A day in the mountains
Pikes Peak was likely on the top of your bucket list for your Colorado Springs trip, so why the heck did we not suggest it as the first thing you do when you hit town? The answer is simple: elevation. Chances are good you’re coming from a lower elevation and may already be feeling a little worn out. Give you body a few days to acclimate to the elevation of Colorado Springs before you climb another 8,000 feet. The number one best combatant to altitude sickness: water. Lots and lots of water.
Breakfast in the Mountains
If you’re headed up the pass (Ute Pass that is) you HAVE to hit The Pantry in Green Mountain Falls. During the summer, they have an awesome creekside all you can eat buffet. Be sure to try their cinnamon raisin toast.
Pikes Peak -- America's Mountain
14,115 feet of pure awe!
Pikes Peak is one of the most accessible mountains in the country which means you have lots of options when it comes to getting to the top. Driving your own vehicle is at the apex of ease and affordability, and allows you the most independence of all your options. Take the Peak at your own pace, stop for photos or just to breathe it all in at will. You’ll find photo ops along the way, each more spectacular than the last. You’ll pass through several different biomes as you climb 8,000 feet in elevation, and pass crystal clear reservoirs of pure mountain snowmelt. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, wildflowers, and the illusive Big Foot.
Know before you go: Construction of the new Summit House continues, and it’s taken up a chunk of the parking at the top. To help with parking, from Memorial Day Weekend till October, visitors will need to catch one of the free shuttles available at mile 7, 13 or 16. Shuttles leave every 5-10 minutes, making it easy to get up and back whenever you’re ready. Families with ADA requirements, children in carseats, or 10+ people will be allowed to summit in their own vehicle.
Buy your tickets here to help save time at the gate.
Local’s Tip: Don’t miss the special high-elevation donuts at the summit!
Time allowance: 3-4 hours
Pikes Peak Tour by Gray Line
Let them handle the drive while you handle those views!
Making the journey up Pikes Peak is a memory that will last a lifetime, so why not do it in style? You’ll get so much more out of the experience if you aren’t worried about keeping your eyes on the road. Kick back in their super comfy coaches, watch the trees whisk by till you come around a bin, and the vista opens before you and all the world seems stretched out below. It’s a magnificent sight. Watch for wildlife and the changing biomes while Gray Line’s storytellers, aka guides, regale you with tales of Pikes Peak’s rich history and the great sites along the way.
Worried that you won’t get to stop along the way, or won’t have enough time at the summit? Gray Line guides are experts when it comes to Pikes Peak. Not only will they stop to let you take photos, they know where all the best spots are! AND, you won’t have to switch shuttles to reach the summit. Gray Line will take care of you all the way!
Local’s Tip: Be sure to make reservations. This popular trip books up fast.
Time allowance: 3-4 hours
Best burger in Manitou
It might look like your run of the mill dive bar, but don’t let its looks fool you. The Keg in Manitou Springs is family friendly and has one of the best burgers in town. If you’re not feeling like a burger, try their berry salad. We like to add salmon to it. Divine!
Historic Cripple Creek
Donkey selfies, here we come!
The drive to Cripple Creek is one of the prettiest in Colorado, hands down, with a quaint little mountain town as payoff at the end. As one of the richest gold deposits ever found (and still mining enormous amounts of gold each year!), Cripple Creek has seen plenty of booms and now enjoys life as a historic monument to our gold rush days. Stroll the streets (well, it’s really just the one) enjoying crisp mountain air, 1890’s store fronts, and characters that wander the streets — including a free range herd of donkeys, descendants of the donkeys that worked the mines so many years ago. Travel deep underground to tour an active gold mine, take a ride on a steam locomotive, and mosey through their many museums.
They say life is all about the journey. This journey may just take you back in time.
Local’s Tip: If you happen to be in town during one of Cripple Creek’s events, put it at the top of your bucket list.
This town really knows how to throw a shindig!
Time allowance: 2-3 hours
If you’re heading back to town, stop in Woodland Park for dinner. The Swiss Chalet is the perfect blend of friendly small town and gourmet restaurant.
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