The best thing about living in Colorado Springs is the super easy access to possibly the best city nature parks in the US! Take advantage of this if you visit here.
The info is not in the tourist guide books generally but the Palmer Park Park is spectacular, and the view from up high takes in most of the city and is wonderful at dusk and evening especially, but great any time of the day. Go! YOU will be glad you did, and take your dog also, if you have one. It's free, too. Best inner city views of this sort in the entire country and hardly anybody seems to mention it ever! I can't figure out why???
Other great parks here are the Helen Hunt falls area, Red Rock Canyon Park, Memorial Park, and of course, The Garden of the Gods. And all of them are free. If you have some money, then by all means head up to Pikes Peak and 'do a fourteener' the easy way. But do check out the Palmer Park viewpoints from up high. Even if you are in a wheelchair you can get to where that great view is! Where else can one find the view that is there smack dab in the big city?
Fondest memory: Summertime is special during what we call the monsoon season, when almost every other day rain showers happen in the afternoons and evenings JUly and August mainly that cool the city off from the summer heat. If you come in from Texas this place is heaven!
I (Barb) went to and graduated from the USAFA. While the course was difficult for me, I did get to accomplish my main goal of becoming a pilot. Photo 3 was me as a plebe. Photo 4 was me as a first class.
Fondest memory: My least favorite thing was the plebe year camp (photo 2). Graduation was the best thing about going to the USAFA
Many people assume the name Garden of the Gods comes from a native American name for the area. In fact, the name of the park only dates back to August 1859 when two surveyors helping to set up nearby Colorado City were exploring the nearby areas. Upon discovering the site, one of the surveyors, M. S. Beach, suggested that it would be a "capital place for a beer garden." His companion, the young Rufus Cable, awestruck by the impressive rock formations, exclaimed, "Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods." The beer garden never materialized, but the name stuck.
A park of sandstone hogback formations. The hogbacks are ridges of sandstone which layers instead of lying horizontally are even vertically oriented. And don’t think the human hand touched those stones, all of them are created by nature, and this is why they look so amazingly.
The park was given to the city of Colorado Springs in 1909 by the children of railroad magnate Charles Elliot Perkins, in fulfillment of his wish that it be kept forever open and free to the public. As a result, this amazing park can be enjoyed free of charge.
November 1 - April 30: 5 a.m. - 9 p.m.
May 1 - October 31: 5 a.m. - 11 p.m.
About the Garden of the Gods
Across S. Tejon Street from Pioneers Museum there is a sculpture of Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike, who saw Pikes Peak and unsuccessfully climbed it. When Pike and his three friends failed to climb to the peak, he cold it “Grand Peak”, which eventually was named by Pike’s name.
Sculptor Rich Muno
About Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike
William Seymour was the first person of African descent to serve on a jury in the El Paso County Courthouse and a founding member of St. John’s Baptist Church; the first black Baptist Church built in the Colorado Springs’ area.
The sculpture was designed by New Mexico artist, Stephanie Huerta.
Sculpture of Katharine Lee Bates, the author of “America the Beautiful” by Omaha artist John Lajba. As a storytellers say Katharine made a trip to Pikes Peak in 1893, which inspired her to write four original stanzas to what later became America the Beautiful. Piece was published in 1895. Although she rewrote some sections, it has remained the same since 1904 when part of the third stanza was altered. Prior to this time the author received criticism for the word “beautiful” but she refused to change the term since she claimed it best described America. Miss Bates retained the copyright to insure there would be no misprints or deliberate changes of her beloved hymn and it has remained the same ever since then.
Sculpture “The End of an Era – Circa 1960" by George W. Lundeen, artist from Loveland. The sculpture is a gift from Lieutenant Colonel Chandler W. and Melitta E. Bergen. The monument recognizes a century of skiing in Colorado and honors those who pioneered the sport. As one of the signs explains, the sculpture “depicts a sport poised on the edge of change. Soon metal and synthetic would become standard in ski construction in place of wood that had been in use for more than 4,000 years.”
