Manitou Springs Colorado: Charming town, mineral springs, and the Cog Railway
Most famous today for the Cog Railway that takes visitors up to the summit of Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs started out as a health resort, the fortuitous confluence of many naturally carbonated mineral springs.
Manitou Springs is a long sprawling historic town that beckons visitors to start at one end and stroll down to the other end. The exotic name was suggested by William Blackmore, an early investor in the town. The story goes that he suggested it after reading the Song of Hiawatha by Longfellow. Along the way there are shops, galleries, restaurants, historic lodging, and the occasional deer. At least I think it was a deer. She (or he, remember I was born and raised in New York City - not exactly the deer capital of the world) appears in a photo below. But it was definitely exploring the village.
The Springs of ManitouFor something truly different, stop by the visitors center for a small plastic cup and a map of the public springs. Scattered throughout town are the mineral springs that made Manitou famous. Their lure was the soothing effects of the water on sour stomachs and dry skin. Locating them from the map is difficult, but these fountains are easy to spot while sauntering through town. If you download the map and additional information in that case, remember to bring your own cup. If you do this as a family activity, try rating the springs for flavor to add to the fun.
Pikes Peak Cog RailwayThe highest and perhaps the most famous cog railway in the world is the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. This is one train ride that should not be missed. The cars wend their way up the side of the mountain, over 14,000 feet, all year long. Even in the midst of winter you can (bundled up against the cold) enjoy the Peak. It's also possible to drive the Pikes Peak Highway stopping to enjoy the views along the way, but parts of the road are not paved, and the highway can be closed due to snow. Regardless of the form of transportation, bring a jacket. Piles Peak is almost 3 miles above sea level and surprisingly cold, except in the relative heat of summer. The train ride is truly scenic and even the driver can enjoy the scenery. Both sides of the car provide views of great beauty. The ABC seats offer a better view of the valley but the DE seats give you a closeup of boulders and trees. The trip is narrated up the mountain with facts and trivia - everything from "What is the state flower?" (Answer: Columbine) to the horse-power of the engines. You'll pick up cool facts about Colorado, Pikes Peak and the Cog Railway. Stay in town overnight, or make it a very nice day trip from Colorado Springs.