Mueller State Park#10 in Best Things To Do in Colorado Springs
When you don't feel like driving nearly three hours to Rocky Mountain National Park, Mueller State Park offers a convenient alternative. Located about 30 miles west of Colorado Springs, its roughly 5,000 acres host jagged mountain peaks, verdant aspen forests and 55 miles of trails for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and more. Recent visitors said the trails are well-maintained but many of them are relatively short; however, they can be extended by looping on other trails, making this an ideal outing for leisure walkers and adventure-seekers alike. Many visitors said this makes for an ideal family outing.
Along with your hiking shoes, make sure to bring your binoculars. This park is home to plenty of wildlife, including elk, eagles and bears. Some words of caution: Never hike alone and make plenty of noise while on the trails to avoid sneaking up on unsuspecting animals.
Mueller State Park is located just south of Divide, Colorado, along Route 67. Drivers can expect to pay a $7 daily vehicle fee. If you're only planning to stay for the day, you can enjoy access to the park and its facilities between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day; you are also welcome to camp in the park, though previous visitors highly recommend reserving a camping or RV spot a month or two in advance as space fills up quickly. You can find more information on Mueller activities and camping on the state park's website.
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#1 Garden of the Gods
It's easy to see how this natural landmark earned such an ethereal title: These magnificent red rock formations look as though deities themselves could've carved them. However, the sandstone pillars are, in fact, the work of geological activity along a natural fault line, as well as rainfall over millennia. You can learn about the garden's formations at the visitor and nature center, which houses numerous informative displays and hosts daily nature presentations. You are welcome to explore the park on your own time (either on foot or by bike); the visitor and nature center also offers guided hikes, as well as bike, Jeep, trolley and Segway tours (prices vary by vehicle and tour length). Or, if you're looking for a more authentic "Wild West" experience, you can reserve your spot on a guided horseback tour offered by Academy Riding Stables.
Because there is no admission fee if you are exploring the Garden of the Gods on your own; previous visitors recommended returning to the park throughout your time in Colorado Springs to see the rocks at different times of day. They also offered high praise for the knowledgeable staff at the visitor and nature center. Others were pleased to find out that many of the trails are paved – meaning those using strollers and wheelchairs can still access the park. If you don't want to deal with the landmark's heavy crowds, plan to arrive before 10 a.m. on a weekday.
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