I regret to inform Lao Tzu that our ideas of a good traveler differ much. He refers to a good traveler as one who “has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” If that is indeed the measure of a good traveler, then I fall under the pictured caption of “epic failure.” I like to make a plan, work the plan, and stick to the plan…with a little wiggle room of course.
When Ron and I were discussing our vacation to Manitou Springs, I scoured Pinterest for the best places to visit, along with reviews from mamas and papas who had traveled with their bear cubs and lived to tell about it. It is with gratitude to those bloggers who have gone before in blazing a well-marked trail, that I present our own.
Here are Five Things To Do on Your Manitou Springs Vacation…With Children:
1. The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Pikes Peak is known as, America’s Mountain. It is also the mountain view which inspired Katharine Lee Bates to pen a poem entitled, America the Beautiful, which we sing today. Interesting to note that America the Beautiful was in the running to become the national anthem, but, as we know, was beaten by The Star-Spangled Banner on March 3, 1931.
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway provides a majestic and entertaining way to reach the 14,115 foot summit of Pikes Peak. Bring extra layers as the temperature drops 30 degrees with your ascent. Bring water to drink on the ride, but be aware there are no bathrooms on the train.
We suggest buying the famous donuts as soon as you reach the summit, heading outside for some scenic views and photography opportunities, then a quick trip to the dwindling lines in the bathrooms before your descent on the train. You will have a total of 30 minutes to take in the sights and re-board.
2. Manitou Incline and Barr Trail
The Manitou Incline is a converted rail-car track. It is an intense one mile ascent with a 2,000 foot elevation gain. Not for the faint of heart or those lacking determination! We hiked the Manitou Incline with our seven and five year old children. Hydration and a flexible attitude are key. This was an adventure for each of us. Luckily, the kids had no idea how extreme an undertaking this hike was; even though I had repeatedly try to enlighten them. We trained for this hike by walking in the very flat city parks of Florida! Be aware if you should attempt this with small children, there are no bathrooms beside the covering of trees. Come prepared!
We loved this hike and felt a great sense of accomplishment upon completion; however, if you are not in the physical or mental state to attempt this hike, I would not suggest tackling it. This was fourth or fifth hike as a family and, at a total of 5 miles our longest hike to date.
We completed the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail in 5.5 hours. We arrived just before 6:00 AM to park in the upper parking lot of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. The attendant said the other parking lot had been full since 4:30 AM. SO…arrive very early. Additionally, we hiked on a Saturday, so the trail was fairly busy. The hikers were friendly and very supportive of our little ones attempting this intimidating hike. One man, Don, even waited for us at the top to cheer us on and take our family picture!
3. Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is by far one of the most breathtaking views and photo opportunities in Manitou Springs. It is filled with moderate hikes and bike paths plus opportunities for horse back riding in the park. The park hosts thirteen points to park and view named rock formations without the need to make a hike. However, we suggest walking in a bit as you might spot some of the beautiful mule deer within the park. For the uber adventurer, you can obtain a free permit, and with the right gear, even climb these majestic red rocks!
It is worth repeating, arrive early! Being the earlier riser in Colorado means having the parks to yourself. Arrive before the gift shops and nature centers open. We tried to be in the car, or at the location, by 7:00 or 7:30. By 10:30 all the other travelers are beginning to fill the parking lots and diminish the atmosphere and ability to take quality pictures of the scenery or your family.
4. Helen Hunt Falls
Helen Hunt Falls hosts a pleasant hike through the forest with the melodic beauty of a waterfall and stream. We opted to drive to the falls then hiked 2/3 of a mile up a moderately steep trail above Helen Hunt Falls to reach Silver Cascade Falls. This was our kids first waterfall to see in person and they loved exploring along the stream, putting their hands in the water, and watching the water rush by.
5. Navigators Creation Tour at Glen Eyrie
Due to flooding a few years ago, the Glen Eyrie Creation Tours had been suspended for safety reasons. It wasn’t until we arrived in Manitou Springs that we discovered they had reopened the tours this summer. Once we found out the tours were back on, the remainder of our trip wasn’t on days the tours are offered (Wednesday through Saturday). Glen Eyrie Creation Tours is a wonderful way for the whole family to learn about creation, the flood, and the reason for the rock formations we see around the world post-flood. I hope that our family can take part in one of these tours the next time we are in the area.
Thank you for taking the time to share in our memories of a great trip. May this little guide help you as you take a vacation, a stay-cation, or anything in between in the magnificent surroundings of Manitou Springs, Colorado.Leave a Comment