Just 6 miles east of Colorado Springs is one of the towns we love the most in Colorado. Manitou Springs sits at the base of Pike’s Peak at an elevation of 6,414 feet in the Rocky Mountains. Manitou Springs has an historic, Old West feel, with many buildings from the early 1900s still in use today.
Leave your car parked on the street and stroll the town. There are mom-and-pop shops, art galleries, restaurants, and more!
You can go fishing, try both easy and difficult hikes, soar on a zip line, go rafting, or caving!
Manitou Springs was home to the Ute Indians who would use the natural springs for healing. In fact, the city of Manitou Springs was founded in 1871 as a health resort for treating such diseases as tuberculous.
Parking in Manitou Springs is tough.
The hourly rate for on-street parking on Ruxton Avenue west of Osage Avenue is $5 per hour. Paid public parking is allowed Monday-Fridays from 8-4. Any other time, on-street parking is restricted to those with a Resident Permit. Street parking is free for the first 30 minutes, the first 3 hours are $1 per hour and the rates increase after that. The daily maximum for parking is $28 a day.
There are public parking lots. One is in the first block of Ruxton Avenue between Manitou and Osage Avenues which allows for 2-hour parking. The rate is $1 per hour.
FREE TOWN SHUTTLE
There are two free Shuttle routes and you need only pull a cord to request a Shuttle stop.
Route #33 is a year-round Manitou Incline Shuttle and takes you to the Incline and downtown. To catch this shuttle, park for free at 10 Old Man’s Trail. The Shuttle pick-up is near the start at the east end of Memorial Park.
Route #36 is the summer Downtown Shuttle. Park for free at Fields Park at 101 El Paso Boulevard. The Shuttle pick-up location is at the north edge of the park and serves east-end lodging and the historic downtown.
We loved the free shuttle that operates every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO:
MINERAL WATER SPRINGS
Rainwater and snow melt from Pikes Peak and other mountains crept into the rock formations around Manitou Springs. As the water penetrates deep below, it becomes heated and mineralized so it naturally flows up into limestone caverns.*
These underground springs carry carbonated water! In the caves below ground, the water erodes limestone which makes carbonic acid. The CO2 makes the water bubbly and very pure. You can drink straight out of the springs.
There are 8 natural springs in the area of Manitou Springs. See all eight!
- Iron Geyser Spring: a drilled spring prescribed by doctors in the 1800s.
- Wheeler Spring: a drilled soda spring, donated to the city by the family that founded Macy’s in New York.
- Stratton Spring: drilled by the Stratton Foundation as a service to the town and located on historically Native American trails.
- Shoshone Spring: a natural spring with some sulfur.
- Navajo Spring: is beneath the current popcorn and candy store. This is a natural soda spring, which became famous nationwide and was used by the Indigenous people and settlers
- 7 Minute Spring: was drilled in 1909. Carbonation causes it to erupt at 7 minute intervals.
- Cheyenne Spring: a natural, sweet soda spring from limestone thought to be a mile deep and 20,000 years old.
- Twin Spring: originally had two drilled springs but are now merged. The water has as sweet taste and high potassium and calcium content.
Unlike springs in other areas of the U.S., the springs here are cold water springs.
Be sure to try the water at each of the Springs! You can take a self-guided tour of the springs anytime.
If you stop at the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce & Visitors’ Bureau at 354 Manitou Avenue, they will give you a cup, a map and a detailed chart of the mineral composition of each spring.
Guided Tours to the Mineral Springs:
There are also guided tours from May 25-August 31.
WEDNESDAY TOURS: Meet at 7-Minute Spring, Wed. @ 10 am; 90 Minute Tour
Wednesday free tours are approximately 90 minutes in length. Your guide will provide sampling cups. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. All donations contribute to the maintenance and upkeep for the mineral springs. Meet at 7-Minute Spring at 422 Washington Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829
SATURDAY TOURS: Meet at 7-Minute Spring, Sat. @ 10 am; 90 Minute Tour
Saturday free tours are approximately 90 minutes in length too. Again, your guide will provide sampling cups and wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. All donations contribute to the maintenance and upkeep for the mineral springs. Meet at 7-Minute Spring at 422 Washington Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829
THE CLIFF DWELLINGS
Amazingly, the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings were moved to Manitou Springs in the early 1900s from near Mesa Verde in the southwest corner of Colorado. The Manitou Cliff Dwellings Ruins Company was hired and the move of the ruins began in 1904 and completed in 1907. The move was made to protect the ruins from looters and relic hunters.
