Stunning Seven Falls in Colorado Springs, Colorado

The are many wonderful waterfalls throughout Colorado, especially when you hike in the high country during early summer. Not everyone, however, has time to get into the high country, so if you are visiting Colorado Springs it is definitely worth while to go to Seven Falls. Although it is seven distinct falls, it is really one waterfall that cascades across seven distinct rock faces to create the seven unique falls. The entire area is beautiful and well worth walking through the canyon where the falls reside. If you are willing to climb the 224 steps to the top of the falls, you will be rewarded with wonderful views and also have the option to hike one of the trails that are at the top. Across from the falls, you will find an elevator that will take you to a viewing platform that provides wonderful views of Seven Falls. Even if you hike to the top of the falls, the views from the platform give you a different perspective of the falls.

View of Seven Falls from the Observation Deck
People Climbing the Steep Stairs
Waterfall with Pool
Looking Down from the Falls

Going up the steep stairs that are adjacent to the falls, even if only part of the way, is certainly worth the effort as it gives you an opportunity to see the various waterfalls up close. There are a few rest areas on the staircase that allow you to not only take a break, but have the opportunity to step out of the way of others and enjoy the amazing views. At least for us, going down the stairs was a little more unnerving than heading up the stairs just because they are so steep and you spend the entire time looking down. Once you reach the bottom, however, there is a restaurant and an outdoor sitting area where you can enjoy something cool to drink.

Restaurant and River at the Base of Seven Falls
Powerful Waterfall
Getting Close to the Top
Observation Deck from Below

There is a fairly healthy price to visit the falls, $16.50 for adults thirteen and older and $10.50 for children two to twelve, which is certainly something to take into consideration. If you visit at dusk, the falls are lit up and during the holidays the lights are changed to multiple colors to make it even more festive. Just to visit the falls and climb the stairs, you should give yourself at least a couple of hours, but it is likely to take you closer to a half-day, especially if you stop in the restaurant for a meal.

Looking Down at a Waterfall
From the Base of the Falls
Tunnel to the Elevator to Get to Observation Deck
Canyon with Seven Falls

The Top Things to Do When Visiting Colorado Springs

We are fortunate to live in Colorado Springs, Colorado and enjoy taking advantage of all of the unique places to see in the area. Even though these are all popular sites for tourists to visit, they are also things that locals enjoy as well. In addition to those things in the city itself, we’ve also included a couple of day trip locations as well. Even though Denver is about an hour north of Colorado Springs, we did not include any locations there as they are worthy of their own list. No matter what you do when coming to Colorado, making sure to get out and enjoy nature is certainly the highlight of any trip to this wonderful state. Here are our recommendations, in no particular order.

Pikes Peak from Garden of the Gods

  1. Pikes Peak – Whether driving to the top of Pikes Peak, taking the Cog Railway (when it is open), our even hiking to the top of the mountain, it is certainly a must do activity in Colorado Springs. Known as “America’s Mountain” for it being the inspiration to America the Beautiful, the views are absolutely stunning. With an elevation that is over 14,000 feet (4,250 meters), it is important to be aware of the effects of the altitude and people need to be sure to hydrate.

    Behind Kissing Camels in Garden of the Gods
  2.  Garden of the Gods – Walking or driving through this geological wonder is one of the most popular things to do when visiting Colorado Springs. To say that Garden of the Gods is truly beautiful would be an extreme understatement. With various rock formations such as balancing rock, steamboat rock, and kissing camels, there is a lot to see when visiting the park.

    Cadet Chapel at the Airforce Academy
  3.  The United States Air Force Academy – Located on the northern end of Colorado Springs, visiting this military campus is certainly worth the time. With many different statues depicting various aircraft and a chapel that is truly unique, it is worth going into the academy grounds and not just stopping at the viewing area that is located off of the highway. It is important to remember that this is an active military base, so there are times that it is closed to the public and you will have to show id upon reaching the gates.

    View from a Hike in Mueller State Park
  4.  Mueller State Park – We love hiking in this state park throughout the year, but it is definitely our favorite place to go when the leaves change in autumn. It is about an hour drive from Colorado Springs, but it is worth getting into the Rocky Mountains when coming to Colorado. There is also an opportunity to see a variety of wildlife in the park, so be sure to visit the visitor center and speak to the rangers to see where animals might be active.

