image of rock climbing gear

Rock Climbing Gear – A Beginner’s Guide

Rock climbing has had an explosion of growth over the last couple of decades. The unique sport offers excitement, a challenge for all abilities, and different ways to explore and play in both indoor and outdoor spaces. Sometimes a new sport can be intimidating: the gear, systems, and language can be a lot to learn. If you are uncertain about what comes first, it can be helpful to research and learn more about how to get into rock climbing

As a beginner rock climber, consider familiarizing yourself with the sport through a guided rock climbing tour. Guided excursions come with all the gear you will need and allow you to get comfortable with proper climbing gear use. If you have never climbed before or want to upgrade from rental gear, this rock climbing gear list has all the beginner climbing essentials you need to start your journey into the vertical world.

Rock Climbing Shoes

Rock climbing shoes are an important part of climbing. The special rubber sole and snug shape allow you to grip the rock, offer protection for your feet, and give you the ability to place your feet on small holds. There are various shoes for all styles of climbing, and climbing shoes can be organized into the following categories: neutral “flat” sole, moderate “slightly downturned” sole, aggressive “very downturned” sole. Many shoes also offer options of “slip-on,” laced, or velcro closures.

As a beginner, you should go with more neutral shoes as they tend to be the most comfortable and least expensive. Downturned, aggressive shoes are tight, uncomfortable, and typically reserved for more technical terrain. When you are just getting started, comfort is key as you get used to wearing these new shoes. Climbing shoes should be snug, but not so tight that they cause pain. Due to the fit, you should not walk in the shoes or wear them if you are not climbing.

Some examples of beginner rock climbing shoes include:

Black Diamond Momentum, La Sportiva Tarantulace, Mad Rock Drifter

Rock Climbing Harness

Just like climbing shoes, a harness is an essential piece of protective rock climbing gear for any rock climbing with ropes. All harnesses come with basic features of holes for your waist and legs, gear loops, and a belay loop. There are many differences between harnesses such as adjustable leg loops, weight, material, and fit. These features become more important if you choose to specialize in a style of climbing down the road.

For a beginner rock climbing harness, look for an “all-around” harness that is comfortable and affordable. Fit will be one of the most important factors when buying your first harness. Make sure it has a snug fit around your upper legs and waist. Some people prefer the ease of non-adjustable leg loops but if you are looking to get used to the fit and feel of a harness, the ability to adjust your leg loops can be helpful.

Some examples of all-around rock climbing harnesses include:

Black Diamond Momentum, CAMP Energy, Petzl LUNA 

Chalk & Chalk Bag

Whether bouldering or top-rope climbing, chalk can be a game changer while climbing, especially if it is hot or humid. Chalk comes in a variety of forms: block, loose, and liquid. An easy way to start is by purchasing a “chalk ball,” which is a small cloth pouch filled with loose chalk. You chalk up simply by grabbing the chalk ball and easily refill the ball when it gets low with separately purchased loose chalk. 

It’s not a great idea to just dump loose chalk into your bag without a ball, and in fact prohibited at some gyms, as it is messy, wasteful, and annoying for your belayer to have chalk dropped on them when you use it mid-climb. Liquid chalk is preferred by some but not as common for top-rope climbing. Also, “eco” chalks, most often reserved for outdoor climbing, vary in color to match the rock.

Most chalk bags are pretty small with a closure mechanism and a waist loop. A bouldering-specific chalk bag or “buckets” will be larger, without a waist strap, and often come with a brush. If you are new to climbing, an affordable waist belt chalk bag with a chalk ball inside should be all you need. Chalk bags come in all sorts of colors, designs, patterns, and shapes so have fun. You can’t go wrong with this piece of rock climbing gear!

Belay Device

If you want to rope climb, belaying will be necessary. You will need a locking carabiner and a belay device. Again, there is a multitude of devices to choose from. Belay devices often come in the following broad categories: tube style, semi-assisted braking, auto-locking, and figure 8 (not commonly used). The most traditional and entry-level option is a “tube style” device such as an ATC. Most climbers learn to belay with an ATC and then switch to an assisted or auto-braking device. No matter which device you choose, be sure to seek instruction on how to use the device safely and appropriately.

Some examples of common belay devices:

Black Diamond ATC- XP, Edelrid Mega Jul, Petzl GRIGRI

Helmets for Outdoor Rock Climbing

While helmets are not commonly used inside, they are a must-have piece of rock climbing gear for any outdoor climbing. This important piece of gear protects you from anything that may fall from above – or protect you from the ground in the event that you fall. You will want to look for a designated rock climbing helmet as they are designed to protect your head from specific injuries that could be encountered in the sport.

There are generally two types: hard shell and shell-foamed helmets. Hardshell helmets are generally more affordable and more durable, making them great for beginners. Shelled foam helmets tend to be more expensive and have less longevity but are more breathable and lightweight. As with most types of gear, fit and comfort are top priorities when selecting your gear. 

Some examples of rock climbing helmets include:

Black Diamond Half Dome, CAMP Armor, Petzel BOREO

Final Thoughts

There is so much more to know about the sport of climbing aside from the rock climbing gear, but it is all worth it to take the time and learn. Rock climbing is one of the most invigorating and satisfying challenges. For an introductory experience, try a guided rock climbing tour. Once you have your own rock climbing gear, the technique and knowledge, and some confidence, be sure to check out the best beginner rock climbing in Colorado Springs and enjoy the views from new heights!

National Parks Near Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is full of beautiful destinations to explore, such as Garden of the Gods or Pikes Peak. But one of the most common questions visitors ask is, are there any National Parks near Colorado Springs as well? The answer is yes! Colorado has many phenomenal national parks, and several are within easy driving distance of Colorado Springs. So, let’s take a look at what these parks are, what they offer, and how to get there.

Additionally, there are several fascinating national historical sites and monuments near Colorado Springs. Therefore, we’ll also cover these destinations and what they offer.

