By Paige Keyser, Air Force Spouse

The summer we arrived in Colorado Springs, the state was experiencing a drought, and the Waldo Canyon Fire had just devastated several of the communities on the western side of town. Many people we knew who had visited or lived in ‘The Springs’ said how much they loved it. At the time my thoughts were, ‘This place is brown and crusty. What’s to love?

Four years later and Colorado Springs and all it had to offer grew on me. It became my favorite duty station. Now that we have moved on to our next military assignment, I still miss the blue skies and mountains every day!

Why I love Colorado Springs!

Here are a few of the reasons why Colorado Springs was my favorite military assignment so far:

A Strong Military Presence

There are five military installations in the Pikes Peak region. These include Fort Carson, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, The Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base and Schriever Air Force Base. There are many active duty and retired military members and their families living in the area. And the Colorado Springs community is very supportive of the military.

Along with having five military installations goes the benefit of being able to access the amenities that they have to offer. All, except for Cheyenne Mountain Air Base, have military services, to include a commissary (except for Schriever), BX/PX, health clinic, outdoor recreational facilities and services, and housing. Being able to access more than one military installation has its benefits. These include but are not limited to, more choices for healthcare, housing, and shopping.

The Great Outdoors!

The unparalleled beauty and mild climate of Colorado Springs make it a gateway to a wide variety of outdoor activities. Colorado Springs is considered to be a very active and fit city. It has many hiking, biking, and running trails, as well as many parks to get out and get moving. Located within a short drive of the area are many internationally known ski areas and some of the nation’s most scenic national and state parks. Great hunting and fishing, to include fly fishing, areas are also close by or within a few hours drive. Ice climbing, snowmobiling, rock climbing, white water rafting, ATVing, 4×4 off-road adventures, and visits to hot springs are all within an easy drive of Colorado Springs.

There are many campgrounds, those with facilities or those with primitive campsites, throughout the area and within several hours drive. Tour information and rental equipment are available for these activities at the Outdoor Recreation Centers at USAFA, Peterson, Schriever and Fort Carson.

With all of the great things to do outdoors in Colorado Springs, I especially miss hiking the trails for exercise or for fun with the kids and camping in the mountains with friends. If you aren’t an outdoorsy person when you move to the Springs, you might be by the time you leave. There are so many awesome ways to enjoy the outdoors; you’re bound to find something you like!

Schools and Education

One of the main concerns I have when moving to a new location is the educational opportunities for my kids. Colorado Springs has many options for both K-12 and higher education. Colorado is a choice state, which means you can place your child in a school outside the district or zone you are assigned provided that the school has availability.

There are many school districts in and around Colorado Springs that offer a variety of options from charter schools to specialty schools for the arts and sciences. There are also many private schools to choose from. Doing your research and speaking with the school liaison officer at your incoming military installation can be helpful so that you know all of your options.

The Colorado Springs region also offers many higher education opportunities across a broad range of fields of study from liberal arts universities to technical colleges. Among the universities and colleges in the area are Colorado College, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS), the United States Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak Community College, and Colorado Technical University. As an added bonus, it’s always fun to take the family to collegiate games at the Air Force Academy and UCCS to support the local teams.

Loved being stationed in Colorado Springs

There are many other reasons to love Colorado Springs as a duty station but these are my top 3. It was nice to live in a city that was so supportive of the military. A place where you could go outside and enjoy nature in so many ways. And you felt confident that your child was getting a good education.

If you need more information about the area, go to where you can see what other military families think about the Colorado Springs area.

PCSgrades Author: Paige Keyser is a proud military spouse who currently lives in northern Virginia with her Air Force husband and their two boys. After growing up in a small Virginia town, the last 20 years have been spent exploring the world courtesy of the Air Force. She has lived in Japan and nine different states, to include Colorado, on this crazy journey!