What a Panic Attack Feels Like

My story about what a panic attack feels like, to help people understand the severity of the mental illness and how it affects my life. Including the travel limitations it can inflict.
Peru; November 2017; 7 days; 2 panic attacks

What a Panic Attack Feels Like

I wanted to write about what a panic attack feels like to help people understand the severity of the mental illness and how it affects my life. Including the travel limitations it can inflict in addition to the every challenges. Writing this post about what happened to me was difficult, and it brought out a lot of emotions as I was writing. But it’s time to talk about it, I can no longer stay silent and hide my chronic illnesses out of fear of judgement, prejudice, or discrimination. I struggle everyday to win the internal battle my mental illnesses raging within me.

I debated if I should start integrating mental health into my travel blog for over a year, when I was first diagnosed. Times are changing, faster than anyone ever could have predicted. The travel industry has collapsed these past few weeks with the COVID-19 virus wreaking havoc on the world, and the uncertainty of the future has many of us scared. Which is why I think now more than ever, it is so important to start these conversations. Understanding each others differences, and working together to overcome the adversity will lead us into a brighter future. My name is Chelsea, I have Panic Disorder and this is my story.


Hawaii, Feb 2019, 7 days, 3 panic attacks

What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is on the severe end of the anxiety disorder spectrum. But on the severe side… My panic attacks personally happen anywhere, at anytime, unexpectedly, and don’t need a “trigger” for the attack to happen. With no warning of the onset, it makes the disorder extremely difficult to manage. So what exactly is panic disorder? what does a panic attack feel like?

An abrupt feeling of terror washes over you when there is no real danger. It’s the feeling that you are losing control of your mind, your body, and yourself. It feels like you’re dying. Your brain is telling you, you’re dying! But it’s not just “feelings”. A panic attack also has physical symptoms, which fuels the panic that you’re dying, symptoms such as:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Severe chest or stomach pain
  • Breathing difficulty, not being able to breathe
  • Weakness, dizziness, confusion
  • Sweating
  • Feeling hot or a cold chill sometimes going from one to the other and back. Or feeling both hot/cold at the same time.
  • Tingly or numb hands & limbs
North Cascades National Park; July 2019; 2 panic attacks

Quality of Life

Aside from the physical and mental pain that an attack has on your body- after you recover, you’re terrified at what happened. Everyday I fear that another attack will consume me. I often avoid places where past attacks have happened, especially in public places- like an airport. I once sat on an airport bench in LAX for almost an hour during a panic attack. Unable to move, feeling like I would throw up at any minute, with blurred vision. How could I go through TSA like that? I barely made my flight as I pushed through the panic and disconnected mentally from my physical being.

Banff National Park Road trip; September 2019; 7 days; 1 panic attack

For some people, the fear of another attack takes over their lives and they cannot leave their homes. The disorder is more common in women than men and can start to develop as a young adult. Most people can get better with cognitive therapy treatment and medication, but there is no cure. So my question to you reader is this-

So i’ll ask you again – on a scale of 1-10 how severe do you consider panic disorder to be?

Not Severe 1 – 10 Disabling

Remember that number.


My Story

The following story, is from my most recent panic attack experience. It was the most severe attack I’ve ever had, lasting for almost 2.5 hours. I woke up the morning after, and wrote down my account as best I could before I no longer remembered. I sat down at my computer with my eyes closed, and went back to the night before, just typing as the words came to me. There were two times where I needed to take a break and stop writing because of the tears that came with it. This is what I wrote, unedited. So … welcome to my head.

**TRIGGER WARNING** The following contains potentially distressing content. Reader discretion is advised.

What a Panic Attack Feels Like

Logan and I had pizza friday, and were watching how to train your dragon we were almost to the end, and there was a scene where the dragons and humans were flying through the clouds, popping in and out of sight. i started to get nauseous, not understanding why, bad pizza? i laid my head back and closed my eyes as i just listened. a few minutes later the nausea got worse, and i began feeling like i was overheating. i had to cool my body temperature down, something wasn’t right. i laid on the bathroom tile, thinking i was going to be sick with food poisoning, still trying to cool down my rapidly growing temperature. it wasn’t working, my nausea and the stomach pain were getting worse.

i go outside onto the deck in the 40 degree cool winter night, and sat in a t-shirt, sweatpants, and no socks while I sit there for what felt like just minutes. Today Logan said it was more like 30-45 minutes. Logan came out to check and see if i was cold, or wanted to come inside. I wasn’t. i was enjoying the cool breeze on my face, and the comfort that the darkness was bringing as I stared out into the nothingness.

