Colorado is home to some of my favorite destinations from the city of Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park and now added to the list: Colorado Springs. There are so many fun things to do in Colorado Springs, it can be difficult to fit it all in over a long weekend but it’s possible! Colorado Springs is one small town just south of Denver that has been on my list for a while so when I got the chance to visit for a long weekend, I had a full itinerary already preplanned.
From well known spots like Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak to lesser known Red Rock Canyon Open Space and nearby Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, we’ll cover all you need to know for a thrilling visit to Colorado Springs!
Colorado gets the full brunt of all seasons so it’s important to understand how the weather could impact what you want to do. Colorado Springs’ southern location means its winter is actually a bit more temperate compared to other parts of Colorado. Like most places in Colorado, Colorado Springs is near ski resorts and other wintertime activities but it’s not the best base for skiing unless you’re willing to drive 1-3 hours. You can enjoy all that Springs has to offer in the winter but the best time to visit Colorado Springs is between April and October with peak season June to August. Visiting during this time will ensure pleasant temperatures for things like mountain biking in Red Rock Canyon Open Space or visiting Pikes Peak.
We visited at the end of May when the temperature was in the high 60s and low 70s (Fahrenheit) and sunny. It was very pleasant during the day and only slightly chilled at night. There was some snow at the top of Pike’s Peak still so we weren’t able to drive to the top but the new, updated Cogway is open year round.
Those living in and visiting Denver benefit from so many gorgeous places just a road trip away and it’s no different with Colorado Springs.
Arriving from Denver International Airport, one can rent a car and drive the 2.5 hours south to Colorado Springs very easily. This is what we did which allowed us to stop in Denver and enjoy the city for a bit before leaving.
There is a shuttle you can book to go to Colorado Springs but you’ll definitely want a rental car to get around. It makes much more sense to rent the car from Denver International Airport if flying in that way.
Colorado Springs also has its own airport which would be the fastest way to get there and would work best if you’re not interested in stopping by Denver. Flying into Colorado Springs Airport will most likely cost more and will add a layover, so decide which is best for you.
Colorado Springs is great for everyone – the adventure seeker, families, and relaxing getaways with friends. From mountain biking and hiking to the scenic Pike’s Peak Cog Railway, there’s something for all activity levels to enjoy the landscape of Colorado Springs.
I definitely suggest stopping at Garden of the Gods but I actually enjoyed the less crowded park nearby – Red Rock Canyon Open Space. Red Rock Canyon Open Space covers even more land than Garden of the Gods, about 1,400 acres and is great for hiking, biking, and climbing. We opted for mountain biking which was probably the highlight of my whole trip and one of the best mountain biking experiences I’ve had (though I’m a beginner). There was plenty of parking at the various lots, much less people than Garden of the Gods and similar views. However, the red rocks aren’t as dramatic at Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
Renting mountain bikes was very easy – we went to Routes Outfitters which was right next to Red Canyon Open Space and rode over once we got our bikes. You may want to make a reservation ahead of time because they sell out of bikes quickly.
Afterwards, ride your bike back to the store and head to Trails End Brewery for tasters and food which is conveniently in the same shopping plaza as Routes!
Next up, Pikes Peak, affectionately called America’s Mountain, is the highest summit in the front range of the Rocky Mountains. It’s only about 12 miles from downtown Colorado Springs and easily accessible by car. You can actually drive all the way to the summit during the warmer months.
Another popular option is to take the cog railway to the top of the mountain for a more scenic trip. Make sure to buy tickets ahead of time if visiting on the weekend since time slots can sellout. The railway was actually closed for a few years while undergoing renovations and just reopened in 2021.
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park was an unexpected highlight of our trip to Colorado Springs. The Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest suspension bridge in the United States that provides a stellar view into the depths of the gorge and the Arkansas River below.
It takes a little more than an hour to get to the bridge from downtown Colorado Springs. The visitor’s center highlights the historical significance of the area and the process of building the bridge. The surrounding park has something to do for all activity levels: a sky coaster swing, zip line, and my favorite, the Via Ferrata. Truthfully, the whole reason why we visited the Royal Gorge Bridge was to do the Via Ferrata (also because my partner Joey was a civil engineer and loves a good bridge). For more details on the park and the Via Ferrata check out my post here.
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park did not disappoint. If you’ve been following for a while, you know we had a great experience doing the Via Ferrata at Nelson Rock, West Virginia but we may have enjoyed Royal Gorge Park’s Via Ferrata even more! The bridge was definitely impressive and the views of the Arkansas River flowing through the Gorge were amazing.
Cave of the Winds Mountain Park has a cave system you can explore on guided tours which is a great rainy day activity. They also have a bunch of other activities to check out but I can’t speak from first hand experience since we did not visit this park.
It feels wrong to go to Colorado and not do some kind of hiking, right? Colorado Springs has lots of nearby trails but an extra interesting one is the Broadmoor Seven Falls Trail. The trail is actually a series of staircases that follow seven waterfalls. Total number of steps? 224!
If the Broadmoor Seven Fallas Trail sounds like child’s play to you, check out the Manitou Stairs. Made from an old railroad, the Manitou Stairs climb over 2,000 feet in elevation and total about 2,744 stairs! You can see how it got its nickname “Colorado’s Stairway to Heaven.” Obviously not for everyone, but if you’re up for the challenge you can conquer one of the “tallest sets of stairs in the world.”
A nice bonus stop after completing the Via Ferrata at the Royal Gorge Park and much lesser known: Desert Reef Hot Springs near Colorado Springs. Having a nice soak in the hot mineral water is a great way to recover after so much physical activity. Make sure to check out the operating hours first and note that some days are clothing optional if you’re not into that kind of thing.
Colorado Springs is a pretty small city but has a couple of nice Main Street options that make walking to restaurants and shops easy. There are actually three main areas to choose from when visiting Colorado Springs: downtown Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City, or Manitou Springs.
We used Hilton points and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn downtown which worked well for us. It’s a fairly new property with large rooms. Also, it was near Denver Biscuit Company which is a must stop for brunch!
A bit closer to some of the action but a small town feel, Old Colorado City has a western feel. There are not many lodging options but they do have a few B&B’s like The Old Town Guesthouse.
Manitou Springs is just past Old Colorado City is similarly just as quaint. There are a handful of inns and motels but the 4 star hotel, The Cliff House, stands out the most.