Colorado Springs is Olympic City USA, a place that values friendship, excellence, and courage. “Our outdoor activities are varied and can be scaled to the abilities of your group,” says Amy Long, chief innovation officer at Visit Colorado Springs (COS). “Our attractions are unique, group-friendly, and bring visitors alongside the dreams of Team USA. The scenery is spectacular and the climate sublime.”
Other great group activities include a tour of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Interpretive Paint Mines, and gaming in Cripple Creek. Colorado Springs is located right on Interstate 25, about 70 miles south of Denver. If any clients will be flying in before joining the group, the Colorado Springs Airport is just 11 miles from downtown Colorado Springs and is serviced by all major airlines. “We also host major events such as Territory Days, The International Pikes Peak Hill Climb, and the Colorado Springs Labor Day Liftoff,” Long says. “The Visit COS staff can assist in crafting custom itineraries and experiences.”
Before venturing into Garden of the Gods Park, a free city park, stop by the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center. Here you’ll find generous bus parking, a spectacular and welcoming view of the park with Pikes Peak in the background, and interactive exhibits that make this geological wonder come alive. A step-on guide can be arranged to educate your clients on the history and geology of the park. Your guests will be amazed by the towering red rock sandstone formations resulting from millions of years of geologic pressure and erosion. Hop off the bus in the park’s main lot to stroll through the Central Gardens to get close to formations such as The Three Graces and Cathedral Spires. Then, hop back on for a quick trip down to Balanced Rock, which sits precariously on its tip and offers magnificent photo opportunities. Round out your park excursion with a stop at Garden of the Gods Trading Post, the area’s largest souvenir shop and art gallery. The on-site cafe offers a variety of delicious wraps, burgers, salads, and sandwiches that can be enjoyed inside or on the beautiful secluded outdoor patio.
Head to The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway and Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center. It’s always “peak season” when you can take a train ride to the summit of Pikes Peak—America’s Mountain, 14,115′ above sea level. This attraction is more than 130 years old and recently received a top-to-bottom refresh with new trains, a new track, and a new depot. The 3.5-hour, round-trip excursion takes you through various biomes and past stunning rock formations, sweeping vistas, and the quaking aspens and aromatic pine trees of Pike National Forest. If you have a keen eye, you’ll likely spot bighorn sheep and yellow-bellied marmots along the way. This is a perfect group activity with group discounts, convenient bus parking, and multiple daily trains that run year-round.
Once passengers disembark at the summit of Pikes Peak, they have just started their explorations. The new Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center offers spectacular views, plentiful restrooms, expansive gift shop, interactive exhibits, and excellent food from the cafe—don’t forgot to try the doughnuts! Outside, guests of all abilities can traverse the elevated concrete walkway to visit the North Overlook and dedication plaque.
The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center are two attractions that offer a single-ticket option and group discounts. The training center, a few miles east of downtown with convenient parking, is where the Olympic and Paralympic dream begins, with state-of-the-art nutrition, sport sciences, training regimens, and equipment offered to Team USA athletes and hopefuls. Athletes give many of the tours, and private sport demonstrations can be arranged. The museum, located near Interstate 25 in downtown Colorado Springs, also has convenient bus parking and is where the Olympic and Paralympic dreams are celebrated. Special tours can be arranged for groups. It is one of the most accessible museums in the world. All guests start at the top in the Torch Gallery and work their way down through a total of nine galleries that feature training simulations, performance technology, opening ceremonies, Summer Games, Winter Games, media coverage, and medals. Not one stair step is encountered in the entire facility for maximum accessibility. The tour concludes with an exciting and heartwarming video and a stop in the Team USA gift shop. On-site and nearby dining are available.
Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is a geologic and human-made wonder all in one. The park is perched on the edge of the gorge more than 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River. North America’s highest suspension bridge spans the gorge, and guests can walk across the bridge and take a fun photo next to their home state’s sign, traverse the gorge in a gondola, and get their blood pumping on the Cloud Scraper Zip Line and the Sky Coaster. Group pricing is available, and there is ample bus parking and several on-site restaurants.
The family-friendly Flying W Ranch offers a full evening of fun. It was rebuilt entirely after it was wiped out by the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012. The new main building is spectacular and can accommodate 1,000 guests comfortably. Outdoor seating is also an option during the summer months. Bus parking is very convenient, and ranch hands can assist any guests with mobility needs. Before dinner, guests can explore the grounds to meet the animals, ride a mini train, climb the stairs to the top of Christmas Rock, and try their hand at archery, ax throwing, and cattle roping. The chuckwagon dinner is delicious with on-site smoked brisket, turkey and sausage, baked potato, baked beans, applesauce, biscuits, spice cake, lemonade, tea, and coffee. After dinner, you’ll be serenaded by the world-renowned Flying W Wranglers, the second-oldest Western singing band in the world. Their stunning three-part harmonies, superb instrumentation, and clean bunkhouse humor have delighted over 7 million people since 1953.
For more information about Colorado Springs, go to visitcos.com.
The Royal Gorge Bridge sits nearly 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River and is surrounded by a park with fun activities, restaurants, and thrilling rides.
Credit: Royal Gorge Bridge & Park