickets with proof of tea service.
Echo Canyon Family Float
While there are some people who can balance a fear of heights and adventure sports like white water rafting, we don’t want you to find out you’re not one of them after you’re already on the water. However, we also know that you shouldn’t have to deny yourself incredible experiences just because you prefer not to climb to find them. Echo Canyon River Expeditions provides a scenic float experience just for those people. It’s the most popular trip for families because it’s just so chill. Calm and relaxing are two great words to describe this experience, which rows you gently down a slow stretch of the Arkansas River for about 1.5 hours and includes stops to swim or explore something cool.
Flying W Ranch Chuckwagon Dinner
The Flying W Ranch is an enduring tradition for many families in the Pikes Peak region, as well as the thousands of visitors who flock to the site each year. Hosted on a historic cattle ranch that converted to an entertainment destination decades ago, the Flying W provides guests with an authentic chuckwagon experience, from the furry farm animals that live on the property, to the sweet sounds of cowboy songs sung under a blanket of glittering stars.
The chuckwagon supper features delicious meats (there are vegetarian options), rich and savory beans, fluffy biscuits and a sweet treat. This is not some hastily catered buffet, but a tradition of barbeque and smoking excellence with food that fills you up and tastes delicious. After the dining is done, guests are treated to humor (be prepared for puns and dad jokes) and music performed by the world-famous Flying W Wranglers. They are the second oldest cowboy singing group in existence and they have sung here at home and in other places in the world. It’s a real treat to watch them perform, especially with your favorite people.
U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum
Our final entry on the list of acrophobic-friendly attractions is the United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum located in Downtown Colorado Springs. The museum is a marvel of technology, with many interactive exhibits and lots of opportunities for digital engagement. The museum is also celebrated for its accessibility, so it makes an excellent destination for guests who need extra accommodations to enjoy the full experience. You’ll get the chance to explore real Olympic artifacts like actual gold medals and equipment from winning Olympians, plus learn stories of incredible triumph and athletic prowess. Guests also love the interactive experiences, like the running simulator and Parade of Nations.
Everyone deserves to have the best time possible in the Pikes Peak region. If your fear of heights has kept you from visiting Colorado, or you worry you won’t be able to find anything to do that won’t leave you stressed and fearful, we hope this list will show you just how much fun awaits without leaving the ground (or jumping off perfectly acceptable cliffs).