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:
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
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.
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)
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.