August 29, 2017
The state of Colorado has a lot to offer; you don’t have to plan a week away from home to explore the city. Students can consider a variety of local attractions in Colorado Springs to fill their time for an afternoon or a weekend.
But if you want some time away from the city, you can also journey through Colorado on smaller day trips.
Whether you’re interested in hiking, sightseeing or learning about local culture, Colorado never has a shortage of adventurous activities.
Garden of the Gods
Address: 1805 N 30th St.
Hours: Visitor Center 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Park 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
According to U.S. News, the top-rated attraction in Colorado is Garden of the Gods, located about 10 minutes from UCCS. The red rock formations that make up this natural landmark offer majestic views as well as diverse trails that range in difficulty.
The Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center also provides information about the park’s origin, guided tours and features the Geo-Trekker theater. The theater is an interactive learning experience that dives into the history of how the red rocks were formed.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Address: 4250 Cheyenne Mountain Road
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Adult tickets: $19.75
If you want to take a hike and experience wildlife in a safe way, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, located about 20 minutes from UCCS, is a good place to do so. The zoo features over 750 different animals and interactive habitats such as the All About Giraffes exhibit, where visitors can hand-feed the giraffes.
The zoo sits at an elevation of 8,136 feet, so visitors often have quite the trek to climb. But it’s worth it; there are stunning views of the city and surrounding nature throughout the park.
Olympic Training Center
Address: 1 Olympic Plaza
Hours: Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Adult tickets: $12
Another highly-rated destination is the United States Olympic Training Center. Founded in 1978, this center houses the training facilities used by the U.S. Olympic teams and is the active headquarters of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Located 10 minutes from UCCS, students can take tours through the facilities and the Hall of Fame, which honors various U.S. Olympic athletes throughout time. These tours are usually guided by current Olympic athletes, who add a personal touch to the tours.
Air Force Academy
Address: U.S. Air Force Academy
Colorado Springs is home to the United States Air Force Academy, which offers insightful tours along the campus grounds, as well as various hiking trails open to the public at the North entrance. The most iconic structure at the academy is the Cadet Chapel, known for its architectural beauty and diverse centers of worship.
The next few months may be the last time to tour the Chapel, since it will be closed for up to four years dependent on the scope of repair work starting in 2018.
Some of the most highly recommended trails, according to the AllTrails app, at the academy are Stanley Canyon Trail, Mount Herman Trail, Eagles Peak Trail and the Santa Fe Regional Trail.
For those looking to spend a bit more time exploring the state, take a road trip out to Ouray, Colo., also known as the “Jeeping Capital of the World.” During the 1860’s to 1950’s, Ouray was Ute Indian Country. As mining grew, so did the ranching and railroad industries that supported it.
Trips Outside of Colorado Springs
Visitors can learn about Ouray’s rich Western heritage and tour its beautiful historic fairgrounds.
One highly-recommended activity in Ouray County is the Jeep tour. Ouray also offers miles of hiking trails, rafting, swimming in natural hot springs and exploring ancient ghost towns and other historic sites.
Another great day trip outside of Colorado Springs is Estes Park, located about 2.5 hours north of UCCS. Some of this area’s main attractions are the Open Air Adventure Park. Students can experience an obstacle course suspended 20 feet in the air, A1 Wildwater Rafting, SK Horseback Riding and wildlife watching.
The Estes Park is part of Rocky Mountain National Park, the largest national park in Colorado. The natural landscapes vary from alpine tundra to waterfalls and include mountains with peaks as high as 12,000 feet in elevation.