this is where my memories begin to fade, and i begin to come in and out of consciousness. i lay outside on the deck just repeating over and over to logan that my stomach hurt and something was wrong. he brought me my anti nausea medication upon my request, and sat outside with me in his winter jacket and outdoor clothing. i lay there helpless, in pain, terrified, and unable to move for fear that if i open my eyes, the nausea will return.

now i’m inside on the kitchen floor because I’m freezing and shivering. logan tells me i need to back away from the door because mia (our dog) is outside and she needs to come in. ok i say. nothing happens, i cant open my eyes, all i feel is fear, and pain. something isn’t right i say. on all fours, i drag myself further into the kitchen, trying to make it to the couch.

the pain becomes so bad i collapse and start to cry. just laying there being afraid, of what i didn’t know. i couldn’t get up. it wasn’t safe. my leg started shaking, and it felt as if i was having convulsions from my toes up to my thigh, at the same time the pain in my stomach becomes unbearable and i cry out in pain as i fight through the wave of pain trying not to pass out.

my breathing starts to slow, it’s going slower, slower, more shallow. logan, somethings not right. somethings wrong with me i tell him. i can’t breathe. can you google my symptoms? i think i’m dying. can you find out whats wrong? please, i beg him. the convulsions start again, and i’m gone once more, lost in the pain. the pain of my legs from shaking uncontrollably, the pain of it going up and into my stomach, making it cramp so bad i thought it might be period cramps or kidney stones.

Chels i dont know whats wrong, i dont know whats happening. sheer terror brings a cold chill down my whole body, and i begin to shake, and shiver. what’s wrong with me repeats in my head as a loop. i ask logan again, whats wrong with me? …i don’t know sweetheart, did you google my symptoms? not yet sweetie, i don’t know what you want me to google.

i think i have the coronavirus. i think i’m dying. i cant breathe.. i cant open my eyes, all i feel is pain. everything hurts. i think i’m dying. i tell him. my breathing slows again, and i get a reprieve from the pain coursing through my veins. i’m laying halfway in between the living room and the kitchen now. i open my eyes, and look into his for the first time. i think i’m having a panic attack, i tell him. i need my medicine, i don’t want to die. which medicine? he asks.

chels…chelsea… i feel him touch me…which medicine chels? i don’t remember. why is he asking about medicine? whats happening to me i ask him. i think you’re sick honey, he says. i start to cry again, my time has come, i’m not ready to die i cry. I think we need to take you to the hospital, logan says. whats the hospital? i ask. “the fact that you don’t know what a hospital is, makes me certain we need to take you in, you’re sick sweetheart.”

this is it. my time has come. i didn’t think i’d die this young. they say death sneaks up on us. am i dying? i ask him. no, no you’re not dying, we just need to get you to the hospital. what’s a hospital? i’m so confused. its where people go when they’re sick. but i’m not sick, i’m’ not i tell him. just let me rest here. just let me close my eyes, i just need to go to sleep. did you get my medicine? no…you still need to tell me what one

babe.. i think i’m having a panic attack, i tell him. can you get me my medicine? babe…i beg him, please. please make it go away. something is wrong. something isn’t right. what’s happening to me? you’re sick sweetheart.. xanax i say. i need my xanax, i think i’m having a panic attack. i feel him get up. which cupboard are they in? the cupboard downstairs. where babe, which cupboard, i’m downstairs, open your eyes. i can’t… the light. please turn the light off. i’m not ready. I’m not ready to leave you. I don’t want to die.

the pain starts. i roll into a ball trying to stop it, but i feel it coming, my legs begin shaking again, and it continues up up into my stomach, into my head. im gone. is it ok to take the medicine with the other one you took? i don’t know. i say. i don’t know. i fall asleep. babe…wake up, take your medicine. where is it i ask? its in your hand, its still in your hand. ok. its ok if i take it? yes, he says, go ahead and take it. ok. i fall asleep.

chels.. c’mon. lets go to the hospital. whats the hospital? what happens there? is it because i’m dying? i have the coronavirus dont i? i start crying, i cant breathe again. Logan tries to calm me, no, no you don’t have the virus. you might have food poisoning. i fade out again. still laying on the floor, i open my eyes not knowing how much time had passed. everything is foggy, but I see his face. chels i think it’s time to go to the hospital. what’s a hospital? i ask him once again. i think i’m having a panic attack. let me sleep. let me just sleep and i’ll be ok.

chels.. you’re sick. this isn’t normal, you can’t tell me what a hospital is. he’s right. what is a hospital. i don’t wanna go there. he gets up and i grab hold of his arm as the terror shoots through me again, begging him to please whatever he does- please don’t leave me. The pain is coming, my eyes water as my legs begin shaking again, i’m so nauseous. he gets up and turns a light on, NOOOO i yell. please no!! please turn it off. It hurts me. Why don’t you try and throw up he says… i cant. i cant do it. why not? its not allowed. i just cant do it. did you get my medicine?

