This popular and pretty resort town at the base of Pikes Peak is where Katherine Bates was inspired to write "America the Beautiful" in 1893. Although other parts of the state -- Denver, Boulder, Aspen, Vail and Telluride -- are known for their liberal politics, Colorado Springs is known for its conservatism. Some of that character results from the presence of the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The largest attraction in the area is 14,110-ft/4,300-m Pikes Peak (which lies west of Colorado Springs), named for the man who discovered it in 1806, Zebulon Pike. It's one of America's most visited mountains, partly because there are several ways to visit it. You can hike 12 mi/20 km up the Barr Trail to the summit, ride on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway or drive the 20-mi/30-km scenic highway and enjoy the spectacular view from the Summit House. For a real thrill, descend the mountain on a bicycle along the Pikes Peak Highway. The annual Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb takes place on 4 July.
The Air Force Academy has an appealing mountain setting north of the city (the soaring triangular arches of the campus chapel are a space-age tribute to the majesty of the Rockies). The U.S. Olympic Training Center includes 20 sports complexes where prospective Olympic champions train. Tours of the facilities are available. Colorado Springs is also home to a couple of other sports-related attractions: The ProRodeo Hall of Fame and the World Figure Skating Museum Hall of Fame.
Golfing, hot-air ballooning and rock climbing are big in the Colorado Springs area. Hot spots for rock climbing include the Garden of the Gods, the limestone crags on the west side of Pikes Peak and the granite formations at nearby Turkey Rocks. Of the city's annual events, standouts include the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo (August) and the Colorado Springs Balloon Classic, one of the larger balloon gatherings in the U.S. (Labor Day weekend).