Birds Used In Falconry

Falconry is a thrilling, age-old sport involving training birds of prey for hunting. It has been practiced for thousands of years and is known as the sport of kings from its popularity among nobles in Medieval Europe. It is a rare sport, mainly due to the time and financial investment, though it is practiced all over the world.

While falcons are obviously first thought of, there are many species of birds used in falconry, including hawks, owls, and eagles. In fact, the sport is also called ‘hawking’ as it is common to call your bird a ‘hawk’ regardless of species. Birds of prey are chosen by their falconers for a number of features, including size, intelligence, temperament, and train-ability. We will go over some of the most common birds used in falconry, so you can know what to expect from a beginner falconry experience.

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What Birds Are Used In Falconry

Falcons

As the name suggests, falcons are the most popular raptors in the sport. Falcons are longwing birds, and their extended wingspans allow them to soar over open terrain and hunt other birds in mid-air. The most common is the Peregrine Falcon, as they are comparatively easy to train and are the fastest animal in the world, with a diving speed of up to 240 mph. 

Gyrfalcons are the largest falcons, reaching up to two feet long. They can have wingspans up to four feet and are often hunt geese, ducks, and pheasants. Gyrfalcons hunt by following other birds until they tire out, whereas Prairie Falcons hunt with a waiting-on style. This means they circle above the prairie until the falconer (or their hunting dog) flushes prey from its hiding spot.

In addition to one Peregrine Falcon, Broadmoor also houses a Saker Falcon and a Lanner Falcon. The Saker Falcon is the second largest falcon species in the world and is hypothesized to be the first ever used for the sport of falconry. It is versatile and can be used in direct pursuit flights or with a waiting-on style. Lanner Falcons tend to be less aggressive than other raptors of their medium-large size. As such, they are great for beginner falconers and demonstrations, like the Broadmoor’s beginner falconry experience. 

Merlins are one of the smallest falcons, and, similar to gyrfalcons, can follow prey for miles on end. Their falconers use radio transmitters to keep tabs on the bird’s location. The American Kestrel is a popular falconry choice because they are easy to purchase and easy to train. As the smallest of all falcons, Kestrels weigh the same as 34 pennies! They hunt small birds and specialize in short-distance flights.

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Hawks 

Shortwings, such as hawks, train to hunt in forested areas. They usually wait in tree branches or on their falconer’s glove for ground prey to reveal themselves. Goshawks have a long history in falconry, having been popular in ancient times and seeing a revival now. They can be temperamental if not trained properly. But when trained well, goshawks are highly productive, agile, and determined. 

The Harris’s Hawk is another popular falconry bird, however only recently so. Harris’s Hawks like to hunt in an organized group, called a “cast,” and this gives them an edge over lone hunters. They are very successful at hunting rabbits, squirrels, rodents, and small birds. Their easy disposition and ability to hunt in a team have made them a new favorite in the falconry world. 

Other Falconry Birds 

While owls are not popular falconry birds, they do have a couple unique features that make them attractive to falconers. The first is their unique ability to fly completely silently. The second is that while most other falconry birds are diurnal (fly during the day), owls are nocturnal or crepuscular. You can tell from their bright orange eyes that Eurasian Eagle Owls are crepuscular, meaning active during dawn and dusk. 

Golden Eagles are popular in Central Asia and one of the birds of choice in traditional Mongolian Falconry. They are exceptionally strong and able to carry a fox in flight. As such, they hunt deer, bobcats, and even wolves. If you are looking for a place near you to possibly spot one in the wild, Rocky Mountain National Park is home to 25 species of birds of prey, including Peregrine Falcons and Golden Eagles. 
Common Buzzards are broadwing birds that are popular for beginner falconers because of their size and temperament. However, they require a lot of regular flying time, and therefore tend to be substituted once a falconer feels comfortable moving to something more complex.

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Broadmoor Falconry Experience

Now that you know a bit about the amazing creatures used in falconry, you likely want to see some in person. If you are interested in getting first-hand experience, the best place for falconry in Colorado Springs is at the Broadmoor. Here you can see falcons, Harris’s Hawks, a barn owl, and more. 

The Broadmoor offers two lessons, beginner and intermediate, for participants to see falconry up close and personal. The beginner lesson is the perfect place to learn more about falconry hunting and the history of the sport. Instructors explain how they train and hunt with the hawks and provide a jaw-dropping demonstration. If you have ever wanted a bird to land on your (gloved) arm, here is your chance. At only an hour and a half, this beginner falconry experience is a day trip for visitors to Colorado Springs. Plus, the lesson is available for anyone over the age of five, making it a perfect educational experience for your bird-obsessed little ones.

The intermediate lesson is only available to those who have completed the beginner experience, and it is well worth the effort. On this tour, you will take a Harris’s Hawk on a scenic outdoor trail in Colorado Springs and watch it work. The instructor will guide you through holding the hawk on your arm and casting it out to a tree. You can watch it soar and hunt and eventually return to your arm. This unique opportunity is a great way to learn more about the birds used in falconry and get a hands-on glimpse into this timeless sport. 

Can I Take Kids Hiking?

Are you hoping to get out this spring and enjoy nature with your little ones? If so, you may be wondering if taking kids hiking around Colorado Springs is safe. The answer is that there are plenty of ways to get your children outdoors and on the trail. With proper planning and packing, you can be sure to have a safe and enjoyable time hiking with kids.

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The Best Trails for Taking Kids Hiking

The first thing to do when planning a hike with kids is to find a suitable trail. First, opt for less strenuous hikes without too much vertical gain as steep hikes can be fall hazards for kids. Next, depending on your preference, you may pick a place that allows dogs and horseback riding. Or you might decide it would be safer to do a pedestrian-only trail, so you don’t have to worry about mountain bikers or e-bikes.

In terms of exact mileage or difficulty rating, you can start easy and work your way up. There are plenty of excellent short hikes near Colorado Springs. When your kids are young and just starting out, you want to make hiking fun and achievable. As an avid hiker, you may have mountains you want to conquer or a mile count you want to meet. But when hiking with children, it is important to let go of these expectations and focus on cultivating an engaging and enjoyable experience.

Setting Alternate Goals and Expectations

Instead, you may choose a hike based on something you know your kids like, such as a waterfall or a popular bird watching spot. You can also make a game of the kids counting mushrooms or picking wildflowers. These alternate goals give the family something to look forward to that is not based on mileage or elevation gain.

Finally, a good rule of thumb for hiking with little kids is that the trip will take at least double what it otherwise would. Your kids may need to rest, want to go off and explore, or even decide to turn around early. Loop trails are a good idea for kids as they have a clear end point and unique views the entire way. You may also find a park that has branching trails from the same starting place. This is a good way to add to your hike on the fly, depending on how the kids are feeling.

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What to Pack when Hiking with Kids

Once you have picked out where to go and when, you will need to pack. Here are some key tips on what to pack for a day hike that will ensure you have a safe and fun time. First, in order to stay safe on the trail, you should always bring a first aid kit, matches, a flashlight, and an emergency shelter like a tarp and rope. Next, keep comfortable on the trail with essentials like sunscreen, rain jackets, and cold-weather gear. If the weather sours, your kids will surely want to turn around and get back to the car, and the right gear will keep them happy on the way.