Photo by Wallace Bentt on Unsplash

National Parks Near Colorado Springs

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Distance: ~90 miles southwest (2.5-hour drive)

Only 90 miles from Colorado Springs is the breathtaking Great Sand Dunes National Park. Boasting the tallest dunes in North America, with the stunning Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, this park offers spectacular views that you won’t find anywhere else. Be sure to try sandboarding or sand sledding if you visit! There are also many fascinating and scenic hikes in the area, but be sure to follow the Park Service’s recommendations for a safe hike.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Distance: ~120 miles north (3-hour drive)

Heading north from Colorado Springs and passing the big city of Denver, you’ll encounter Rocky Mountain National Park. This massive park encompasses about 415 square miles and features everything the rocky mountain range has to offer. From rugged peaks to lush meadows and icy alpine lakes to cascading waterfalls, there’s plenty to do and see in this park. Naturally, hiking is one of the primary attractions for this national park, along with multi-day backpacking trips. But don’t worry, there are certainly activities for everyone in this massive park – including RVing, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Distance: ~225 miles (4.5-hour drive)

Often overshadowed by Rocky Mountain or Arches National Parks, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is an underappreciated marvel. This park features a river-carved rock canyon with some of North America’s steepest cliffs. The rock itself is also fascinating, and geology aficionados will love the two million-year-old formations and spires that make up this park. What’s more, it’s one of the national parks near Colorado Springs that’s within a day’s drive.

However, keep in mind that Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is very remote. Research your last opportunity for gas and services, and be sure to take everything you need with you for your visit. But the benefit of this remoteness is that you won’t have to jostle with massive crowds at this park.

Mesa Verde National Park

Distance: 336 miles (6-hour drive)

Tucked away in the southwestern corner of Colorado lies this incredible testament to the Pueblo People’s culture and history. For centuries, these peoples built stunning villages in the cliffs and mesas of this area, and these ancient structures are now included in Mesa Verde National Park. This World Heritage Site offers a very unique look into how the Pueblo People lived and what happened to them as the Spanish encroached northward from modern-day Mexico and, afterward, the American frontiersmen westward.

Don’t forget to also stop by Hovenweep National Monument, just North of Mesa Verde, which we will discuss next.

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National Monuments and Historical Sites

Hovenweep National Monument

Distance: ~400 miles (7-hour drive)

Located just northwest of Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep offers another rare glimpse into the history of the native American peoples. This series of 6 villages was built sometime between 1200 and 1300 (hundreds of years before the first Europeans arrived in the area) and feature stunning architectural achievements and structures built into the canyons. Modern historians believe that around 2,500 people once lived in these villages, and their construction skill is genuinely something to behold.

Also directly adjacent to Hovenweep is the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. This sprawling landscape contains the highest concentration of Native American archaeological sites in the country. Experts estimate that the area has been inhabited for over 10,000 years and includes more than 30,000 documented historical sites.

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Distance: ~115 miles (2-hour drive)

For the history buffs out there, Bent’s Old Fort is a must-see and is close enough for a day trip from Colorado Springs. The Site features a reconstructed adobe trading post from the 1840s period. Complete with tours, demonstrations, and historical recreations and performances, this is a definite stopping point for folks interested in western frontier history.

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

Distance: ~143 miles (2.5-hour drive)

The western frontier history is full of conflict, culture, and controversy. All of this, and more, is preserved at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, which memorializes the terrible events that occurred on November 29th, 1864, when U.S. cavalrymen attacked the villages of White Antelope, Left Hand, and Black Kettle – leaders of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people. Today, this site offers informative ranger talks that discuss the awful events of that day and their significant impact on the region’s history.

 

Photo by Himiway Bikes on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

Colorado has so much to offer with its plethora of National Parks, Monuments, and Historical Sites. With almost any outdoor activity imaginable, from boating to hiking, plus its wealth of history, everyone is sure to enjoy a trip here. Best of all, there are several National Parks near Colorado Springs in addition to historical sites, making it an ideal location to visit as a springboard to your greater Colorado adventures.

And don’t forget that Colorado Springs itself offers several fantastic outdoor destinations of its own. Our hiking tours are an easy option to check out the best areas. But if you prefer to explore alone, don’t forget to consult a trail guide for Colorado Springs!

E-Bike Classes – What to Know

Did you know that there are different laws that apply to the various classes of electric bikes? Did you know that e-bikes are now grouped into three classes? Depending on what state you live in and what type of e-bike you have, you may have to follow one rule or another in order to avoid a citation. We’ll help you figure out your e-bike’s class and understand what important rules apply to your riding.

What’s Going on with E-Bike Classes?

When e-bikes first became popular, there were no laws governing how they could be used. What speed limit should apply? Can you ride an e-bike in designated bike-only spaces? Some states applied laws to e-bikes as if they were mopeds or other motor vehicles, enacting confusing licensing and equipment regulations that made no sense.


In 2015, California adopted a 3-Class approach to regulating e-bike use, where different laws apply based on the type of e-bike. So far 35 other states have followed suit with this standardized PeopleForBikes model law. The remaining states have laws regulating e-bikes as well, with some considering e-bikes to be motor vehicles and some regulating them as bicycles.

Photo by Himiway Bikes on Unsplash

A Primer on E-Bike Mechanics

Before we get into the specific classes of e-bikes, there are a couple of quick details about e-bikes you need to know. The point of an electric bicycle is that it uses a motor to turn the bike wheels so you don’t have to pedal, either as hard or at all. There are two ways that e-bikes can achieve this: pedal assistance and throttle. 

Pedal assistance means that the bike monitors the level of work you are putting in and responds in kind by providing power to the motor. This allows you to get further and go faster without as much work as a traditional bicycle. However, the motor will not turn on or stay on if you are not pedaling. 

In contrast, a throttle allows the e-bike motor to turn on even if you are not pedaling. Typically located on the handlebar, this device is similar to an electric scooter or a motorcycle. This distinction is important for the different classes of e-bikes, and you will see why below.  

What Are the Three E-Bike Classes?

The three classes of e-bikes are very straightforward, and it will not be hard for you to figure out which type of e-bike you own. You can either review these descriptions or do a quick search in your e-bike’s user manual. 

