The United States Air Force Academy, just north of Colorado Springs, Colorado, is located in the foothills of the Rockies. Besides the opportunity to see military cadets engaged in various activities, the Academy grounds include a static display of aircraft and a beautiful chapel, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which is both futuristic and solemn.
Also in the Colorado Springs area is Pike’s Peak which has a certain mystique, even though it is only one of Colorado’s many mountains which tower over 14,000 feet (4,500 meters). Perhaps the allure has to do with the fact that it was here, at the top of the mountain, that Katherine Lee Bates was inspired to write the words of the song, America the Beautiful in 1893.
The main allure these days is the 30 km (19-mile) highway to the top which offers spectacular views along the way as well as at the summit. Understand that the drive is challenging because of the many hairpin turns and because of the elevation which frequently leaves visitors breathless. Actually, the downward trip may be more dangerous because of the excessive braking which may cause brake linings to overheat. National park rangers actually conduct a brake inspection on the downward journey and frequently ask visitors to pause for a while to allow their brakes to cool down.
Garden of the Gods State Park, located at the base of Pike’s Peak, near the city of Colorado Springs, has numerous, multi-colored, unusual rock formations, such as Balanced Rock and Kissing Camels. It is a Mecca for mountain climbers, since the sheer faces of the formations can assist in preparation for more formidable climbs elsewhere.