If you are taking a short hike with little ones, you may not think navigation is necessary. Maybe you know the route, or maybe there are other people around. However, kids like to go off and explore, and your phone might not work deep in the forest. Bringing a physical form of navigation like a map can be a lifesaver when you lose track of your original trail.

Don’t Forget the Snacks 

One of the most important things to pack for hiking with kids is extra food. Parents always know to carry snacks wherever they go, and the trail is no exception. Even though you may not get hungry on the route, snacks are essential for young kids. You can use a treat as a reward for reaching a trail checkpoint or as fuel when the mood and energy start to falter. Be sure to pack plenty of water, enough to last the whole day, and encourage your kids to hydrate on water breaks.

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How to Hike with Kids

In terms of the actual experience of hiking with your children, be sure to check out the guide on how to hike with kids. This has great ideas for how to keep kids engaged on the trail, everything from imaginative games and goals to responsibilities and rewards. One essential tip is to plan a fun stop on the way home. A detour for ice cream is the perfect way to ensure they remember the trip pleasantly, no matter what happens with the weather or the hike. You can narrow down your search for the perfect hiking trail this way by planning to incorporate a nearby toy store or candy shop visit afterwards.

Education and Interaction on the Trail

The most important thing you can do is keep your mind and imagination open. Remembering to view the world as brand new will allow you to experience the wonder and beauty of nature as your kids do. If you or the little ones are interested in birds or trees or mushrooms, you can bring along a guidebook and plan some time for identification. Having educational resources on hand and teaching kids about the world around them will surely improve everyone’s experience.

Another great way to ensure an interactive hike is to check out the Junior Ranger programs offered at most state and national parks. Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods, and other popular spots have programming for kids that is often free of charge. You can also visit your local library to get a free Junior Ranger Nature Pack. These booklets for kids ages 7-13 have educational materials to be used at events throughout the year. Participating parks include Garden of the Gods, Stratton Open Space, Red Rock Canyon, and more.

Final Thoughts

Making hiking a family activity is a great way to bond and get everyone exercising. If you are just getting started and looking for extra help, Broadmoor’s three-hour guided hiking tour is available to kids of all ages. You can get tips from a local professional guide and see how they keep the little ones engaged and motivated on the trail. 

Cycling Events Near Colorado Springs – Spring/Summer 2023

As the weather warms up again, you are going to be looking for new and exciting ways to get outside. For avid cyclists and those new to biking, there are plenty of upcoming Colorado cycling events to get you back in the saddle. Check out some of the most interesting bike events in Colorado this spring and summer of 2023, and get started training for a bike tour today.

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Front Range Cycling Classic 

When: Sunday, March 19, 2023

Where: Parking Lot, Pinion Dr, Air Force Academy, CO 80840

More Information Here

Hosted by the US Air Force Academy Falcons Cycling Team, this bike race event is a 13.6 mile hilly ride around the Academy’s training complex in northwest Colorado Springs. In addition to collegiate time trials, the road race is open to everyone, with cash prizes for riders. The field is limited every year to 75 riders, so make sure you stay on top of this event and register as soon as you can.

Groove Fountain Festival

When: Saturday, April 15 & Sunday, April 16, 2023

Where: Kirk Hanna Park, 17050 S Peyton Hwy, Colorado Springs, CO 80928

Register Here

Located in the southeast district of Hanover, this cycling event is now in its third year. The time trial is on Saturday the 15th, and the road race is on Sunday the 16th. The two race options are 39 or 78 miles on a large loop that takes you between the park and Fountain, Colorado. The elevation gain is minimal, around 300 feet, making this a great opportunity for folks looking for a less rigorous ride.

Tour de Victory

When: Saturday, May 20, 2023

Where: YMCA of Northern Colorado, 2800 Dagny Way, Lafayette, CO 80026

Register Here

The Tour de Victory bike event is a bit of a drive from Colorado Springs, but it is a very popular Colorado cycling event and for good reason. This non-competitive race is a fundraising event for Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s. Riders can choose between four courses, a 20k, a 50k, a 100k, and a Gravel Course that is about 87 kilometers. The routes travel west of Lafayette, with the 100k going all the way up to Longmont. The 20k reaches about 400 feet of elevation, and the 100k over 2,000. These fun cycling events are for a good cause, and riders with Parkinson’s get free registration. 

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Race the Sun

When: Saturday, June 4, 2023

Where: 1375 W Plum Creek Pkwy, Castle Rock, CO 80109

Registration Opens February 1

This 6.5 mile mountain biking course is described as playful and flowy. It offers 90% singletrack and has 647 feet elevation gain. The course travels counterclockwise around Philip S. Miller Park in Castle Rock, which is less than an hour’s drive from downtown Colorado Springs. The race goes from 7 am to 7 pm, and walk-on registration is available the day before and early that morning. Elephant Rock is a popular destination for cyclists, and you will surely enjoy checking it out during this rewarding mountain biking event. 

719 Ride

When: Saturday, July 15, 2023

Where: Chipeta Elementary School, 2340 Ramsgate Terrace, Colorado Springs, CO 80919

Registration Opens March 12

Now in its eighth year, the 719 Ride is a locally organized road race that is a crowd favorite and one of the best Colorado cycling events. The “Course that Cannot Be Defeated” is a celebration of the elevation around Colorado Springs. You are invited to try to complete five laps of the course, for a total of 71.9 miles and 9,190 feet of elevation gain. For the same registration fee, however, you can do as many (or as few) laps as you wish. The top tier at a punishing 14 laps is called the Himalayan 719 as it covers the 25,700 feet elevation gain that it would take to reach a Himalayan peak. This is a great opportunity to challenge yourself and enjoy some beautiful views around Ute Valley Park and Blodgett Open Space. 

Cycle to the Summit

When: Saturday, August 12, 2023

Where: Pikes Peak Toll Rd, Woodland Park, CO 80863 (Parking lots near the start line and Crystal Creek Reservoir.)

Register Here

This difficult ride is not for the faint of heart. But if you want to join the Summit Society, there is only one way to do it. The race to the summit of Pikes Peak is 12.4 miles and over 4,700 feet of elevation gain. You will have to navigate 156 turns along the windy road as well as an average grade increase of 7%. But it is all worth it for the amazing views. The ride down is a spectacular journey, and there is a shuttle available for those who prefer it. The event was started in 2010, and summiters get exclusive deals and promotions from participating sponsors. Biking Pikes Peak is a rite of passage for cyclists in Colorado Springs, so don’t miss out on your chance to join the fun.

