17740
Colorado Springs
The Best of Colorado Springs
From descending into a working gold mine to standing on the summit of Pikes Peak, from exploring historic towns to learning about the Garden of the Gods, this adventure has it all.
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Program No. 17740RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,349
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Hotel Check-in 3 to 4 pm - Required Orientation and dinner at 4:30 pm.
Colorado Springs, CO
D
Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs Airport

Dinner: Dinner tonight will be a catered buffet in our hotel.

Evening: Participant Introductions and introductory lecture. Colorado Springs history stretches back many hundreds of years. The area’s first inhabitants were the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other tribes who gathered at the base of Pikes Peak, near its abundant springs and in what is now called Garden of the Gods Park. During the 1700s both French and Spanish flags flew over the region. But with the Louisiana Purchase more Anglo-American explorers and settlers began to venture west. In November 1806, American explorer Zebulon Pike traveled through the area and is credited for “discovering” Pikes Peak. He and his group attempted to reach the summit, but they were neither dressed nor equipped to climb the mountain that ultimately came to bear his name. In 1859, Colorado Springs history is marked with the founding of Colorado City which became the first settlement in the Pikes Peak region. It was the territorial capitol for a short period and served as a supply camp for miners traveling to the mining camps west of Denver. General William Jackson Palmer, a Civil War hero from Pennsylvania, ushered in a new era in Colorado Springs history in 1869. During his first visit to the area, he fell in love with its “most enticing scenery.” He predicted that there would soon be a great resort town at the base of Pikes Peak. One year later, he founded the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and purchased land to create Colorado Springs along its route. In 1871, the Victorian spa resort town Palmer envisioned became a reality.

DAY
2
Air Force Academy and City Field trip
Colorado Springs, CO
B,L,D
Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs Airport

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel featuring hot and cold items, coffee, tea, assorted juices plus cooked to order eggs.

Morning: Following Breakfast,depart on our day long guided exploration of Colorado Springs with a Local Historian. Sites to be visited include the Air Force Academy, Olympic Training Center, Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. The United States Air Force Academy was established April 1, 1954, the culmination of an idea that had been years in the making. Airpower leaders, long before the Air Force was a separate service, had argued that they needed a school, dedicated to war in the air, at which to train the country's future Airmen. After September 1947, when the Air Force was established as a separate service, this idea finally had the legitimacy of the new service behind it. The current Campus was dedicated August 29, 1958. The current enrollment is 4,000 cadets with women first enrolling in June of 1976. The Academy celebrated it's 50th Anniversary in 2004. We travel on to the US Olympic Training Center Colorado Springs, home to training athletes and coaches as they prepare for the next Olympic Games. The facility is the former home of ENT Air Force Base and the headquarters of the North American Defense Command, officially became USOC administrative headquarters in July 1978. The Training Center is able to provide housing, dining, recreational facilities and other services for up to 557 coaches and athletes at one time on the complex.

Lunch: Lunch at a favorite and historic local "creekside" restaurant in Manitou Springs.

Afternoon: Free time in Manitou Springs to explore the village. “Manitou”, a Native American word for “spirit”, describes this beautiful mountain community. Eleven naturally carbonated mineral spring fountains, located throughout this Historic town, run free for all who wish to enjoy the healing benefits. The Ute, Cheyenne and other Native Americans considered this area sacred for the healing springs and clean mountain air. Following the founding of Colorado Springs, Manitou became a popular tourist health resort. By the 1890's, the resort boasted of seven grand hotels, including the Cliff House, Barker House, and the Grandview, which still stand today. Smaller hotels, boarding houses and summer rental cottages were also available for the thousands of visitors who came each season.

Dinner: We have a treat in store for us tonight. We will be visiting the beautiful Glen Eyrie Castle, one of the most stunning properties in Colorado Springs. Glen Eyrie is a 67-room English Tudor-style castle built by Civil War General William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. We will top the evening off with dinner in the music room. The estate's name refers to the eagle's nest that overlooks the canyon of which the name "Queen" was the nickname of General Palmer's wife.

Evening: Free to relax after a busy day!

DAY
3
Royal Gorge Train, Bridge and Park
Colorado Springs, CO
B,L,D
Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs Airport

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel featuring hot and cold items, coffee, tea, assorted juices plus cooked to order eggs. After breakfast we depart for Canon City and the Royal Gorge historic railway and bridge.

Morning: We ride the Royal Gorge Train. Climb aboard Colorado's most scenic train for a journey through the spectacular Royal Gorge. Since 1879, these tracks have followed the winding, tumbling Arkansas River deep within the soaring, 1,000-foot granite cliffs of Colorado's Royal Gorge. In the late 1870s miners descended on the upper Arkansas valley of Colorado in search of carbonate ores rich in lead and silver. The feverish mining activity in what would become the Leadville district attracted the attention of the Denver & Rio Grande and the Santa Fe railroads, each already having tracks in the Arkansas valley. The Santa Fe was at Pueblo, and the D&RG near Canon City some 35 miles west. Leadville was over 100 miles away. For two railroads to occupy a river valley ordinarily was not a problem, but west of Canon City was an incredible obstacle - an obstacle that would result in a war between the railroads in the race to the new bonanza ultimately won after two years by the Rio Grande Railroad. Look for the engineering marvel, the "hanging bridge" at a point where the gorge narrows to 30 feet. Here the railroad had to be suspended over the river along the north side of the gorge as shear rock walls go right down into the river on both sides. C. Shallor Smith, a Kansas engineer, designed a 175-ft plate girder suspended on one side by "A" frame girders spanning the river and anchored to the rock walls. The bridge cost $11,759 in 1879, a princely sum in those days. Although it has been strengthened over the years, this unique structure has served on a main rail line for over 118 years.

