CO - ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy

Visit the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy, the only professional rodeo heritage center in the world.

“Pikes Peak or Bust” was the cry heard across America when gold was found north of the snow-capped mountain in early 1859. A frenzy of “Fifty-Niners,” about 100,000 gold-seekers, rushed to Colorado in hopes of striking it rich. Within three years, 20 troy ounces of gold had been found, and the prospectors moved on. 

There was a bigger strike at Cripple Creek during the 1890s—a strike that brought wealth to some lucky prospectors. Today, Newmont continues mining operations in Cripple Creek, extracting about 200,000 ounces of gold per year via a process called “leeching.”

The Cripple Creek Heritage Center provides information on the boom-and-bust town of the West and what it offers visitors today. Options include touring the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine, which dates to 1891; meeting the town’s legendary characters on a trolley tour; gambling at nine casinos located in the town; visiting historical buildings; and riding on the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. Established in 1967, the train takes passengers on a four-mile loop from Cripple Creek to Victor and back, with time for souvenir shopping at the station.

Another interesting place to learn about gold is Old Colorado City, founded in 1859 by outfitters seeking to profit from prospectors. Historical markers and vintage buildings in the town square, as well as the Pioneers Museum, tell the story. The Western Museum of Mining and Industry in Colorado Springs focuses on the history of gold mining in the area.

Gold mining will continue to lure visitors to the Colorado Springs area, but other attractions, which are part of an organization called Pikes Peak Region Attractions, also have special appeal (800-525-2250 or Here are some options to consider:

Pikes Peak, America’s Mountain

At 14,115 feet, Pikes Peak is the 20th highest peak in Colorado, offering a rich visitor experience any time of year. To get to the summit, visitors may hike up Barr Trail, take the modern cog railway, or drive their own vehicles over the 19-mile road. The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, built in Switzerland and installed last year, is an exciting way to ascend or descend the mountain. (We took the Gray Line to the summit and the railway to the base.) 

CO - Pikes Peak summit

The summit of Pikes Peak yields breathtaking views of the Colorado Rockies. The new Visitor Center makes those views accessible to everyone.

The annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, also known as the Race to the Clouds since its beginning in 1916, is always a big draw to the area. The Pikes Peak Visitor Center, which opened in 2021, is something to see and experience. Visitors enjoy interactive exhibits, indoor and outdoor dining, and easy access around the mountaintop. Be sure to try the donuts and take a selfie in front of the summit sign! Home to the Ute Native Americans for centuries, the mountain inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write “America, the Beautiful” in 1893. 

Historic Manitou Springs offers healing waters, caves to explore, and a classic melodrama at the Iron Springs Chateau.

Scenic Seven Falls, Royal Gorge, and Garden of the Gods

The Broadmoor Seven Falls, associated with the famous hotel in Colorado Springs, is an awesome attraction that has drawn visitors since the 1880s. Seven falls cascade down the steep walls of South Cheyenne Canyon to the delight of sightseers, while the walk up 224 steep steps alongside the falls brings thrills of another kind. If you do not want to climb the stairs, take the elevator inside the mountain to the Eagle’s Nest to see what some call the “grandest mile of scenery in Colorado.” Two hiking trails depart from the top of the falls.

CO - Royal Gorge Aerial Gondolas

If you’re feeling adventurous, take a trip across the Royal Gorge in the new Aerial Gondolas.

If you are feeling bold and adventurous, plan to spend a day at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, offering exciting rides, white-water rafting, zip lining, and rock climbing, plus a 360-view of the gorge on the Aerial Gondola (included with admission). Suspended 956 feet above the Arkansas River, the bridge is the highest bridge in the United States and one of the highest bridges in the world. The bridge is suspended from two 150-foot towers; its main span measures 880 feet, its length 1,260 feet, and its width 18 feet. The thrilling Cloudscraper Zip Line, the highest in North America, made its debut in 2015.


One of the area’s most beautiful natural wonders and oldest attractions is the 1,350-acre Garden of the Gods, featuring limestone formations and a variety of plant and animal life. The Trading Post,believed to be the largest in the state, has an outstanding gallery featuring Native American arts and crafts, plus dining options.


Rodeo and Zoo Adventures


CO - Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Talk to the animals at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, one of the top-ranked zoos in America.

More adventures await at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy. Professional cowboys show off calf roping, barrel racing, bull riding, bareback riding, and other skills at the venue (the only professional rodeo heritage center in the world). Take a walk through the Hall of Fame and learn about more than 300 legends of the West.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a wonderful place to see orangutans, gorillas, wallabies, hippos, warthogs, African penguins, giraffes, elephants, and other animals. Don’t miss hand-feeding the giraffes and the elephant in residence. The zoo ranks as the No. 4 best zoo and the No. 3 best zoo exhibit in America.


Space and Olympic Museums


Anyone with an interest in space, regardless of age, will enjoy the interactive exhibits and mission artifacts at the Space Foundation Discovery Center, the only museum of its kind in the area. Its focus is on education that advances science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics in the context of space. The presence of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs may have something to do with the museum’s popularity.

CO - U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum

The new U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum has been ranked among the top museums in the country.

Voted the best new attraction in 2020 by USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum is something to see. And if you are lucky, as we were when we got to shake hands with Bob Beamon (who set a world record for the long jump in 1968), you just might meet your favorite Olympian. The creative architecture of the museum draws visitors into the galleries, where they learn about the history of the Olympic Games, the outstanding medalists over the years, Olympic torches, and more. An interactive athlete map allows guests to access information about each Team USA athlete, their hometown, and details about their accomplishments. More than 12,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from the U.S. competed in the games over the past century.


Places to Stay and Eat


Our home-away-from-home was The Mining Exchange, built in 1902 as a stock exchange for local mining companies. We found it comfortable and convenient. Colorado Springs has a wide array of dining choices, including a plethora of steak and barbecue places. If you want a traditional chuckwagon experience, including musical entertainment by the Flying W Wranglers, reserve a spot at the Flying W Ranch, now in its 70th year of operation.


Getting There


You can travel by car, train, bus, or plane from the Mid-Atlantic to Colorado Springs, a distance of 1,651miles. Because flights to Colorado Springs are expensive and often inconvenient, you might consider flying to Denver and then renting a car for the final leg of your journey.


Carol Timblin welcomes travel news at

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