Travel Tips for Colorado Springs

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Colorado Springs is one of the last towns at the foot of the Rockies.  To the east lie the plains of the Midwest, and just to the west are the first ridges of the Rocky Mountains.  The elevation in Colorado Springs is 6,000 feet -- high enough to have a short term effect on many people.  This is one of the highest cities in the U.S., and it's not uncommon to experience headaches or shortness of breath for a day or two upon arriving.  Drink plenty of water (to avoid dehydration in the dry air), minimize your alcohol intake, and try to avoid strenuous activity for the first day or two.

Our favorite attractions:

  1. Pike's Peak -- It's over 14,000 feet high, with airplane type views of Colorado from the top.  A cog railroad chugs straight up the side of the mountain and delivers you to a modern visitor center with food, refreshments, gifts, and restrooms.  The air is so thin that people getting off our train were acting as if they were slightly inebriated.  We experienced the worst part of altitude sickness -- a blinding headache and nausea, which gradually abated as we chugged back down the mountain on the train after our 40 minutes on top.  Still, the trip up the mountain and the first 10 minutes or so on top were so impressive that we would recommend this attraction to everyone who visits the area.  Don't miss this one.  (And please note that not everyone gets sick.) 

  2. Garden of the Gods -- We've been to other parts of the western U.S. and seen the sandstone hills, but this was still a good attraction for us.  We visited the Garden of the Gods as part of a tour of Colorado Springs, and very much enjoyed the natural rock formations and the beauty of the desert.  Surprisingly, this is a free city park (!).  Travel Tip -- Be sure to stop at the Trading Post -- while it might look very touristy from the outside, this is a very large, modern and impressive store where you can purchase your souvenirs at good prices. 

  3. The Springs -- The city gets its name from a number of springs that provide water to the residents and visitors.  You'll see residents walking along the streets with their containers, heading to their favorite spring.  Apparently the spring water is fresh and pure.  We tried some and liked it.  (Just cup your hands and drink)

  4. Olympic Training Center -- After viewing a short film, a guide will take you on a tour of the center, where you can see the training areas for a number of sports, and will probably see athletes in training.  On the day we were there, we watched men's and women's weightlifting, water polo, women's volleyball, and wrestling.  After the tour is over, you're free to wander the grounds, take a picture at the Olympic Flame or in a bobsled in the lobby, and visit the gift shop.  This is a free attraction, and no donations are requested. 

  5. The Broadmoor -- One of the top hotels in America, the Broadmoor has the distinction of being the longest-running recipient of both the Mobil five diamond award and AAA's four star award. 

Travel Tips for Colorado Springs:

  1. The top of Pike's Peak is approximately 30 degrees colder than at the base of the mountain, and it's windy. Dress warmly, with gloves and a hat. 

  2. Surprisingly, the top of Pike's Peak does not have guard rails.  Watch your children very, very carefully, and watch yourself if you are light-headed.

  3. Tickets on the cog railroad are for assigned seats.  Ask the ticket office for seats on the 3-seat side, preferably for seats A or B (A is the window seat).  The seats face each other, and leg room is very tight.  The trip is approximately one hour in each direction.  The best seats are the ones facing the rear of the train on the ride up the summit.

  4. The Trading Post at the Garden of the Gods is actually a pretty neat place.  It's very large and has reasonable prices.  This is the place to get your Pike's Peak and Colorado Springs souvenirs. 

  5. The gift shop at the Olympic Training Center has an excellent selection of summer and winter Olympic clothing, and has some great deals on discounted merchandise.  We purchased several fleece items at 50% off the regular price, and other items were discounted 75%.  Note:  the gift shop only accepts cash and Visa credit cards. 

  6. The Broadmoor is split into two sections, and each has its own lobby and check-in area.  The guard at the main entrance to the hotel has a list of arriving guests, and will direct you to the correct building.

  7. As with many resorts, the Broadmoor adds a flat charge to your room for "amenities."  This includes the in-room coffee and tea service, access to the fitness center, free local phone calls, and housekeeping gratuities  As we were checking out, another guest was in a protracted debate about this charge, and was claiming he did not utilize any amenities and therefore should not be charged.  If this is a problem for you, you might want to consider resolving it as you check in.

  8. If you have a car, do not attempt to drive to the top of the mountain behind the Broadmoor, where you can see a number of large antennas.  This is a NORAD defense installation which is actually located inside the mountain, and the guards will not be welcoming to you.




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