Class 1

Class 1 e-bikes provide only pedal assistance. This assistance stops once the bike has reached 20 miles per hour (mph). These are most likely to be regulated like traditional bicycles, as they have the lowest capability. Without a throttle, the user must keep pedaling in order to activate the motor and continue getting assistance. Keep in mind, though, as with all classes of e-bikes, it is possible to exceed the 20 mph limit by pedaling or when going down a hill.

Class 2

Class 2 e-bikes have a throttle-operated motor. This makes it possible to ride without pedaling at all. Similar to Class 1 e-bikes, the motor stops providing assistance at 20 mph; however, you can still pedal to achieve higher speeds.

Class 3

Similar to Class 1 e-bikes, Class 3 e-bikes provide pedal assistance. But unlike other classes, they have a pedal assistance limit of 28 mph. Depending on the state, some Class 3 e-bikes also are allowed to have a throttle (usable up to 20 mph), whereas some states ban Class 3 throttles altogether. 

If you are not sure which class your e-bike fits in, you can easily find out with a quick Google search of your e-bike brand and model or by reading over your bike’s user manual. Once you know what type of e-bike you have, you can move on to learning more about the specific rules governing your e-bike usage.

Photo by Himiway Bikes on Unsplash

What Are the Rules for the Three E-bike Classes?

We will go over the model laws provided by PeopleForBikes since this has been widely accepted and applies to two-thirds of states. However, these will only give you an idea of the main regulations since many states have additional laws on top of these. Therefore, regardless of where you live, double-check your state and local laws. Also keep an eye out for additional regulations for, say, biking in your neighborhood parks. 

The major issues that the e-bike regulations cover relate to access (to bike lanes, parks, etc) and usage (wearing helmets, age restrictions, etc). Some states have further restrictions on the classes of e-bikes. For example, California does not allow Class 3 e-bikes to have throttles. Meanwhile, Colorado and Washington do not allow e-bikes to have electric motors above 750 watts, effectively limiting speed. You should learn more about the restrictions in your state before investing in an e-bike of your own.

Class 1

Generally closest to traditional bicycles, Class 1 e-bikes have the fewest restrictions. They typically can be ridden wherever traditional bikes are allowed. This includes bike lanes on roads and bike paths in parks. Most states do not have regulations for Class 1 riders specifically, though people under 16 are required in many states to wear helmets while riding any class of bicycle or electric bike.

Class 2

Class 2 e-bikes are typically regulated the same as Class 1 e-bikes. However, some states have more regulations because of the addition of the throttle. This is a safety issue because the throttle can continue to power the motor without user input, making it more dangerous for riders and passersby alike. Regarding usage on mountain biking trails, for example, Class 2 e-bikes may be banned altogether from singletrack and downhill-only mountain biking trails. 

Class 3

The most highly regulated, Class 3 e-bikes are generally not allowed on bike trails or multi-use trails. This is another safety concern because of the maximum pedal assistance speed of 28 mph, which has been deemed too fast for multi-use trails in many states. Most states do allow Class 3 e-bikes to be used on roads and trails open to motorized public use (for ATVs and other off-road vehicles). 

Photo by Himiway Bikes on Unsplash

State-Specific Restrictions

Some states also restrict Class 3 e-bike riders to people over 16 years old and require all users, regardless of age, to wear helmets on these e-bikes. You should consult your state and local laws to make sure you do not unknowingly break any that apply to your class of e-bike.

You can find your state’s guidelines by searching your state government website for e-bike regulations. Keep in mind that almost every state gives local governments the authority to add restrictions if they want. So don’t forget to check the guidelines for your city or town. Finally, if you are planning an e-biking trip to a park or forest, you should look up the trail guidelines before you go. 

Rules of the Road

No matter what state you live in or what class of e-bike you have, there are certain common courtesies and best practices you should follow. First and foremost, please always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or e-bike of any class. Even if it is not a legal requirement, it is a minimal effort that can save your life in the event of a crash. 

E-bike riders should also keep in mind that speed limits and other driving laws still apply to them. If you are riding on a road, say in a residential area, there is a good chance your e-bike has the ability to exceed the posted speed limit. Despite being on an electric bicycle, it is possible to get a speeding ticket, citation, or fine, so obey the law. 

The Sidewalk Question

Bicyclists should avoid biking on sidewalks, as it is dangerous to pedestrians. Instead, use designated bike lanes where available or share the road with cars where legal. When riding an e-bike on a road, be sure to behave like a car and follow the rules of traffic. Stop at stop signs and red lights, and always give pedestrians in the crosswalk the right of way. This is especially true for e-bikes as they can go faster than traditional bicycles and therefore cause more potential injury in a collision.

Right of way is an important rule to know as an e-bike rider. What’s more, this rule applies to both the road and the trail. On multi-use trails, bicyclists must yield to hikers and people on horseback. As horses and other pack animals can get startled by the noises e-bikes make, it is important to give them space and let them pass you before continuing your ride. Finally, downhill riders should yield to uphill riders (since pedaling uphill is obviously harder).

Final Thoughts

Once you know all the state and local rules for your particular e-bike class, you can enjoy your ride, and rest assured that you will not violate any obscure laws. E-biking is a fun and effective way to commute to work, conquer a longer ride, or summit a steeper trail. If you are considering buying an e-bike and wondering if e-bikes are worth it, there are certainly many advantages to consider. You can also take a test ride on an exciting e-bike tour near Colorado Springs to learn more about the techniques and rules for riding an electric bike.

Tips for Hiking in Rain

Are you headed out for a hike and worried about the weather? It’s important to always be prepared for any conditions, so we’ve got some tips for hiking in rain. First, make sure you know how to pack for a day hike in general, and then we’ll discuss specific gear for hiking in rain and other considerations for staying safe and dry.

Image by Drew Tadd from Pixabay 

Do Your Research

First things first, always check weather reports before you head out. There is a difference between a drizzle and a thunderstorm, both in terms of comfort and safety. If there are severe weather warnings or if your hike includes a potential flashflood area like a canyon, consider postponing your trip. Either way, be sure to tell a friend about your planned whereabouts in case the weather becomes hazardous. Lastly, pack the ten essentials to be prepared for every situation.

