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.

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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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✨2017 Was an Incredible Year for me ✨

I traveled on 3 international trips with AMAZING people (Thailand, Alberta Canada, and Peru), I camped in 5 new national parks, and I put thousandssss of Michigan road trip miles on the car. 🚙

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I’ve worn glasses or contacts since I was in middle school. Every year my eye sight would get worse and worse- I made the decision I would get lasik surgery and ditch the contacts & glasses- and it’s one of the best investments I’ve made. This year my body was challenged in so many ways. From eye surgery to zero gravity flying to hiking into the highest altitude I’ve ever experienced- 2017 had it all. ⛰

 

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In 2017 I knocked some big stuff off the bucket list including white water rafting, rock climbing, and starting a travel blog. 💻

I have so many wonderful amazing things to be thankful for this year. But these two amazing beings here are what I am most grateful for. They came into my life a year ago and I am so excited I get to start 2018 with them– Happy New Year everyone!

 

The Perfect Weekend in Denver

Some of my favorite trips are the ones that happen spontaneously, that being said- I spend a lot of my time on skyscanner. Almost every single day, I’m looking at flights out of Detroit to see what kind of deals are out there (everyone always asks me how I travel so much= skyscanner). So when I found roundtrip tickets to Denver out of Detroit for under $100 ROUNDTRIP per person- I booked Logan and I tickets .0001 seconds later. (Umm sweetheart, we’re going to Denver next weekend ok?) Did I mention the tickets were for Friday to Sunday? Aka 48 hours? The perfect weekend getaway was officially set into motion.

Thoughts of mountains, road trips, and all the good food started taking over. I started thinking about all the amazing things on my Pinterest Board there are to do in Denver and the surrounding areas (I knew we couldn’t go THAT close to the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and NOT explore it.) We only had 48 hours from take off to landing back in Detroit. So with so little time and so much to do how do you choose? Two days. Two ways to spend them, one day in the city, one in the mountains = perfect!

We landed in Denver early Friday morning and picked up our rental car. It was 11 a.m. in Denver but we had been up since 5 a.m. Detroit time and this girl hadn’t eaten yet- that made finding food priority #1. I read everywhere that Snooze was THE place for brunch in Denver. This place certainly lived up to the hype. There was a 45 minute wait for a table (still hungry) and the restaurant was located in an old train station full of cute shops and eateries. We set off to explore a bit, and may have done some snacking while we waited…

Pasty snack, Pigtrain Coffee

Eggs benny classic and chili verde, Snooze

Breakfast Pot Pie, Snooze

After what might have been my favorite meal of the trip and some long over due caffeine we headed out to explore Denver. We popped into a couple local dispensaries to see what legal marijuana was all about. The weed dispensaries are everywhere, on every square block, of Denver. You’re usually within walking distance of one in most parts of the city. Since we turned 21 a couple years ago… (ok so it was more then a couple) we could just walk into any that looked cool. One was located in this older abandoned building… it was on the top floor of this old creepy spiral carpeted staircase. We contemplated turning back each step up we took, thinking surely we were in the wrong spot (we weren’t).


We ventured over to Larimer Square to explore the local shops and see the famous lights (we went a little too early, they weren’t turned on yet). It was September, just the beginning of the fall season- and the weather that day was perfect, cloudy and 70 degrees. Perfect for walking around with a delicious cup of coffee. While we walked around the city, I decided Denver was my favorite city. I loved the vibes, the art pieces (even the restaurant signs were creative and artsy), the cleanliness of the city. This mountain town was someplace I must return to someday.

Larimer Square


The cottage we were staying at in Estes Park (Dripping Springs Resort) was about an hour an a half drive from the city of Denver. As soon as we pulled into the drive way I knew this place was magical. We parked the car outside the cute entrance way and followed the path into the main house to check in. The dogs of the owners of the B&B greeted us with excited barks. We were shown a tour of the grounds, which included a smoking gazebo, a porch with chairs and hammocks (all overlooking the river) a few nature walking paths through the woods, and our cabin.


