Adventure Activities in Colorado Springs - Try if You Dare

by Cathleen Shaffer, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Sep 23rd 2010 11:47 AM

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Adventure Activity Colorado Springs

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While it certainly lives up to its reputation as a resort community, Colorado Springs is a city full of surprises. It is home to many Olympic athletes in training, the United States Air Force Academy, the World Figure Skating Museum, and the Prorodeo Hall of Fame. In addition to the man-made attractions that bring tourists in droves, Colorado Springs boasts outdoor activities and natural wonders to enthrall the adventurer in us all. The faithful return to "The Springs" year after year, each visit promising a new experience. If you're looking for an adventure activity in Colorado Springs, read on.
Below are a few travel adventures Colorado Springs visitors should try. Note, however, that adventure activities in Colorado Springs are not always easy, so don't let the term "resort" fool you. Located 70 miles south of Denver at an elevation of 6,035 ft, this city brings a certain sense of challenge to outdoor activities. Colorado Springs dare-devils find many ways to test their limits.


Drive the Pikes Peak Highway


This is not a drive for the faint of heart or for that matter, anyone that does not have a good, strong heart that can withstand the thin air at the 14,110 ft summit of Pikes Peak. Likewise, if you are afraid of heights, you might want to opt for other adventure activities. Colorado Springs' famous toll highway is 19 miles long, but only the first 10 are paved. It's gravel the rest of the way up -- exciting for some, unnerving for others.

Insider tip: Don't forget to bring your camera! The view from the top affords some incredible photo ops, from native wildlife to spectacular skyscrapers. Also keep in mind that inclement weather means the road may be closed.

Pikes Peak Highway, US-24 at Cascade Ave, (800) 318-9505. Toll rates are $40 per car May-Nov and $35 per car Dec-Apr, although you can also pay per person: $12 for adults and $5 for children May-Nov; $10 for adults and $4 for children Dec-Apr. Unless closed for safety reasons, uphill gates are open from 7:30AM-6PM between the Friday before Memorial Day and Labor Day, from 7:30AM-5PM from the Tuesday after Labor Day to Sept 30, and from 9AM-3PM the rest of the year. Be sure to check the closing times of Pikes Peak Summit and the downhill gates before attempting this Colorado Springs adventure travel activity.

Eat a "Jiffy Burger" at Meadow Muffins


A charming restaurant in Old Colorado City with a sort of junkyard vibe, Meadow Muffins is a great place to refuel during or after your travel adventures. Colorado Springs visitors can expect hearty, reasonably priced food and unique decor - like buckboard wagons hanging overhead, among other oddities. If you're feeling adventurous (and hungry) try a Jiffy Burger: a large beef burger topped with bacon, provolone cheese and peanut butter. Yes, you have to eat the whole thing.

Meadow Muffins, 2432 W Colorado Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80904, (719) 633-0583.
The restaurant is open daily 11AM-2AM.


Take the Lantern Tour at Cave of the Winds


If you're looking for fun activities in Colorado Springs in a sheltered place, Cave of the Winds offers fantastic subterranean tours. The Discovery Tours are great for novice cave explorers or those with young children. I'd suggest, however, that you take one of the Lantern Tours so you can experience spelunking (caving) as our early ancestors did - by candle and lantern light.

Tour operators advise up front that the tour is rather strenuous and that people with heart conditions, visual impairments or other physical challenges should opt out of this adventure activity. Daring Colorado Springs visitors have to be okay with getting a little bit messy, too. I'd recommend ditching the flip-flops, as you'll be tromping through a bit of mud on this excursion.

The Lantern Tour takes about an hour and a half, and you move through unpaved, unlit chambers of the cave where stooping is necessary. It's creepy and fun at the same time and a popular adventure activity in Colorado Springs.

Cave of the Winds, 100 Cave of the Winds Road, Manitou Springs, CO 80829, (719) 685-5444. The Discovery Tour costs $18 for adults and $9 for children aged 6-11; the Lantern Tour is $22 for adults and $12 for children aged 6-11. Children aged five and under are not permitted on the Lantern Tour. Opening hours are 9AM-9PM in summer and 10AM-5PM in winter.


Mountain Bike Down the Pikes Peak Highway


They say going down is easier than going up, but unless you are an expert, you will need a guide to help you navigate this 19-mile cycling travel adventure. Your guide will also regale you with stories of nature and history as you descend. That is, if you can manage to pull your attention away from the beautiful panoramas of Colorado Springs. Like many outdoor activities in the area, this trip is a seasonal one, usually available from May through October.

Challenge Unlimited offers guided cycling tours of Pikes Peak. They are located at 204 S 24th Street, Colorado Springs, CO, (800) 798-5954. Both morning and sunset rides are offered, weather permitting, with morning rides costing $115 per person ($100 with four or more) and sunset rides costing $96 per person ($92 with four or more). Height limits and safety restrictions apply for this adventure activity in Colorado Springs.


Soar High on a Balloon Ride over Colorado Springs


Adventure activities don't come better than balloon rides, particularly with Colorado Springs' backdrop of majestic mountains to make you feel like you are on top of the world. With its sunrise flights, wedding flights and champagne flights, among others, High But Dry Balloons offers visitors a new perspective on the beauty of Colorado Springs.

Rides are available year-round but only take off in good weather. The cost starts at about $200 per person for a morning flight and depends on the type of flight, length of flight and location. Other outdoor activities may make this one seem pricey, but believe me, it's definitely worth it.

High But Dry Balloons, 4164 Austin Bluffs Parkway #146, Colorado Springs, CO, (719) 260-0011.


Go Fly Fishing with Serious Anglers


Serious anglers go where the fish are known to hang out: the rivers and streams of the Colorado Rockies. These rivers run high and fast, so fishing trips often turn out to be real travel adventures. Angler's Covey is a fly-fishing shop that will help out beginners or offer tips to those unfamiliar with the area's waters. These experts host guided full or half-day trips, and they know where the fish are biting. They'll get you set up with everything you need, from a fishing license and Orvis waders to flies and tackle.

Angler's Covey, 295 S 21st Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80904, 719-471-2984

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