Top tips for Olympic City USA
Colorado Springs, set against the backdrop of one of Colorado's 14ers, peaks higher than 14,000 feet, is the state's second largest city. Home to the U.S. Olympic Committee, 70 national sports organizations and the future Olympic Museum, the city prides itself on its commitment to the outdoors, a moderate climate and an urbane atmosphere.
Q: How far is Denver from Colorado Springs?
A: Denver is about 70 miles due north of Colorado Springs via Interstate 25. The route takes drivers through Monument, Larkspur and Castle Rock, a small city named for the butte that towers over it. The South Line of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Bustang takes about two hours to make the trip. Commuter buses have Wi-Fi, bathrooms and bike racks. If you happen to be arriving in Denver by Amtrak, you can take Bustang, as well as Greyhound, from Union Station to Colorado Springs. Taxicabs between the two cities are expensive, but Uber’s most economical rides are less than $100. At this time, Lyft doesn’t operate between Denver and Colorado Springs.
Q: What’s the altitude of Colorado Springs?
A: The Colorado Springs 6,035-foot elevation is 755 feet higher than Denver’s mile-high elevation. Pikes Peak looms over the city at 14,115 feet. Visitors who aren’t used to high altitudes may experience nausea, dizziness and headaches, symptoms that usually go away within 48 hours. Severe reactions include chest pain, wheezing, shortness of breath or unusual coughing.
To avoid altitude sickness, spend your first few days in the area under 7,000 feet. Avoid over-exertion, and cut your alcohol intake. Stay hydrated; the higher the elevation, the more liquid your body needs. If symptoms persist, head to the doctor or to an urgent care clinic to make sure there’s nothing else wrong or to pick up a prescription for altitude sickness medication.
Q: What is the weather like in Colorado Springs?
A: Colorado Springs, in the high plains east of the Rocky Mountains, is typically mild and dry. The mountains protect the city from weather extremes, and in the winter, the Chinook, winds that blow on the east side of the Rockies, keep temperatures warm. The city only gets around 17 inches of precipitation a year, most of it falling from May through August. July is the warmest month, with average highs in the mid-80s. December and January, when daytime temperatures hover in the 40s, are the coolest. Because of the city’s location between the Rocky Mountains and the Palmer Divide (a range of higher elevation than the Colorado Springs region), the city gets less snow than Denver.
Q: What are some things to do in Colorado Springs?
A: Giant rock formations, hiking trails and cascading waterfalls draw outdoor enthusiasts to Colorado Springs.
- Garden of the Gods: Red rock formations resembling slivers of the earth push into the sky at Garden of the Gods. With Pikes Peak as its backdrop, the Natural National Landmark in northwest Colorado Springs has hiking trails, rock climbing and a living history museum – the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site. A dinosaur discovered at the park in 2008 is on display at the visitor center.
- Seven Falls: Seven Falls, one of Colorado’s most breathtaking waterfalls, spills over a series of ledges near the Broadmoor luxury resort in southwest Colorado Springs. Climb 224 steps to the top of the cascades in a box canyon with 1,250-foot walls for views of the mountains to the west and the prairies to the east.
- Cheyenne Mountain State Park: The 2,701-acre Cheyenne Mountain State Park, south of Colorado Springs, has 21 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, an archery range, picnic areas and a 61-site campground.
Q: What airlines fly into Colorado Springs?
A: Colorado Springs’ airport, an easily navigated 12-gate facility, is home to Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier and United airlines. Nonstop flights leave daily to airports on the east and west coasts, Alaska and Texas. The airport has coffee shops, fast food restaurants and a mini-mart as well as a handful of shops. Hotels, motels and ski resorts operate shuttles from the airport, and taxis, limos and vans are available for hire. Seven car rental companies have outlets at the airport.
Q: How far is Santa Fe from Colorado Springs?
A: Santa Fe, N.M., is about 300 miles south of Colorado Springs. The drive, depending on which route you take, is between four and five hours long. The fastest route, Interstate 25 south, is not the shortest at 321 miles. Taking I-25 to Route 160 is shorter at 288 miles, but takes longer as it winds south through Taos and Espanola. Nonstop flights between Colorado Springs Airport and Santa Fe Municipal Airport are uncommon, but United Airlines offers flights between Santa Fe and Denver. Neither Greyhound nor Amtrak operates direct routes between the two cities.
Q: How far is Pikes Peak from Colorado Springs?
A: The distance from downtown Colorado Springs to Pikes Peak is only about 30 miles, but the drive to the summit takes a little more than an hour because of the steep, winding road. An alternative is to drive to Manitou Springs, eight miles northwest of the city, and take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the top. The three hour, round-trip ride up the mountain, shortened to two hours in the winter due to track conditions, provides sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. A 13-mile strenuous hiking trail begins in Manitou Springs.
Pikes Peak is named for Zebulon Pike, an explorer sent west by Thomas Jefferson who never made it to the summit. In addition to the hike to the top, there are mountain biking trails, lakes for fishing and boating and picnic areas.