Colorado is a fantastic place to live, and there are those who yearn for the opportunity to reside in the nearly perfect climate and fresh mountain air. Colorado Springs, especially, is a treasure and delightful place to make a home.
For those of you who plan on heading our way, here are a few things you should know before you slap your “Pikes Peak or Bust” sign in your back window and set out to your Adventure Out West.
IT’S LEGAL: Rocky Mountain High, Fiddler’s Green, Super Bowl, Grass Fed…the list of euphemisms and puns could go on forever, but let’s just nip this in the bud right now… We know that the #1 question on everyone’s mind is if everyone in Colorado is “high.” While Colorado has legalized marijuana via the passage of Amendment 64, it is not a free-for-all pot party out here, and it doesn’t mean all of Colorado is in a state of being “high”!
THE LAWS: Despite the abundance of dispensaries, you need to be aware of the laws governing the use of this seven-leafed, controversial plant. It boils down to this: there are limits on how much you can have, and it must be consumed on private property. For complete information visit: ColoradoPotGuide.com or Colorado.gov
ALTITUDE SICKNESS: At an elevation of 6271 ft. in Colorado Springs proper, the real high that you need to watch out for is the altitude. It’s nothing to sneeze at for you low-landers headed our way. Altitude Sickness is real and can be debilitating while your body adjusts. The altitude can cause dehydration and nosebleeds. Take it easy for the first few weeks to acclimate before you tackle something like the Manitou Incline or Barr Trail. Also, drink lots and lots of water.
SUNBURNS: With the altitude comes some pretty sweet sunburns. The dry heat may not feel very hot outside (especially if you’re from the Midwest, South, or East) but that Colorado sunshine will leave a nice purple hue of pain if you’re not careful. It’s always a good idea to keep an SPF50 sunscreen nearby – especially for your littles.
OUT OF BREATH: Don’t be surprised if you find yourself gasping for breath at the simplest of tasks such as carrying the groceries in the house and walking up a small flight of stairs. It’s not you – there’s not as much oxygen up here and you will notice that you may get tired a little bit easier and short of breath. Need a little help catching your breath? Visit Ruffrano’s Oxygen Bar in Manitou Springs (yes, there is such a thing as an Oxygen Bar).
WE LOVE THE MILITARY
It’s no secret that Colorado Springs is home to the best military bases and personnel in the nation! Our city loves our service members. The city is surrounded on three sides by Fort Carson, Norad, the Air Force Academy, and Peterson Air Force Base. Combined, the military is the largest employer in Colorado Springs, accounting for 20% of the jobs. You will find that our citizens have a deep love and appreciation for the men and women in uniform.
We like our beer. There are more microbreweries per capita in Colorado that anywhere else in the nation. You don’t have to go far to find a perfect hangout for a night out with friends. Many have become popular gathering spots for professional meetings and networking groups of all types. And even though the beer is incredible, the mouth-watering and creative food dishes are irresistible. The worst part? Picking a favorite brewery and overeating!
FIT AND ACTIVE
Pack extra yoga pants and put away your dress clothes. It’s normal to see mom’s running with their strollers everywhere you go. Parks are always teeming with residents out enjoying our perfect weather. Every Tuesday night, all year round, downtown is overrun with the Jack Quinn’s walking and running club. Colorado Springs was rated one of the healthiest cities in the U.S. With hundreds of trails, numerous running clubs, rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, rafting, skiing, biking – it’s easy to stay motivated to keep in shape so you can enjoy our many local breweries and eateries. There is never an excuse to stay inside!
(FYI – we live and work in our activewear)
SMALL BUSINESS FRIENDLY
We shop small, eat local and thereby are distinguished as one of the best cities in the nation to start a business. Little cafes, breweries, and boutiques are scattered throughout the city meeting just about any need or wish you have. Nearly everyone you meet is an entrepreneur in some way. There are networking groups galore, like the Visionary Women’s Alliance. An abundance of folks is always nearby willing to come alongside and encourage you in your business. All-in-all, the generous inhabitants of the Pikes Peak region just love supporting local business!
Link: Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center
When most people think of Colorado, they think SNOW. Yet, we don’t receive nearly as much snow as folks realize. We are a semi-arid climate. That means being in a drought is somewhat normal. Winters tend to be dry. It is possible to get huge snowstorms, but wait a few hours – or maybe a day- and the snow will melt away. It is not uncommon to have numerous 50 and 60-degree days throughout the winter.
