Exploring Colorado Springs: Ultimate Road Trip Routes


This guide will highlight the best Colorado Springs road trip routes to experience the top attractions, activities, and scenery that Colorado Springs and its surrounding areas have to offer.


  • Colorado Springs is a scenic gateway to majestic mountain ranges like Pikes Peak, with plentiful hiking trails, camping spots, and outdoor adventures.
  • Must-drive routes include the Pikes Peak Highway, Garden of the Gods, and Gold Camp Road, each showcasing unique mountain vistas.
  • The area offers family-friendly attractions like the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Cave of the Winds, along with interactive museums.
  • Historic sites like the Air Force Academy, Will Rogers Shrine, and the old mining town of Cripple Creek link to Colorado Springs' cultural heritage.
  • With cozy mountain cabins, luxurious resorts, and dining options ranging from casual cafes to fine dining, Colorado Springs caters well to visitors.

Scenic Drives Showcasing Colorado’s Natural Beauty

The best way to experience the postcard-worthy scenery around Colorado Springs is by road trip. Wind through high mountain passes, stop at gushing waterfalls, and take in the one-of-a-kind rock formations that make the Pikes Peak region world-famous.

Pikes Peak Highway

No road trip from Colorado Springs is complete without a drive up the staggering Pikes Peak Highway, stretching 19 miles with over 700 hairpin turns to finally reach the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak. Called “America’s Mountain,” breathless views of the mountain ranges, forests, and meadows will unfold at various lookout points along the highway. Reaching the summit is an unforgettable experience, with panoramic 360-degree views.

Garden of the Gods

This free public park is a geological wonderland, with unique red rock formations jutting dramatically against the backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains. The contrast of the dark red rocks like the Three Graces and Kissing Camels against vibrant green vegetation is spectacular. Drive the loop road and stop at observation points for the best views and photo opportunities.

Gold Camp Road

This narrow, winding route follows an old mining road through the wilderness west of Colorado Springs. Pass abandoned mines, cascading waterfalls, and fantastic rock formations before ending up in the Victorian mining town of Cripple Creek. Navigating Gold Camp Road’s twists and turns is challenging but rewarding for the relatively untouched scenery.

Outdoor Adventures in the Rocky Mountains

From hiking and biking to river rafting and rock climbing, Colorado Springs is a mecca for outdoor adventure against the stunning backdrop of Pikes Peak and the Rockies. Families, couples, and solo travelers alike will find plenty of ways to get their adrenaline pumping.

Hiking and Camping

Colorado Springs has over 60 hiking trails catering to all skill levels. Discover waterfalls and old mines on the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail to Pikes Peak, traverse mountain ridges in Catamount Trail and stroll through meadows in Red Rock Canyon. Pitch a tent or park your campervan at Cheyenne Mountain State Park and Garden of the Gods Campground.

White Water Rafting and Kayaking

Raft Class IV rapids in Clear Creek Canyon or take on the Royal Gorge stretch of the Arkansas River for an intense whitewater experience. Calmer kayaking adventures await along the rivers and reservoirs near Colorado Springs as well.

Rock Climbing

Test your mettle scaling the steep red rock formations in Garden of the Gods and Red Rock Canyon Open Space, which offer routes suitable for beginners to advanced. Local outfitters also lead climbing trips to shelf roads and towering canyon cliffs nearby.

Colorado Road Trip

Here are some of the best places near Colorado Springs to head to while on your Colorado road trip:

  • Pikes Peak
  • Cripple Creek
  • Red Rock Canyon
  • Glen Eyrie Castle
  • Bear Creek Regional Park
  • Royal Gorge
  • Red Rock Canyon

And if you wish to venture a little farther away, here are some must-see locations for your Colorado road trip:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Steamboat Springs
  • Glenwood Springs
  • Estes Park
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Hanging Lake
  • Black Canyon

Scenic Byway

Colorado boasts an array of scenic byways that showcase the state’s diverse landscapes. The renowned “Trail Ridge Road” in Rocky Mountain National Park is a standout route, meandering from Estes Park to Grand Lake, offering remarkable mountain views, alpine meadows, and wildlife sightings like elk and bighorn sheep.

Adding to the allure is the famed “Million Dollar Highway,” stretching between Ouray and Silverton and winding through the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado.

Among the many captivating routes in Colorado is the “Peak to Peak Scenic Byway,” which journeys through the Front Range mountains from Black Hawk to Estes Park, and the “San Juan Skyway,” a 233-mile loop that showcases the San Juan Mountains’ splendor and the charming towns of Durango, Silverton, and Telluride.

Family-Friendly Activities

From fascinating museums and underground caverns to a mountainside zoo and thrill rides, families traveling with kids of any age will love the diversity of attractions around Colorado Springs.