Golden Gran Fondo

When: Sunday, August 27, 2023

Where: Event Parking located at Ford Street and 10th Street, Golden, CO 80401

Registration Not Yet Open

This cycling event is part of the Suarez Gran Fondo National Series and starts in historic Golden, Colorado. There are three course options at 18, 63, and 91 miles. The Piccolo, 18.3 mile race, has an elevation gain of 1,962 feet, and the Gran Route has an intense elevation gain of 10,860 feet. It is a challenging route, with elevation gains lasting more than thirty minutes, but that also means the descents are substantial and rewarding. The Gran Route travels slightly south of Golden and north all the way to Nederland, giving you excellent views of Golden Gate Canyon State Park and Thorodin Mountain along the way.

Final Thoughts

Now that you are excited to get back on your bike and check out these Colorado cycling events, there’s one more thing. Before you get going, make sure your bike is in good condition after being stored for the winter. Get some tips on how to clean your bike, maintain it, and ensure it will last you this cycling season. And if you are looking to warm up before one of the big days, a bike tour around Colorado Springs is a great way to do it. A three-hour bike tour around Garden of the Gods is the perfect start to the new year and a surefire way to get you motivated to ride again.  

Ten Unique and Thrilling Day Trips Near Colorado Springs

If you’re looking for an adventure off the beaten path, there are so many unique day trips from Colorado Springs. Whatever your interest, there are plenty of options around central and eastern Colorado. Within a couple of hours’ drive, you could explore a part of nature like nothing you’ve seen before. Each list is arranged by distance, and there are suggestions for hikers, loungers, learners, and more.

Educational Day Trips from Colorado Springs

Manitou Cliff Dwellings

Location: 10 Cliff Rd, Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Distance from Downtown Colorado Springs: 15 minutes
Activity: Walking Tour
Great for: Families, Young Kids

Just across 24 from Manitou Springs, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings are open to the public for self-guided tours. This experience regularly makes lists of must-see Colorado Springs attractions. Why? This museum and tourist attraction is a replica of ancient cliff dwellings built by Ancestral Puebloans found in the Four Corners region. Built over a hundred years ago, in 1903, to divert tourists from the true, protected sites. It was created using materials from a collapsed archeological site, and the museum has pottery, tools, weapons, and more. This is a great place to take the kids to learn about archeology and history. They can walk through the cliff dwellings and see artifacts and dioramas within a cave museum. 

Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Location: 29950 Paint Mine Rd, Calhan, CO 80808
Distance from Downtown Colorado Springs: 45 minutes
Activity: Hiking
Great for: Families, Couples

At under an hour from downtown Colorado Springs, Paint Mines Interpretive Park just outside Calhan, Colorado is easily accessible. It can be quite busy on the 3.4-mile loop trail, and it is no wonder why.  The beautiful layers of different colored clays, which Natives used to make paint, create stunning scenery. The park has evidence of human life as far back as 9,000 years. The park is open year-round and free, although sadly pets are prohibited.

Photo by Hailey Haar on Unsplash

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Location: 15807 Co Rd 1, Florissant, CO 80816
Distance from Downtown Colorado Springs: 45 minutes
Activity: Walking Tour
Great for: Families, Kids

The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is an underrated but great day trip near Colorado Springs. Especially if you have little ones who love dinosaurs and rocks, this park is the place to be. The Florissant Formation is a petrified tree stump, one of many you can see on the mile loop trail. It is estimated to be 34 million years old and has been well-preserved due to volcanic ash. You can see preserved insect and plant fossils in the rock, as well as layers of clay and mud. Just past Divide, Colorado, this is an easy day trip from Colorado Springs and perfect for teaching the kids about geology. The monument is open year-round and has 14 miles of other trails as well.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Location: Beaver Meadows Visitors Center, 1000 US-36, Estes Park, CO 80517
Distance from Downtown Colorado Springs: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Activity: Hiking, Sightseeing
Great for: Everyone!

If you haven’t been to Rocky Mountain yet, it needs to be at the top of your list. This is one of the more famed National Parks in the country and for good reason. This 414-square-mile park is home to some stunning scenery and a variety of exciting wildlife. You could spot moose, elk, bighorn sheep, bears, deer, and more. The park’s many trails are great for hiking, horseback riding, backpacking, and cross-country skiing. You can also rock climb or boulder, fish for trout, and birdwatch. There’s something for everyone here, with plenty of romantic adventures for couples and educational tours for kids. 

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Location: Great Sand Dunes Visitors Center, 11999 CO-150, Mosca, CO 81146
Distance from Downtown Colorado Springs: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Activity: Hiking, Sightseeing
Great for: Everyone!

Great Sand Dunes National Park is not one of the most famous in our parks system, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. These sand dunes are the tallest in North America, reaching heights up to 750 feet. They cover 30 square miles and contain an estimated 5 billion cubic meters of sand. Hiking the sand dunes is a fun way to explore, but there are better options. Sandboarding and sand-sledding are two unique ways to experience the dunes. You can rent gear in the nearby town of Alamosa and practice your new favorite sport!

Thrill-Seeker Day Trips Near Colorado Springs

Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

Location: 4218 Co Rd 3A, Cañon City, CO 81212
Distance from Downtown Colorado Springs: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Activity: Theme Park
Great for: Families, Kids

Built for tourism in 1929, the Royal Gorge Bridge is suspended 956 feet over the Arkansas River. It is one of the highest suspension bridges in the world as well as the highest in the United States. The views from the bridge are absolutely breathtaking. But that’s not even it. The park also has activities for adventurers of all ages. You can ride the sky coaster or gondola, rock climb up the gorge on the Via Ferrata, or take a heart-pounding zip line 1,200 feet above the river. 

Bishop Castle

Location: 12705 CO-165, Rye, CO 81069
Distance from Downtown Colorado Springs: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Activity: Sightseeing, Walking Tour
Great for: Families

Bishop Castle is an odd but unique stop to add to your Colorado bucket list. Due south of Colorado Springs, this is mainly a tourist attraction, but it is free and always open. There are no official tours, but visitors are welcome to explore the entirety of the castle on their own. The castle is built by one man, Jim Bishop, who has been working on it for sixty years. You can see beautiful stained glass windows and a fire-breathing dragon. What puts Bishop Castle on this list, however, are the views. At three stories tall with towers and iron bridges, the castle soars over the tree line. You can see for a hundred miles on a clear day, and it is breathtaking. If you aren’t afraid of heights or odd architecture, you will be rewarded with outstanding views.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Location: 51000 Two Rivers Plaza Road, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
Distance from Downtown Colorado Springs: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Activity: Walking Tour, Theme Park
Great for: Families, Kids

There are closer caves and caverns (namely Cave of the Winds Mountain Park in Manitou Springs). But Glenwood Caverns has so much to offer that it is certainly worth the drive. You and your kids can learn about geology with a 40-minute guided walking tour of the cave system. Then, check out the gondola, roller coasters, movie theater, laser tag arena, and more. This is a great weekend getaway with activities the whole family can enjoy. 