i look into my hand, it’s not there- did you get my medicine? yes chels… you took it awhile ago, it was in your hand. are you sure? I ask. it’s not there. it’s time to go chels. where are we going? the hospital. whats the hospital i ask him again. wait… i’ve asked him this before. i know it. logan- did i ask you that already? yes, a couple times he says. but i don’t remember. am i looping again? i can’t remember anything. it’s just darkness. i try to remember what a hospital is. what it means to be sick. i’m dying. you’re dying, i tell myself. he wants me to go there so they can save me, but it’s too late. i’m fading. i fall asleep.

come on chels, its time. no… no please, let me stay just a little longer. i don’t want to die yet. i open my eyes and all i can see is logan’s face. i look into his eyes, i hear the dogs whining around me, they know too i think. ok.. ok what he says? ok we can go to the hospital. i don’t want to die yet. he helps me get up and i walk for the first time into the living room to put my shoes on. i’m at the door, and the light goes on. panic.

no. no no no no no. turn it off. turn it off i say. i’m on the couch in a ball, with my eyes closed and the pain coming back full force. please shut them off, they’re hurting me. there’s going to be lots of lights at the hospital he says… the lights won’t hurt you. the darkness feels good. whats the hospital? i ask confused. that’s where we’re going he said, put your shoes on ok? ok. i can do that. i get up and put my shoes on. the light turns on. i crumble to the floor right where i stood. crying, begging, please no.. please just please keep the light off. it hurts me. it’s killing me.

that’s why we’re going to the hospital logan says, where are your cards? where are all your medical cards? on my desk. are they all here he asks? yes, those are them. WAIT. no… no i say. we can’t go. i dont have insurance. i can’t go to the emergency. call an ambulance instead. but i can’t go to the hospital. he tries helping me up again to go.

no… no. am i sick? i ask again. yes… you’re sick sweetheart. so this isn’t normal? no.. am i sick like grandma Quida was? i ask him, am i going to be with her now? the light scares me. i’m not ready. i’m not ready to go towards the light. i can’t leave you. no… you’re not sick like grandma Quida he said.. you’re just sick, and need a doctor.

i’ll go upstairs i say. i’ll go upstairs and sleep in the bed. is that normal? yes..that’s normal. but i think we should still go to the hospital, he said. the lights. no… no i’m not sick, i promise. if i make it upstairs, do we have to go to the hospital?

if you make it upstairs and fall asleep/start feeling better, we don’t have to go. ok. ok..ok. i can do that. “can you turn off all the lights?” they’re off sweetheart. no… no there’s still a light i can see it. “that’s a candle, you won’t be able to get upstairs in the dark.

panic. i can’t… i can’t go. please make all the light go away. the blinds too. the windows. the candle. all the light. i won’t make it up there unless it’s gone. i start to fall asleep again. they’re off – he says. it’s dark now.. can i help you upstairs? i open my eyes, its dark. it’s safe now.

yes. yes, can you help me upstairs? i’m in bed now. “is this normal?” i ask him. is what normal? me. me being in bed like this and going to sleep. that’s ok? yes he says. i can go to sleep? yes. What will happen? i won’t wake up will i. panic. i don’t want to die. i want to wake up. “you’ll go to sleep, and then wake up” he says. he’s lying. i know i’m dying, he’s too scared to admit it. “will you stay with me until i fall asleep?” yes. i’ll stay.

i woke up this morning and every inch of my body hurt. an aching hurt, like when you over do it at the gym. something bad happened last night, and i just want to sleep. i’m so tired. i’m exhausted. i can’t keep my eyes open. logan brought me some coffee, and laid with me, rubbed my back – and i began to relax again, falling back to sleep. i’m awake now, fully alert. remembering and recounting what happened. i think it’s important to write this down. it needs to be shared.

it wasn’t just me that was terrified, and cold with fear. Logan watched me, helped me, took care of me, and saw what happened to me. he watched for hours, as the loops, pain, terror, and death consumed me. he watched, and could do nothing to stop it. i can only imagine what it must have been like for him. its not fair. its not fair to either of us. for me to live with these brain diseases. this was one of the worst panic attacks i’ve had in months. it came out of nowhere – blindsiding me. slowly taking over control of not just my body, but my mind. until eventually, i wasn’t there anymore. me. chelsea. my essence. it just wasn’t there.


So i’ll ask you again – on a scale of 1-10 how severe do you consider panic disorder to be?

Not Severe 1 – 10 Disabling



If you or someone you know struggles with Panic Disorder, or other mental health illnesses- talk about it. Don’t be afraid, it’s time.

My younger sister is reaching the same age that I was when my mental health illnesses took a decline, and became unbearable. I recognize the pain in her eyes, the confusion, and the desperate need for help. I sought help, but it would be 7 years before I received the correct diagnosis, and treatment.