Lunch: On the return trip, the train will stop under the Royal Gorge Bridge and then return to Canon City. We board our coach for a drive to the Royal Gorge Park. We will enjoy a box lunch at the park.

Afternoon: After lunch we visit the Royal Gorge Park. Walk across the engineering marvel suspension bridge looking into the canyon where we just rode the railway, a breathtaking drop of 1,000 feet, one of the deepest chasms in Colorado. Then return via the gondola for a perspective of both the amazing gorge and bridge. The Visitor Center features a film about the history of the area.

Dinner: Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant with several menu choices.

Evening: Free for reflection and relaxation

DAY
4
Mining Heritage and Cripple Creek
Colorado Springs, CO
B,L
Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs Airport

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel featuring hot and cold items, coffee, tea, assorted juices plus cooked to order eggs. After breakfast we depart for our all day tour to the historic mining towns Cripple Creek and Victor.

Morning: Today we experience the “Old West” as it was for hard rock gold miners of “The World’s Greatest Gold Camp”, Cripple Creek, Colorado. In the late 1800s, thousands of fortune-seekers made their way to Pikes Peak for the country’s last great gold rush. We begin our day descending underground as you partake in the only 1,000 foot vertical shaft gold mine tour in the USA, the Molly Kathleen Mine. At an elevation of 9,494 feet and just below tree line, for many years, Cripple Creek's high valley was considered no more important than a cattle pasture. Many prospectors avoided the area after the misnamed Mount Pisgah hoax, a mini gold rush caused by salting (adding gold to worthless rock). On October 20, 1890, however, Robert Miller "Bob" Womack discovered a rich ore and the last great Colorado gold rush began. Thousands of prospectors flocked to the region, and before long W. S. Stratton located the famous Independence lode, one of the largest gold strikes in history. In three years, the population increased from 500 to 10,000 by 1893. Though $500,000,000 worth of gold ore was dug from Cripple Creek, Womack himself would die, penniless, on August 10, 1909.

Lunch: We dine for lunch in a local Cripple Creek restaurant with several menu choices.

Afternoon: After lunch and time to explore the Cripple Creek Heritage Museum and the town's Victorian architecture. We drive to the mining town of Victor, boyhood home of Lowell Thomas, then return via a scenic drive to Colorado Springs.

Dinner: Tonight we explore "old" Colorado City, the original and historic part of Colorado Springs. You will have free time to browse and have dinner on your own at one of the local restaurants.

Evening: Free for reflection and relaxation

DAY
5
Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods, plus Glen Eyrie
Colorado Springs, CO
B,L,D
Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs Airport

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel featuring hot and cold items, coffee, tea, assorted juices plus cooked to order eggs. After breakfast we take the Cog Railway to Pikes Peak Summit. “America’s Mountain” at over 14,100 feet elevation. Standing at the summit inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write her famous poem, “America the Beautiful”. Drive through the Garden of the Gods where we will have lunch and see the vivid movie on the creation of the Rockies. We conclude with a special guided tour of Glen Eyrie home of Civil War hero and founder of Colorado Springs, General Wm. Palmer.

Morning: Conventional railroads use the friction of wheels upon the rails, called "adhesion", to provide locomotive power. The Pikes Peak Cog, or rack, railroad uses a gear, "cog wheel", meshing into a special rack rail (mounted in the middle between the outer rails) to climb much steeper grades up to 25% than those possible with a standard adhesion railroad. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway's history began with one of the tourists who visited the Pikes Peak region in the late-1880's, Zalmon Simmons, inventor and founder of the Simmons Beautyrest Mattress Company. Mr. Simmons rode to the summit of Pike's Peak on a mule, partly to enjoy the view and partly to check upon one of his inventions: an insulator for the telegraph wires which ran to the Army Signal Station on the summit. The arduous, two day trip on a mule was the only way to reach the top in those days. Mr. Simmons was awed by the scenery but determined that the views should be experienced in a more civilized and comfortable manner. He was relaxing in one of Manitou Springs' mineral baths after his return, when the owner of his Hotel mentioned the idea of a railway to the top. Mr. Simmons agreed with the concept and set about providing the capital needed to fund such a venture. On the afternoon of June 30th, 1891, the first passenger train, carrying a church choir from Denver, made it to the summit.

Lunch: After our thrilling railway ride up Pikes Peak, we eat lunch at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center.

Afternoon: Continue field trip to the Broadmoor and other attractions. 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. As a result, by the turn of the 19th century, Colorado Springs was called "the city of millionaires." One of these millionaires was Spencer Penrose, who made his first fortune in Cripple Creek. He used his vast resources to build the Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain Highways and to establish the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Will Rogers Shrine and The Broadmoor Hotel. He and his wife, Julie, created the El Pomar Foundation, which still supports many worthy causes in the Pikes Peak region and across Colorado.

Dinner: Our dinner tonight is catered at our hotel.

Evening: Free for farewells and packing

DAY
6
Program ends after Breakfast, Independent Departures and Check-out by 10 am.
Colorado Springs, CO
B

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel featuring hot and cold items, coffee, tea, assorted juices plus cooked to order eggs.