Experiencing Colorado Springs On A Budget


{After a nasty bicycle wreck, I broke my iPhone and lost all of my Colorado Springs photos. Read on for helpful info, and please excuse my lack of photos. }

After exporting Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, I headed down to Colorado Springs to cap off my trip. Growing up, my family visited Colorado Springs twice but we never did the active/hiking/ exploring type adventures. This trip was solely about crossing off some of those adventures that I didn’t do as a kid. After some research I opted to take a bike tour down Pikes Peak and spend an evening hiking at Garden of the Gods. Check out my full recap and a lodging recommendation below.

Exploring Colorado Springs on a Budget/ Where to Stay, what to do/ Simply JessaLynn

Hiking Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is arguably one of those “must see” Colorado Springs spots. As a child I remember being in awe of the formations and the longing to hike the trails. I arrived in Colorado Springs late afternoon on a Friday and choose to hit the park for a sunset hike.

I hiked up a hill and found a peaceful spot for journaling and reflecting. Garden of the Gods attracts a large number of visitors every year and is usually quite crowded. However the park is so large, visitors are still able to enjoy their time exploring

The Basics:

  • Checkout the Website. The site provides all the hours of operation for the park and visitor center.  The website is also chalked full of info on tours, events, and adventures in the park. If you have the time, I encourage you to check them out.
  • Did I mention it’s free? While some activities have fees associated with them, entrance into the park and visitor center is free. This is a great way to offset more expensive activities.
  • This site is a family friendly adventure. While there are over 15 miles of hiking trails in the park, the website has the longest trek listed at 3 miles. There are several hikes right around 1 mile.

Exploring Colorado Springs on a Budget/ Where to Stay, what to do/ Simply JessaLynn

Biking Down Pikes Peak

Disclaimers before you read my review:

A half mile into the ride, I was in a pretty bad bike wreck. Admittedly, this wreck more then likely influenced my view of the adventure. Ultimately, I am always responsible form own safety. Had I been smart, I would have said I needed more time at the top of the mountain to adjust to my bike. However, as you will see below, the theme for the day was RUSHED and that did contribute to my incident. This is how I destroyed my iPhone and lost all of my Colorado Springs photos

As a result of my experience I will not be disclosing the specific name of the tour company I used. I can neither recommend or not recommend them simply because I believe they are a good group, with a few bad guides.

The Basics:

I found this tour via a Groupon search. For $65, the company provided a light breakfast, transportation to and up the mountain, all the equipment, lunch and a ride back to the shop. Additionally, there was free parking which saved me a bit of money.

Riding a bike down a ’14er’  is not for the faint-at-heart, inexperienced bike riders, or for people who don’t like adrenaline. This adventure is perfect for individuals who are seeking a different way to see Pikes Peak, who love being outside, and who understand that some adventures have a certain risk involved.

This is the perfect adventure for an action camera. The fast pace ride and potential to fall can damage DSLR/point and shoot cameras and phones. If you don’t have an action camera, see if your tour company rents them.

I highly recommend booking this tour in advance. Depending on the company, tours fill up fast.

Exploring Colorado Springs on a Budget/ Where to Stay, what to do/ Simply JessaLynn

For more information about my wreck and what happened on the actual tour, continue reading. For info on cheap lodging, scroll on down.

RUSHED

My entire bike down the mountain experience can be summed up in one word: RUSHED. The tour was split into two groups which operated independently of each other. My group’s leader was pushing us and the other two guides to RUSH down the mountain. He had a very dry sense of humor and made several inappropriate jokes throughout the trip. I believe with a better guide, my experience would have been better

After a quick bathroom stop, we got our equipment and circled up for safety information. Unfortunately the talk was just about using both the front and back break to save wear on the equipment. The finer points of riding a mountain bike, down a mountain, were not discussed. I do believe this contributed to my wreck.

Long story short, I am use to a hybrid bike which is more similar to a road bike then a mountain bike when it comes to suspension. I saw some gravel and braced my weight against the handle bars/ front end of the bike. The shocks on the mountain bike pushed down and when they bounced back up, I lost balance and fell.  I was extremely lucky and  walked away bruised and scraped up. My iPhone, clothing, shoes, and phone pouch were damaged. I am extremely thankful my injuries were not worse.

