The following Destination Inspiration about Colorado Springs is from Newschool Nomads.
From seemingly endless outdoor activities to dining to museums and all things in between, you could Go RVing in this great city for a month and keep busy. In fact, with so many options the only challenge you’ll have is deciding on what to do!
When we were full time RVers we camped in Colorado Springs multiple times. In fact, we loved it so much that we decided to move here when it was time to settle down! To help with your planning, I’ve put together a weekend itinerary filled with Colorado Springs must-sees plus a few spots beloved by the locals. If you have more than a few days, check out the bonus list at the end of the article for additional recommendations.
Colorado is a popular destination among Midwesterners and the majority will come in from the east on I-70 exiting at Limon to catch Highway 24. It’s a beautiful drive through rolling plains into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. If you have some extra time it’s worth it to stop at Paint Mines Interpretive Park located in Calhan. Not far from the highway, there is a large parking lot. Allow yourself at least an hour to explore the colorful Badlands. (If you aren’t coming in from the East you may want to try to squeeze this in one evening if possible.)
If you are coming in from the north keep an eye out for the Air Force Academy Airfield Overlook located at I-25 and Briargate Parkway for a great view. There is plenty of space for RVs at the numerous campgrounds in Colorado Springs and something for everyone’s camping style. My suggestion is to stay in one of the many campgrounds conveniently located on the westside of the city such as Garden of the Gods RV Park. However, if you prefer a more tranquil setting there are campgrounds located outside the city. Golden Eagle Campground offers open space and serenity within 20-30 minutes of most attractions.
There are also campgrounds located along Highway 24 on your way up to Woodland Park. If you are military try getting a spot in the Air Force Academy’s beautiful campground, Peregrine Pines Family Camp. A quick search on one of the many campground apps or Google will pull up a wide array of campgrounds. No matter which you choose, take my advice and make your reservation early. Campgrounds in this area tend to fill up quickly from May to October.
Morning: Pikes Peak
We are going to start our weekend off with a bang by heading up the mountain that the region is named after, Pikes Peak. Nicknamed America’s Mountain, Pikes Peak is the highest summit in the southern Front Range of the North American Rocky Mountains. At 14,115 feet, it is one of Colorado’s 53 “fourteeners”—mountains taller than 14,00 feet—and is visible from most of the city. There are two ways to get to the top of Pikes Peak: by foot or by car. (You used to be able to take the cog railway up, but it has since closed due to disrepair.) The round trip to the summit of Pikes Peak Highway will take 2-3 hours. The curvy highway is open year-round and gate hours vary by season so check the website ahead of time. There is a large parking lot at Mile 16 and a shuttle will take you the remaining 3 miles unless you have a car seat or handicap. Dress in layers because it can be cold and windy at the top even if it’s warm and still at the bottom. Be sure to enjoy a delicious doughnut at the Summit House. They are almost as good as the views!
Note: If the forecast is overcast today and clear tomorrow swap Day 1 and Day 2. During the clearest days you can see five states from the peak: Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, and Utah!
Afternoon: Manitou Springs
Manitou Springs is a historic mountain town nestled between Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. In the early 1890’s the town’s clean mountain air and mineral springs began to draw visitors. Some were tubercular patients or medical professionals in search of healing and others were tourists in search of escape. Today Manitou Springs is a thriving community full of art galleries, restaurants, and unique shopping. Plan to spend the afternoon strolling the charming downtown. If traveling with kids (or still have a kid spirit!) be sure to visit The Penny Arcade (official name is Arcade Amusements in Manitou). There are hundreds of arcade games and kiddie rides. It’s great fun for the whole family. If you are in search of something a little quieter, consider a visit to SunWater Spa to soak in the mineral springs that put Manitou Springs on the map. Didn’t pack a swimsuit? Don’t worry SunWater rents suits, towels, and robes!
Looking for a place to have dinner out? Head over to The Ivywild School, a converted school that is now home to a marketplace and brewery. You’ll find good food and good vibes!