Pack a Hot Drink

When packing for a day hike, you should always bring plenty of water and snacks. When packing for a rainy day hike, you may want to add a nice warm beverage to the mix. You can prepare a thermos ahead of time and leave it in the car for when you finish the hike. If you are backpacking for a couple of days, drink mixes like hot cocoa can be a real treat to warm you up. 

Wear the Right Rain Gear

As is best practice for every hiking trip, you should wear moisture-wicking inner layers. Dry-fit shirts and wool socks will keep you dry even when you sweat or get caught in the rain. These proper layers insulate body heat, help prevent blisters, and can be the difference between a safe rainy hike and a dangerous wet one. 

Rain Jacket

For outer layers, a waterproof rain jacket is a must. Something light that fits in a day pack is a smart choice to avoid bulk in good weather. The most important thing to note is the distinction between water-resistant and waterproof materials. A water-resistant jacket might stay dry if you spill your drink or walk through a sprinkler. However, it is not suitable for hiking in the rain. After a while, the material gets bogged down with water and can become extremely uncomfortable. To avoid being cold, wet, and miserable, a certified waterproof raincoat is an absolute necessity.

Rain Pants and Proper Footwear

Waterproof pants and hiking shoes are the two other essential pieces to stay dry on a rainy day. Waterproof boots are my go-to even on clear days. If I happen to step in a puddle or hop a small stream, my feet stay dry. The one downside with waterproof shoes is that they are not breathable. If rain does get in, it will be extremely hard to get them dry, and you will find yourself walking in puddles the rest of the day. The main concern with wet feet is blisters. When skin gets wet, it is more susceptible to breaking and forming blisters. This is why waterproof pants and shoes (that don’t have a gap at the ankle) are the best way to keep dry.

Two other helpful pieces of gear are a towel and an extra pair of socks. You may choose to leave these in the car to dry off when you return. Having a towel for wet hair and drying off wet skin is really helpful, and there is nothing as comforting as putting on warm, dry socks after a wet hike.

Photo by Andy Køgl on Unsplash

Waterproof Your Gear

Next, unless your day pack is truly waterproof, you will want to make sure the stuff inside is well protected. Your phone, cash, food, and other personal items can be kept dry by putting them in dry bags or plastic baggies. A waterproof phone case will help make sure you always have access to navigation tools and emergency services.

If you are backpacking for a couple of days, rather than just on a day hike, you will especially want to ensure your sleeping bag, clothes, and toilet paper do not get wet. One great way to keep all your gear dry at once is with garbage bags. Rather than put each item individually in small plastic bags, you can line your entire pack with a garbage bag and then pack everything like normal. As long as you secure the bag shut and get the water off before you open it, you should be able to keep your important belongings free from the rain. 

Know Safety Protocols

There are a few important rules to keep in mind for hiking in dangerous weather conditions. First, assume everything will be slippery. Rocks, wooden steps, mossy tree roots: everything is easy to slip on when wet. Be sure to keep your eyes on the trail and tread carefully.

If you find yourself caught in a thunderstorm, seek shelter, head to lower elevation, avoid the tallest trees, and avoid open meadows. If you are with a group, you should spread out to reduce the number of injuries in the event that there is a lightening strike.

Finally, if you were planning on crossing a stream on your hike, remember that it will be larger in the rain. You should always have an established path with branches or rocks to hold onto for safety. Added water means added current, so be extra careful not to get your feet swept out from under you. Check the National Park Serivce advice for river crossings for more information.

Dry Out After a Wet Hike

If you head home after your day of hiking in the rain, you can throw your clothes right in the wash. If you’re out for a couple of days, hang everything to dry. Put your hiking shoes in the sun or near a fire (not too close!). It is easy for mold to develop in gear that does not dry properly, so dry out your boots to extend their life. 

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Consider a Guided Hike

One great way to avoid the hassle and confusion of preparing for hiking in the rain is to book a guided hike. You can learn so much from professional hiking guides on how to prepare and navigate a rainy hike, and you’ll also benefit from someone bringing along those essential first aid supplies.

If you are feeling dispirited that the rain ruined your hiking trip, know that it is very possible to have a great time in any weather. With a little preparation and the right gear for hiking in rain, you can ensure a comfortable experience with Mother Nature’s wetter side. Be sure to check out the Colorado Springs trail guide to find your next great adventure, and enjoy your time outdoors! 

How To Stand Up on a Paddle Board

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUPing) is a widely recognized water sport that involves standing on a board, similar to a surfboard and using a paddle to move around the water. It’s been a method people have used to move in the water since around 3000 B.C. but has only become popular since the early 2000s. You’ve likely seen spectacular photos on social media or other advertisements of people posing on their stand-up paddleboard (SUP) while on a beach vacation – but what you don’t see is the clumsiness that often preludes their picture-perfect pose. 

Stand-up paddle boarding may look like a piece of cake, but it isn’t entirely intuitive. Balancing on a floating board while steering with a paddle takes a lot of coordination and core strength. But don’t let the challenge stop you! After all, paddle boarding is so popular partly due to how beginner-friendly and inclusive it is. All you need is a good attitude and this guide we’ve created for you to learn how to stand up on a paddle board. 

Photo by Peter Csipkay on Unsplash

How to Get On The Board

If you’re a beginner, mounting the SUP in calm, shallow waters (about knee deep) will be the easiest. Trying to get on the board while in deep waters or strong currents as a beginner could leave you up a creek without a paddle. To get on the board from the water, stand beside the board and lay your paddle across the nose of the board (horizontally) with the handle on your side. Hold the board on both sides, with the hand closest to you holding both the paddle handle and the board. Lift your alternate knee out of the water and onto the board, then pull the rest of your body onto the board, ensuring the nose stays in the water. Different SUPs have different balancing points, but you should be near the middle of the SUP. Continue kneeling and get your balance before attempting to stand up. 