Working for GM; 7 years; 30+ panic attacks; 3 hospital visits

A month before my panic attack, my sister was in the hospital, when I spoke with her partner he explained what happened. Memory loss. Unable to speak. Unable to move. Pain. Paralysis. She was cleared from the hospital a few hours after her arrival. Diagnosis? Panic attack. She is now receiving the help she needs, and her mental health is improving as we fight this hereditary illness together.

Don’t keep the pain locked inside to consume you.

Being sick is not your fault. It doesn’t matter if it’s the flu, depression, panic disorder, or cancer- you did not choose this, to be sick. Don’t let others make you feel ashamed, or like “it’s all in your head”. Those people are ignorant, and you know the truth. Keep fighting, it won’t be this bad forever, and the world needs you.

xx

Nevada; February 2020; 5 days; 0 panic attacks

Pin this post to help others struggling & help create awareness for those that don’t understand the struggle that is mental illness.



The Benefits of Using a Travel Agent

I used to wonder what working with a Travel Agent would be like. Why use a Travel Agent when I can just book it myself? Turns out there are many reasons – the benefits of working with Travel Agents goes way beyond just saving you money.

They provide a service to make planning your vacation easier, relieving you of the headache that comes from having to plan, build an itinerary, find the best companies, and booking the trip. All that stress goes POOF, and you sit back like a queen, receiving the best service you’ve had! I only wish I’d discovered the benefits of Travel Agents sooner.


Here are the benefits of using a Travel Agent!

Many people still consider using a Travel Agent “old school” or “old fashioned”. However research shows that the demand for Travel Agents is starting to rise, thanks mostly to the millennials (Rock On friends!) Some people may even think Travel Agents are just for the wealthy or frequent flyers.

But they aren’t… A short weekend getaway for a couple, a family road trip down to Florida, National Park campers, or a month long luxury European trip exploring several countries. Agents are for anyone looking for guidance and security planning their trip.

I used to wonder what working with a Travel Agent would be like. Why use a Travel Agent when I can just book it myself? Turns out - there are huge benefits to using a Travel Agent to make your travel arrangements, AND it won't cost more. I only wish I'd discovered this sooner! #booking #benefits #travelagent #savemoney

Why Should You Use a Travel Agent?

Did you know there are certain days of the week that offer the best flight rates? or that oftentimes prices are negotiable? How about the best time to purchase to get the best rate? Travel Agents do. They monitor the weekly, everchanging sales and promotions and where the best deals are.


Benefits of Using a Travel Agent

Travel Agents do so much more than just booking your vacation. They will make sure you are prepared from the time you leave your home, until the time that you return.

They work directly with their partners (Delta, Marriott, Emirates, Disney, Hertz, Carnival etc) who have passed the screening of top of the line travel arrangements- so you have peace of mind that you are touring with award winning high quality tour companies and partners.

Travel Advisors do so much more than just booking your vacation. They will make sure you are prepared from the time you leave your home, until the time that you return. #travelagent #benefits #booking #savemoney

Support Your Community

When you book through a 3rd party online, you’re paying that 3rd party to book your reservations for you. You may not realize it, because the fee is hidden in “taxes & fees” which is included in your overall total.

Instead of sending that money to the 3rd party middle man, why not support your local Travel Agent instead? Keep your money in the community, and help support your local businesses.

When you book through 3rd parties online, you're paying that 3rd party to book your reservations for you. You may not realize it, because the fee is included in your overall total. Why not support your local Travel Agent instead? Keep your money in the community, and help support your local businesses.

Advisors are not just for people who don’t like to plan

My frequent flyer friends have said to me “but I enjoy researching and planning my own trip.” I completely understand this, I really do. So why can’t you? Work WITH your Travel Agent to plan your trip. Plan it, and work with an advisor to book it. Advisors specialize in the destination that you’re going to on your trip & know the most efficient planning methods, so geek out and have fun talking about your plans together.

Your Agent will help guide you, brainstorm with you, ask you questions you may not have thought of, and help you to relax and have fun planning your trip in an informative way.

PRO TIP: if you are researching and googling parts of your trip such as airfare or hotel costs, the companies put cookies into your computer. That means each time you look up the price, they know how many times and which dates. So guess what? You'll start to see the rates go up a little bit each time.

PRO TIP: if you are researching and googling parts of your trip such as airfare or hotel costs, the companies put cookies into your computer. That means each time you look up the price, they know how many times and which dates. So guess what? You’ll start to see the rates go up a little bit each time.

PRO TIP: if you are researching and googling parts of your trip such as airfare or hotel costs, the companies put cookies into your computer. That means each time you look up the price, they know how many times and which dates. So guess what? You'll start to see the rates go up a little bit each time.

