Manitou Springs Colorado, at the base of Pikes Peak, is a potent combination of natural scenery, warm welcomes, and amazing activities that can't be found elsewhere. Named from the native word for "spirit," this Colorado city is sure to inspire anyone who makes their way here. The Cheyenne and Ute People considered the hot springs and fresh mountain air scared. As the pioneers and miners passed through, they too found relaxation in Manitou Springs—and you will also.
Few mountains in North America are more famous than Pikes Peak, the same mountain that inspired the author of "America to Beautiful" to write about the purple mountain's majesty. This majestic peak rises 14,110 feet into the blue Colorado skies and has always played a role in Manitou Springs history. One of the best ways to discover America's mountain and local history is with a ride aboard the Pike's Peak Cog Railway. In fact, Katherine Lee Bates wrote the patriotic song after a visit to the peak aboard the railroad. Once you reach the top of the mountain, you'll be treated to views of snowy mountain peaks, the city of Denver, some Colorado gold mines, and of course Manitou Springs Colorado itself.
A visit to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings and Museum is another great way to dig into the fascinating story of Manitou Springs history. Long before the first railroad tracks were ever laid, the Anasazi People carved a home out of the rocks of Manitou Springs Colorado. While the residents are long gone, their world is still preserved and shared at this historic site. No one is sure why they left—the ancient one's exit remains a mystery.
Manitou springs, Colorado
Speaking of mysteries, a visit below ground to Cave of the Winds will also prove fascinating. As you step below ground, you'll find a colorful, mysterious world that looks nothing like the world above. The standard tour—good for families—follows a well-lit pathway as it explains how the cave came to be. Braver souls can don a harness and embark on a lantern-lit tour to explore the caves that were formed even before the Anasazi arrived. Cave of the Winds is one of the most popular Colorado caverns for tours and is one of the most fascinating tours in the Pikes Peak region.
Back above ground, the Garden of the Gods remains one of the highlights of Manitou Springs Colorado. This magical place stretches for 1,323 acres in the shadow of Pikes Peak, encompassing 300-foot-high sandstone rocks and blazing blues skies. The visitor center continues to top the list, including Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs, of things to do in the Pikes Peak region. Once you head inside to the vistior center, you'll have the chance to watch an HD movie that makes geology and Manitou Springs history come alive. A host of exhibits will also fascinate, including a gift shop and glass-enclosed cafe. Heading outside, there's a long list of recreational activities that will give a good workout to even the most active of travelers.
Rocky Mountain wildlife watchers will be in their element at Garden of the Gods as well as the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. You might not expect to find a giant herd of giraffes close to Pikes Peak, but this is exactly what you'll find at this Manitou Springs Zoo. The long-legged creatures make their home at the "African Rift" exhibit, and more than 750 other animals have a home at the zoo in total. Admission to the zoo also includes access to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, dedicated to the beloved author, movie star, and humorist who died tragically in a plane crash in 1935. It's located about 1.5 miles from the zoo entrance via the Russell Tutt Scenic Highway. At 8,136 feet of elevation, the observation deck is pretty scenic itself too.
Another popular place to visit, Miramont Castle, serves as the guardian of Manitou Spring's Victorian era. The expansive home was built in 1895 for Jean Baptiste Francolon, a priest born in France; his residence features several different styles of architecture and many elements crafted from local greenstone and yellow pine trees. It's open for tours throughout the year, as well as frequent afternoon teas and a truly magical Christmas celebration.
No matter which attractions you packed into your day, you'll need time to relax. Thankfully Manitou Springs is home to a long list of hotels and restaurants to suit all kinds of budgets and vacation plans.
Top image: Hugo90 (flickr)