Highlights: Family meet up; Garden of the Gods, Cripple Creek (old mining town), Red Rock Canyon Open Space, shopping at Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City
Editor's note: I had published scenes from this trip in 2018, but without the phone pics - which included photos of the campground, Manitou Springs, Old Colorado City and the Red Rock Open Space. Enough new photos that I decided to delete the earlier post. Unfortunately I haven't found a way to organize my posts in the order that we traveled. It will only sort by post date.
Eastern Colorado is later and more barren than I could have imagined. Rt 24 from Kansas looks like this pretty much the whole way to Colorado Springs.
The views improve considerably when in town. Pikes Peak looms over the red rocks.
Campground: Garden of the Gods Campground; “Deluxe” gravel wooded site; Site B16;Full hook up; $65/night.
Deluxe is in the eye of the owners of this property. It is as cramped a campground as we've experienced. One has to use parking spaces for your vehicle across the road from your site. Backing in can be difficult. Reviews on line will corroborate the tight spaces. However, this is still the highest rated campground nearby. Supply definitely does not meet demand in Colorado Springs. This sub-par CG is highly booked. Driving up towards Pikes Peak we saw a couple others that looked even more cramped and older. The husband of the neighbors on one side, who actually were quite friendly, worked at the campground. After work (and sometimes before), the pungent wafts of pot (legal here) would be pretty apparent.
To make matter worse, I was irritated with the campground for not letting us know ahead of time that there was road construction on US-24 coming in which required a detour. Of course the GPS doesn't know this and couldn't help once we took the first detour turn. There were no further detour signs. So at the first stop sign and with a 50/50 chance we picked the wrong way. This led us down a narrow residential area and we had to take a couple rights to get back to US-24 again to return through the construction zone and the detour.
Being in the cul-de-sac gave us a little more backing in room, but we still had to park across the camp road from our site.
Garden of the Gods
Our main reason to come to Colorado Springs was to visit our niece (D) and nephew (E). D picked us up on our first day and took us to the biggest local attraction The Garden of the Gods. https://www.gardenofgods.comIt is free to drive through the park and stop at the many pull offs, picnic areas, and trail heads. There is a substantial Visitor Center and a Trading Post (gift shop) with a cafe.
This park is very accessible for all levels, from little walking, to hiking and rock climbing. I suggest looking at the park map to get an idea of the hiking opportunities and the full scope of the park: https://gardenofgods.com/images/GoG-detail-Park-Map-2019.pdf
We just enjoyed walking about on a gorgeous day. The red rocks contrasting with the blue sky is phenomenal and rivals the red rocks found in Utah and Arizona.
This historic mining town on the southwest side of Pikes Peak is a fun visit and is 41 miles outside of our campground. Our niece and nephew's parents were incredibly fun and gracious in giving us a tour. On the way we had nice views of Pikes Peak. While many people recommended driving up, my vertigo suffering partner wasn't having it. No matter. We had a blast.
The town has the basic main street, more interesting for walking to enjoy the historic appeal of the buildings than for the few shops. However, if your a gambler, there are a few small casinos. We went to a casino to satisfy our friends. Sandy was the only one to come out a winner working that one-armed bandit! After, an ice cream cone made for a refreshing break while enjoying the beautiful day, the scenery, and the company. A simple, yet memorable day.
High above the town, is one of the better visitor centers we've visited. The main theme is the gold mining history of the area – which is still going on. But, also the area is rich in prehistoric fossils, and the center has many fine displays. A diorama of the underground workings of a mine was really unique.
Cripple Creek from the Visitor Center
Our hosts recommended we all take the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railway. This is a fantastic 45 minute trip starting on the hillside overlooking Cripple Creek, with views of abandoned mine shafts and relics of mining. The train is a narrow gauge steam engine and a tour guide describes the story of mining in the area while pointing out historic points. He describes the miners and the amount of ore taken, but my favorite part was describing the brothels and bars in the red light district (the buildings still there and observable from the train), and the life, death, and burial of the locally appreciated madam Pearl de Vere:
“Being well-liked by many of the townspeople and miners (she had been known for being somewhat of a philanthropist to the town), they started to make arrangements for the funeral procession and burial on their own. Meanwhile, a letter arrived in the mail from the gentleman who had given Pearl her gown. The letter asked that she be buried in the gown and included a check for $1000 to pay for her funeral.
She had the most lavish funeral procession in Cripple Creek's known history. All the bands in town played the appropriate somber tunes on the way to the cemetery while practically everyone in the town came to watch - either out of respect, or just plain curiosity.After her burial, they continued to play while heading back into town. However, they lightened the mood and made it more of a celebration by playing more upbeat tunes including, "There'll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_de_Vere
The following photos were taken from the train:
The current working mine makes an unsightly blemish
The street and buildings below are the remnants of the red light district.
Other images around town:
Making a loop to go back to Colorado Springs, we passed through the mining town of Victor. This lacked the number of more ornate brick buildings of Cripple Creek, and looked more residential, but gave an additional feel of a real mining town. In fact, working mining operations can be seen in the hillside within the town.
The Victoria Hotel in downtown Victor
Mines are just outside of town
On the road back around Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak from the west (at a high elevation it doesn't look as big)
Pikes Peak from the north
Old Colorado City a historic district turned shopping and dining destination is only 2 miles from the campground. It was easy spending half a day in the shops and enjoying an al fresco lunch.
The Michael Garman (sculpture) store was a hoot.
Manitou Springs is a busy (like try finding parking busy), hillside town popular for its downtown shopping area.
Red Rock Canyon Open Space is only a mile from the campground and is a really nice hiking area with trails that you can form a loop, varied scenery and views of the red rocks at Valley of the Gods. This was a surprisingly fun hike. Views up the notch to Manitou Springs and Pikes Peak were pretty nice. Varied rock formations were all around.
Pikes Peak from Red Rock Open Space
From the trails (and a zoom lens) nice views of houses among the rocks