Explore Locally Colorado Springs

Explore Locally

Family and friends visiting Colorado Springs this summer might be disappointed to find an iconic local attraction, The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway, out of action.

It will be back: The railway is being rebuilt with a reopening targeted for 2021. Another famed attraction, the Air Force Academy’s Cadet Chapel, was set to close this summer as well for renovations, but those repairs have been delayed indefinitely.

So you can still tour the chapel and the rest of the academy grounds, including the newly renovated planetarium. And you can still, of course, get to the top of Pikes Peak (see p. 17).

But while you’re pondering those and other must-sees, such as the Garden of the Gods, this could also be a good time to get off the beaten path and visit some lesser-known attractions. Here are just a few.

Paint Mines Interpretive Park

The Paint Mines are an archaeological treasure and natural wonder hidden in the grasslands east of Colorado Springs. They’re so named because of the colorful clay deposits once used by American Indians to make paint.

Studies have found that humans lived in the area as far back as 9,000 years ago. The park is listed as an archaeological district in the National Register of Historic Places.

IF YOU GO: 29950 Paint Mines Road. Open daily dawn to dusk. Visitors are asked to stay off the unique sandstone formations. Four miles of trails. For directions and more information, go to https://communityservices.elpasoco.com/parks-and-recreation/paint-mines-interpretive-park/.

May Natural History Museum

This museum—aka the "Bug Museum"—claims to have the world’s largest private insect collection with more than 7,000 species of butterflies, moths, beetles, spiders, and more. A giant statue of a Hercules beetle is the first to greet visitors.

"In an era when exotic bugs are exploited as reality show snack treats, the May Museum reminds us of how special they really are," RoadsideAmerica.com says.

IF YOU GO: 710 Rock Creek Canyon Road east of Colorado Springs. Open daily from May 1 to Sept. 30. For rates and other information, go to https://coloradospringsbugmuseum.com.

The National Museum of World War II Aviation

This museum is home to a large collection of aircraft, most fully restored to flying condition, along with more than 3,000 artifacts and historical documents. Its mission is "to provide unique educational experiences that promote a deeper understanding of the historical importance of American aviation in World War II and its role in shaping the world we live in today."

IF YOU GO: 755 Aviation Way. For hours and cost, go to http://worldwarIIaviation.org or call 637-7559.

Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center

Take a trip back in time—waaay back in time—at this museum in Woodland Park. The museum features fossils from North America’s Cretaceous period, including marine reptiles, pterosaurs, and dinosaurs along with a working fossil lab that visitors can peek in on, a children’s play area, and hands-on educational activities.

IF YOU GO: 2015 S. Fairview St. Open 9 am–6 pm, Monday through Saturday; 10 am–5 pm, Sunday. For rates and more info, go to www.rmdrc.com. (If you have a budding paleontologist in your group, continue west to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, home to one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world. https://www.nps.gov/flfo/index.htm.)

The Money Museum

This museum, operated by the American Numismatic Association, is the country’s largest museum devoted to numismatics: the study or collection of coins, tokens, and paper money. Among the rarities on display is one of the most complete U.S. gold coin collections ever assembled. The museum’s newest exhibition, Money of Empire: Elizabeth to Elizabeth, opened in March and celebrates the history of the British Empire.

IF YOU GO: 818 N. Cascade Ave., next door to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Open 10:30 am–5 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. For rates and other information, go to www.money.org/money-museum.

TO THE TOP: No cog railway? No problem.

You can still drive to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak. But, with a new Summit House under construction and the Pikes Peak Highway more congested because of the railway’s closing, you may have to take a shuttle at least part of the way. The shuttle is based on demand; operating hours vary. Go to https://coloradosprings.gov/pikes-peak-americas-mountain for details. There are also various tour group operators that go up the highway.