Relaxing Day Trips Near Colorado Springs

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Location: 515 Ruxton Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Distance from Downtown Colorado Springs: 20 minutes
Activity: Sightseeing
Great for: Families, Couples

One way to sightsee from the comfort of indoors is the cog railway. Enjoy a scenic tour of the mountain as the train takes you nine miles to the summit. This 3.5-hour round-trip route offers non-stop sightseeing, and it’s ideal for a fall day trip. Pikes Peak is one of the best places to see fall colors in Colorado Springs, so this is a great day trip when the trees start to turn. At the 14,115-foot summit, there are beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding Front Range of the Rockies. The newly built Summit Visitors Center has a restaurant where you can enjoy a meal and shops so you can grab a souvenir. If you are looking for a more adventurous way to experience Pikes Peak, the Cog Up, Bike Down Tour is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. 

Indian Hot Springs

Location: 302 Soda Creek Rd, Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Distance from Downtown Colorado Springs: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Activity: Relaxation
Great for: Couples

Colorado is full of geothermal hot springs, but not all of them are equally amazing. Just west of Denver, Indian Hot Springs is one of the best places near Colorado Springs to get your soak on. This gorgeous getaway has a mineral water swimming pool geothermally heated around 90-100 degrees. There are also thermal caves, mud baths with mineral-rich clay, and outdoor jacuzzis. They even have eleven private baths for rental, a spa, and rooms and suites for a weekend retreat. If you are looking for a relaxing day trip from Colorado Springs, this one is unbeatable.

Final Thoughts

There are so many ways to get outdoors and enjoy nature in Colorado. No matter what activities you enjoy, there is sure to be something for you. And if driving isn’t your thing, that’s fine, too. If you’re looking for something closer to home, Colorado Springs has plenty of local adventures within easy reach. You can enjoy a bike tour, zip line, or scavenger hunt right here in town. Check out the Broadmoor Outfitters’ guided tours to enjoy Colorado Springs’ natural environment and learn a new skill.

woman and dog cross country skiing in snow and trees

Best Activities by Season Near Colorado Springs

There is so much to do in Colorado Springs that it can be hard to pick your next adventure. That’s why we’ve compiled some suggestions of unique outdoor activities to fit the season. If you need a new idea to get you excited to head out, here are some of the best outdoor activities available around Colorado Springs.

Best Winter Activities near Colorado Springs

Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing in Mueller State Park

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are classic Colorado winter activities with plenty of trails to choose from. In Mueller State Park, all trails are open for both, and if you are looking for an easier go of it, two routes are groomed depending on snow conditions. Mueller State Park is less than an hour’s drive from downtown Colorado Springs, just south of Divide, Colorado. This is a great way to enjoy the fresh air and the fresh powder. Mueller has a variety of trails offering different difficulty levels and lengths so you can enjoy a full day on the trail or a shorter trip with the kids.

Ice Skating in the Park

Take the kids ice skating in Acacia Park anytime from November 11 through January 31. This fun pastime is a great seasonal activity for people of all ages. You can go with friends, take a date, or schedule a birthday party around it. The park offers special events and skating times all throughout the day. Acacia Park is conveniently located in downtown Colorado Springs, offering plenty of places to enjoy a cup of something warm after your ice rink adventure. And if you don’t want to wait until the winter, you can always head to one of Colorado Springs’ local ice rinks all year-round.

Ways to Enjoy the Spring in Colorado Springs

Wildflower Spotting in Red Rock Canyon

Spring in Colorado is a colorful time. When the wildflowers bloom, you can see a vibrant rainbow across the valleys and up the mountainside. There are Colorado Columbines, Bluebells, Indian Paintbrushes, and more. That’s why heading out to find wildflowers is one of the best activities for the spring season in Colorado. Red Rock Canyon Open Space is a tucked-away preserve just northwest of Old Colorado City. This 1,474-acre park has miles of hiking trails with plenty of places to enjoy views of the spring blooms. 

Elk Sighting in Rocky Mountain National Park

When the sun comes out in the spring, so do the animals, and there is no place better to see wildlife than in Rocky Mountain National Park. With more than 265,000 acres, the park is chock full of opportunities to spot elk, bighorn sheep, and bison. At less than three hours from Colorado Springs, Rocky Mountain is a perfect weekend getaway for someone looking to shake off the winter cold.

Outdoor Activities to Enjoy the Colorado Summer

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Colorado Springs

Summers in Colorado are beautiful, and with so many bodies of water around, it would be a shame to not take advantage. There are plenty of ways to do so, from canoeing or kayaking to swimming or boating. One unique and increasingly popular summer sport is stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). It is easy to learn and offers the flexibility to explore the water in a new way. Try it out with a guided SUP tour available on a local Colorado Springs lake. Don’t forget the sunscreen, and this will be a seasonal activity sure to please.

two stand up paddleboarders on lake
Photo by Matt Zhou on Unsplash

Manitou Springs Natural Mineral Springs Walking Tour

If you are looking for a unique and interesting way to spend a day outdoors in the summer, Manitou Springs is the place to be. The town has eight naturally-carbonated mineral springs you can find via a free, self-guided walking tour. These gorgeous and mystical springs have potable water with varying tastes, from sweet to citrus. This is a popular seasonal activity for locals and tourists alike, and it’s a fun way to stay cool and hydrated on a beautiful summer day.

Best Fall Adventures near Colorado Springs

Hiking in Garden of the Gods

There is nothing like the fall in Colorado. You can enjoy perfect weather and stunning scenery in a multitude of ways, from hiking to biking. Enjoy a guided hiking tour of one of Colorado Springs’ most recognized wonders. Garden of the Gods has exceptional hikes that provide amazing views and opportunities to see a variety of wildlife. With a tour guide, you can learn about the geology, ecology, and history of the National Natural Landmark. There are plenty of ways to keep the little ones happy, too, from horseback riding to segway tours to the Junior Rangers Program.

Fall Colors from the Pikes Peak Cog Railway

One of the best places to enjoy the colors of fall is Pikes Peak. With thousands of acres of national forest, fall brings out rich golden and red hues that make for a gorgeous vista. If you want to sit back and enjoy a tour of the landscape, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway is the perfect way to do it. The Cog Railway is a 9-mile trek that takes you to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak. From here, you can enjoy jaw-dropping panoramic views from the Summit Visitors Center, have a meal on the outdoor dining terrace, and buy souvenirs in the retail center. The 3.5-hour round-trip journey offers non-stop sightseeing and is a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. 

Final Thoughts

Colorado Springs is beautiful year-round and full of outdoor adventures waiting to be had. This short list of some of the best activities by season shows that there are an endless number of ways to enjoy nature whenever you want. No matter what season, as long as you prepare with the right gear, you can spend time outdoors in any weather. Check out the trail conditions at a park near you, and explore all that Colorful Colorado has to offer. 

History of Famous Colorado Springs Sites

Built around the base of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs has a long and diverse history in the development of railroad routes, the excitement of the gold rush, and the installation of military facilities. The history of this area takes you to some of the best sites in and around Colorado Springs. These stories will surely inspire you to visit these attractions and enjoy them in a deeper way. 