Go From Kneeling to Standing

Once you’ve paddled around on your knees and gotten your balance for several strokes (or however many it takes!), you may feel comfortable transitioning into the standing position. This will be easier for some than others. For those with stiff knees, choosing a wider board might make standing up on your board easier. Staff at Broadmoor will definitely help you choose the perfect board for our Stand Up Paddle Board Tours. Now, here are a couple of methods to stand up on your board.

If you’re a reasonably agile person, you can lay your paddle down across the nose of the board, then lean down to place your hands on the board in front of your knees to balance. At this point, you should be able to bring your knees up and get your feet under your torso, then lift your body up into the standing position.

For those who aren’t exactly spring chickens or who aren’t as limber, follow the steps above, except instead of laying your paddle down, use it as a prop to help you bring your body to standing upright.

Once you’re standing, you will want to make sure your feet are in the same position on your SUP as your knees were. That way, you already know where the sweet spot of balance is on your SUP.

Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

How to Balance

The number one tip for how to stand up on a paddle board is: Don’t look down. SUPing is one of those sports that requires you to get out of your head and into your body, so really try to feel it in your feet, hips, back, shoulders, and core while learning. Place your feet around the middle of the board, about hip-width apart, and point your toes forward. Keep your posture solid but not too rigid. Also, move from your hips and core rather than trying to walk around on the board. And last but not least- prepare to fall. It happens!

How to Paddle

Now that you know how to stand up and balance on a paddle board, you need to learn how to use your paddle. Believe it or not, there is a wrong way to paddle a SUP, and most beginners do it incorrectly when left to their own devices.

First, you want to ensure that the paddle’s T-grip handle feels comfortable in your hand. You’ll be paddling on both sides, but start with the handle in your dominant hand, so you can get the hang of the paddling technique. Hold around the middle of the paddle with your other hand.

To paddle, put your blade in the water, ensuring that the angled part of the paddle blade is pointed toward the nose of your SUP and that the entire blade is submerged in the water. Now, make a big sweeping motion, pushing down with your top hand, as opposed to pulling the paddle through the water toward you. Paddle from about two feet in front of you, back to your ankles, and lift the paddle out of the water. Keep your arms straight during the paddle motion, and only move with your torso and upper body. Keep in mind that you should be paddling with your core strength, not with your arms. 

Prepare Your Body

If you’re planning on spending a big chunk of time SUPing or want to SUP several days in a row, you’ll be wise to exercise first. Building your core muscles as well as increasing stamina will pay off on the water! And, you might not be as sore after paddle boarding as you might be if you don’t work those muscles in the days and weeks before your SUP adventure. Plank (traditional and side plank) exercises, mountain climbers, and squats are a good starting point if you want to stand up on a paddle board. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the basic steps for how to stand up on a paddle board, you’re ready to get on the water and rock it. Remember, to be good at something, you’ve got to be bad at it first. So don’t be afraid to practice and perhaps take a couple of falls. But this beginner’s guide to stand up paddle boarding will send you on your way! 

Zip Lining Colorado Springs – How to Do It

How to Get Started Zip Lining Colorado Springs

Beginning as a way to transport goods and materials across rough terrain and rivers, ziplines quickly became a safer alternative for the workers, too. Nowadays, the sport has become more and more popular, with zip lines popping up in tourist areas all over the world. Zip lining is a great summer activity, a way to see awesome views of the surrounding area, and a thrilling ride for those looking for a rush of adrenaline.

What Is Zip Lining?

In zip lining, riders sit in a harness and hang under a long cable that starts higher on a slope and ends somewhere in the distance. You are connected to the cable via a pulley, whose wheels coast seamlessly along the cable, allowing you to fly through the air at awesome speeds, upwards of 40 miles per hour. 

Ziplines are often set up in forests or jungles, high in the trees. You may also find a zipline across a river or canyon or going down a mountain. In addition to a harness, zipliners must wear helmets. It is also suggested to wear pants and gloves to protect yourself from scratches by rogue branches. 

Image by AaronHM from Pixabay 

Why You Should Try Zip Lining

If you’re not already thrilled at the opportunity to fly through the air, there are plenty of other reasons to try ziplining. First, it’s a great way to experience nature. Ziplines often start at great heights – Broadmoor’s highest point is more than 500 feet in the air. You’ll get amazing views of the Front Range as you soar over the trees on this upside-down roller coaster. 


Next, zip lines immerse you in nature. These courses, which are among the best Colorado Springs attractions, include rope bridges, hikes, and rappels. While you’re on the zip line, you’ll get views of the forest canopy like you’ve never seen before. Colorado Springs has some amazing wildlife and scenery, and these zipline courses are unique and thrilling ways to experience that nature.

Is Zip Lining Safe?

All outdoor and adventure activities come with some risks, but zip lines in the United States are certified by an agency that notes a one-in-a-billion chance of one breaking. When properly constructed and run by trained professionals, ziplines are one of the safest ways for adrenaline seekers to get that rush.


The Broadmoor’s ziplines also have a minimum weight requirement of ninety pounds to make sure that riders can properly wear their safety equipment. All this is to say that a zipline course is an awesome family-friendly activity, and you can rest assured that ziplines are safe for kids.

Image by sebastian del val from Pixabay 

Zipline Courses in Colorado Springs

Now that you’re convinced to try it, let’s discuss the best zip line courses Colorado Springs has to offer. Between the Woods and Fins Courses, the Broadmoor property has eight zip lines of up to 1,800 feet in length and heights up to 500 feet.

The Woods Course

The first and more beginner-friendly course offered at Broadmoor for zip lining Colorado Springs, the Woods Course, travels over Midnight Falls and includes 5 zip lines ranging from 250 to 1500 feet long. The tallest starts 150 ft high in the air, and you’ll reach speeds upwards of 45 miles per hour. 

This thrilling course starts with two shorter zip lines to allow riders to get used to the experience. After a short walk, the third zip line takes you over a beautiful granite canyon and creek 150 feet down below. The fourth zip line leads riders to the top of Seven Falls, and the final 1,500-foot ride brings you back to the hiking trail. 