    Downtown Shops in Manitou Springs
  5.  Historic Manitou Springs – Sitting on the outskirts of town, between Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak is Manitou Springs with its western charm. Many people choose to stay in Manitou Springs when coming to Colorado Springs, but even if you don’t stay there, it is worth visiting. There are many different shops, restaurants, and interesting buildings to see in this small town.

    Seven Falls from Eagles Nest
  6.  Seven Falls – Visiting this waterfall in the southern part of Colorado Springs is a popular attraction. It gives you a chance to get into the mountains without having to drive out of the city. It is a steep climb to the top of the falls, but it is certainly worth it to see the amazing views. If you even more adventurous, you can zip line in Seven Falls, but just walking through the park and eating at the restaurant at the base of the falls is worth the visit.

    Colorado Springs Zoo
  7.  The Colorado Springs Zoo – Although almost every city has a zoo, but the Colorado Springs Zoo is definitely different than any other zoo you may have been to. The zoo is the only mountain side zoo in America and has wonderful views of the city, especially if you go to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun. Make sure that you wear comfortable shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking along paths that take you higher and higher through the exhibits.

    Royal Gorge Railway
  8.  The Royal Gorge Train – Going to Canon City, located about an hour outside of Colorado Springs, is worth the drive just to see the amazing canyon. For really adventurous people, you can go whitewater rafting through the gorge, but for a more relaxing time, we’d recommend taking the historic railway along the river at the base of the canyon walls.

    Main Street in Cripple Creek
  9.  Cripple Creek – If you want to do a little gambling while enjoying some beautiful scenery, then a drive to Cripple Creek trip for you. It is about an hour and a half outside of Colorado Springs and is an easy day trip, but there are hotels if you would prefer. Since Mueller State Park is on the way to Cripple Creek, it can certainly be combined into a single visit.

There are a few other places that are often on people’s itineraries including the Cave of the Winds and the North Pole, but we found the above listed places to be some of the best of Colorado Springs. It is certainly a beautiful area and we would definitely recommend dedicated at least three days to the Colorado Springs area if you are planning a visit.

Hiking Barr Trail to the Top of Pikes Peak in Colorado

Barr trail starts in the town of Manitou Springs, which is located just outside of Colorado Springs, and quickly ascends into the Pike National Forest. Many people will hike or jog up the “Incline”, which is a steep trail that connects to Barr trail, so for the initial part of the hike, you will likely have many people running down as you hike up. The runners aren’t always in complete control of themselves, so you will find yourself stepping out of their way quite often. We have hiked the lower portion of Barr trail many times, but we only hiked the full trail that ends at the summit of Pikes Peak once. It was definitely one of the most difficult hikes that we’ve ever done due to both the length of the hike as well as the elevation gain.


Early in the Hike

Sign on Barr Trail, about 3 miles into the hike

View of Pikes Peak from Barr Trail

Lower Barr Trail

The entire hike is over twelve miles and has an elevation gain of over 7,000 feet (2,100 meters) to the peak, which is at 14,114 (4,301 meters). It certainly is not a hike for novices and was very much a challenge for us and we hike on a routine basis. Even if you are an experienced hiker, it is important to acclimate to the altitude of Colorado Springs for at least a couple of days before attempting to do the hike. Choosing the time of year to do the hike is important because even in the middle of summer it can snow on the top of Pikes Peak, so we hiked in August on a day when we knew that the temperatures would be fine at the base as well as the summit. Depending on the day, you may find yourself starting out in light weight clothing at the base and then layering up as you near the summit. It is also extremely important to be sure to stay hydrated with a combination of plain water and sports drinks.

Steep Hike at Points

Barr Trail at Tree Line

So Close and Yet So Far

View from Barr Trail, Garden of the Gods at the Base of the Mountain

Sign for the Summit

The hardest part of the trail was when we reached the tree line at 11,000 feet (3,350 meters) and the air thins out. The Summit House sits on top of Pikes Peak and is a restaurant and souvenir shop, which is visible from the base on a clear day. Once you reach the tree line, the point where the air is too thin for plants to grow, the Summit House seems like it should be close, but it is still a couple of hours away. Although we originally intended to hike up and then back down, it took longer to reach the summit that we anticipated, so we took the Cog Railway back down. The total hike to the summit took us about 8 hours, although we took our time and paced ourselves.

Standing on Top of Pikes Peak

We Were Exhausted When We Reached the Summit