By Paige Keyser, Air Force Spouse
Colorado Springs is an awesome city with lots of things to do, but are you ready for a day trip out of town to explore the rest of Colorado? Colorado is a state blessed with many natural landmarks, state and national parks, outdoor recreational opportunities and interesting towns to explore. Here are our suggestions for some fabulous day trips from Fort Carson.
Exploring Colorado Towns
Boulder (2 hrs drive)
Boulder is home to the University of Colorado and is known for being an artsy town. There are many things to do outdoors to include hiking and biking the hundreds of miles of trails in Boulder. You can also take a scenic drive up Flagstaff Road with views of the Flatirons and enjoy Chautauqua Park. The downtown area of the city also has much to offer in terms of fun. The Historic Pearl Street Mall is a great place to do some shopping and people watch. You can also enjoy the many restaurants and tea and coffee shops in town. The Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory is located here and offers guided tours. There are also several breweries which offer tours.
Georgetown (1 hr 45 min drive)
Georgetown is a quaint town less than two hours from Colorado Springs. It offers a number of attractions to include the Georgetown Loop Railroad, Hamill House and the Hotel de Paris Museum. Their Main Street, a National Historic Landmark, has many interesting shops and restaurants where you can enjoy unique shopping and delicious food.
Fairplay (1 hr 40 min drive)
Located in the town of Fairplay is the South Park City Museum, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It consists of a main street with forty historic buildings brought from the surrounding area. They include a trapper’s cabin, a saloon, general store, blacksmith shop and other businesses that thrived in the late 1800s. It is only open during the summer months and is run entirely by volunteers. There are many art galleries and art venues in and around the town to check out. Fairplay is also known as the official Trout Fishing Capital of Colorado, so if you’re an angler bring you fishing gear!
Woodland Park (30 min drive)
Woodland Park is a short drive from Colorado Springs and can be a great place to visit if you have a free afternoon. It is the home of the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center and features fossils from North America’s Cretaceous Period including marine reptiles, pterosaurs, dinosaurs, a working fossil lab viewable by visitors, children’s play area and hands-on educational activities. After visiting the fossils, you can stroll down Main Street and can grab some food and beer at the local restaurants. If you have time, you can drive up the road and visit Colorado Wolf Adventures which provides educational programs for all ages about wolves and wolf conservation.
National Parks and Monuments
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (45 min drive)
The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is a unique display of fossils located near Florissant. There are about 1,700 different species of trees, insects, fish, plants, and other animals located here. The visitors’ center has many well preserved small fossils in display cases. There are also 14 miles of hiking trails to explore and guided tours are offered.
Rocky Mountain National Park (2 hrs 45 min drive)
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the U.S. While driving through the park you can take in the views of the majestic peaks and observe wildlife such as moose, bear, elk and bighorn sheep. During the summer months, you can drive along Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the United States. There are also many trails for hiking and in the winter snowshoeing.
Great Sand Dunes National Park (2 hrs 45 min drive)
The tallest sand dunes in North America are found in this national park in southcentral Colorado. When visiting the park, you can surf the dunes, camp, and hike. In late May, you can wade in Medano Creek when the snow melt increases the stream flow. While in the area, you can also visit Zapata Falls. This popular short hike is located on BLM (US Bureau of Land Management) land south of the national park. It is a good option for summer afternoons when sand temperatures are high.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Colorado is ‘THE’ destination for skiing and snowboarding in the country. With its blue-bird skies and abundant fresh, dry powder, it is a destination for not only families but also adventurous skiers and boarders looking for expert only terrain. Colorado has not only some of the largest resorts in the nation but also smaller, family-friendly slopes.
Colorado’s 25 ski resorts open earlier and stay open later (October to late April) than any others in the nation and many are within a few hours of Colorado Springs. Here is a list of a few of the ski resorts within a few hours of Colorado Springs. Weather and if the resort is located along I-70, traffic on weekends can add substantially to the drive time.
- Loveland (2 hrs)
- Eldora Mountain Resort (2 hrs 15 min)
- Breckenridge (2 hrs 15 min)
- Keystone (2 hrs 25 mins)
- Monarch Mountain (2 hrs 20 min)
- Vail (2 hrs 40 min)
- Ski Cooper (2 hrs 40 min)
There are many hiking trails in and around Colorado Springs to enjoy. Here are few that make good day trips with the family. Pack your backpacks with lunch and lots of water and enjoy the views!
- The Painted Mines Interpretive Park – (50 min drive) – This park near Calhan features colorful geological formations including spires and hoodoos that were formed through erosive action. The park has a restroom facility and includes four miles of trails with interpretive signage.
- Devils Head Lookout Trail – (1 hr 20 min drive) – Devil’s Head Lookout Trail is a 2.7 mile out and back trail that is rated as moderate and located near Sedalia. The trail is best used from March until November. The trail takes you to a distinct granite rock outcropping that is also home to the only fire lookout in Colorado that is staffed by the National Forest Service.
- The Crags Trail – (1-hour drive) – The Crags Trail is a 4.9 mile out and back trail located near Divide. It features many rock formations and beautiful wildflowers and is rated as moderate. The hike out is to a wind-swept granite dome from which you can view the Rampart Range. The trail is best used from May until October.
Get out There!
The list could go on! There are so many places to go and things to do within a few hours of the Springs. Get out there and explore the great state of Colorado by taking a road trip. And consider helping out your fellow military families by leaving a Fort Carson housing, neighborhood, REALTOR®, or moving company review on PCSgrades.com.