That being said, it is also possible to get a snow storm in June. Locals have learned to have one wardrobe for the entire year. Even in summer, once the sun dips below the mountain peaks, the air becomes very chilly. Never pack away your long-sleeves or sweatshirts!
In spite of the occasional blustery days and snow storms, the winters are quite manageable (though long), and the summers are downright perfect.
FIRE, FLOODS, and HAIL
The climate is splendid, and the fact that we are too high for most bugs is glorious. However, we do have to watch out for two natural demons every summer: Wild Fires and Flash Floods. Since 2002, the Pikes Peak region has had its fair share of massive fires and floods. It can get dry in the summer and the intense sun and winds coming over the mountains can whip up a nightmare of a fire for those who are careless when hiking or camping. Also, it may not rain a lot, but when it does, it can sure pour something fierce.
Make sure to connect with the local Office of Emergency Management to stay informed on how to prevent and prepare for an emergency – or even consider volunteering for a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) team in your neighborhood. Ft. Carson has it’s own CERT team and they are always looking for volunteers.
Oh, and about the hail…I wouldn’t buy a new car in the Spring or early Summer. Just saying.
FORGET ABOUT A GARDEN
The weather may be quite comfortable for people, but try to grow anything and you may find yourself frustrated. Xeriscaping is best for our climate as anything else tends to wither and die in the intense mountain sun.
HAPPY COMMUNITY, HAPPY ECONOMY
Colorado Springs has a robust housing and jobs market right now. The Good News: that’s amazing if you are selling a home. The Bad News: buyers have to shell out a few more bucks for housing and if you are looking for something in the $250k and below range, well, let’s just say if you find a house in that price range you should probably take it.
As far as employment, the job market is skyrocketing. Positions abound in the tourism industry, healthcare, government contracting, IT, and hospitality. The best place to start is with the Pikes Peak Workforce Center. Amicable and attentive staff are eager to help you get placed with the right job. They even offer services for individuals with special needs.
That majestic mountain towering over our city is our pride. Pikes Peak is quite literally, “America’s Mountain”. At 14,114 ft., she is one of 53 fourteeners in the state of Colorado. Many take on the challenge to climb all 53 and join the 14-er club. Pikes Peak was also at the center of the Gold Rush (hence “Pikes Peak or Bust” was a real thing) and the popular patriotic song, America The Beautiful, was written on and inspired by this beauty. The view from the top is spectacular!
There are so many historical sites in our region. Learn about our Gold Rush days in Cripple Creek. Garden of the Gods, Rock Ledge Ranch, and Glen Eyrie all tell a tale of those who founded our city. Old Colorado City is where it all started and we celebrate it every year at Territory Days. If you are a resident, it’s required attendance at Territory Days (not really, but I’m pretty sure the whole city comes out to the 3-day celebration)! Manitou Springs and Ute Pass reach back into the tribal days. The healing mineral springs so important to the Ute, Cheyenne, & Arapahoe Indians can still be found around Manitou and the Cliff Dwellings offer a glimpse into the life of the First Nations that occupied this territory.
Connect with our thriving Downtown for locally-owned boutiques, cafes, and breweries. Plus we still host a real cattle drive down Tejon Street every July in honor of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, which is a big supporter of Military families. Take the time to visit the many museums downtown, participate in dozens of races and parades throughout the year. Oh, and we are especially proud to be the “City of Champions” as we are home to the Olympic Training Center and the United States Olympic Committee Headquarters.
On any given night you can find live music anywhere in our city, including Old Colorado City and Manitou. Downtown Tejon Street is the locale of numerous clubs. The Gold Room at the Mining Hotel brings in first-rate talent from all over the country. Also, the Stargazers Theatre is your place for retro groups and other exciting shows.
FAMILY FRIENDLY AND OTHER SHOWS
Summer concerts, outdoor movie nights, touring shows, Monster Truck Shows, symphonies, local plays and other forms of artistic productions happen all over our city. Follow events at the Broadmoor World Arena, Fine Arts Center, Pikes Peak Center, Penrose Event Center, TheatreWorks (UCCS), and the Butte Theater in Cripple Creek.
