9 Awesome Experiences in Colorado Springs 

Colorado Springs is a great summer vacation destination, and you need not be a hiker or outdoor enthusiast to enjoy what Colorado Springs has to offer. There is such a variety of available activities that literally, there is something for everyone.

If you’re considering a trip to Colorado Springs, here are 9 awesome experiences to add to your itinerary:

  1. Raft the Arkansas River. I’ll have to admit I was a bit apprehensive about my first river rafting experience.  Fortunately, there are several levels of raft trips from which to choose, so whether you’re looking for a big thrill or a more relaxing trip, there are tour companies that can accommodate your needs.River Rafting on the Arkansas River

    River rafting
    We floated with Echo Canyon River Expeditions.
  2. Visit the Royal Gorge. The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is about an hour from Colorado Springs.  This attraction offers an opportunity to walk across the worlds highest suspension bridge which was constructed in 1929. The bridge spans this 1200 foot deep canyon and provides a bird’s eye view of the Arkansas River which continues to carve away at the rock below.  We rode the gondolas over the gorge and then crossed back via the bridge.  The scenery is spectacular.  There is a playground and train ride for children as well as thrill rides for big kids and adults. For more information on visiting the Royal Gorge: Colorado Springs Day Trip: The Royal GorgeRoyal Gorge Park in Coloradoroyal gorge 1-3 trip
  3. Hike Garden of the Gods. Garden of the Gods is an oasis in the city of Colorado Springs.  This public park was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971 because of its dramatic landscape and sandstone rock formations.  This park boasts a fabulous visitor center with a museum and a restaurant.  Garden of the Gods offers several easy hiking trails from which to view these magnificent formations. Not surprisingly, this Park is quite popular, so you may want to visit in the morning to avoid some of the crowds.Colorado Spring Garden of the Gods TripGarden of the Gods Colorado Springs Trip
  4. Tour the Olympic Training Center. I have always loved the Olympics, so the opportunity to tour an actual Olympic training facility was one I just couldn’t pass up. And let me tell you, it was WAY cool!  The facility reminded me of a college campus but rather than attend classes, the athletes train! We saw several Olympians training during our tour! This attraction can be quite popular in the summer and tour times do sell out, so plan accordingly. Have I mentioned the Olympic Training Center was REALLY cool!?!? For more information on visiting the Olympic Training Center:  Colorado Springs: Olympic Training Center

    Olympic Training Center Campus
    View of the Olympic Training Center campus from atop the Visitor Center.
  5. Tour Cave of the Winds.  The main attraction at Cave of the Winds is, of course, a cave. It offers a fun tour of this cave which has an interesting back story.  This cave has been entertaining visitors continuously since 1881 making it one of Colorado’s oldest tourist attractions.  But, you’ll find more than just a cave here. The ropes course and gemstone panning were just a couple of the other opportunities for fun! For more information on visiting Cave of the Winds:  Colorado Springs: Cave of the WindsCave of the Winds Colorado Springs
  6. Visit the US Air Force Academy.  Wow! This is one of those proud to be an American experiences.  Don’t miss the movie in the visitor center which provides a glimpse into the daily life of these brave men and women.  And the chapel? It is simply spectacular! For more information on visiting the US Air Force Academy:  The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs

    The Cadet Chapel at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
    The Cadet Chapel
  7. Ride the Cog Railway to Pikes Peak. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is just plain fun.  The views are outstanding as the train climbs to over 14,000 feet far above the treeline.  You might even get to see some bighorn sheep. This train ride is a really neat experience! At the top you are given time to walk around and take photos.
  8. Explore the Western Museum of Mining and Industry.  Colorado has a rich mining history, and the  Western Museum of Mining and Industry provides a glimpse into this history with several interactive exhibits and gives you the opportunity to see industrial machinery from the past  in action.  There is also a panning station to practice your gold panning. And while we didn’t find gold, we had a blast trying!Western Museum of Mining and Industry

    Colorado Springs Travel-29
    Unfortunately, we found only fool’s gold!
  9. Hike Red Rock Canyon Open Space. This is a neat recreational area in Colorado Springs which makes for a great picnic spot.  You can also go hiking or biking while you’re there. It’s a nice place to enjoy the outdoors without leaving town! Red Rock Canyon Open SpaceColorado Springs Travel-5

Did I leave something out? I know I did! I’ll just have to check out more of the incredible adventures in and around Colorado Springs on my next visit!

The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs

There is so much to see and do in Colorado Springs.  If it is not on your vacation to-do list, go ahead and add it now!  While you’re there, be sure to visit the United States Air Force Academy.

The first stop (after passing through security) should be the The Barry Goldwater Air Force Academy Visitor Center.  Of course, there is a gift shop where you can buy anything Air Force.  You can also get a map and orient yourself for your visit.

For me, there were two highlights in the Visitor Center:  the movie and the mock dorm room.  For some reason, I found the mock dorm room quite interesting.  When I went to college, my car was packed full of all of the necessities for dorm life… not so much for these entering freshman.  To say the Academy has a minimalist approach to dorm room decor is an understatement.  There is certainly no picking out matching shower curtains and towels for these students.  By the time a Cadet is a senior, he or she might get to have such luxuries as a fan or a radio.

Air Force Academy dorm room
Mock dorm room at the Air Force Academy.

The 14 minute movie gives visitors a glimpse into the life of Cadets from arrival to graduation.  Of course, their training is both academically and physically rigorous.  The level of commitment to excellence that these Cadets exhibit is amazing, and I certainly felt a sense of respect for these men and women who serve our great nation with so much dedication.  Be prepared, you might have the urge to hum America the Beautiful as you exit.

As you leave the visitor center, take the 1/3 mile paved nature trail to the Cadet Chapel. The Cadet Chapel is open to the public as long as there are no services or events.  The chapel is certainly the crown jewel of the facilities at the Academy.  It is simply breathtaking inside and out.

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The Cadet Chapel at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
The Cadet Chapel

After enjoying the Chapel, take a stroll through the Honor Court and gaze at various bronze statues.  During our visit, we had the opportunity to observe several groups of Cadets marching in formation.  We speculated that were marching to dinner because it was 5pm.   We just stood there and watched. Wow!

I’m certainly grateful to have had the opportunity to visit such a iconic American institution.  One can’t help but feel a sense of awe as one considers the number of the brave men and women who have studied and trained here over the years.