I felt like I was living a fairy tale. We stayed in the Canopy Cottage B&B Room. The cabin was meticulously decorated, with a warm and homey feel. We had a private porch with soft outdoor lighting overlooking the river that included a jacuzzi tub and bistro table & chairs. I didn’t think we’d be making it to the RMNP. This place was perfect, and I never wanted to leave. At this point in the night we had been traveling all day and the last thing I wanted to do was get back in the car. There was a mini fridge, teapot and wine glasses- but no food. But because this place is perfect- there was an assortment of menus in the room- and a delivery service ($3.00 usd) for any of the restaurants on the list… I’m sorry what? You’ll deliver me food to my cabin in the middle of no where so I don’t have to leave? Did I mention that I love this place? When the food arrived we ate out on the patio and warmed up in the jacuzzi before bed. The canopy bed was draped in sheers with twinkle lights, covered in a mountain of fluffy pillows- it was a beautiful night so we left the door open, and fell asleep to the sounds of the river.

Breakfast was served at 8:30 a.m. sharp in the main house. We were served a home cooked meal family style- of hot oatmeal, potato pancakes, breakfast meat, fresh fruit, and eggs. It was the perfect meal to get us ready for the long day of exploring we had ahead of us in the Rockies. Before we left we were given our picnic basket (you can picnic baskets, s’mores, and other cute romantics) which we enjoyed later that day on our road trip through the RMNP.

Estes Park is only a 10 minute drive to the entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Our plan was to just drive on Trail Ridge Road (highway 34) from Estes Park to Grand Lake. It’s a 48 mile route that connects to east and west side of the rocky mountains. The drive was absolutely beautiful. It was early fall- and the yellow birch trees were in full force everywhere you looked, dotting the green colored mountains.

The drive along Trail Ridge Road (commonly referred to as the highway to the sky) crosses the Continental Divide. Of the 48 miles on this route- 11 of those miles are driven ABOVE the treeline, with elevation near 11,500 feet. The evergreen forest starts to disappear as you climb higher into the windy tundra to the highest point at 12,183 feet in elevation. We parked the car to walk out to the viewing point. With the high winds the clouds and fog made the visibility of the mountains a peep show of peaks popping in and out of view.

A word of caution should you decide to travel the Trail Ridge Road through the park for a few hours- the air is thin at these high altitudes (10,500- 13,000 ft). Traffic is slow- and the blind drop offs along the way make the drive strenuous. The weather is unpredictable- and travel above the tree lines should be accomplished early in the day.

We continued back down in elevation towards the city of Grand Lake to have some dinner. It had started to rain when we arrived, and the temperature had started to drop drastically so we decided to skip the kayaking. Instead we walked around downtown shopping at the little shops and checking out the food scene (not as impressive as Denver) we found a pizza joint and got some coffee for the road trip back.

We headed north on 34 back towards Estes Park. When we arrived at the west entrance of RMNP, the guard informed us that the road to Estes Park was closed due to snow. WHAT. We were just there a couple hours ago and it was beautiful! We had to turn around- we can’t get back home that way… that meant a 4 hour detour AROUND the park- not even through it.

Thankfully Colorado is all gorgeous and the ride home turned out to be more scenic then we anticipated! Despite the turn around- we had an amazing weekend exploring the beautiful Denver and Rocky Mountain National Park. See below for a complete itinerary of our weekend in Denver- what can YOU do in two days?

48 Hours in Denver Itinerary

Friday, Sep. 22 – Sunday, Sep. 24

Friday 9/22: Depart DTW 7:00 am SPIRIT

    • Arrive Denver 8:00 am
    • Pick up rental car
    • Snooze (1701 Wynkoop St #150, Denver, CO 80202)
    • Tattered Cover Book Store
    • Ice Cream Riot (1238 E Colfax Ave)
    • Pig Train Coffee
    • Milkbox Ice Creamery
    • Larimer Square (1430 Larimer St)

Drive 1.5 hours to Dripping Springs Resort

Saturday 9/23: Rocky Mountain NP

Trail Ridge Road: The highest continuously paved highway in the U.S., this 48-mile route connects the town of Grand Lake (on Rocky Mountain’s west side) to Estes Park (the eastern gateway). In between, it scales treeless peaks and crosses the Continental Divide. Trail head pull offs are located along the road to explore deeper into the park.

Grand Lake: Paddle a kayak or SUP across Colorado’s largest natural lake, which affords wide-open panoramas of the surrounding peaks.

Sunday 9/24: Depart DEN 9:30 am SPIRIT

    • Arrive DTW 2:21 PM