Garden of the Gods

What is Colorado Springs most famous for? The most popular Colorado Springs site has to be the Garden of the Gods. This 480-acre park surrounds stunning the geological feature which is a National Natural Landmark. The park was conveyed to the city in 1909 after owner Charles Perkins passed away in 1907. He had purchased the land to build a property on it, but he never did. He decided instead to leave the gorgeous natural environment alone so that the public and future generations could enjoy it. Although he never made arrangements for it to become a park, his children knew his wishes and it remains pristine today. 

There are so many fun activities to do in the Garden of the Gods park, which is part of the reason it is such a popular Colorado Springs attraction. It has some of the best trad climbing in Colorado Springs, horseback riding, hiking, and guided e-bike tours. Seeing the Garden of the Gods via bicycle is one of the best ways to explore these rock formations from different angles. The tour is a ride of about five miles and three hours.

Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Image of stream and tunnel in forest in manitou springs colorado springs site
Photo by Mikey Frost on Unsplash

This storied railway is the highest in North America, climbing almost 9 miles to the summit of Pikes Peak at 14,110 feet above sea level. It was built as a tourist attraction by the founder of the Simmons Beautyrest Mattress Company after he spent two grueling days on a mule to get to the peak. Zalmon Simmons funded the railway in 1889, and the project finished just two years later and opened in 1891. After the project proved unsuccessful financially, Simmons sold the railroad to the Broadmoor Hotel in 1925. The hotel still owns and manages it today, nearly 100 years later. 

One of the best ways to experience Pikes Peak and the Railway is with the Cog Up, Bike Down Guided Tour, which lets you enjoy views from the summit before biking down the 19.5-mile winding road. The trip is five and a half hours and provides amazing views of the Front Range of the Rockies. This is a popular tourist destination, and it’s no wonder why: these panoramic views make this one of the best sites in Colorado Springs. If you are not able to complete this exhilarating intermediate biking adventure, you can enjoy the newly created Summit Complex, including world-famous donuts and a well-stocked gift shop, before taking the cog railway back down. 

Rocky Mountain National Park

One of Colorado’s greatest outdoor wonders is a short drive from Colorado Springs just past the town of Estes Park. Rocky Mountain National Park is a 415-square-mile park boasting stunning views, exhilarating hikes, and great opportunities to see wildlife like elk and bighorn sheep. Early recordings of park exploration date back to the mid-1800s. Around this time, the area became popular due to the Pikes Peak gold rush. Federal law established Rocky Mountain as a National Park in 1915. Private homes scattered the landscape, but the government removed and replaced them with campsites and facilities.

Today, Rocky Mountain National Park is a gorgeous expanse of wilderness, with five visitors centers and over 100 backcountry campsites. There are opportunities for fishing, rock climbing (one of the most popular spots in Colorado for bouldering), and trail hiking. Serious hikers should check out the 45-mile loop of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. You should visit in the summer, as the park closes in the winter due to weather hazards. Most trails in the park also allow horseback riding, so there is no shortage of exciting ways to experience this park.

Rocky Mountain National Park was also one of the first World Biosphere Reserves, designated by UNESCO in 1976. This awards dedication to sustainable development and efforts to encourage human exploration in tandem with conserving the area’s biological diversity. With such a rich history and so much to explore and learn, the park truly is an essential Colorado experience.

Mining and Gold Camp Road

As you now know, Colorado Springs grew out of the Pikes Peak gold rush and subsequent mining. This famous Colorado Springs site was officially founded in 1871 and just celebrated its 150th year. The tunnels throughout Gold Camp Road were constructed in the late 1800s. A railroad called the “Short Line” opened in 1901 to help facilitate mining. The 200-car freight train transported miners, supplies, and minerals from mines near Cripple Creek back to Colorado Springs. 

The best way to explore Gold Camp Road is to hike or bike it. The hike is moderate difficulty, 14 miles and 2,200 feet of elevation gain. Mountain biking is a popular way to explore the trail, too, and it appears on cycling event routes often. It is possible to drive through the first two tunnels, but eventually the road becomes too rocky.

Final Thoughts

Colorado Springs’ unique history is just one more exciting thing to explore. With stunning views, diverse wildlife, and beautiful wildflowers, there are so many ways to enjoy an outdoor adventure and learn something new about Colorful Colorado. No matter what you like to do, there will surely be something awe-inspiring and memorable in your travels. If you are looking for your next adventure, Broadmoor’s guided tours teach new skills and explore new parts of town. 

How to Wear a Hiking Backpack

Are you looking forward to your first backpacking trip? Or maybe you’ve been on the trail and are wondering why your back hurts so much. A poorly fitting backpack can be a real hazard, causing back and hip pain, setting you off balance, and turning a beautiful hike into a miserable slog. 

In this article, we will set you up for success with three important steps: backpack fitting tips, how to properly pack a hiking backpack, and the right way to wear a heavy hiking backpack. Once you have these pieces sorted out, you will be ready to check out some of the best hikes near Colorado Springs with confidence and comfort.

Hiking Backpack Fitting Tips

The easiest way to get a backpack that fits well is to go to an outdoor equipment store where you can try some on with expert guidance. If you are buying a pack online or getting one from a friend, you might not have access to a professional opinion. But don’t worry: you can easily confirm on your own if a pack is a good fit for you.

The first thing you will do is measure your torso and hipbelt (not the same as your pants size!) and choose a pack that fits these dimensions. Whatever site you buy from will offer tips for taking these measurements, and be sure to look at the pack’s sizing guide, as different brands will vary. 

The Many Straps of a Pack, or How to Properly Wear a Hiking Backpack

Once you have your backpack in hand, you will see that there are plenty of adjustments to make. The torso size is key because too short a pack will strain your muscles and too big a pack will destabilize you. When you have that proper torso size, you can move to the hipbelt, which is the most important part of the backpack to adjust. 

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

The Hipbelt

The pads of the hipbelt should sit high on your hips, around where your ‘love handles’ would be. Shrug your shoulders and tighten the hipbelt here. Your hips do a lot of the work in carrying the weight of a backpack, so if you find your shoulders hurting during a hike, you probably need to readjust the hipbelt. 

You do not want this to be too tight that it hurts or too loose that it slips down. It should be snug in order to stay affixed in place while you hike. If you find yourself with bruises (called hip rot) or a rash on the hip, it is probably because there is too much movement of the hipbelt.

The Shoulder Straps

Once the hipbelt is in place, you can use the shoulder straps to make adjustments to get the pack to sit snugly against your body. It is a good idea to do this initial adjustment with a bit of weight, say ten pounds, in the pack. If it is totally empty, you may not get a good feel for how the weight will feel on your shoulders and hip.

Load Lifters and Sternum Strap

There are still a few more straps on the pack, namely the load lifters and the sternum strap. The load lifters are small straps that go from the top of the pack frame to the shoulder straps. When properly tightened to about a 45-degree angle from the pack, these straps bring the load closer to your body, which makes it easier to carry with the pack’s center of gravity closer to your own. The sternum strap should sit about an inch below your collarbones and be just tight enough to keep the shoulder straps off your armpits.

