In DepthGen. William J. Palmer, forging westward with his Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in 1871, saw the area's potential and formulated a plan of creating a playground for the wealthy on what was essentially a sagebrush flat. The village already at the site, a miners' and millers' town called Colorado City, hardly met his stringent requirements. Palmer and his associates moved a few miles away and drove the first stake at what is now Pikes Peak and Cascade avenues.
Within the year there were more than 150 temporary and two permanent structures, irrigation ditches, countless seedling cottonwoods and land donated for a college. All were placed according to an orderly plan with broad boulevards, school lots and parks.
A road linked the new town with the mineral springs at Manitou Springs, 6 miles west. Colorado Springs, its name derived from the spa and from Colorado City, was on the way to becoming everything Palmer wanted, and more.
Many of the younger sons of the English gentry arrived. Polo, riding to hounds, gentlemen's clubs and Tudor architecture became so much a part of the Springs that it was soon known as Little London. When not playing cricket or attending social functions, these Britons and their American counterparts speculated in mining. They made millions, especially after the bonanza in Cripple Creek. By the first decade of the 20th century, Colorado Springs ranked among the wealthiest cities per capita in the country.
Meanwhile, Colorado City flourished, partly because of liquor trafficking and other temptations prohibited by its neighbor. Allegedly, tunnels ran between the two communities to protect the anonymity of those citizens who liked to visit the other side of the tracks. Colorado City was ultimately absorbed by the Springs and its respectability. Some of the old buildings still exist, particularly in the Old Colorado City Historic District between 24th and 28th streets. They house specialty shops, local restaurants, galleries and municipal offices.
Today, Colorado Springs continues to enjoy the reputation it received upon its creation—a destination for recreation, relaxation and bountiful sightseeing opportunities. A few miles west, scenic US 24 climbs to the 14,100-foot summit of Pikes Peak; the journey offers stunning panoramas, ranging from lush alpine forest to the stark beauty above the timberline. If you’re looking for adventurous things to do, the 13.5-mile Barr Trail is a spectacular path to the summit, but with a more than 7,000-foot gain in elevation, it tests the stamina of even the most physically fit visitors.
Garden of the Gods Park, another must-see, offers dramatic views of towering sandstone rock formations with Pikes Peak in the background. The red-hued marvels have assumed such shapes as Kissing Camels, Siamese Twins and a Sleeping Giant, and depending on the time of day, the light produces a vast array of mesmerizing effects.
The park is a natural playground for those travelers looking for adventurous things to do, including hikers, rock climbers and folks just happy to snap photos of the impressive birdlife and geologic wonders. Given the environment, mountain bikers, golfers and horseback riders find the community a perfect setting in which to indulge their passions.
The city has become an important military center. The North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), sequestered in the granite heart of Cheyenne Mountain, was command central for American defensive troops during the Desert Storm conflict. More visible are the U.S. Air Force Academy, Fort Carson Army Base, Peterson Air Force Base and U.S. Space Command.
Especially prominent is the Air Force Academy's Cadet Chapel: Majestic glass and silver spires jutting skyward resemble 17 swept-wing, vertical-takeoff planes poised to break Earth's bonds. The academy's visitor center welcomes guests, who are typically free to explore the chapel and such sites as Arnold Hall, the Field House and the Honor Court, but inquire first due to fluctuating security levels.
Southwest of the city via SRs 115 and 122 is The Broadmoor resort. Since its opening in 1918 as a grand hotel, it has grown into a recreational retreat and includes a spa, three 18-hole golf courses, six tennis courts, hiking trails and horseback riding.
Nearby North Cheyenne Cañon Park gives hikers several choices for trails leading to such photogenic spots as Helen Hunt and Silver Cascade falls and overlooks with views taking in the canyon and surrounding peaks. Horseback riders and mountain bikers are also welcome on many of the trails.
Colorado Springs, CO
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Sponsored ListingCheyenne Mountain Resort Colorado Springs, A Dolce Resort
3225 Broadmoor Valley Rd. Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Colorado's statewide sales tax is 2.9 percent; an additional 3.12 percent is levied by the city, 1.23 percent by the county and 1 percent by the Pikes Peak Rural Transit Authority. The county has a 2 percent lodging tax and 1 percent rental car tax.
Memorial Hospital, (719) 365-5000; Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, (719) 776-5000; St. Francis Medical Center, (719) 571-1000.
515 S. Cascade Colorado Springs, CO 80903. Phone:(719)635-7506 or (800)888-4748
Colorado Springs Airport
Rental car agencies serve the Colorado Springs area from downtown and the airport. Hertz, (719) 596-1863 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.
No passenger trains serve Colorado Springs.
TNM&O Coaches Inc. and Greyhound Lines Inc., (719) 635-1505, 120 S. Weber St., serve the Colorado Springs area.
Colorado Springs is served by Yellow Cab Co., (719) 777-7777. It is best to request cabs by phone. Taxis are on the meter system, with the charge about $4.90 for the first mile and $2.90 for each additional mile, for up to four passengers.
Buses operate in the metropolitan area Mon.-Fri. 5:35 a.m.-9:35 p.m.; Sat. 6:35 a.m.-6:35 p.m.; and Sun. 7:30 a.m.-5:35 p.m. in the downtown area; check individual routes for current schedule information. The fare for in-town routes is $1.75, transfers are free with paid fares and are good for 2 hours and 2 one way trips. Day passes are $4. Phone (719) 385-7433.