They will Save you Money

Sneaky, right!? So remember, as you’re researching, you are unintentionally costing yourself money. I’m not saying don’t research, go nuts! Then reach out to your advisor, tell them what your thoughts are, and let your advisor make the arrangements for you. Use their expertise, resources, and connections to save you money!

Travel Agents have a partnership with the hotel, and that will often come with added perks or benefits for you as their client. Benefits that are only available to you because you worked with a Travel Agent to make your vacation reservations for you.

Travel Agents have a partnership with the hotel, and that will often come with added perks or benefits for you as their client. Benefits that are only available to you because you worked with a Travel Agent to make your vacation reservations for you.

VIP Treatment

How do you and your special occasion stand out in Las Vegas from the hundreds of other travelocity reservations? Sorry, but you don’t. Imagine what would happen if you called your hotel before your arrival and requested VIP treatment, with a bottle of wine & bon bons waiting in your room, oh! and a room upgrade for a better view… because you don’t get to travel often, and this is a special occasion.

The hotel most likely will think you’re ridiculous and pompous, probably won’t be accommodating all of your requests, and will ask themselves “who does this person think they ARE?”

When you book with a travel agent, they CAN and WILL ask for VIP treatment for you and the others you’re traveling with. That could be a free breakfast, room upgrades for better views, and resort credits to use once you arrive towards shops, spas, restaurants, etc at the hotel.

When you book with a travel agent, they CAN and WILL ask for VIP treatment for you and the others you're traveling with. That could be a free breakfast, room upgrades for better views, and resort credits to use once you arrive towards shops, spas, restaurants, etc at the hotel.

Benefit of Travel Agents – They Save You Time

Another benefit of working with a travel agent is the communication. Instead of waiting on hold whenever you have a question or issue with your booking, you can text your agent. Or use whatever your desired method of communication – text, e-mail, phone, facetime etc, your agent will accommodate you.

One of the benefits of working with a travel agent is the communication. Instead of waiting on hold whenever you have a question or issue with your booking, you can text your agent.

Experience Personal Service

Have the comfort of knowing you can reach your agent personally, instead of waiting on the phone for hours for “the next available representative that will be with you shortly.” Your agent will provide a much more personal, speedier assistance with your questions & concerns regarding your vacation.

Have the comfort of knowing you can reach your agent personally,  instead of waiting on the phone for hours for "the next available representative that will be with you shortly." Your advisor will provide a much more personal, speedier assistance with your questions & concerns regarding your vacation.

Travel Agents Understand How Travel Insurance Works

Going on vacation is expensive, having an emergency on vacation is even MORE expensive. What if you are traveling without your children, then your child gets sick or hurt while you’re in Spain? Or how about just as you’re boarding your flight, your boss calls to tell you the big meeting you’ve been preparing for months has been changed to tomorrow instead of next week?

Do you understand your travel insurance policy? Will it cover your emergency trip cancellation? Did you even purchase travel insurance?! What happens now?!

Do you understand your travel insurance policy? Will it cover your emergency trip cancellation? Did you even purchase travel insurance?! What happens now?!

The disadvantage of not having travel insurance, is that all the cancellation fees, medical emergency costs, new booking arrangements, or transfer fees are paid by Y-O-U. I always insure my trips when I travel because you never know what could happen. Just ask my friend Kaytee about that one time in Thailand…


Comfort in Knowing You’re Covered

Calling the insurance company is a pain in the you know what. When you book with a travel agent, you can call them and get. The benefit of Travel Agents is that they know what insurance policy is best for your trip. They will recommend the best option for you, and insure your trip, giving you the comfort of knowing if any emergencies came up, you’re covered.

Is insurance a waste of money if you don’t use it? Yes and no. I don’t know about you – but I would much rather have insurance for $100, that I don’t use. Instead of paying $10,000 for the emergency that I didn’t purchase insurance on. I’m prone to getting ill on trips, so having insurance gives me security, knowing that worst case scenario – I don’t have to pay all the expenses that come with the illness.

**For international travelers coming to the U.S. I would HIGHLY recommend purchasing travelers insurance. Our medical care is extremely expensive, and even a quick trip to the emergency room is enough to drown you in debt. **

Why should you use a Travel Agent? Well, there are huge benefits to using a Travel Agent instead of booking the trip yourself, PLUS it won't cost you more.

Another benefit of Travel Agents is that they provide excellent quality service and dedication to highest standards. They LOVE traveling, it’s their passion, it’s not just “a job”. They are extremely knowledgeable with how the travel industry operates, opening doors for you than if you were to book on your own.

Have you worked with a Travel Agent before? What did you like & dislike about the experience?

