Famous for Pikes Peak, the mountain range that inspired the song “America the Beautiful,” South Central Colorado attracts visitors for its picturesque scenery, outdoor recreation and historic sites. The majestic views include 29 mountains 14,000 feet or higher. Locals refer to them as “fourteeners.”
Colorado Springs is the state’s second largest city and a good base for exploring many of the area’s popular attractions. Embark on a brewery tour of the city and discover local beers named for area landmarks. At Royal Gorge Bridge and Park you can enjoy the view from the highest suspension bridge in North America or board a train that winds through the canyon. St Elmo is one of the state’s best-preserved ghost towns.
Visit Buena Vista, the capital of whitewater rafting in the United States, go fly-fishing on the Arkansas River, or visit historic mining towns. Enjoy festivals in summer and miles of snowmobile and cross-country skiing trails in winter. Many of the region’s scenic byways lead to hot springs, lakes and waterfalls. Mingle with locals at exciting rodeos, browse antique shops and art galleries, or try your luck with table games and slot machines at Cripple Creek casinos.
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Cripple Creek historic mining town offers casino gambling, museums, shops and more. Drive the Gold Belt Tour Scenic Byway and visit Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument for a look at artifacts from prehistoric Colorado. Enjoy scenic mountain views from the Rio Grande, Cumbres & Toltec trains near Alamosa. Located off US-24, Leadville is a National Historic Landmark District with 70 square blocks of Victorian buildings and a 20-square-mile mining district.
Drive 19-mile Pikes Peak Highway for breathtaking views, hike Barr Trail, or take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the 14,115-ft. summit. The Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center is a 35-acre facility where TEAM USA athletes live and train. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs is the nation’s only zoo situated in the mountains. See more than 900 animals and 200 species. Broadmoor Seven Falls offers waterfall views, hiking, zip-lines and a rope bridge.
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park boasts the highest suspension bridge in North America. Enjoy an aerial gondola ride or traverse the gorge via a zip-line or river raft. Board the Royal Gorge Route Railroad for a 24-mile train ride that includes a gourmet meal. Garden of the Gods features amazing red sandstone rock formations, a nature center and museum. Take a wildflower tour at Cheyenne Mountain State Park or enjoy hiking/biking trails and wildlife viewing.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, near Alamosa, features the tallest sand dunes on the continent. Adjacent Zapata Falls is a must-see for 30-ft. waterfalls in summer and giant ice sculptures in winter. South Park National Heritage Area in Fairplay features 19th century ranches, old mines and historic sites. Pike National Forest, close to Woodland Park, is famous for Pikes Peak and 13 other towering mountains. Enjoy hiking trails, fishing, wildlife viewing and scenic drives.
The COS Rodeo in Colorado Springs celebrates the region’s western heritage. Held at the Penrose Equestrian Center from June-August, the event features barrel racing, bull riding and concerts. The Royal Gorge Rodeo in Cañon City takes place in May as part of Apple Blossom Days. See fun rodeo events and enjoy live music, food and games. The Alamosa Roundup in June features top cowboys from all over the country, a parade and cattle drive.