A Wild West Family Adventure in Colorado Springs
Step outside the national parks to see America’s real wild west – in the past and present. Hiking, climbing, caving, riding the rails, and panning for gold are all part of the adventure. Let your children’s imagination soar as you explore ghost towns and learn historic accounts of pioneers of the past.
Enjoy the stunning natural beauty of Pikes Peak region, where early nineteenth century explorers attempted to scale the peak more than fifty years before a settlement was finally established. The discovery of gold in 1890 ushered in the “modern” era for Colorado Springs, which you’ll soon learn carries on many traditions and charms of the past.
Land at the Colorado Springs Airport with Alaska, Delta, United, American, or budget carrier Allegiant. The small, convenient airport has two family care rooms for baby changing or other private emergencies, and is a quick shuttle or rental car ride from the main hotels and attractions. Colorado Springs is also a quick hour and a half from Denver International.
Driving from Albuquerque takes about five hours to cross the 378 miles, but routes from Salt Lake City, Kansas City, or Oklahoma City are all near 600 miles and a full day of 8+ hours in the car. If only pioneers had it so easy!
Take a Trip Back in Time
Start your journey to the past one era at a time. The Airplane Restaurant includes a memorabilia museum and a classic diner-style menu of sandwiches, salads, bar appetizers, and steaks. Step inside a real Boeing Air Force tanker and share the history of aviation with your young ones.
Skip back a generation to the 1880’s, when silver mining took over Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Enter the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, now a carrier of tourists to these mining communities for saloon-style re-enactments and geology lessons. Ride the Coach Car or the Deluxe Tourist Car with the family and check out the caboose, an open-top Gondola Car, for wildlife views. Kids ride free on a half-day journey, but full-day journeys do include lunch.
Kids with a real desire for gold can take the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine tour 1,000 feet below solid ground to find their own shiny treasures in the “gold veins.” Check out the boxcar diner above ground to rub shoulders with the rest of the prospectors.
If your kids aren’t keen on a train journey, experience the mining boomtowns serviced by the Cubres and Toltec without leaving Colorado Springs. Amble into the saloon or pop over to the general store in Ghost Town Wild West Museum, a living “main street” straight from a Western. Be sure to pan for gold and listen in on the party line!
Long before the gold rush or frontier towns, there was one attraction that still hasn’t grown old: nature. Hike miles of trails up the 14,000 feet to Pike’s Peak, the Rocky Mountain summit that sits more than two miles above sea level. With smaller kids who can’t hack the hike, drive the 19 miles uphill or take Broadmoor’s Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the top.
Don’t forget Garden of the Gods, a nature center and park that brings history and geology to life with interactive science exhibits and yes, dinosaurs! Take to the great outdoors with mountain climbing routes and hiking trails, or keep it simple with a picnic and bird watching.
Skip back and forth between ancient earth and modern entertainment with underground spelunking and laser light shows on canyon walls at Cave of the Winds. Your thrill-seeking teens may also like the zip line and bungee jumping on top of the canyon.
Parental Guidance Strongly Cautioned
For a romantic evening away from the kids, take your spouse on a Colorado Hot Air Balloons ride and go up, up, and away. Soaring over the mountains will give you a whole new perspective. Alternately, if they’re driving you nuts you could take a skydiving adventure with Out of the Blue Skydiving and plunge precariously back to the earth!
Sleep like royalty at the unconventional Glen Eyrie Castle, a spiritual retreat center and literal castle in the Rocky Mountains that will make you feel right at home in the past. Big Horn Lodge, Oak Lodge, and Glenview Lodge, all on the castle property, accommodate families of up to five. Breakfast for two is included in the room price, with an extra fee for each additional guest.
Walk across the street from the Garden of the Gods to Rainbow Lodge and Inn, a family-owned motel with cabin-style suites, including a kitchen, for families. Kids can check out the pool and playground while you’re getting ready, and continental breakfast is included with your stay.
Fancy it up at the Hilton Homewood Inn and Suites. Suites come fully equipped with a kitchen and refrigerator, and cribs, high chairs, and play pens are on-call and available. The outdoor pool is inviting and a full hot breakfast and evening social hour are complimentary.
What are you planning to do on your trip to Colorado Springs?Tags : travel Colorado Springs Colorado