Please Share or Pin this post if you enjoyed it 🙂

Why should you use a Travel Agent? Well, there are huge benefits to using a Travel Agent instead of booking the trip yourself, PLUS it won't cost you more.
Why should you use a Travel Agent? Well, there are huge benefits to using a Travel Agent instead of booking the trip yourself, PLUS it won't cost you more.
Why should you use a Travel Agent? Well, there are huge benefits to using a Travel Agent instead of booking the trip yourself, PLUS it won't cost you more.
Why should you use a Travel Agent? Well, there are huge benefits to using a Travel Agent instead of booking the trip yourself, PLUS it won't cost you more.
Why should you use a Travel Agent? Well, there are huge benefits to using a Travel Agent instead of booking the trip yourself, PLUS it won't cost you more.
Why should you use a Travel Agent? Well, there are huge benefits to using a Travel Agent instead of booking the trip yourself, PLUS it won't cost you more.


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The Perfect Weekend in Colorado Springs

Located just over an hour south of Denver is Colorado Springs. This beautiful area offers sunny skies and crisp mountain air all year round. Filled with outdoor activities, beautiful landscapes, and adventure this area is perfect for a weekend trip. In January Logan and I visited Colorado Springs for a weekend and celebrated our anniversary.

Here are some of the highlights and must see spots we found during our Perfect Weekend in Colorado Springs!


Everything you need to know for the Perfect Weekend in Colorado Springs, USA. Look no further - I cover where to stay, hikes, hidden gems, and the best stops for your weekend in Colorado!

How to Get There

Fly into Denver (DEN) International Airport & drive a rental car 1.5 hours south to Colorado Springs. You can also fly into the Colorado Springs airport (COS), putting you right in the city. If you choose to do this you can either rent a car, or take public transportation.

 


Rent a Car

From Denver Airport drive 1.5 hours south down highway 25 towards Colorado Springs. During our weekend in Colorado Springs we rented a car to have the freedom and flexibility to move at our own pace.

CLICK HERE to Save 10% on a Weekend or Weekly Car Rental at Thrifty! >>>>Use code 101349

CLICK HERE to Save on Car Rentals with Thrifty’s Veterans Advantage Program

Garden of the Gods Park

Where to Stay in Colorado Springs

Downtown Colorado Springs: Downtown is buzzing with boutiques, parks, eateries, and a lively nightlife scene. Drink at the local breweries, and wine bars, then dance the night away at a club or concert! The area is a designated creative district. Walk around the city and you’ll find sculptures dotting its streets.

West Colorado Springs: This residential area is quiet and laid back. You’ll be close to nature to enjoy outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking and rock climbing. West Colorado Springs is also home to both the Garden of the Gods and the Red Rock Canyon Open Space.

Manitou Springs: A great resort area to stay for the perfect weekend in Colorado Springs. Just outside of the city limits, the town is known for its incredible panoramic views of Pikes Peak. You’ll find The Manitou Cliff Dwellings, a group of reassembled ancient cliff structures and the entrance to Pike Peaks Highway here. Hike up a steep slope on the Manitou Incline Trail or shop on Manitou Avenue, home to art galleries and specialty boutiques.

Camping: Spend some quality time in the great outdoors at one of the many Colorado Springs campgrounds. You’ll find rustic walk on sites, fully equipped RV sites, and even cabins!


Pikes Peak

A new summit complex area began being built in late 2019. Construction of the summit will continue into 2020, with an estimated completion by later this year. Please be aware of your surroundings when you reach the top, as it is considered an active construction site. There are more details about the construction status here. Opening is scheduled for fall 2020.   

There are four main ways to explore Pikes Peak and reach the summit:

Drive Your Car

Experience the beauty of the mountain as you ascend up the scenic Pikes Peak Highway. There is a $15 per person entry fee to access the road that winds its way up the mountain. **Currently Pikes Peak Summit is considered an active construction zone**

Save 10% on a Weekend or Weekly Car Rental at Thrifty! >>Use code 101349

Private & Group Tours

If you’re short on time and want to make the most out of your weekend in Colorado Springs you can find private and group tours HERE that will take you to the summit of Pikes Peak as well.  

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For The Really Adventurous

For the really adventurous visitors, try biking or hiking to the peak. There are tour companies that will drive you to the top and provide a guided bike tour down the mountain.

Go hiking on one of the many trails in the Pikes Peak area. If you plan on hiking your way to the top – Barr Trail is the most popular route to reach the summit. No matter which method you choose you will not be disappointed with Pikes Peak – “America’s Mountain” is stunning.


Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Red Rock Canyon Open Space is a 1,474-acre city park in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Here, exposed layers of sedimentary rock have been turned upward at the base of Pikes Peak. Deep canyons filled with gorgeous colored rocks in gold, salmon and other colors.

