Colorado Springs: a quick day trip

Colorado Springs is accessible from Denver by car. (Turo is a great option for inexpensive and easy car rentals). If you are blessed to have a car at your disposal, find yourself in Colorado Springs for the day. You’ll return to Ember Hostel with amazing photos and a good kind of tired muscles.

Start your day with a visit to Garden of the Gods. This National Natural Landmark offers free admission to some of the most astonishing and memorable scenery in Colorado, featuring unusual sandstone rock formations up to 300 feet high silhouetted against the backdrop of Pikes Peak and the deep blue Colorado sky. You can explore the entire park by car via a paved loop, but many of the hiking and walking trails are also paved and offer excellent access for visitors with mobility limitations.

From here, take your visit to new heights and explore Pikes Peak itself. The summit can be reached via the Pikes Peak Highway by car, on foot via the strenuous Barr Trail.

Explore in the peak’s shadow at the Southern Slope Recreation Area, with hiking and singletrack trails, fishing and bighorn-sheep viewing. If you’re feeling extreme, traverse 2,000 feet in elevation in one mile on the Manitou Incline, one of the most challenging trails in the country. Or head over to the Red Rock Canyon Open Space, with picnic areas, hiking trails, a free-ride bike park, technical climbing routes and off-leash dog loops. If your pooch is along, finish his day at the Pub Dog, the state’s only restaurant where dogs can eat indoors with their owners and plenty of Fido-friendly amenities make it worth their while.

There’s also the Overdrive Raceway, the nation’s first two-story indoor electric go-kart race track, featuring two quarter-mile Formula One race tracks and other amusements.

Before dinner, stop by the new Winery at Pikes Peak in Cascade for a few sips at the base of Pikes Peak and then check out Manitou Springs’ SunWater Spa’s hot soaking springs for further relaxation.

For dinner, explore historic Manitou Springs, named one of the 10 Coolest Small Towns in the country by Budget Travel magazine. This cozy mountain town is home to several historic restaurants, as well as many favorite neighborhood eateries. If you have time, wander the charming streets and check out the artisan galleries that call Manitou home.

Andy Ward