The kid-oriented Colorado Springs Kids Museum features imaginative hands-on exhibits, while the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum brings local history alive through artifacts and displays spanning Native American culture to the Old West. At the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, children can “mine” for gems and watch equipment demos.

Cave of the Winds

Descend into the depths of this subterranean cave formed by water and wind erosion over 400 million years. Marvel at the intricate limestone and calcite crystal formations on guided walking tours. For some extra excitement, try the lantern tour.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Get eye-level with exotic animals from polar bears to orangutans at North America’s only mountainside zoo, sitting 9,000 feet above sea level. With animal encounters, carousel rides, and gondola rides, families could easily spend a whole day here.

Thrill Rides

Courage Tester at Cave of the Winds challenges visitors to traverse a series of rope bridges and obstacles hanging over a canyon, while the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park offers stunning views along with its hairpin turns.

Historical Sites and Cultural Attractions

Beyond the natural landscapes, Colorado Springs’ history and cultural heritage shine through in well-preserved historical sites and diverse attractions. Visitors can learn about Native American culture, the Old West, military history, and even the Olympics.

U.S. Air Force Academy

Tour the campus of this prestigious military academy training Air Force cadets, complete with historical aircraft displays at the airfield and a high-altitude chapel. Don’t miss the graduation parade held each May.

Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame

This museum covers the history of rodeo as an integral part of Western heritage through multimedia exhibits and an extensive collection of memorabilia. See highlights like championship saddles and artifacts commemorating rodeo greats.

Old Colorado City

Stroll this National Historic District to experience an old frontier town frozen in time, with over 150 specialty shops and eateries along Colorado Avenue maintaining original 19th century architecture. Pop into historical attractions like the Haunted Mansion and Miramont Castle.

U.S. Olympic Training Center

Take a guided tour of the flagship Olympic training center, home to a museum, sports venues and athlete housing. Watch athletes practice everything from gymnastics to shooting and perhaps spot a future medalist!

Where to Stay and Eat in Colorado Springs

The Colorado Springs area offers diverse lodging options suitable for all budgets, along with an eclectic dining scene spanning Western saloons, family diners, and fine dining establishments.


In central Colorado Springs, travelers can choose from standard chain hotels and independent inns like the quaint Holden House bed and breakfast. Luxury resorts like the historic Broadmoor and Cliff House at Pikes Peak offer lavish accommodations and amenities. Those seeking fresh mountain air can overnight in rustic cabins or set up camp in Cheyenne Mountain State Park.

There are several hot springs resorts nearby that would make for an excellent stay: Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, Strawberry Park Hot Springs, and The Springs Resort & Spa are a few examples.


For all-American favorites, check out Edelweiss German Restaurant and Mountain Shadows restaurant, while Mexican cuisine shines at Poor Richards and Azteca Mexican Restaurant. Find hearty steaks and game meats at The Famous Steakhouse and Craftwood Inn. Upscale dining with a creative twist is served at Blue Star and The Warehouse Restaurant in Old Colorado City.

Essential Travel Tips

Use these travel tips to make your Colorado Springs vacation safe, comfortable and enjoyable:

  • The region has a semi-arid climate, with more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Summers are mild, while winters are generally cold with occasional snowstorms.
  • Prepare and pack clothing suitable for outdoor activities, along with sun protection, proper hiking shoes, and plenty of water.
  • Carefully acclimatize when partaking in high-altitude adventures and watch for symptoms of altitude sickness.
  • Observe warning signs at attractions like the Garden of the Gods and stick to designated trails and walkways for safety.
  • For help with trip planning, visit the Colorado Springs Visitor and Convention Bureau website.
  • Allow flexibility for possible weather delays when driving mountain roads like Pikes Peak Highway.

With a vibrant city center surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery and natural attractions, Colorado Springs offers the perfect blend of urban comforts and outdoor adventures. Follow the scenic routes highlighted here for an unforgettable Rockies road trip experience.


What is the best time of year to visit Colorado Springs?

The most popular times are summer and fall when weather is mild, wildflowers bloom and mountain scenery is at its greenest. But the city offers attractions year-round.

What documents do I need to rent and drive a car?

Most car rental agencies require a valid driver’s license, credit card, and proof of insurance to rent a vehicle. An International Driving Permit is recommended for foreign travelers.

Which scenic drives require high-clearance vehicles?

Vehicles attempting mountain passes like the Pikes Peak Highway, Shelf Road, and Phantom Canyon Road should have higher clearance to handle unpaved conditions.

Are pets allowed in attractions and lodging establishments?

Pet policies vary. National parks usually only allow service animals. Contact lodging establishments directly to check pet policies.

What is the best way to reach the Pikes Peak summit?

Driving the Pikes Peak Highway is the most popular option. You can also hike Barr Trail, take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, or book a shuttle tour. Compare options based on your timeline and fitness level.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.