After the wreck, I decided to keep going. I was at the back of our pack of riders which included a lot of inexperienced riders. For a while I tried to get around the other them because the guide encouraged me to go faster. Any time I called out to pass, other riders got nervous and almost ran into me. I eventually gave up recognizing it was probably just safer at this point to stay at the back.

Since we were RUSHED we did not actually get to stop the 12ish times the tour description said we would. We did was was called “rolling stops” where when the last person {me} reached the destination, the group started back up gain. With an experienced group of riders this would have been fine but I had several near miss collisions as others. Fellow riders would pull back into the line only to suddenly stop forgetting people were behind them. Two other riders in our group wrecked because of this exact thing.

The ride concluded with lunch at a local restaurant at the bottom of Pikes Peak. The food was good and the restaurant was beautiful but we were in a RUSH so I didn’t get to really enjoy my time there. Once back at the shop, I purchased my “I survived” t-shirt and got directions to the nearest phone store.

Lodging

One of my biggest challenges when planning my Colorado adventure was the high cost of lodging. Colorado, especially in the late spring, early summer is a prime tourist spot. I lucked out in Estes Park with the YMCA.  In Colorado Springs, I got lucky again at  Garden of the Gods RV Resort.

After doing some googling, I initially planned on camping in my car.  Garden of the Gods RV Resort was in close proximity to the sites I wanted to see and offered a verity of lodging options. When I began investigating, I found that for $40 I could sleep in my car or for $50 I could sleep in a Bunk House. For $10 more a night, I had a real bed, in an air-conditioned cabin, with wifi and electricity.

The bunk house was a simple small structure but for the price, it lived up to my expectations. It was clean, and you could tell someone had really put some thought and effort into setting the small cabin up. From the budget decorating style that created a warm and cozy feeling to the peg hooks on the wall and built-in table, these people cared about your experience.

There were two sections to my bunk house. The front section had a table and benches for dining and ample room for coolers or equipment. Separated with a real door, the back half held the air conditioner and beds. The little cabin came with multiple plug in’s which were great for charging electronics and cooking.

The bunk house was located close to the bathhouse facilities.  I was able to park close to my bunkhouse so my car was within sight. As an added bonus, unlike the YMCA room, this lodging option came with a cute deck on the front of the cabin. It is the perfect spot to hang out if you are a night owl or early riser and others in your group are not.

The Basics:

  • Bunk houses sleep 2-4 people. According to the website, the price is the same regardless of the number of occupants.
  • It’s a great cheap option. At just $50 a night during peak seasons, this place offers a little peace and quite in your own space. Unlike AirBandB rooms, you are not sharing a house with someone.
  • They are basic as basic could get. While the bunk house does come with AC, there are no other appliances in the structure.  Beyond electricity, there are no utilities in the structure. If you plan on eating here bring all supplies you would need similar to camping.
  • BYOB- Bring your own bedding. In my bunk house I had a queen bed and one set of twin bunk beds. The mattresses reminded me of dorm room mattresses as they were covered in plastic and nothing special. However, they were clean and I felt good sleeping on them.
  • The boathouse was decent. The bathhouse is right around the corner from bunk house row. Guests are provided a code when they check in which will grant you access to the facilities. Each time I visited, I found them to be clean, well stocked, and there was never a lines for showers. Unlike some campgrounds, showers were free and the water was actually hot.
  • Bring your swimsuit. The property had two different pools and one is right in front of bunk house row.

Cutting the Visit Short

I had several other adventures planned for my time in Colorado Springs including stopping at the Olympic Training Center and visiting Seven Falls. However, after my fall I was so sore that I just wanted to be home. I started my drive back to Kansas City at first light Sunday morning.

If you are interested in other affortable Colorado Springs adventures, I encourage you to stop at the state visitor center on the way into the state and pick up a visitor’s guide. I found admission coupons and several discount offers in the guide for multiple sites. For additional savings, consider purchasing adventure packages for ziplines, rafting, bike tours, and other events. I found several companies offering packages with varying discounts.

Exploring Colorado Springs on a Budget/ Where to Stay, what to do/ Simply JessaLynn

Your Turn: Have you been to Colorado Springs? What is your favorite cheap activity?

 

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