Get out and get active in this scenic part of the country
Nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs offers breathtaking views and access to stunning natural landscapes. Surrounded by picturesque mountains, including Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and Red Rock Canyon, Colorado Springs provides a scenic backdrop for outdoor adventures. Here are some popular destinations to stretch your legs.
Manitou Incline is a challenging hike
If you want a challenging hike, look no further than Manitou Incline. The most challenging hike in Manitou Springs, the Manitou Incline trail ascends on the east side of Rocky Mountain and overlooks Colorado Springs’ neighbor Manitou Springs. Although it is only a one mile hike from the base of the incline (not including the mile walk to the base), it is a 2,000-foot climb in elevation.
The park requires a reservation, but there is no fee to use the trail. Since it is a popular spot, this makes the hike enjoyable, safe and prevents the difficult path from overcrowding.
Paint Mines Interpretive Park has amazing views in Colorado Springs
Paint Mines Interpretative Park, east from Colorado Springs in Calhan, is 750 acres of grasslands and geological formations—hoodoo rock formations or earth pyramids, sandstone spires, and colored clay—deep reds, vivid purples and bright oranges and yellows. The park gets its name from the colorful clays that Native Americans collected here and ground into powder to create paint. Archaeological evidence indicates that human activity dates back to 7000 B.C.
The park is a great destination for a group hike and an excellent spot to capture stunning photos. Of the trails throughout the park, the Paint Mines trail is the ideal hike for all skill levels. It is a 3.4-mile loop with beautiful views and wildflowers scattered alongside various points of the trail. The peak season for seeing a beautiful array of wildflowers are the spring and summer months.
Bike routes for all levels
Much of Colorado Springs doesn’t have to be explored on foot. Most locations are biker friendly.
Garden of the Gods has the perfect beginner friendly six-mile bike route. And bikes can be rented, if you aren’t travelling on your own. Start on the east side of the park at the main entrance and take the inner loop following the signage for Balancing Rock. On this route you’ll eventually arrive at the Trading Post where you can take the road to the main inner loop.
If your group is up for more of a challenge, Pikes Peak has quite the bike trail to the top and makes for an exhilarating ride back down to the bottom. But for this ride you’ll definitely need a mountain bike and the appropriate gear. The shortest trail is 13 miles and a 144 foot climb.
White Water rafting for all ages in Colorado Springs
South of Colorado Springs, you’ll find the best white water rafting on the Arkansas River. For a day of heart-pounding fun for you outdoor enthusiasts, The Royal Gorge is the prime spot, and it is the closest whitewater rafting to Colorado Springs. At the highest point, the famous Royal Gorge suspension bridge towers over 1,000 feet (about the height of the Empire State Building) above the water.
Skiing and snowboarding in the Rockies
The Rockies boast some of the best skiing and snowboarding terrain. Colorado Springs serves as a basecamp for those wanting to access the mountains and shred the slopes. Monarch Mountain is a favorite of locals with six lifts and 54 trails with a wide range between complete beginner and extremely advanced trails. Monarch Mountain also offers lessons and rents out equipment. And its single base lodge is great for a meeting spot for groups.
Take a scenic summit drive
Take the scenic route to the top of Pikes Peak for views like no other— one of Colorado’s many 14ers— a mountain that exceeds an elevation of 14,000 feet above sea level. The 2–3-hour drive (roundtrip) into the summit above the clouds has breathtaking views and majestic landscapes. On a clear day, you can see five states (Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Kansas) from the summit.
Enjoy an easy and scenic hike through Garden of the Gods
A National Natural Landmark, Garden of the Gods Park is a stunning exemplar of the beauty of the southwest with towering red rock formations that span into juniper woodlands it has all the best of this region’s characteristics. Siamese Twin Trail is a one-mile round trip hike perfect for groups of all ages and abilities. For a longer trail with more elevation and a fuller spectrum of terrain try the Palmer Trail which is a 2.5-mile loop.
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By Grace Condon