Trish and I spent a week in Colorado Springs in May 2008 visiting friends, taking in sights and enjoying some time off in a beautiful area of the United States. Colorado Springs is nestled up against the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains (AKA the Front Range) with Pikes Peak visible from most of the local area, weather permitting, of course.
During our trip, the weather was cooperative for the most part and we were able to visit many local tourist attractions during our week-long stay.
Garden of the Gods
One of the first spots we visited was "Garden of the Gods", a group of beautiful, towering sandstone formations discovered in 1859. The park, owned by Colorado Springs and forever free to the public, offers guided nature walks, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails, and while we were there we saw several people rock climbing.
Among the dozens of impressive formations are "Three Graces", pictured on the right, "Cathedral Spire" and "South Gateway Rock", below left, and in the third shot below right you can see Pike's Peak shrouded in the couds, in the distance between "Sentinel Spires" and the "South Gateway Rock".
Like most of the places we visited, Garden of the Gods offers beautiful surroundings with lots of opportunities for photos. Most of the park has marked and paved trails, so you'd have to be very direction-challenged to get lost in the park. Hiking the site was very easy, but still good exercise as the park has multiple loops, plus we were still getting used to the altitude.
After Garden of the Gods, we headed south to the other side of Colorado Springs and up into the foothills to Seven Falls, a beautiful little valley with sheer walls and a majestic set of waterfalls at the end. The canyon itself feels like a very tiny miniaturized version of Yosemite Park in California, including a formation called Half-Dome.
After we got to the falls we began to climb the staircase that goes 181 feet to the top of the falls (barely visible in the picture, right). It's not a staircase carved into the rocks, but an elevated staircase above the cliff surface. It is very steep, has one landing and 224 stairs. While the climb was gorgeous, with the view overlooking the falls and back down the valley, the height and high angle of the stairs was intimidating, and I say that as a person who doesn't suffer from a fear of heights.
The trip up went safely, and while at the top we went on a pair of hikes that are well marked. One easy trail goes for about 20 minutes along the creek to "Midnight Falls" while the second is more advanced and leads to the original gravesite of Helen Hunt Jackson and Inspiration Point.
We took our time coming back down, but made it eventually. If you're acrophobic, pass on the stairs at Seven Falls.
Rockies v Mets at Coors Field
We made our way up to Denver on Saturday to catch a Major League Baseball game featuring the Rockies versus the New York Mets.
Coors Field (pictured on the right) is a comfortable and modern facility, but it manages to maintain an antique look that enhances its character and charm.
The Rockies lost to the Mets on a rough first inning for Jeff Francis who gave up 5 runs. But the game wasn't without Colorado highlights, including a homerun shot to left center field by Matt Holliday, pictured below.
We stayed in the Mariott Colorado Springs, which was nice and comfortable, but crowded as the US Air Force Academy graduation ceremony was the upcoming Wednesday. On the positive side, though, the Air Force Thunderbirds were in town and could be seen practicing for the graduation ceremony, pictured below.
Our room had a nice view of the Springs from just north of Cheyenne Mountain, pictured above as a rain cell comes through, east across Colorado Springs and all the way to the northeast.
Cave of the Winds
Anasazi Cave Dwellings in Manitou
The last tourist trap we visited during our trip was to the Anasazi Cave Dwellings. While small, the park has been well developed and commercialized. The ruins are both accessible and well preserved and the site includes a museum with a large number of artifacts and information from the original Anasazi inhabitants. We also thought it notable that the gift shop was much more interesting and authentic in regard to the goods sold versus any other stop on the trip. We ended up buying a turtleshell rattle and a weaved basket, nearly the only souveneirs from the trip.