Colorado Springs the Gateway to Colorado!
The Pikes Peak region's first inhabitants were American Indian people. The Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other tribes gathered at the base of Pikes Peak, near its abundant springs and in what is now called Garden of the Gods Park. The Ute name for Pikes Peak, Ta-Wa-Ah-Gath, translates to "Sun Mountain Sitting Big", for the way its slopes collect and reflect the sun's rays. During their seasonal migration following vast herds of bison, the Ute would camp in our nearby red rock canyons and visit the bubbling springs that we enjoy today.
The Spanish name for Pikes Peak was "Almagre," a reference to the reddish color of the granite. This name is still used for the high, snow-capped ridge just south of Pikes Peak. In November 1806, American explorer Zebulon Montgomery Pike traveled through the area and is credited for “discovering” Pikes Peak, though he named the impressive landmark Grand Peak. He and his group attempted to reach the summit, in November but they were neither dressed nor equipped to climb the mountain that ultimately came to bear his name. Other explorers, trappers and traders soon followed.
In 1859, the discovery of gold 60 miles to the West resulted in the "Pikes Peak or Bust Gold Rush." Over 100,000 people flocked to the area in search of riches. That same year, Colorado City became the first settlement in the Pikes Peak region. It was for a short time the territorial capital and served as a supply camp for miners traveling up Ute Pass and into the mountains.
The stunning scenic beauty was not the only thing that attracted people to the area. The sunny conditions and dry, mild climate of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs made these communities popular for people suffering from poor health, especially tuberculosis. It was thought that this climate could significantly improve the health of TB patients.
In the 1890s, gold was discovered on the western slope of Pikes Peak, one of the richest gold strikes in American history. Almost overnight, the Cripple Creek Mining District grew from an isolated cattle pasture to the home of more than 50,000 people.
At the turn of the century, inspired by a trip to the summit of Pikes Peak, Katharine Lee Bates penned what has become our country's most famous poem and song, "America the Beautiful."
In the 1940s, the U.S. Army opened Camp Carson, marking the beginning of what is now a strong military presence in this region. In 1954, the Air Force broke ground for the United States Air Force Academy to continue this military tradition. Today, Colorado Springs is home to major military installations including Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, the U.S. Space Command, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), Shriever Air Force Base and the United States Air Force Academy.
Today the Colorado Springs area offers a wide assortment of opportunities to experience the Colorado Lifestyle.
Colorado Springs' pleasant climate is a key element in the area's high quality of life. Weather in the Pikes Peak region is surprisingly mild; uncomfortable extremes are rare.
Colorado Springs is classified as an alpine desert with more than 300 days of sunshine annually and only 15 to 16 inches of precipitation per year. Humidity remains comfortably low throughout the day.At an elevation of 6,035 feet, our residents enjoy a number of climatic advantages. During the summer months the days may be seasonally warm but when the sun sets, the evening and nights are refreshingly cool. July and August are the warmest months with average temperature in the mid 80's.
Long and lingering autumns are common, with temperatures in the 60's and 70's, while spring time is a mild precursor to summer with temperatures in the 50's. Winters are generally mild with highs in the 40's. Despite a moderately high-altitude location, Colorado Springs gets less snow, on average, than Denver, Salt Lake City or Minneapolis. Sunny days are abundant during the winter, and the sun's intensity quickly melts the snow allowing residents and visitors to golf, bike, hike, play tennis and enjoy all types of outdoor activities year round.
How to Pack
At an elevation of 6,035 feet, Colorado Springs is located on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains at the base of Pikes Peak. Mountains to the west and the Monument Divide to the north protect the Pikes Peak area from harsh and snowy winters. When it does snow, it rarely stays on the ground more than a few days, with average winter high temperatures in the 40s and 50s.
Abundant sunshine and pockets of yellow aspen trees make autumn a refreshing and beautiful season to visit the region. Warm days and cool nights usher in springtime. In summer, visitors escape from hot, sticky conditions to our low humidity and highs in the 80s. Afternoon thunderstorms have a cool, cleansing effect and usually last less than an hour. In the winter, sweaters, gloves and coats are recommended (though temperatures can climb into the 60s and 70s when Chinook winds blow through). Always dress in layers so that you are comfortable through temperature and altitude changes.Cool-weather clothing is proper dress for summer days, but carry a windbreaker or light jacket for evening. Please remember that temperatures at the top of Pikes Peak are usually 20-30 degrees below temperatures measured in Colorado Springs - giving you a great reason to pick up a Pikes Peak sweatshirt at one of our many fine gift or clothing shops.
Though some restaurants require more formal attire, the region's dress code is mostly casual, as vacationers mingle with the local community at restaurants, pubs and nightclubs throughout the region.
High altitude has its benefits. Our bodies use more calories and burn more fat. But, for lowland travelers who are new to our area, altitude can produce some unusual sensations such as dizziness, nausea and headaches. Colorado is a state consisting of various and extreme altitudes with 54 peaks over 14,000 feet. Colorado Springs climbs to an altitude of 6,035 feet. Manitou Springs, just five miles to the west of Colorado Springs, is 6,320 feet and just a few minutes away is the city of Woodland Park at 8,500 feet. Further west, the towns of Victor and Cripple Creek are over 9,500 feet. The summit of Pikes Peak towers above them all at 14,115 feet.
To enjoy your visit here in Colorado Springs, here are a few things to keep in mind to give your body time to adjust to the altitude and prevent altitude sickness:
Stay below 7,000 feet the first day (the city of Colorado Springs is 6,035 feet above sea level.
Give your body time to adjust (there's lots to see and do at lower altitudes.
Avoid strenuous exercise the first day. Drink lots of water.
Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol binds oxygen and water and robs your body of these two important nutrients.
Drink more water. The air is drier and your body will dehydrate much more quickly. The higher up you go, the more water you should drink.
Always travel with a companion. If someone begins to experience severe coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or chest pain, get him or her to a lower altitude as quickly as possible.
The effects of some drugs such as tranquilizers can be greatly increased at higher altitudes. Be sure to check with your doctor first before exerting yourself at higher altitudes.
If you are baking during your visit, be sure to follow the high altitude instructions.
Get plenty of good rest and enjoy yourself!