Originally, the ancient Anasazi built cliff dwellings approximately 800-1,000 years ago.
Inside, there are 40 rooms to explore. The Anasazi dwellings include rooms dedicated to garbage, fire rooms with fire pits, tunnels, and dwelling windows. You will see pictograms and paintings done by the Anazasi! This is an amazing example of Anasazi workmanship and lifestyle.
There is a snack bar and a place to picnic next to the cliff dwellings. You can buy food and drink at the snack bar June-August or bring your own and relax on the grounds!
Be certain to follow the trail down to the Museum and Gift Shop. Both are well worth your time. If you love to look at mineral specimens, you will enjoy the Gift Shop!
Accessibility to the Cliff Dwellings:
The slope of the Cliff Dwellings is fairly steep and not accessible to wheelchairs. The entrance to the overall dwellings site, however, is wheelchair accessible by a ramp from the parking lot. You can see the front on the cliff dwellings from there.
There is a large parking lot below the dwelling with no parking fee. Pets may be brought into the dwellings and grounds if on a leash.
Open 7 days a week, weather permitting
10 Cliff Dwelling Road, Manitou Springs, Co 80829
Hours. May, June, July and-August:9 .am.-6 p.m.
March, April, September and October: 9 a.m.-05 p.m.
November: 9 a.m.-4 p.m
December, January and February: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Adults over 12: $10
Children 0-11: $7.50
Seniors over 60: $8.50
Children 3 and under: Free
Prices do not include taxes.
Note that people in wheelchairs and over 100 are free.
THE MANITOU INCLINE & OTHER HIKING TRAILS
We have to admit, we didn’t even go to the Incline. We are both now 70 and the Incline is an extreme hiking trail that gains approximately 2,000 feet of elevation in about a mile! The grade is 45% and 68% in some sections!
We were told Olympians and world-class hikers flock to the Incline each year.
Needless to say, the Incline is NOT for seniors or anyone with a physical disability. IF you want to try this hike, it is free and open from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. each day.
To avoid parking headaches, take the free Shuttle at 10 Old Man’s Trail at the Hiawatha Gardens Building to the Incline. Note that dogs are NOT allowed on the Incline.
Drive west on Manitou Avenue until you reach the roundabout in front of The Loop Restaurant and The Mountain Man store. Go north on Ruxton Avenue. The Incline trailhead is behind the COG Railway parking lot.
For information on the Top 25 Hiking and Biking Trails, go to: https://www.visitcos.com/things-to-do/outdoors/parks-trails/top-25-hiking-biking-trails/
Colorado is home to the “Fourteeners;” summits that reach or exceed 14,000 feet in elevation in the Rocky Mountains. Pikes Peak is the highest summit on the southern Colorado Front Range and is only 12 miles from downtown Manitou Springs. You can drive to the summit on the Pikes Peak Highway with the drive taking 2-3 hours roundtrip.
You must pay a fee:
Carload of 5 people: $35
Adult (16+): $10
Child (6-15): $5
The views are absolutely stunning! Check online for seasonal hours of the Pikes Peak drive at: https://www.pikes-peak.com/attractions/pikes-peak-americas-mountain/
Excitingly, a Manitou and Pikes Peak COG Railroad will begin operation in 2021.
THE CAVE OF THE WINDS
Don’t miss the Cave of the Winds! This is one of our favorite things to do in Manitou Springs! Cave of the Winds was discovered in 1881 and is so much fun! The Caves have been open to exploration continuously since 1881. Electricity was installed in the Caves in 1907.
Even if you don’t enjoy caves, the park surrounding Cave of the Winds has lots of activities beyond exploring the caves. The surrounding Canyon is beautiful. If you zip line across the Canyon, you are braver than we are!
There are multiple tours and activities available at The Cave of the Winds Park. For an overview and prices, see: https://www.caveofthewinds.com
The Caves are open all year.
100 Cave of the Winds Road
Manitou Springs, CO
Memorial Day to Labor Day: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
September to May: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
From Interstate 25, take Exit 141. Go west on Highway 24 for approximately 6 miles. The entrance to the Cave Park will be on the right. Parking is free.
In Manitou Springs, you can climb the highest mountain peaks or go deep under the earth in a Cave! Don’t miss Manitou Springs, Colorado!