BEST PLACE FOR A STAYCATION
If you live in the Midwest and someone suggests having a “staycation” you probably won’t be jumping up and down – not much in driving through corn fields. BUT when you live in Colorado Springs, a Staycation takes on a whole new meaning! Tourists from all over the country and the world flock to Colorado Springs in the summer. For residents, the advantage of living in a place so desirable is not lost on us. The temptation to use up your sick days every sunny, blue-skied day can be tortuous. You know you are in Colorado when most of your neighbors own a Subaru with a rack on the roof and a dog hanging out the window!
Hwy 24 is the only road leading up Ute Pass and into the mountains and in the summer it is packed! In the winter you see skis and snowboards strapped on top of the cars headed to Monarch or Breckenridge, and around Christmas, every other car has a fresh-cut Christmas tree headed down the mountain. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the highway is nearly impassable with RVs, motorcycles, trucks pulling trailers of ATVs, and Subarus carrying kayaks and fishing poles.
LOCAL AND UNDER AN HOUR DRIVE
On the West edge of town, Garden of the Gods is the #1 natural attraction in the U.S. Just a few minutes drive anywhere around the area gives you access to miles and miles of hiking trails. In less than an hours drive you can experience Pikes Peak, Cave of the Winds, Cliff Dwellings, Painted Mines Interpretive Park, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Cheyenne Canyon/Helen Hunt Falls, Royal Gorge Bridge, Great Wolf Lodge, the Broadmoor Hotel, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Manitou Springs, Florissant Fossil Beds, Meuller State Park, trout fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon, and boating on Pueblo Reservoir.
Not to mention all the great amusement parks in Denver that are only a 45-60 minute drive away!
Link: VisitCOS.com for more ideas.
NEARBY BUT OVER AN HOUR DRIVE
If you are willing to drive a little farther, then take advantage of a soak in the Hot Springs of Buena Vista, raft down the Arkansas River, explore the River Park of South Main, visit the Great Sand Dunes near Alamosa, don’t miss Bishop Castle, enjoy hot air balloon rides in Guffey, or drive and camp just about anywhere in the Rocky Mountains.
Museums are fantastic and one of the most under-rated activities and perfect for a Staycation. They offer so much interest, history, and education. The more well-known museums in town include Pioneers Museum, Fine Arts Center, Money Museum, Space Museum, Bug Museum, Miramont Castle, Peterson Air and Space Museum, Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, Dinosaur Resource Center, Rock Ledge Ranch, Michael Garman Gallery, Ghost Town, National Museum of Aviation, Western Museum of Mining.
In addition, an hour drive to the north gives you some of the biggest museums in the country with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (our favorite), Contemporary Art Museum, Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank (really cool!) and so much more. Click here for a list of Denver museums.
Seriously, there is so much to do in our backyard, I don’t know why anyone would want to take a vacation somewhere else!
LARGE HOMESCHOOL POPULATION
Colorado Springs is a family-friendly city and a fantastic place to educate your children! If you notice that there seems to be a lot of kids in the parks during school hours it is usually homeschool groups. Even with award-winning public schools, dozens of specialized and charter schools, there is also a large population of families who homeschool. If you are considering homeschooling, Colorado is very supportive and offers amazing resources for you. Every school district in our region provides free programs for homeschooling families.
Link: Colorado Home School Laws and Resources
PUBLIC CHOICE SCHOOLS
Colorado Springs and the surrounding communities are extremely proud to have some of the best districts in the nation. Many families wonder which district they should reside in for the purpose of getting their children into the best schools. In our city, families have the option of CHOICE. Even though your child is “assigned” a school based on your address, you have the option to “choice in” to another school. This keeps our schools competitive and excellent.
CHARTER AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS
As if there were not enough options, specialized charter schools and private schools abound. Some of the more unique ones are Launch High School (for entrepreneur-minded students), The University School (Christian-based Adventure School), TCA College Pathways (earn an Associates Degree while completing High School), and The Davinci Academy (an Arts Integration School).
We could go on and on about all the nuances and opportunities in Colorado Springs including sports teams, and being able to live among some of the most beautiful scenery in the world! We are so glad you are headed our way and hope you take the time to discover all the wonderful things that Colorado Springs has to offer.