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Colordo Springs is a perfect place to experience all sorts of adventures for the outdoor enthusiast. It's proximity to the mountains makes hiking, trail running, climbing and mountain biking all natural fits, but its proximity to the plains create a great environment for things like road biking as well. The climate (high desert with less than 16 inches of annual precipitation) is also quite conducive to year-round activities as the roads generally clear of any snow within a few days.
The biggest challenge is the 12.7 mile Barr Trail from Manitou Springs (6500 feet) to the summit of Pikes Peak (14,110 feet). While the trail is open all year, the winter months are especially challenging due to ice flows and deep drifts on the upper reaches. On the other hand, there are numerous trails that remain open year-round.
Garden of the Gods trails are generally snow and ice free all year long except for shady and protected areas. Palmer Park, in the middle south area of town, also has hilly terrain that remains free of winter impediments. Newly opened Red Rocks Canyon (near Manitou Springs) is located on a mostly north facing slope and while many trails remain bare, some shaded areas hold snow longer.
Climbing in the Garden of the Gods is always an option for experienced climbers even in the depth of winter (climbers must be registered with the visitors center and have a helmet and rope). Choose your routes according to exposure and time of day. The massive red spires hold and reflect heat (remember that you are at 6000 feet) amazingly well. Cheyenne Canyon has excellent granite faces, but their northern exposure generally limits climbing to April through November. SImilar to the Garden, Red Rock Canyon has nice routes for beginning climbers.
Road biking is enjoyable year round as well, but waiting till mid-day in the winter will assure one of a warmer ride. There is a wonderful 15-mile loop through Manitou Springs and the Garden of the Gods (make sure to follow every out and back-down Ridge Road, for example) that can be combined with a side trip through the estate of General Palmer (Glen Eyrie- open only on weekdays from 9 until 4) that is especially beautiful. The Air Force Academy is once again allowing visitors to ride through its grounds and the outer loop is a rolling 12.5 mile beautifully maintained road that hosted the World Championships in the 1980's. Also of note are many roads on the southern and eastern edges of town that can be combined for longer rides. THe Old Peyton Highway/Squirrel Creek Road area around Fountain is a nice 40 mile loop.
Mountain biking in Colorado Springs is an undiscoverd gem. Palmer Loop/Section 16 offers a technical challenge and Captain JAcks is a great loop with a high speed (but watch out for the gravel) plunge. Jones Downhill is one of the epic Colorado downhills that can be ridden or shuttled. There is a short section of trail in the Garden of the Gods open to mountain biking, but the popularity of these trails has led to a ban on bikes for most trails. Nearby Red Rocks Canyon has a very nice loop for mountain bikes, however, with great views of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods.
Whitewater Rafting Colorado | Rafting Colorado 1-866-766-7238 - on the Arkansas River, 35 minutes from Colorado Springs in Cañon City. Trips for all ages and abilites.They offer half-day, full-day, and overnight river-side camping trips.
Colorado Whitewater Rafting trips are great near Colorado Springs. The best family trip is through Brown's Canyon. it is a trip with great Class III intermediate whitewater (awesome for families) and really stunning scenery. Brown's Canyon is a proposed federal wilderness area, so there are no roads running through the canyon, etc. That makes it substantially better than other Class III sections on the Arkansas like Parkdale/Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Here is a little more info about Brown's Canyon rafting and Arkansas River rafting trips. The drive from Colorado Springs to do a Brown's Canyon trip is about an hour and a half, but definitely worth it. You can do a full day, 3/4 day, half day or overnight trip through Brown's Canyon.
The Colorado Climbing Company 719-209-6649, guided rock and ice climbing in Garden of the Gods, Cheyenne Canyon, Red Rocks, and more. Trips and instruction for any experience level. Guides are certified by the AMGA and are some of the most experienced climbers in the area. Offer half, full, and long days of climbing.