Make sure you do not overtighten any of these straps. If you do, you will feel tension, in your neck as the load lifters pull your head back or in your chest as the sternum strap pulls your body inward. You want the shoulder straps to be snug, but they should not pinch your armpits or restrict your arm movements at all.

Photo by Ali Kazal on Unsplash

How to Properly Pack a Hiking Backpack

You might not realize it matters, but there are actually ergonomic reasons that you should pack in a specific way. This mostly concerns where the backpack’s center of gravity is and how you can bring it closest to your sturdiest parts.

The best place to put heavy gear is in the middle of a hiking backpack. The bottom of the pack is great for bulky items like sleeping bags and pads and maybe your pajamas. Heavy items down here, though, will make the pack sag, and for back safety, you should avoid letting it hang lower than four inches below your waist. Throw these bulky light items in first, especially ones you won’t need to access until camp, and then pack the heavier items like cooking gear and food next. Weighting the core middle area of the pack will help you feel stable on the trail.

Finally, the top of the pack is for trail essentials like your rain jacket, first aid kit, and supplies for water filtration and toilet usage. You don’t want to put anything too heavy up here, as it will throw off your balance and cause unnecessary tension. Hiking backpacks also have plenty of strap pockets and loops for storing headlamps, bug spray, navigation tools, high-calorie snacks, and other small essentials that you might want to access on the move.

How to Adjust a Hiking Backpack on the Trail

Lean Forward

Because the backpack’s weight is mostly behind you, leaning forward slightly will help you feel more balanced. Especially while going up or downhill, be aware of how the backpack’s position can change how heavy it feels. Try making slight adjustments to the straps and backpack’s positioning as you walk so you can learn to identify these stressors and improve your comfort on the trail. If you are wondering if trekking poles are worth it, they can certainly help in this situation to disperse weight better. 

Photo by A.Z on Unsplash

Avoid Load Fatigue

One helpful way to give yourself a rest as you continue hiking is to alternate between backpack positions. It is common to take a few minutes with a hip-heavy load, where you loosen the shoulder straps slightly and give your upper body a rest. Then you can switch, tightening the shoulder straps back up and loosening the hipbelt a little. You don’t want the pack to be in danger of falling off or affecting your ability to walk, but a few moments of small adjustments can help you recover mid-hike and avoid muscle fatigue.

Rest

It is so important to take breaks along your hike. Not only for water and snacks but also to give your body a rest. Even if you are only taking a short water break, you should take the pack off and shake out your shoulders. Take a moment to assess how you are feeling and if there are any sore places on your body that you need to address. If you ignore pain, it will likely only get worse, so pay attention to what your body needs and make changes.

With these backpack fitting tips, you should be ready to hit the trail and conquer Colorado’s beautiful peaks. Make sure you listen to your body, pack smart, and stay safe. If you are looking for a little extra guidance as you begin your hiking journey, check out one of these scenic guided hiking tours around Colorado Springs. Happy hiking!

Free (and Cheap) Events in Colorado Springs – Winter 2022-23

Looking for some fun events this winter? There’s always plenty to do in and around Colorado Springs. From outdoor recreation to holiday celebrations to arts and crafts, we have activities for everyone. Before it gets too cold to enjoy the outdoors, be sure to check out some of these exciting free events near Colorado Springs.

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Winter Races Near Colorado Springs

Timeless Turkey Trot Prediction Run

Where: Iron Horse Park, 6151 Elwell Street, Fort Carson

When: Saturday, November 5, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM 

Reserve your free spot: Eventbrite

Just south of Colorado Springs in the spacious Iron Horse Park, this race is a fun variation of a standard 5k. The course is not revealed until the day of the race, and when you arrive to register, you have the opportunity to predict your time. The top ten racers who come closest to their predictions will win a prize.

The race starts at 9:30 am, and prize winners are announced at 11:40 am. While you are waiting for the announcement, you can enjoy local vendors selling merch, food, and beverages. Strollers and leashed dogs are allowed, so be sure to bring the whole family. 

Veterans Day 5k

Where: Goat Patch Brewing Company, 2727 North Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs

When: Saturday, November 12, 10:00 AM 

Buy your ticket: $35, Eventbrite

Offered by the Colorado Brewing Running Series, this 5k starts and ends at Goat Patch Brewing. No matter whether you walk or run the course, you will get a free craft beer at the finish line. And you don’t need to be 21 to participate: underage runners will receive a free non-alcoholic beverage at the end of the race. 

Your ticket gets you into the event where you can enjoy live music, food trucks, and local vendors. You are also supporting a good cause as 10% of all proceeds go to local Colorado nonprofits that support the community.

Free Arts and Crafts Fairs

Black Forest Arts and Crafts Guild Fall Show and Sale

Where: 12530 Black Forest Rd, Black Forest

When: Wednesday, November 2, 4:00 – 7:00 PM; Thursday – Saturday 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM; Sunday, November 6, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM  

No tickets needed.

Entry is free into this arts and crafts show. This Northwest Colorado Springs neighborhood event offers an amazing array of beautiful, handcrafted goods. The guild is open to all Black Forest residents and promotes fine arts, decorative arts and crafts, and culinary arts. This free Colorado Springs event is a great place to appreciate the local art scene and find holiday presents sure to amaze your loved ones.

Holiday Craft Fair

Where: Cheyenne Mountain High School, 1200 Cresta Road, Colorado Springs

When: Saturday, December 3, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Reserve your free spot: Eventbrite

This holiday craft fair is an event not to be missed. It has free admission, free parking, and a free shuttle from the parking lot to the venue. There are 140 vendors all selling handmade crafts and delicious goodies as part of a “Taste of the Holidays” bake sale. This conveniently located Southwest Colorado Springs event will give you ample opportunities to get holiday presents for your loved one and enjoy the atmosphere of a community fair.

Winter Events for Families and Kids

10th Annual Noche de los Muertos

Where: Rockledge Lodge/SunMountain Center, 328 El Paso Blvd, Manitou Springs

When: Wednesday, November 2, 5:00 PM

Get tickets: $35, Eventbrite

This unique cultural event includes live music and dance performances, an authentic Mexican dinner (included in the ticket price), and a Dia de Los Muertos-inspired altar (called an ofrenda) to honor loved ones who have passed on. This event also supports a good cause, as it is held by the Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts. This is a great place to bring the kids for a night of entertainment and exposure to Mexican culture.

Junior Ranger Walk Garden of the Gods

Where: Red Rocks Room, Garden of the Gods, 1805 N. 30th St., Colorado Springs

When: Tuesday, November 8, 3:00 – 4:00 pm

Register here.

If you are searching for a family-friendly idea for the little ones, Garden of the Gods regularly offers Junior Ranger Walks at the park. Get the kids excited about wildlife and nature on this one or two-mile hike around the park. Tickets are $5 per child and free for accompanying adults. Get the kids off the couch to see one of the most beautiful sites Colorado Springs has to offer.

Skate in Acadia Park

Where: Acacia Park, 115 E Platte Ave, Colorado Springs

When: Opening Day is Friday, November 11, 4:00 pm 

Tickets ($10 includes skates) are available only at the rink.

