El Paso County, Colorado, features over 2,100 square miles of beautiful land that is mountainous in the west and prairie in the east, with over 230 square miles of open space in El Paso County. Katharine Lee Bates, the author who penned America the Beautiful, was inspired by the magnificent scenery of El Paso County; a plaque at the summit of Pikes Peak (14,110 feet) commemorates this poem. Camping, hunting, fishing, mountain climbing, hiking, mountain biking and hang gliding are some of the activities enjoyed by residents and visitors who come to El Paso County. The United States Olympic Training Center, Pikes Peak Center and World Arena Ice Hall are also located here. County residents enjoy an average of 285 days of sunshine, 15 inches of rain and 35 inches of snow annually, and low humidity.
Areas of Interest
Nearby museums include the El Pomar Carriage Museum, the John May Museum Center (which houses thousands of exotic insects), Peterson Air and Space Museum, the Pikes Peak Ghost Town Museum, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, and the World Figure Skating Museum Hall of Fame.
Families can also head to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, which houses over 500 animals, many which are endangered. The zoo grounds also feature an antique carousel. Another must-see stop in El Paso County is the Will Rogers Shrine to the Sun, an 8,136 foot stone tower memorial. Excellent views of Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas can be seen from the tower.
The Flying W Ranch in Colorado Springs offers authentic chuck wagon dinners and stage shows. Visitors and residents can also visit Michael German's Magic Town Theater, which shows the Colorado Springs of yesteryear using mirrors, holograms and projections.
The Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site gives visitors a look at life in the late 1800s. Costumed docents work in the homestead, on the farm and in the orchard to illustrate life during the period. For those interested in military history, the U.S. Air Force Academy features a B-52 bomber, chapel, and planetarium for visitors.
Recreational points of interest include Bear Creek Nature Center, Garden of the Gods? where the Great Plains meet the Rockies at the base of Pikes Peak?Gold Camp Road, Seven Falls, which are best viewed from the Eagle's Nest up a 185 step stairway, and Pikes Peak. Pikes Peak, called "America's Mountain," stands at 14,110 feet above sea level and the 31st highest peak of the 54 Colorado peaks. Every year hundreds of runners attempt the Pikes Peak Marathon which starts at Manitou Springs, up to the summit and back.
At the base of Pikes Peak is the North Slope Recreation Area. Fishing, hiking, biking and picnicking is offered around three reservoirs, Crystal Creek Reservoir, North Catamount Reservoir and South Catamount Reservoir. Hiking and biking trails and fishing can be done around all three reservoirs, allowing visitors and residents to appreciate the beautiful scenery.
For disc golfing enthusiasts, Widefield Disc Golf Course provides a challenge for amateur and professional players. The State Championships have been held at this course three times, and was the site of the largest disc golf tournament ever in Colorado.
Residents can also take advantage of the parks located in and around El Paso County. Fox Run Regional Park, with its ponderosa pine forests and a variety of wildlife, features playgrounds, athletic fields, volleyball courts and picnic areas, as well as trailheads and interpretive displays. Fox Run is also a beautiful place to snowshoe and cross country ski in the winter. Palmer Lake Regional Recreation Area is popular with fishermen and birders. The lake, lined with willow trees, was used to fill the train engines on the Denver and Rio Grande narrow-gauge railroad. The trailhead of the Santa Fe Trail, a playground, volleyball court and picnic areas coupled with views of the Rampart Range make this a special place. The El Paso County Fair is held each summer in nearby Calhan and features animal shows, a rodeo, demolition derby, tractor pull, food of all varieties, and a contest to crown the next Fair Queen.