Top 5 Things to Do around the Pikes Peak Region
There are so many amazing things to do around the Pikes Peak region, but the great outdoors are the biggest draw for locals and visitors. We’re not ones to brag, but this is likely due to the fact that we have some of the most magnificent terrain in the country. People flock to our beloved city in droves because it’s just plain stunning — a marvel of beautiful terrain, breathtaking geological marvels and a vibrant blue sky that caps it all 300+ days of every year. We want you to feel how we feel, so get ready for the definitive list of places to visit that will surely leave you feeling the love for Colorado and its many natural wonders.
Colorado is full of natural beauty, but every once in a while, it really outdoes itself. Seven Falls is one such example of our state’s tendency to be more than a little extra in the beauty department. Visitors to these famous falls are driven via shuttle and set loose to explore the trails and sights (and the very awesome rock shop). The key focal point of the destination is the massive 180-foot box canyon and its series of seven cascading waterfalls. The canyon is comprised of Colorado/Pikes Peak granite, which the National Park Service says was formed more than one billion years ago. You’re basically walking amongst some of the world’s most ancient stonework. Whether you tackle the 224 steps that ascend alongside the falls, head up the elevator, or simply kick back at the bottom and enjoy the view, this attraction is guaranteed to take your breath away.
A Towering Rocky Mountain Fourteener
You can’t come to Colorado and not see Pikes Peak. It’s basically the backdrop for the city of Colorado Springs and you can catch it peeking out at you anytime you cast your eyes westward. There are lots of ways to tackle this accessible 14er, starting with the easiest, riding up on the Cog Railway. Pikes Peak, named Tava (Sun Mountain) by the indigenous Tabeguache Ute, erupted from the earth about 50 million years ago, making it one of 54 different 14ers that make up our state’s chunk of the Rockies. If you want to get out and explore more of the mountain than a straight-shot train ride will allow, you can also hike it, bike it, bus it or drive up it yourself using the Pikes Peak Highway. If you do decide to drive, we recommend frequent stops and a few brief hikes to check out the rock formations, plants, animals and, of course, epic views. Regardless of how, just be sure you get up there so you can experience the view that inspired Kathryn Lee Bates “America the Beautiful.”
A Cave of Wonders
The next phase of your bucket list of things to do in Colorado Springs takes you from the top of the world to the depths of the earth. We’re talking about Cave of the Winds, a literal hidden marvel that is tucked away just west of Manitou Springs on Highway 24. You’ll get to go deep into the mountain with one of three amazing cave tours offered up each day. There’s one for every age and comfort level, so you can bring the wee ones, the wise ones or anyone else who is into spelunking safely. You can shimmy on your belly in the Caving 101 Tour, experience the cave by lantern just like visitors saw it 100 years ago, or enjoy a well-lit, well-paved, handrail-assisted version of the cave. The caves are a tad younger than their big bro mountain across the pass, but that still makes them about 4-7 million years old. That was plenty of time to form the stalagmites, stalactites and other cave formations you’ll see on any one of the tours.
Manmade and Earth-made Marvels
Colorado isn’t known for its vast waterways, but we really know how to play on the water we have. Echo Canyon River Expeditions has the best-trained guides in the industry, perfect for the family-friendly half-day down Big Horn Sheep Canyon. The real winner is the whitewater extravaganza that crashes through the Royal Gorge. Speaking of the Gorge, you can’t just raft through it. You really need to cross over it to understand just how incredible it is. About 5 million years ago, the Arkansas River and natural transitions of the earth created the 1,000-foot-deep split that is now the playground of rafters, fisherman and hikers. The Royal Gorge Bridge allows you a bird’s-eye view of the formation, whether you cross the suspension bridge, the gondolas or the adrenaline-pumping zipline.
Last, but never, ever least, is the word-famous, award-winning and just-plain-cool Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. If you check off nothing else on this list of things to do in the Pikes Peak region, make it a visit to the Garden of the Gods. The towering red formations are one of the top reasons people come to visit Colorado and they are absolutely worth your time. Like all of the other geological wonders in the region, the formations came about over millions of years of upheaval. Seas and dunes have both covered the park at one time or another and dinosaurs definitely enjoyed their own lumbering hikes in the area. The Park is drivable, bikeable, hikeable and completely, 100% free — forever. It’s in the language of the gift of the park to the city of Colorado Springs that it will always be free. We highly recommend you make a pre-drive pit-stop at the Garden of the Gods Trading Post. It’s ancient in human terms (nearly 100 years) and it has lots of goodies and souvenirs you can pick up to remind you of your time in Colorado.
We hope this list of the top things to do in the Pikes Peak region will show you why so many people have fallen in love with our city and our state. We look forward to seeing you, be it a mountaintop, a cavern, a canyon or amongst the shadows of the gods.