This event is not quite free, but it’s such a great opportunity for the kids that we couldn’t skip it. The beautiful Acadia Park in downtown Colorado Springs has an ice rink available from November 11 through January 31. If your little one has a birthday in the winter, the Acadia Park ice rink makes for one of the best party ideas in Colorado Springs.

There are also tons of events through the winter including Skating with the Air Force Falcons Men’s Hockey Team (Sat, Dec 10, 4:00 – 6:00 pm) and Learning to Skate with US Figure Skating (Sat, Dec 17, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm). Another great event for teens is Glow Night (Friday, December 16, 7:00 – 9:00 pm). Check their website for more event information.

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

Where: Outlets at Castle Rock, 5050 Factory Shops Boulevard, Suite 340, Castle Rock

When: Saturday, November 12, 4:00 PM

Get tickets: Eventbrite

Who doesn’t love a tree-lighting ceremony? Ring in the holiday with a joyous celebration and display of a sparkling Christmas tree. There will be a Santa available for photo opportunities with the little ones and a performance by the Denver Broncos cheerleaders that the whole family will enjoy. Beer, wine, and hot chocolate are for sale, as well as plenty of holiday shopping at the outlets.

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Free Events to Explore Colorado Springs 

First Friday ArtWalk

Where: See the stops here.

When: Friday, November 4 (offered the first Friday of each month April through December)

No tickets needed.

Offered the first Friday of each month, the Colorado Springs ArtWalk is a great way to explore your neighborhood and see the incredible diversity of our local art scene. This free walk spans downtown Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City, and Manitou Springs. There are live demonstrations and a shuttle to help you get around to the stops more easily. You will see public street art, exquisite sculptures, and architecture, and get to walk through some of the city’s best art galleries. 

CONO Winter Block Party

Where: Sunshine Studios Live, 3970 Clear View Frontage Road, Colorado Springs

When: Tuesday, December 6, 5:30 – 8:00 PM 

Reserve your free spot: Eventbrite

If you are looking to make connections with friendly neighbors, you should check out all the block parties hosted by the Colorado Springs Council of Neighbors and Organizations. This Tuesday night event in Southeast Colorado Springs offers free entry, a cash bar, live music, and a cocktail social hour.

Colorado Springs has so much to offer. It’s no wonder it is a popular tourist destination and an up-and-coming city bringing new residents. While adventuring around town, be sure to check out the accessible public transportation options to make your travel easier. Once you have explored some of these fun free events in Colorado Springs, you will likely want to add some outdoor recreation to your plans. Before it gets too cold, enjoy a guided tour of some of the best hiking spots Colorado has to offer.

Rock Climbing Techniques: A Beginner’s Guide

If you are wondering how to get into rock climbing, there is no wrong way to go about it. You can take a class at your local gym, try a guided rock climbing tour, or try it out with a friend and get some hands-on experience. 

It is admirable to learn something new, and rock climbing is a rewarding activity. It builds self-esteem, provides instant gratification, and exercises your full body. Still, it is always hard to get used to new movements, so we’ve prepared some helpful rock climbing techniques for beginners just starting out with the sport.

Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

Before You Climb

Stretch

The most important thing to do, both before and after rock climbing, is to stretch. Be sure to stretch your fingers, wrists, and shoulders. You want to stay loose to avoid over-gripping the wall and tiring out quickly. I often stretch between climbs, too, once my muscles are warmed up and again when I am starting to feel tense. Keep your muscles relaxed as much as possible, and you will have an easier climb.

Plan Your Route

When rock climbing in an indoor gym, there will be color-coded routes to guide you. You can find beginner routes around 5.5 – 5.9 for top rope or V0 – V3 for bouldering. Before you jump right on the wall, take a moment to look at the route. You can climb with your eyes, and you should continue this practice as you move up the wall. Look at each hold and the movements between holds. Is that a right hand or a left? Is there a foothold to help boost you up?

Rock climbing routes are placed with intention. There may be multiple ways to do it, but there is likely one way the route setter intended. Understanding their plan will help you complete the route more efficiently and save time and energy. Plan out the climb before you start so you can go in with confidence. As for transitioning to outdoor climbing, there will not be set holds, but it is still important to look at the route before you begin and try to plan your movements.

Photo by Stephanie Cook on Unsplash

On the Wall – Rock Climbing Technique Tips

Move Your Feet As Much As Your Hands

Beginner rock climbers tend to think climbing is a sport of upper body strength. They forget that they can (and need to) move their feet, too. A good way to use your arm muscles less is to remember that you have other options!

Imagine climbing a ladder. You can stretch your arms to their full extension to reach the highest possible rung, or you can move your feet up and reach that same rung much more easily.

My rule is that you should move your feet just as often as your hands. Alternate hand, foot, hand, foot, if the climb allows for it. This will keep you from overusing your arms and getting tired more quickly.

Hang on Your Skeleton

Another way to avoid burning your arms out too quickly is to use your skeleton more. You can hang with straight arms to give your biceps a rest on the wall. You should pay attention to how your body feels on the wall. Maybe there are spots you can balance and don’t need to use too much upper body strength at all.

Control Your Center of Gravity

When you are on a climb, play around with where your body weight is. Pull your body closer to the wall, or relax your weight lower on bent knees. You will notice that it makes a big difference. When you are farther away from the wall, you will feel that it requires more arm strength to stay on the holds. Learning to recognize where your center of gravity is and how it affects your grip and endurance on a route will help massively while rock climbing.

Rotate Your Hips

In the same vein, be sure to move your hips while climbing. You can redirect your weight in order to reach the next handhold more easily. Sometimes you will want your hips facing the wall. Other times, your will need to put one hip into the wall in order to bend your knees and reach a higher foothold.

Take a Rest

Sometimes there are nice handholds or balance-dependent footholds that make for good break spots. There is no shame in taking a rest on the wall, and when you find a place to do it, take it. You can shake your arms out, stretch, or chalk up. A small, minute-long break can give you that extra ounce of energy to get you to the end.

Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

After Your Climb

Review What You Did

The best way to learn to be a better climber is to take a moment after each climb to go over what you did. Were there parts where you had to backtrack or switch hands? It’s possible that you did not complete the route as efficiently as possible. Was there a move that felt too hard or too much of a stretch? It’s possible that you missed a small foothold or a handhold around the corner of the route.

Practice the Same Route

You do not necessarily need to forget about a route the second you send it (“ascend,” or climb without falling). You can climb the same route again and again until you feel confident on each hold and smooth and precise in each movement. As you become accustomed to the most efficient route, you will be able to focus more on your center of gravity, breathing, proper positioning of your feet, and moving with intention between holds.

Stretch Again

For the first few weeks after you begin rock climbing, your forearms will hurt. Everyone goes through this. Continuing to stretch daily will protect you from injuries like tendonitis and make sure your muscles develop in a healthy way.

These beginner rock climbing tips apply equally to bouldering or top rope climbing and indoor or outdoor climbing. If you are looking to get into bouldering, it will also be important to learn to fall safely. In order to be safe while bouldering outdoors, be sure to use a crash pad and have a spotter. If you are planning to head outdoors, make sure you have the proper outdoor climbing safety equipment.