The Fins Course

If you want something a little more blood-pumping, the Fins Course is the way to go. This extreme ziplining adventure takes you to high altitudes, steep drops, and an experience in the Front Range like you’ve never had before. 

This half-day adventure has 5 zip lines of 250 to 1800 feet long and heights up to 500 feet. The course also involves two rope bridges, and a 180-foot assisted rappel. This awesome journey is definitely not for those who fear heights!

The course has two introductory zip lines, just like the Woods Course, before the third zipline takes you to Seven Falls Canyon and its rock fins. You’ll walk across two rope bridges and enjoy views of Colorado Springs before the fourth zipline takes you over the canyon to the south side of Mt. Cutler. Being 500 feet above the canyon road provides stunning view and an experience you’ll never forget. Finally, the last zip line leads back to the canyon, where you will rappel 180 feet down to the canyon floor.

The Combo Course

If you can’t choose between these awesome options, you’ll be relieved to know that you don’t have to! The Broadmoor’s combo course allows you to experience both the best zip lines in Colorado Springs. 

This four-hour day starts with the Woods Course, including the introductory zip lines and the awesome Midnight and Seven Falls rides, then all of the Fins Course, from the rope bridges to the thrilling ziplines to the assisted rappel. All in all, this exciting course has 8 zip lines and a 25-minute hike between the two courses. This great half-day adventure introduces you to the world of ziplining and provides other unique experiences in nature.

Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

When Is the Best Time to Go Ziplining In Colorado Springs?

If you are wondering when you can go zip lining here in Colorado Springs, Broadmoor’s courses are open year-round. While it is fun to go zip lining anytime, there are definitely better months and some weather tips to keep in mind. Summer is the best time for zip lining Colorado Springs. With the sunny, hot weather, the relief of wind and fast speeds will feel great. Spring and fall are also beautiful times to enjoy the weather from a zip line, and don’t forget about the gorgeous foliage you’ll see.

If you choose to go zip lining in the winter or colder weather, be aware of the temperature drops. On top of the mountains, it will be colder and windier. And with the ziplines propelling you to speeds greater than 40 miles per hour, you will want warm clothes and wind protection. Gloves and face protection are necessary for certain conditions to prevent frostbite. The only other risk is storms or lightning, which might result in closed courses until the bad weather passes.

Final Thoughts

Zip lining is an invigorating way to experience nature and see the stunning vistas of Colorado’s Front Range. This family-friendly activity is accessible from downtown, where you’ll have access to some of the best ziplines in Colorado. Simply make a reservation, dress well, and you’ll be all set. At Broadmoor, we include all the gear and instruction from trained guides. So all you need to do is show up and you’re sure to have a memorable time zip lining Colorado Springs – Enjoy!

Best Colorado Springs Activities for Families

Not many states call-in visitors from all over the world quite like Colorado does, and for good reason. Sitting at the Eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs is often ranked one of the best places to live and retire. Its residents are also known to be some of the happiest people in America. Maybe it’s the picturesque mountain views that are always accessible, or the neverending list of things to do outside that makes Colorado Springs one of the best destinations for families. 

Either way, whether you’re considering moving your family to the area, already live nearby, or just want to have an unforgettable summer vacation with your kids, we’ll help inspire your list of things to do in Colorado Springs.

Photo by Pragyan Goswami on Unsplash

1: Explore Pike’s Peak

Pike’s Peak, dubbed “America’s Mountain,” is a National Historic Landmark and even claims to be the most visited mountain on the continent. We added this to our list of Colorado Springs activities for families not only for its fame but also for its easy access. Pike’s Peak is one of the only Fourteeners (mountains above 14,000 feet elevation) accessible by more than just foot. You can summit Pike’s Peak by hiking, biking, driving, or train. Additionally, Broadmoor Outfitters offers an exciting combination of two modes of transportation: ride up and bike down!

2: Cave of the Winds Mountain Park

Believed by the Apache to be home to the Great Spirit of the Wind, the Cave of the Winds cavern is a geological time capsule. The main cavern is around 4 to 7 million years old. However, there are no written records of the cave until two school-aged boys discovered it in the 1800s. This is one of the best Colorado Springs activities for families because the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park offers customized plans for your family’s day based on your group’s adventure level and how much time you have to explore.

While there are dozens of things to do at the Park, two main (and exhilarating!) tours explore the entire cave system. The Discovery Tour is 45 minutes and perfect for everyone in the family! The Haunted Lantern Tour is a little longer, 90 minutes, and is a thrilling, deep exploration into the mountain with only candles lighting the way. The Haunted Lantern tour is only suitable for children 8 years old and up. All tours fill up quickly, so be sure to reserve yours as soon as possible. 

Photo by Colin Lloyd on Unsplash

3: Broadmoor Hunt

This scavenger hunt activity is probably one of the most unique experiences on our list of things to do in Colorado Springs. It also happens to be located on the same property as some of the best lodging in Colorado Springs! The Broadmoor Hunt is perfect for families and large groups of up to 100 people. You’ll download the app on your phone to access the scavenger hunt’s challenges and explore every bit of the historical property around The Broadmoor. All the while taking photos, solving riddles, and even asking Broadmoor staff for tips! This is a highly interactive game-like activity that lasts about two hours.

4: Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge and Park

The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is home to the tallest suspension bridge in the United States. What’s more, it also has Colorado’s #1 Bucket List Zipline, and the World’s Scariest Skycoaster. Visiting the park and walking across the tallest bridge in America is a must-do for adventurous families. This attraction is so thrilling. It also made it onto our list of Best winter activities for families in Colorado Springs. Assuming everyone in your family is ok with heights, this park has tons to offer the thrill-seeking family, from walking the bridge that hangs 1000 feet over the river to riding in aerial gondolas.

