When Texans think of Colorado, we think of epic adventures.
And Central Colorado offers plenty of them in the form of mountainous day trips. Read on for more of our favorites — including tips on great place to stay. (For Adventures #1 and #2, read Part One here.)
Adventure #3: Terror-Dactyl at Cave of the Winds
The Terror-dactyl is the most thrilling thrill ride in all of Colorado. The seat looks like a ski lift chair pitched on the edge of Williams Canyon in Manitou Springs. Don’t take a seat in that chair unless you’re willing to free fall at 100 miles per hour and drop 150 feet into the belly of the 200-foot canyon. (Buyer beware! There’s no refund of your $40 if you have a change of heart.)
Adventure junkies will delight in this wild ride, the first of its kind anywhere in the world. As a wellness travel writer, I see a lot of things; this was literally the most breathtaking view I’ve ever seen.
Cave of the Winds
If a dialed-down version of adventure suits you at this property, take a cave tour through Cave of the Winds. Discovered in Williams Canyon in 1881, this stunner is thought to be millions of years old. Take a well-illuminated guided tour for a one-hour historical lesson on the cave and a refresher on stalagmites and stalactites. Or, you can up the adventure ante by going on a 90-minute Haunted Lantern Tour. Your all-in-good-fun guide will tell frightening folklore and scary ghost stories while navigating you through narrow tunnels of the cave.
Where to Stay for your Central Colorado Adventure: Rough, Regal or Refined
Just because you’re in Colorado for the adventure doesn’t mean you need to “rough it” with overnight accommodations.
If pitching a tent in the woods does appeal to you, there’s the Crags Campground, a 25-capacity site for tents, RVs and small trailers. This may be a wise choice if you want to get that early bird start on hiking Pikes Peak from Crags Trailhead. There is a well-known bear problem, though, and if that’s more than you can bear, amble elsewhere.
Lap of Luxury
The opposite of pitching a tent is lodging at The Broadmoor, which our Travel Editor visited a few years back. This Forbes Five-Star resort in Colorado Springs boasts an award-winning golf course, and spa. If luxurious hospitality is your antidote to tough physical challenges by day, The Broadmoor may be your elevated high life.
Not Too Rough, Not Too Regal
What worked for my balance of neither wanting to chase Yogi Bear out of my tent nor wanting to enter an AAA Five-Diamond Resort looking like Indiana Jones was an approachable Marriott.
The Colorado Springs Marriott offers comfortable rooms, an understated but spectacular hotel restaurant (the Italian chopped salad was a showstopper), and impressive fitness amenities.
One morn, in the hotel fitness center, I enjoyed a Peloton ride followed with functional fitness on a pull-up multi-station then pin-placed strength equipment that counted the length of my set in both time and reps on a digital monitor. On another morn, I went outside the back door of the hotel and trail ran 4 miles through Ute Valley Park. The trail was technical enough that trail running shoes were a must-have.
As a fitness enthusiast and adventure junkie, the Colorado Springs Marriott was the right lodging choice for me. It was my second trip to Manitou Springs/CO Springs in 5 years that I’ve stayed at this property. It’s a safe bet to say that the next time I return to the area for adventure, I’ll be staying at Colorado Springs Marriott.
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Cover photo: Hiking in the Garden of the Gods. Courtesy The Broadmoor, Colorado
Brook Benten Jimenez, M.Ed. is an Austin-based fitness expert and named Austin’s Fittest Fitness Professional, 2012. She travels Texas and beyond, seeking wellness adventures worth storytelling. Galavant with Brook on Instagram @BrookBenten.