COLORADO: There’s Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge and Telluride, where the chic and wealthy hang out in the Colorado Rockies. Less well-known perhaps, is Colorado Springs, AKA, “Olympic City USA,” home to the Olympic Training Center, the United States Air Force Academy, and NORAD, North America’s premier defense installation, securely operating from inside Cheyenne Mountain.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
“The Springs,” sitting at 6,035 feet, at the base of the Front Range and the glacially-carved 14,000-foot Pikes Peak, is blessed with 250 days a year of high desert sunshine. Winds and weather arriving from the west cross 300 miles over twenty-seven other snow-capped mountains to deliver constantly changing cloud formations,
On some days, the clouds are so low it feels possible to reach out and touch them.
Pikes Peak and God Gardens
The Springs, with its many lakes, falls, hiking trails, and the world-renowned Garden of the Gods red rock formation, is home to outdoorsmen of all ages. A sense of community features military events, an annual Christmas parade, and the spring “Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo,” with cowboys on horseback herding stampeding cattle through the downtown, all in support of America’s Military Families.
The United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, completed in 1962 has become a classic and highly regarded example of modernist architecture.
Its winged top extends many feet into the sky, replicating the traditions of the U.S. Air Force.
The chapel is unique in that it houses spaces of worship for Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist and Islamist faiths. Not to miss is the Academy’s graduation ceremony with the Blue Angels team flyover just as the graduating cadets fling their hats into the air.
The Wild, Wild West found at the Broadmoor Hotel
Remnants of the American wild west a-bound in Colorado Springs. There’s the Will Rogers Memorial atop the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, at 6,800 feet, the highest zoo in America. Below the zoo are the vast grounds and buildings making up the 100-year old, five-star Broadmoor Hotel.
Boasting world class chefs, golf course and its own lake, the hotel itself is worth touring. There’s an outstanding collection of western art and bronzes; The hotel’s a throw-back to the luxury of old European health spas. Prior to the discovery of antibiotics for the treatment of tuberculosis, the Springs was a sought-after health destination for many.
Sitting 3,000 feet above the Resort is The Broadmoor’s highest Wilderness Experience, Cloud Camp. With unobstructed 360-degree views that showcase the incomparable splendor of Pikes Peak, the authentic Colorado escape is located on the historic site of Broadmoor founder Spencer Penrose’s Cheyenne Lodge.
Also, part of The Broadmoor is the accessible Seven Falls area just west of town, with its tram transport and newly renovated mountain lodge restaurant.
Performance Arts in the mountains
In town, one might enjoy the Pikes Peak Philharmonic Orchestra, the Opera Theatre of the Rockies, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS,) and a lively, varied theatre scene. The circular “Stargazers Theater,” near downtown brings to mind films of the thirties, with rows of cocktail tables in tiers facing the stage and dance floor. All the best bands in the area play the Lounge.
Within easy commuting distance of Colorado Springs is the Mile-High City of Denver, with first-rate professional ballet performed by The Colorado Ballet.
Skijoring in Leadville
To the west of the Springs at the 10,152-foot high old mining and skiing town of Leadville, is a must-see event called “Skijoring.” Watch snow skiers race down Main Street over a course of moguls and other obstacles, as they hold tight to ropes that are tied to galloping horses.
The sport resembles water skiing, except with snow, ice, and cowboys on horseback riding at full speed. It’s wild. It’s crazy. And it is one of the most exciting events in Colorado!
Colorado Springs, for tourists and residents alike, is a hidden gem.
Still relatively small and compact, yet with rapidly increasing real estate prices, one can still enjoy community with expansive the outdoors, a snow-capped mountain at its western edge, and bear and deer wandering through its neighborhoods. For a little bit of Switzerland without the long plane ride, try “The Springs” for your next vacation.
Every season this Shangri-La has plenty to offer: western art, rodeos, boating, hiking, biking, horseback riding, pack trips, hunting, fishing, ballet, opera, symphony, and Skijoring. Any questions?!
Lead Image: author: cpt.spock on flickr source: flickr.com url: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cptspock/1807697720/sizes/l/#cc_license