How to Keep Your Feet Warm While Hiking

If you are hoping to hit the trails this winter, you will need to know how to keep your feet warm while hiking. With treacherous temperatures and feet of snowfall not uncommon in the area, warm boots and warm socks are essential pieces of hiking gear here in Colorado. 


We’ve got some of the best fall hikes near Colorado Springs, so let’s dive into the proper gear for your feet and tips for keeping warm so you can get out there and enjoy.

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Gear Necessities for Staying Warm on a Hike

Sock Strategy for Cold-Weather Hiking

In order to keep your feet happy and warm on a hike, you need to wear multiple layers and consider all factors. The first and most important way to keep your feet warm is to keep them dry. Therefore, a moisture-wicking base layer needs to be the first thing you put on your feet. These thin moisture-wicking socks will keep your feet dry no matter how sweaty they get. 

The second layer is insulation. You can wear thick wool socks, which come in different weights (lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight) depending on how cold you are anticipating temperatures will go. If you own insulated hiking boots, these can be worn with just a thinner lightweight wool sock. 

When you are purchasing insulating socks for hiking, there are a few things to keep in mind. In terms of comfort, you want to find socks that fit a little looser. This will help them fit well over your moisture-wicking layer and make sure that your feet are not being squeezed at all. In terms of value, investing in quality socks will definitely make your life easier in the long run. Wool socks tend to be expensive, but they are the best option here as cotton holds moisture and does not insulate as well for the same thickness. 

The Best Boots for Cold-Weather Hiking

The final layer is the boot, and its main job is protection. A good hiking boot protects you from all sorts of injuries, rolling an ankle, stepping on something sharp, and hopefully, preventing frostbite. As noted, insulated hiking boots are a great option for folks who often hike in colder weather or find themselves standing around a lot while on a hike. 

Another must for Colorado hikers is waterproof hiking boots. Many people do not like their boots to be waterproof because it limits breathability. However, if you are hiking in winter or changing elevation substantially, there is a good chance you will come across snow. There is nothing worse than getting your boots wet, from rainy weather or a water crossing, when you are on a hike. If your feet do not have time to dry, you will be risking frostbite, blisters, and surely general discomfort. Even having snow land on your boot can be dangerous, as your body heat will melt it and allow the water to seep in through the tongue. On a very cold day, you could watch your boots freeze up, thus ending your hike.

You may wonder how to fit multiple pairs of thick socks in your hiking boots. When hiking in cold weather, you need to size up on boots. This will allow room for the socks without compressing your feet. You should aim to be able to wiggle your toes in the boots. If you do go for insulated hiking boots, the sizing will understandably vary as well, so it is helpful to go to a physical store to figure out what size will work for you. 

Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Feet Warm While Hiking

Be Prepared: Watch the Weather

Before you head out on your cold-weather hike, be sure to check the weather and trail conditions. It is easy to learn how to check trail conditions for hiking safety, and it will save you a disappointing and potentially dangerous hike. 

What to Pack to Keep Your Feet Warm

In addition to the warm socks and warm hiking boots already discussed, there are a few specific items that should go in your daypack for your feet. It is always a good practice to have a first aid kit, a blister kit, and in winter weather, chemical warmers for your hands and feet. These will allow you to warm back up in an emergency. You could also consider getting thermal insoles to redirect your body heat back up if you do not have insulated boots. Finally, you should always pack an extra pair of socks: you never know when you will need them, and at the very least, putting on clean socks at the end of the day will be a great reward for your hard work.

Don’t Put Your Boots On Too Early


It is always good to have a second pair of shoes, in case of emergency and for comfort in the car or at the campsite. When you are getting ready for your hike, changing into your boots should be one of the last things you do. This way, your feet will not get sweaty in those waterproof boots before you even get going. 

Don’t Lace Your Hiking Boots Too Tight

The reason that it is so important to have enough wiggle room in your shoes, literally, is because compressing your feet can lead to frostbite. When you are cold, the blood vessels closest to the skin and out in your limbs constrict in order to keep your core at the proper temperature. If you were to tie your shoes too tight, you are only further cutting off blood flow. This will make your feet feel colder sooner, and it can worsen symptoms of frostbite. 

Keep Your Core Warm

This feels obvious, but because your body prioritizes core temperature, your feet will be the first to get cold if you aren’t dressed warmly enough. Therefore, one of the best ways to ensure your feet stay warm while hiking is to make sure the rest of you stays warm, too.  

Get Your Feet off the Ground

The cold, hard ground is going to be one of the coldest places you can step. Even in the snow, the reflection of the sun’s rays makes the ground slightly warmer. When you take a water break or rest on your hike, try to stand on a rock or a tree trunk instead of the ground below. You will find the ground saps the heat from your idle feet faster than anything else.

Always Be Willing to Turn Around

One of the best winter hiking tips (that I believe is applicable year-round) is to always be willing to turn around. If you feel yourself getting too cold, if the trail conditions have changed, or if the weather is taking a turn for the worse, you should head back. The risk of frostbite or other injuries is not worth it.

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How to Warm Your Feet Back Up After Hiking

Get Dry

As keeping your feet dry is one of the most important tips for staying warm, it should be obvious that drying your feet off would be the first step for warming back up if your feet do get cold while hiking. Let your feet air dry for twenty minutes before putting warm socks on. This will make sure your skin is thoroughly dry to prevent blisters. This is especially true if you got your feet wet from something more than sweat, say wading through a river or hiking in a rainstorm.

It can be hard to let your feet dry out properly if it is cold outside. You can dry them off with a towel and then cover them loosely in a blanket or sit inside your tent. This will give them a little space to dry off without getting too cold in the process. 

Go Slow

One thing people often do is try to warm up too quickly. It is tempting to jump in a hot bath when you are cold, but if your toes are cold to the bone, it is not a good idea to try to warm up too quickly. If you’ve done it before, you know it is very painful. The transition from very cold to even tepid can be painful and actually harmful to your vascular system, sending cold blood to the heart.

Rather than shock your system with a quick transition, you can reacclimate to the warmth slowly. If you are camping and building a fire, take a seat far away and get closer as you warm up. Let your feet tell you if you get too close too fast. If you want to warm up with water, make sure you start with colder water and warm it up slowly with your feet.

Skin-to-Skin Contact

The best way to warm up cold feet is with skin-to-skin contact. Use your hands or thighs (sitting cross-legged) to warm your ankles and feet. If your skin is truly frozen, you should not massage or rub it as you can break the skin, but just hold it there to let heat transfer. Or, even better, if there is someone with you who can help, warm breath and skin-to-skin contact with someone else’s warmer body areas like the torso, thighs, and armpits are quick ways to safely warm skin.

If you are looking for some fun and rewarding hiking destinations this season, check out our Guided Hikes near Colorado Springs. You will get expert advice from a certified guide and plenty more real-world experience hiking in the great outdoors in colder weather.