Day 1 -- arrive and pick up your rental car! Most of this trip can be done with a small car, though there are a few dirt/rocky roads, so it's up to you if you want to rent something larger.
Head to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. This zoo has tons of animals, but that's not what makes it so cool. The location is pretty unique. It's on the side of a mountain.
I enjoyed watching people feed the giraffes and of course checking out the monkey section. I only wish that the ski lift was working! It's a great walk up and down the hill to explore, but the ski lift would have made me feel like I was really getting a Colorado experience.
Choose from one of the many Mexican restaurants in town for dinner! Head to bed with a full tummy.
Day 2 - Today you'll spend the whole day at Garden of the Gods. There are so many trails and beautiful things to see. You should have a hearty breakfast and make sure to pack lunch. There are some shady spots, but you might want to bring an umbrella for shade in case it's really hot.
We did some of the paved paths around many of the famous rock formations.
Later in the day we took one of the longer and more rustic trails. Before you do this, you might want to stop at the Visitor's Center to refill your water! The sun can get pretty intense.
Day 3 - Today you'll leave the base of Colorado Springs for some different destinations. Drive an hour and a half or so south to just outside of Canon City. The drive is beautiful -- typical of Colorado. Spend the day at the Royal Gorge. From above, there is a bridge to walk across, there are little gondolas, and although I didn't do this, there is a Via Ferrata to go down into the gorge on some metal rungs and hopefully harnesses. There are some short walks, but most of the time is taken waiting for your ride in the gondola and taking pictures everywhere. There are some snacks and meals here if you're hungry!
In the evening, drive into town and head to the Royal Gorge Train to ride through the gorge you saw from above! You can buy food and drinks on the train. There is one open train car that you can stand on to get the most beautiful views, though you'll pay for a seat in one of the regular cars.
Spend the night glamping in a yurt near Canon City
Day 4 - Today is your day to be pampered.
How do you feel about hot springs? How do you feel about clothing optional? If you like both of those things, the Orient Land Trust is for you. This was such an interesting place! We took a dirt road (already in the middle of nowhere off of a main road) through some farm land and up a hill. At the top of the hill we parked for our day at the springs. The location has camping though too! Hiking up a hill wearing only a sarong was good for me, but some people went all out -- literally. These springs are pretty amazing. It's relaxing once you're finished with the hike and laying in the hot springs. What a beautiful view over the hillside too! Spend the day, head to your next location at night.
Day 5 - Ready for some adventure? Great! Today you're going to be doing a lot of physical activity. Make sure you've got food and water for the day!
We began the day by heading to Zapata Falls. https://www.alamosa.org/things-to-do-in-alamosa/alamosa-scenic-wonders/389-zapata-falls
The hike from the parking lot at the top of the hill to the falls isn't too bad. The water was chilly even on this hot August day.
The hike from the main road to the upper parking lot was a killer! It was only a mile, and my friend and I were driving a small car. The road looked a little rough so we left it at the bottom parking lot and started walking up. Soon into our walk, the mile felt like it was going to take forever. The road is incredibly rocky and the sun is beating down. Almost everyone going up the hill had big trucks or SUVs. Everyone looked really happy to be heading to the falls. We were lucky to hitchhike the rest of the way up in the bed of a truck! This was one of the coolest experiences for me, since I had never hitch hiked before. On our way down we started walking once again and another group offered us a ride. Saved again!
After our hike, we stopped outside of the Great Sand Dunes National Park to red our sleds...you read that right. SLEDS! You can't rent inside the park, so stop and get some ice cream and your sled or snowboard.
We got there pretty late in the day, so we didn't get a chance to explore lots of the park. We did, however, get to do lots of amazing sledding on the dunes. What a workout. I can't wait to go back.