Early Riser Option: Mount Cutler Trail
Today we are going to get up early and head to Cheyenne Canyon for a morning hike. Mount Cutler trail is an easy hike suitable for all ages and skill levels. It’s one of the shorter (2 miles round trip) and less trafficked trails while still offering spectacular views of Seven Falls and of the city. There is plenty of parking at the well-marked trailhead located on the left side of the road about a mile and half past the Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center on North Cheyenne Canyon Rd.
If hiking worked up an appetite stop by Sacred Grounds, a local’s favorite off-the-beaten-path cafe. After refueling at Sacred Grounds drive by Starr Kempf’s Kinetic Sculptures at 2057 Pine Grove St. The whimsical metal sculptures can only be viewed from the street, but they are worth the extra two minutes it takes to drive by.
Morning: Olympic Training Center
Colorado Springs is often referred to Olympic City and is home to one of three Olympic Training Centers where athletes from all over the country come to train for the next Olympic games for the following sports: figure skating, judo, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, swimming, wrestling, pentathlon, and shooting. Tours last 45 minutes and are given every day of the year minus New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
(Need a bite to eat? Consider heading over to Good Neighbor’s Meeting house for a quick bite or caffeine pick-me-up.)
Late Morning/Early Afternoon: Air Force Academy
The Air Force Academy Visitor Center is one of the most popular attractions in Colorado Springs. It offers a peak into the life of the cadets, the Academy’s history, and campus attractions. Plan to spend an hour or two exploring all the Academy has to offer. (Note: the beautiful Cadet Chapel will be closing for renovations starting sometime in early 2019.)
Afternoon: Garden of the Gods
Almost last but certainly not least we are going to spend the remaining daylight hours exploring Garden of the Gods, a Registered National Landmark. Garden of the Gods is arguably Colorado Springs’ most popular attraction and it’s easy to see why. Towering rock formations jut from the earth reaching to the sky against the background of the Rocky Mountains. Here you can take a Segway tour, jeep tour, ride bikes, or, my preference, explore by foot on the many trails. Do not miss the Perkins Central Garden Trail (it’s paved) surrounded by the highest rock formations, the Visitor Center, and Balanced Rock.
Late Afternoon/Evening: Old Colorado City
Our last stop after a busy day is a stroll through Old Colorado City. Once a town, Old Colorado City is now a neighborhood in Colorado Springs brimming with character. Today it’s just as lively as it was during the Gold Rush. The main street, Colorado Ave, is lined with unique shops, restaurants, and galleries. April through December on the first Friday of the month, Old Colorado City hosts the First Friday Artwalks. Before heading back to your campground to spend time around the fire, stop by the adorable Colorado City Creamery for ice cream.
Have more than a few days to spend in Colorado Springs? Consider picking a few of the following attractions and our favorite places to eat to your itinerary.
- Downtown Colorado Springs Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Pioneer Museum
- WWII Aviation Museum Seven Falls
- Cave of the Winds
- Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center Hiking in Ute Valley
- Focus on the Family Welcome Center and Bookstore (Fun free play area for kids!)
- Bear Creek Nature Center
- Red Rock Canyon
- Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site Starsmore Discovery Center Palmer Park
- Glen Eyrie Castle Helen Hunt Falls ProRodeo Hall of Fame
- Western Museum of Mining and Industry ANA Money Museum
- Manitou Springs Incline Pulpit Rock Park
- Penrose Heritage Museum
- PigLatin Cocina (delicious local Latin restaurant)
- Heart of Jerusalem (we love this local Mediterranean restaurant)
- The Rabbit Hole (one of our favorite downtown restaurants)
- Coquette’s Bistro and Bakery (AMAZING gluten free options)
- Amy’s Doughnuts (All sorts of crazy flavors of doughnuts)
- Wild Goose (Great vibes, live music, and good drinks)
Like I said, the only challenge is picking what to do!
Have you gone RVing to Colorado Springs, Colorado? Where did you stay and what did you do?