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Explore Colorado Springs

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Is Waterworld, Six Flags and the Aquarium starting to get a little redundant? For those who enjoy being outside, hiking, fishing, camping, biking, climbing or just sports in general, consider getting out of the dorm room, grabbing some friends or getting out of the house and packing up the kids for a day-trip to Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs is one hour south of Aurora on Interstate 25 and has just as much to offer as the Aurora and Denver areas. From one of the most visited mountains in North America, Pikes Peak, to the U.S. Olympic training center where athletes such as Apolo Anton Ohno have trained their way to the top, there are many things this ever-growing city has to offer.

Pikes Peak is the second-most-visited mountain in the world. On a clear day it can be seen in all its majesty from right here. It sits at an altitude of 14,110 feet above sea level and is the 31st highest peak out of the 54 peaks in Colorado. Pikes Peak highway is a 19-mile highway that is open year-round, weather permitting. For the hikers there is a 13-mile trail, Barr Trail, which begins at the base of Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs. For those who prefer not to hike, bike or drive to the top, the cog railway is offered. The round trip lasts about three hours and is 8.9 miles long. For more information on the cog railway and the sites you will see along the way, visit http://cograilway.com/alongroute.htm.

The Garden of the Gods is a fascinating outcropping of sandstone formations, and offers biking, climbing or just a nice nature walk through the park. The park is open from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. through Labor Day. They also offer a Nature Center with educational videos, dinosaur fossils and exhibits on geology, ecology and cultural history. The best part about this park is mostly everything is free! For those who are interested in rock climbing these beautiful rocks, stop at the visitors center and register prior to climbing. For more information on the park, visit www.gardenofgods.com.

Farish Recreation Area located in the mountains west of the Air Force Academy, 23 miles southeast of Colorado Springs, is a camping and recreation area for military personnel. Not only do they offer traditional campsites but visitors can also rent cottages, duplexes and cabins. They also offer hiking and biking trails and three lakes on the 655-acre property fully stocked with fish. The Outdoor Recreation center here at Buckley offers camping equipment such as trailers, tents, propane stoves, lanterns and various other equipment.  For rates and activities offered at Farish, visit http://www.usafaservices.com/orc/farish.htm.

The U.S. Olympic Training Center is open from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays through July 31. They offer free guided tours that kick-off every half hour except for Sundays. During the tour, visitors have the opportunity to view athlete training facilities including the sport center gymnasiums, coaching and sport science and the aquatics center to name a few. Those lucky enough get a glimpse of an Olympic athlete. For more information, visit http://teamusa.org/.

Downtown Colorado Springs offers great history as well as delicious restaurants and entertaining nightlife. For kids who like running through the sprinklers, Uncle Wilbur's fountain is an attraction that can't be missed. Stop by and have a picnic with the kids and enjoy the weather while they enjoy the water.

The Air Force Academy has a stunning chapel that is a must-see on the way into Colorado Springs. While there, stop by the visitor's center and learn the history of Academy life as a cadet. If there at the right time, you may be able to see the cadets performing drills.

These are just a few of the attractions highlighted for a visit to Colorado Springs. There are numerous trips and tours that are offered through the Information, Tickets and Travel office at the Air Force Academy, as well as discounted tickets for local attractions. Be sure to see what the ITT office has and take advantage of it. The phone number for the ITT office is: commercial (719) 333-4475 or DSN 333-4475.  Visit their website at http://www.usafaservices.com/orc/itt/ittctr.htm.

Get out this summer and enjoy all of what Colorado Springs has to offer!
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