Photo by Jonathan Chaves on Unsplash

5: U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center

If you’re a family who likes to gather around the television to cheer on your favorite nations and athletes during the Olympic Games, you’ll not want to miss out on the opportunity to visit the Olympic Training Center. This is America’s hub for the country’s top-performing athletes and their coaches. This facility in Colorado Springs offers lodging, dining, training, and recreational facilities. It can accommodate 500 athletes and coaches. You’ll need a reservation to embark on one of the three tours offered at Bronze, Silver, and Gold tiers. Each tour offers varying levels of access to the facilities. For example, Bronze tours will show you around some major areas of interest, whereas the more expensive Gold tour will get you inside access to pools, basketball courts, and even the dining hall. On occasion, when their schedules allow, Olympic athletes offer exclusive tours.

6: Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center

This is one of the top destinations and things to do in Colorado Springs. Picturesque views of sandstone rock formations and mountain passes make this Nature Center a must for your family-friendly activities! Among the activities offered with breathtaking views as the backdrop are hiking, canoeing, ziplining, and open-air Jeep rides. Additionally, there are indoor activities like museums and informational videos covering the stunning rock formations and towers. There’s something for everyone at Garden of the Gods. 

Conclusion: 

We’re hopeful this list offers you a starting point and inspiration for things for families to do in Colorado Springs. This is by no means an exhaustive list, as Colorado Springs has thousands of attractions, trails, and activities to explore. “Fun” could be a full-time job in this city, and we hope to be part of yours! 

Rock Climbing in Colorado Springs – Where to Go

Situated against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains lies the City of Colorado Springs. Just south of Denver, this city is a premier gateway to adventure, offering access to various activities and awe-inspiring landscapes. Of these activities, rock climbing in Colorado Springs is one of our favorites.

Colorado Springs has it all, from unique sandstone rock formations to glistening glaciated peaks. Rock climbing in Colorado Springs is an activity you do not want to miss! But with so many options, it can be hard to know where to go. To save you time, we have laid out a quick guide to Colorado Springs rock climbing locations to suit climbers of all skill levels.

Before heading to the crag, remember to review the rules and regulations for rock climbing in Colorado Springs. These include very important safety information and general rules for each park to make sure all climbers have a fun and safe adventure.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

A Quick Note

Climbing is inherently dangerous. However, it can be a safe, enjoyable, and memorable activity with the proper equipment and skills. If you have never climbed before, first try climbing in an indoor space or seek a guided tour. To learn more about rock climbing safety for outdoor climbing, check our rock climbing safety guide.

If you’re ready to try climbing outdoors and don’t have the necessary skill and equipment, try going with a guide! Broadmoor Outfitters offers several guided rock climbing tours in Colorado Springs to phenomenal climbing locations in the area. This is also an excellent option for those looking to transition from indoor climbing to outdoor climbing. Or for those who have never climbed before but would like to immerse themselves into new landscapes and exciting rock climbing experiences in Colorado Springs.

Beginner Rock Climbing in Colorado Springs

City Rock (Indoor Climbing Gym)

Location: 21 N Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs

Parking: There is metered parking on downtown streets and many parking garages nearby. See parking information here. 

Approach: Easy walk in town from street or garage parking.

City Rock offers fantastic indoor rock climbing in Colorado Springs. This gym includes bouldering, auto-belays, sport climbing, and top-roping for all ages and ability levels. In addition to the climbing, City Rock also features a yoga studio, fitness training, a kids’ area, and more. This is a great option for first-time climbers or those seeking an alternative activity due to inclement outdoor weather.

Intermediate Rock Climbing in Colorado Springs

Ute Valley Park – Excellent Bouldering Opportunity

Location: 1705 Vindicator Dr, Colorado Springs

Parking: A parking lot is available at the Ute Valley Park Entrance at the address listed above.

Approach: Per Mountain Project, it is best to access the boulders by following Mule Deer Drive past Pinon Valley Park and turning left onto Pinon Park Drive. Pinon Park deadends at a gate; park along the street and walk up the dirt road. After about 100m, you will be at the boulders.

Ute Valley Park is primarily comprised of bouldering – short climbs with hard movements. No ropes or belays for this style of climbing. However, having enough crash pads, a confident partner to spot you, and some practice falling will make this more enjoyable.

While this climbing style is safe and accessible to most, we rank this location as intermediate due to the difficulty of the “problems” (routes). These problems typically range from V1-V12, which can be challenging for beginners. In this scale, V0 is the easiest (or VB for ‘beginner’), and the routes get harder as the number increases towards V12. Therefore, this is an excellent place to improve your climbing strength or challenge yourself on a tricky problem.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space – Sport Climbing

Location: 3550 W High St., Colorado Springs

Parking: Designated parking areas on the right side of W. High St. – Exact directions on Mountain Project

Approach: Find the trailhead by turning south from US 24 at the only turnoff between 30th Street and the first Manitou Springs exit.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space offers accessible and friendly climbing to novice and expert alike. With 80+ routes from 4th class to 5.13, there is a route for everyone. This area is primarily sandstone climbing with face holds, offering holds and movement very similar to gym climbing. Most climbs are bolted sport routes with lowering and rappelling anchors. 

NOTE: A free permit is required before climbing and is obtainable online. Be sure to watch the video on the climbing permit page, as this includes very important rules and regulations for the area.

Photo by Mark McGregor on Unsplash

Advanced Colorado Springs Rock Climbing

Cheyenne Cañon Park – Primarily Sport with Crack and Trad Options

Location: 4682 Gold Camp Rd, Colorado Springs

Parking: Enter near the Starmore Discovery Center, drive along the road, and park at various pullouts. There is also parking at the Powell parking lot on Gold Camp Road – See Mountain Project for more directions.

Approach: Most approaches are short and accessible from the parking lot or pullouts.

Situated in a narrow canyon with beautiful views, this fantastic granite crag contains a mixture of climbing styles. The options include bouldering, trad, and sport routes of varying difficulties. Although primarily a sport climbing location, there are a handful of crack climbs and trad routes offering a place to learn crack climbing techniques and trad climbing skills. 

This rock is also known to be of varying quality, so be sure to assess your routes. Cheyenne Cañon is an excellent option for hot days as it tends to stay cooler in the canyon shade. If you happen to be around in the winter months, this area is also known for its Ice Climbing.