Everything you need to know for the Perfect Weekend in Colorado Springs, USA. Look no further - I cover where to stay, hikes, hidden gems, and the best stops for your weekend in Colorado!

The Red Rock Canyon Open Space Park was privately owned until 2003, when it was bought by the City of Colorado Springs as open space. The land was divided into five separate tracts, and each track has specific restrictions as to how it can be utilized.

Location

Red Rock Canyon Open Space is located along Highway 24. 

3550 W High St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

This striking park in Colorado Springs is DRONE and DOG FRIENDLY!! Other activities in the park include a campground, hiking trails, horse trails, a bike park, mountain bike trails, a large fenced in dog park, and more!

Trails

  • Download printable trail map
  • Contemplative Trail
  • Sand Canyon Trail
  • Mesa/Greenlee Trail loop
  • Roundup Trail
  • Upper and Lower dog loops (off-leash dog areas)
  • Quarry Trail
  • Hogback Trail/Lion Loop

Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Paint Mines Interpretive Park is Colorado’s BEST KEPT SECRET. Just under an hour drive east of Colorado Springs will take you to Colorado’s most unique open space. The Paint Mines are given their name for their beautiful, bright colorful clays. The clay was once collected by American Indians to make paint in various colors.

Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Colorado Springs, USA

The bright rainbow colored bands get their colors from oxidized iron compounds. The Paint Mines Interpretive Park contains evidence of human life from as far back as 9,000 years ago! The parks geological formations are spires and hoodoos, formed through various erosive actions. Creating gullies and layers of colored clay you see along the hike.

Everything you need to know for the Perfect Weekend in Colorado Springs, USA. Look no further - I cover where to stay, hikes, hidden gems, and the best stops for your weekend in Colorado!

Learn more with my post about the Paint Mines Park HERE!


Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Landmark of 1,300 acres of stunning red sandstone formations. The park is free to enter, making this a budget friendly activity! Make sure to bring your camera, you’re going to want pictures for this stunner of a park.

Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Landmark in Colorado Springs, USA

You won’t want to miss this gem during your perfect weekend in Colorado Springs! There are 15 miles of hiking trails spread throughout the Garden of the Gods Park. The park is family friendly with difficulty levels that vary from easy, paved paths to scrambling. There are trails for all everybody. Stop at the Visitor Center and pick up a free trail map. While you’re there you can ask a volunteer what trails they suggest for your skill level.

The Balance Stone in Garden of the Gods park, Colorado Springs, USA

Park Information

Length: ½ mile – 4 miles depending on trail

Duration: 20 minutes – 4 hours depending on trail

Trail Difficulty: easy to moderate depending on trail

Scenery: gorgeous views of the unique rock formations found in Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain

Recommended for: Hikers, Dogs, Horses, Mountain Biking

Cost: Free

The park is open year round May 1 – Oct 31 5am – 11pm
Nov 1 – Apr 30 5am – 9pm

Join a small group tour that takes you to both the Garden of the Gods AND Pikes Peak. If you’re looking to sit back and relax, take a full day tour and enjoy those PLUS a city tour.

Garden of the Gods ; The Perfect Weekend in Colorado Springs

Be sure to check out the Seven Falls and Cave of the Winds Park if you have time!



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Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Paint Mines Interpretive Park is Colorado's BEST KEPT SECRET. Rainbow colored formations just outside of Colorado Springs. #rainbow #paintmines #coloradoparks #hiddengem #paintminespark

Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Paint Mines Interpretive Park is Colorado’s BEST KEPT SECRET. Logan and I had the perfect weekend in Colorado Springs, driving around and exploring the unique area. Just under an hour drive east if Colorado Springs will take you to Colorado’s most unique open space. The Paint Mines are given their name for their beautiful, bright colorful clays. The clay was once collected by American Indians to make paint in various colors.

Paint Mines Interpretive Park is Colorado's BEST KEPT SECRET. Rainbow colored formations just outside of Colorado Springs. #rainbow #paintmines #coloradoparks #hiddengem #paintminespark

The bright rainbow colored bands get their colors from oxidized iron compounds. The Paint Mines Interpretive Park contains evidence of human life from as far back as 9,000 years ago! The parks geological formations are spires and hoodoos, formed through various erosive actions. Creating gullies and layers of colored clay you see along the hike.

Stay in Colorado Springs

Located in Calhan, Colorado the park is a little off the grid so to speak. You will want to plan for one day to visit the park. The Calhan Inn is the only hotel in the immediate area. I would recommend staying in Colorado Springs so you have more restaurant and activities selections to choose from.

The park features beautiful wild flowers, colorful formations and is good for all skill levels. Paint Mines Trail is a 3.4 mile interpretive loop trail, that will take you through rainbow colored spires and hoo doos. The best time to use the trail is from March until October. We visited in January; and enjoyed our visit very much.