Wow, I even didn’t think of it!
The skier wears the old-times skiing out-fit to show a contrast with present skiers.
Read more about old outfits in my Colorado Springs Cultural Tips including a brief history of Colorado skiing.
Following The Setting Sun is a new one for Colorado Springs. It was installed in April 2005 on the east side of Pioneers Museum. It looks as an opened stainless steel pyramid and sun inside. The pyramid has different carvings that reflect Western historical motives. It was supposed to catch a pioneer spirit.
Frankly speaking, I didn’t find anything attractive in this monument, maybe because of too modern looking steel on the view of Pioneers Museum. But I always considered myself as a conservative about building new monuments near historical buildings. I guess I have no taste, if this monument was approved.
Other street names likely were inspired by Palmer's wife, Queen, who suggested they honor the history and geography of the West. That's why streets south of Pikes Peak Avenue have Spanish names: Cucharras, Vermijo and Huerfano (the name for Colorado Avenue until Colorado City was annexed in 1917).
Many north of Pikes Peak Avenue reflect the area's French trapper background: Bijou, St. Vrain and Cache La Poudre.
The main north-south avenues, Cascade, Tejon, Nevada and Wahsatch, are named after mountain ranges.
Winfield Scott Stratton Post Office in Colorado Springs, named by an act of Congress in 1995; Stratton had sold the land the post office was built on to the federal government at a fraction of its value with the understanding that it would be used for the post office.
Address: 201 East Pikes Peak Avenue.
On the north side of Pioneers Museum you will see a sculpture of a man and children with pumpkins. This sculpture is dedicated to Dominico (Nick) T. Venetucci (July 23, 1911 – September 7, 2004).
Born in Papetown, a northern Colorado Springs community, Nick worked in the family orchard and caddied at Patty Jewett and the Broadmoor. His first full-time job was at Blattman Nursery.
At the age 22 he began a baseball career in the New York Yankee Organization. As a catcher he was moved from Class D to Class A in the minor league system. It was then that the Venetucci family bought the ranch. He left baseball at this point to assist the family farm.
Nick won many awards at the State Fair for his farm products. In 1950 he became known as “The Pumpkin Man.” He received natioanl recognition for this achievement as he served 30,000 young people a year in the great pumpkin giveaway. Many of these youngsters came back to work on the farm and were frequent visitors at the Venetucci’s.
Notoriety of “The Pumpkin Man” has been given through Reader’s Digest and Charles Kuralt’s book and television series On The Road.
From monument’s plaque
Pioneers Museum is located in a former El Paso County Courthouse built in 1903.
Admission is free.
You can see old renovated court room, unfortunately only from the doorway, an old carriage. I think most interesting is exhibition of Native Americans clothes, household things, pottery, and art work, located on the first floor. Actually museum is not so large so you won’t spend a lot of time there.
Address: 215 South Tejon Street
Hours: Year round Tuesday – Saturday 10am to 5 pm, June-August Sundays 1 pm-5 pm.
Pioneers Museum Web site
Acacia Park is a small park in a downtown. It is Colorado Springs' first park, donated by General William Jackson Palmer in 1871. It was initially landscaped by John Blair, a Scots landscaper who also designed the grounds for General Palmer’s home, Glen Eyrie. By 1901, its
name had changed from North Park to Acacia Park.
It is always merry on weekends and holidays. It holds a lot of events. At western part of the park there is the Uncle Wilber Fountain with pop-jets shooting from the ground. A lot of fun for children, and of course parents, and photographers.
The stage (bandshell), located at the southern end of the Acacia Park was added in 1914, replacing a wood frame constructed in 1888.
Before I have read the history about park's bandshell, I was sure it was recent addition to the park. It was interesting to know that people of the end of XIX and of the beginning of XX centuries were as eager to perfomances on the stages as we are, the people of XXI century.