Flanked to the west by the 14,115-foot Pikes Peak and surrounded by stunning alpine terrain, Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region are home to some of the most thrilling outdoor experiences in Colorado. From Jeep tours to zip lining across canyons, from whitewater rafting on the famed Arkansas River to hiking to waterfalls, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy and memories to be made around every bend in the trail. We’ve put together a list of some of the most heart-pumping adventures in the Pikes Peak region to help you make the most of your next visit to this stunning destination.
1. Experience Life Above the Clouds As You Summit Pikes Peak
The Pikes Peak Highway winds 19 miles up from the plains and foothills of Colorado Springs through many alpine ecological zones and finally to the summit at 14,115 feet above sea level. Though the route to the summit is paved, the best way to experience this stunning destination is from the passenger’s seat of a Jeep piloted by an expert local guide. Adventures Out West offers custom open-air Jeep and Hummer tours that come with water, snacks, insider tips about the best photo ops and stops along the way, and information about the history and ecology. Expect to find jaw-dropping views, wildlife, and an unforgettable experience in Colorado’s high alpine zone.
2. Whitewater Raft through the Royal Gorge
The famed Arkansas River is one of the premier whitewater rafting destinations in the United States. Located outside of Canon City, the section of the Arkansas that runs through the Royal Gorge is framed by 1,000-foot sheer cliffs and dramatic scenery. Echo Canyon River Expeditions has been leading whitewater rafting trips since 1978, and they offer trips for every experience level. Whether you’re looking for an extreme trip on expert water through the Royal Gorge or a calm family float, Echo Canyon’s expert guides will help you have a fun and unforgettable experience on some of Colorado’s most beautiful rivers.
3. Jump on Non-Stop Thrill Rides at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park
Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, located in Manitou Springs, is an historic destination featuring cave tours, a high ropes course, and two terrifying thrill rides. Visitors can explore the caves on three different tours, including the family-friendly Discovery Tour, a spooky Lantern Tour with ghost stories and folklore, and the Caving 101 Tour that brings guests to undeveloped, less-explored sections of the caves. If above-ground adventures are more your speed, head to the Terror-Dactyl, a high-flying thrill ride that swings at 100 miles per hour over Williams Canyon, or the Wind Walker Challenge Course, a high ropes course that will push you to balance and climb on features suspended in the air.
In 2018, Cave of the Winds also added a Via Ferrata climbing route, a type of route that was invented in Europe during World War I as a means to circumvent difficult mountain passes. Today, the Cave of the Winds’ Via Ferrata (Italian for “Iron Road”) is a system of holds and cables that traverses the sides of the cliffs and mountain faces in the park. The two-hour guided tour is designed for the inexperienced climber, and includes all the necessary safety equipment and all the added thrills.
Whichever way you like to get your adrenaline pumping, the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park has something for you.
4. Zip Line across the Royal Gorge
The Royal Gorge Bridge sits poised more than 956 feet above the Royal Gorge and raging Arkansas River below. This man-made marvel is one of the world’s highest suspension bridges, and is accompanied by stunning views and a ton of adventures to be had at the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. The Cloudscraper ZipRider will take you flying across the gorge in a thrilling ride and hiking and mountain biking trails abound throughout the park.
Coming soon, in summer 2019, the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is also adding a Via Ferrata climbing feature to allow those interested in the sport and the Via Ferrata phenomenon to give it a try on some of the most awe-inspiring terrain in the Centennial State.
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is one Pikes Peak region destination that you won’t want to miss.
5. Immerse Yourself in Historic Manitou Springs
The historic town of Manitou Springs is one of those quaint Colorado towns that sits at the heart of Rocky Mountain culture and heritage. From a thriving arts district to an established food scene, from endless opportunities for outdoor recreation to tasting the mineral waters from fountains throughout Downtown, there’s something for every visitor. If you’re up for a challenge, head to the infamous Manitou Incline, a trail that ascends 2,000 feet in under one mile up an old tramway route. This challenging climb is one of those hikes on all athletes’ bucket lists, and it’s no picnic. Expect a very difficult ascent, followed by a winding descent down the Barr Trail (the starting point of the Pikes Peak climb).
6. Hike around Seven Falls
Crashing waterfalls cascade down the sides of granite cliffs at this jaw-dropping and historic destination. The journey begins as you grab the free shuttle from the Norris Penrose Event Center and travel up “the grandest mile of scenery” through a winding box canyon, and finally end at Seven Falls. Hikers can enjoy two different trails for views of the falls (a one-hour route and a 30-minute route), and you can also ascend the 224-step stairway built into the cliff next to the falls to get up close to the rushing water. This destination also includes a gift shop, a restaurant staffed by award-winning Broadmoor chefs, and plenty of Instagram-worthy views.
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