Paint Mines Location


29950 Paint Mines Road
Calhan, CO 80808

How to Get There

You will need your own vehicle to visit the park. There is no public transportation that will get you there. My recommendation is to pick up a rental car at Denver Airport for the weekend, so you can explore the area to the fullest.

Know Before You Go

  • Their is a restroom located at the main entrance of the park which is open year round.
  • The park is free to enter; and open dawn to dusk; a permit is available for those that want to take photographs at night.
  • Paint Mines Informational Brochure and Map (PDF)
  • Take nothing, and leave nothing behind.
Discover Colorado's hidden gem, the Paint Mines Interpretive Park. Rainbow colored formations just outside of Colorado Springs. #rainbow #paintmines #coloradoparks #hiddengem #paintminespark
Discover Colorado's hidden gem, the Paint Mines Interpretive Park. Rainbow colored formations just outside of Colorado Springs. #rainbow #paintmines #coloradoparks #hiddengem #paintminespark

The Paint Mines make a gorgeous location for all types of photography. Photographers may use the park for non-commercial portrait and landscape photography. Please follow all park rules including:

  • Stay on designated trails at all times.
  • Climbing and/or scrambling on Paint Mine formations is prohibited.
  • Bikes, Pets, and horses are prohibited.
  • Entering the Paint Mine formations is prohibited.
  • All plants, wildlife, rocks, minerals, and historic artifacts within park boundaries are protected by law.
  • Do not remove, destroy, or disturb any of these features.
  • Practice the Leave No Trace Principles

PLEASE STAY ON ALL TRAILS!

The people I captured in these next few pictures are breaking the above rules; by entering the paint mine formations and climbing/scrambling them.

INCORRECT

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INCORRECT

You will still get beautiful pictures of the formations by following the leave no trace principles and park rules. Logan & I walked the trail through the formations, and then up to the top of the trailhead for a different perspective. There are so many ways you can get creative, and capture that perfect shot without damaging the formations.

Colorado's best best kept secret is also an open space park. Waiting to be explored, this hidden gem is a local secret. You'll find rainbow colored hoo doos and spires  just outside of Colorado Springs. #rainbow #paintmines #coloradoparks #hiddengem #paintminespark
Colorado's best open space park is a hidden gem, most people have never heard of.  Rainbow colored formations just outside of Colorado Springs. #rainbow #paintmines #coloradoparks #hiddengem #paintminespark
Colorado's best open space park is a hidden gem, most people have never heard of.  Rainbow colored formations just outside of Colorado Springs. #rainbow #paintmines #coloradoparks #hiddengem #paintminespark

CORRECT

CORRECT

There are trails like the one in the picture above and below that will take you throughout the rock formations. It can be very narrow at times, but with plenty of room to step to the side for fellow hikers.

Witness a geological wonder within The Paint Mines Interpretive Park. When you visit, protect the park & please be considerate of the fragile formations. DO NOT stray from the trail.

Activities In The Area

For more activities in the Colorado Springs area, check out the options below. With so much to do in the area, I recommend stretching out your weekend with more days if you can. It will be worth it!

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Colorado's best best kept secret is also an open space park. Waiting to be explored, this hidden gem is a local secret. You'll find rainbow colored hoo doos and spires  just outside of Colorado Springs. #rainbow #paintmines #coloradoparks #hiddengem #paintminespark
The adventure guide to Colorado's paint mines interpretive park, just outside of Colorado Springs. #coloradosprings #openspace #paintmines #interpretivepark
Colorado's best best kept secret is also an open space park. Waiting to be explored, this hidden gem is a local secret. You'll find rainbow colored hoo doos and spires  just outside of Colorado Springs. #rainbow #paintmines #coloradoparks #hiddengem #paintminespark
The adventure guide to Colorado's paint mines interpretive park, just outside of Colorado Springs. #coloradosprings #openspace #paintmines #interpretivepark
Colorado's best best kept secret is also an open space park. Waiting to be explored, this hidden gem is a local secret. You'll find rainbow colored hoo doos and spires  just outside of Colorado Springs. #rainbow #paintmines #coloradoparks #hiddengem #paintminespark
The adventure guide to Colorado's paint mines interpretive park, just outside of Colorado Springs. #coloradosprings #openspace #paintmines #interpretivepark

Looking for more adventures? Check out my other posts to inspire!

These 20 National Parks are a must visit! Get your 2020 bucket list kicked off with one of these incredible parks! #nationalparks #unitedstates #canada #bucketlist
These 19 National Parks are a must visit! Get your bucket list for the year kicked off with one of these incredible parks! #nationalparks #unitedstates #canada #bucketlist

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