Updated: Jan 3, 2019
Mountains, mountains everywhere! That is Colorado in a nutshell. Whether you are at the airport or driving around town, you will see mountains. In #ColoradoSprings, mountains surround the city. They are very much in your face, but in a good way! One feels like they are in touch with #nature. Pure joy.
Who wouldn't enjoy a view of the mountains while eating their lunch? That was my experience for two weeks while at the UCCS (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs campus). Look at this view! It never got old.
If you are into nature, Colorado Springs is the place to go. Much more so than Denver. Here are the major highlights: A. Garden of the Gods
It is literally God's Grandeur in front of you. There is no way you can not be amazed. The best way is to drive through it and take stops for pictures. See the evidence.
At first, the area was first called Red Rock Corral. You can clearly see why.
RANDOM FACT: Its name originates from a surveyor who was constructing Colorado Springs who thought the area would make a great beer garden and commented, "Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods."
The rock formations of #GardenoftheGods was a result of rock formations created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. Sedimentary beds of deep-red, pink and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically and faulted into "fins" by the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Rocky Mountains and the Pikes Peak massif. RESULT: Awesome rock formations.
B. The Broadmoor Seven Falls Waterfall
As I have mentioned in a prior blog post, I absolutely love #waterfalls. They are one of God's gifts to the world. One cool spot to check out is Seven Falls Waterfall. It is a series of seven cascading waterfalls of South Cheyenne Creek in South Cheyenne Cañon, Colorado Springs.
There are a total of 224 steps on the staircase from the base of the falls to the peak. Trust me they are some steep stairs as I only made it up 110 of them.
Don't let this pic fool you! I was huffing and puffing and stayed at the landing for a good 15 minutes before capturing this picture.
There is an elevator located in a case that takes you up to an observation deck, but you do not end up as close and personal to the waterfall.
RANDOM FACT: Seven Falls is Colorado’s only waterfall that is included in the National Geographic list of international waterfalls.
C. Royal Gorge
This is a place that I was told by several Coloradoans (is that what they call themselves? According to Google, Colorado is Spanish for red.) to check out. I guess that might explain why the gondola to get over the gorge is red?
The #RoyalGorge is a canyon of the Arkansas River located west of Cañon City, Colorado. Apparently it is one of the deepest, and I can see why when looking over the suspension bridge.
The #suspensionbridge is QUITE scary as it shakes with the wind and golf carts "speeding" by. It IS one of the world’s highest suspension bridges.
As you walk across you see every states' flag. Of course I had tremendous pride for my home state of New York!
Part of the experience is seeing for yourself the terrible effects a scorching wildfire had on the area in 2013. You can still see miles of trees have not regrown. There is even a short film they show about the before and after of the fire.
The drive to get there in and of itself is a beauty. An hour from Colorado Springs, all you are left with is the open roads and blue skies hovering closely over you! Views for Days.
D. Pikes Peak
If you are visiting Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak is a MUST see! There is something to be said that it is most visited mountain in North America and the second most visited mountain in the world behind Japan's Mount Fuji! You can see five different states from a certain elevation.
Because it is a whopping 14, 115 ft, it is known as a fourteener. The crazy part is Colorado has 53 fourteener mountains (of 14,000 ft+)! Damn! RANDOM FACT: The mountain is named in honor of American explorer Zebulon Pike who was unable to reach the summit. It is this peak that inspired the writing of "America the beautiful." You can surely see why!
Pikes Peak can be seen anywhere from downtown Colorado Spring so of course having spent two weeks there, I became quite intrigued. I am not a hiker (although you can make that crazy hike if you are all about conquering mountains) so I traveled up to the top of the summit the easy, breathtaking way: by cog railway.
The Broadmoor’s #PikesPeak Cog Railway, the highest #cograilway in the world, allows you to travel up to the top at 8-10 miles per hour. It is quite a steep ride that has you experiencing excitement, awe, and paranoia at the same time during the hour and a half you are spending each direction.
NOTE: It is best get tickets in advance. When I looked into tickets online, many were sold out for the weekend. You should also be cognizant of the weather. You do not want to be on top of the mountain during a thunderstorm. Not sure how safe that would be. Considering it is often storming in the afternoon in Colorado Springs (at least when I was there in June), I decided to book the train for a late afternoon.
The views up are simply breathtaking. You are assigned seats so there is no fighting about getting the better view. From wherever you sit, you can see outside. However, I lucked out to be assigned the very back going up the mountain which means I had full front view. It felt like I was traveling backwards going up and then diving down the mountain on the way down. I had a lot more window space to look out but I had to squeeze myself in the same row as an old couple. However, I was able to engage in great small talk and found out the husband used to work in NY and has lived all over the country because of his job. The small talk represents how nice and open people in Colorado Springs are.
Once you are on top of the mountain, you are taken aback by how cold it is. Even though it was June and at the bottom of the mountain it was 80-something degrees, the top of the mountain was 40 something degrees. There was snow just chilling on the mountain despite winter being long over. I felt my breath was taken from me (literally). I started to have heart palpitations because of the air being so thin. There is not much to explore but it is worth checking out the views from ALL the way up. While up there, it began to rain. No worries though because there is a store of sorts to retreat to inside to get some hot chocolate.
One thing you want to pick up while on top of the summit is the doughnuts! These are not normal donuts because of the elevation. Rather it is a fried, airy #doughnut that is not as fluffy as a normal one.
Want to know the science behind it? Since the temperature that things boil drops as the air pressure decreases the higher you go, you have to cook things longer in order do it to be cooked thoroughly. You also need to lower the temperature for deep fat frying. Otherwise the outside of your food will brown before the inside cooks through.
If you do not believe me that you should check this out, looking at this picture!