NOTE: A free permit is required before climbing and is obtainable online. Be sure to watch the video on the climbing permit page, as this includes very important rules and regulations for the area.

Garden of the Gods – Great Trad Climbing

Location:  180 N. 30th St., Colorado Springs

Parking: Parking is available in the Visitor Center lots

Approach: From the parking lot along well-marked and traveled paths. See Mountain Project for specific route information.

Garden of the Gods is the most well-known rock climbing area in Colorado Springs. This area comprises beautiful towering sandstone formations with picturesque snowy peaks in the background. This area is well protected, so obtaining a park permit and learning about rules and regulations is mandatory before entering. 

While there are some beginner routes, this area is best known for traditional “trad” climbing – often reserved for advanced climbers only. Trad climbing grades range from 5.3 to 5.12. Climbing in this area requires advanced rope system knowledge, gear placement techniques, crack climbing skills, and more. Many famous and historical “test pieces” are available to measure your skill. While mostly known for traditional climbing, this area also offers bouldering up to V8 and sport climbing up to 5.13.

Photo by Sean Benesh on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

No matter where you go or what style you choose, rock climbing in Colorado Springs will be an unforgettable experience. Whether you are testing your abilities, trying out a new sport, going on a guided climbing tour, or searching for the perfect view, Colorado Springs will meet your needs. Grab a friend or guide, be safe, and climb on!

Colorado Springs Trail Guide – Best Hiking Trails in Colorado Springs

The city and area surrounding Colorado Springs have gorgeous scenery and ample ways to enjoy the great outdoors, perhaps one of the best parts of Colorful Colorado. Whether you are looking for a quick walk or a long, tiring trek, there are plenty of hiking trails in Colorado Springs at every difficulty level. And for those just getting started, be sure to check out our guided hiking tours.

If you are looking for the absolute best trails in Colorado Springs, we have an in-depth review of our top 5 favorite hikes near Colorado Springs. You’ll also see them on this list along with many other excellent options for hikers of all abilities. This list is organized roughly by difficulty level, as determined based on reviews from fellow hikers, length, and elevation gain. So if you are wondering where to hike in Colorado Springs, look no further. 

Easy Hikes

Memorial Park Prospect Lake Loop Trail

Parking: 280 S Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80910 (Tons of parking available in the park along Memorial Dr)

Elevation Gain: 26 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 1.3 miles

Highlights:

  • Paved loop, very accessible for wheelchairs, strollers, etc.
  • Great views of mountains and scenic lake
  • Beach area and playground

Palmer Park Cheyenne and Grandview Trail Loop

Parking: Palmer Park Trail Cave Outlook, 3120 N Chelton Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80909

Elevation Gain: 183 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 1.8 miles

Highlights:

  • So much to see here including a botanical reserve, horse stables, canyons, ravines, bluffs, and more
  • Tons of wildlife: Palmer Park is popular among birdwatchers

Stratton Open Space The Chutes, Laveta, and Chamberlain Trail Loop

Parking: North Cheyenne Cañon Park & Stratton Open Space Trailhead, N Cheyenne Canyon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 (on the right, just past the Starsmore Visitors Center)

Elevation Gain: 705 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 3.8 miles miles

Highlights:

  • Most popular hiking trail in Stratton Open Space
  • Excellent wildflowers and wildlife
  • Beautiful views of the Gold Camp Reservoirs

Garden of the Gods The Palmer, Buckskin-Charley, Niobrara, and Bretag Trail Loop

Parking: 3105 Gateway Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

Elevation Gain: 449 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 4.0 miles

Highlights:

  • Gorgeous views of the National Natural Landmark that is Garden of the Gods
  • Combines four popular trails around the park
  • Access to horseback riding, rock climbing, and biking trails
  • A Top 5 Pick! Learn More.

Ute Valley Park Ute Valley Park Trail

Parking: Ute Valley Trail Head, Ute Vly Trl, Colorado Springs, CO 80919

Elevation Gain: 488 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 4.3 miles

Highlights: 

  • Excellent views of Pikes Peak
  • Plenty of side trails to explore
Photo by Bailey Galindo on Unsplash

Moderate Hikes

North Cheyenne Cañon Park Mount Buckhorn Peak

Parking: Upper Gold Camp parking lot, 4415 Gold Camp Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Elevation Gain: 859 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 3.9 miles

Highlights:

  • Beautiful views along the way 
  • Boulders to climb at the summit (the tallest offers panoramic views)
  • A Top 5 Pick! Learn More.

North Cheyenne Cañon Park Seven Bridges Trail

Parking: Seven Bridges Trailhead, N Cheyenne Canyon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 (right before Helen Hunt Falls)

Elevation Gain: 912 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 3.5 miles

Highlights:

  • Very popular trail due to its history and uniqueness
  • Meanders alongside a creek and crosses over via seven charming bridges
  • Close to Helen Hunt Falls and Silver Cascade Falls

Pike National Forest The Crags Trail

Parking: Crags/Devil’s Playground Trailhead, 615 Teller Co Rd 62, Divide, CO 80814

Elevation Gain: 820 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 4.8 miles

Highlights:

  • Awesome views of unique geological features
  • Well marked trail
  • Challenging, but a good introduction for beginner hikers
  • A Top 5 Pick! Learn More.

North Cheyenne Cañon Park Mount Muscoco Trail

Parking: Mount Cutler and Muscoco Trailhead, N Cheyenne Canyon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 (on the left, 1.5 miles past Starsmore Visitors Center)

Elevation Gain: 1,292 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 4.0 miles

Highlights:

  • Includes a fun scramble at the summit
  • Outstanding views of the surrounding mountains
  • Well marked and well maintained
  • A Top 5 Pick! Learn More.

North Slope Recreation Area North Catamount Reservoir Trail

Parking: Pikes Peak Toll Rd, Woodland Park, CO 80863 (just past the Crystal Reservoir Visitors Center)

Elevation Gain: 262 feet 

Round Trip Mileage: 2.7 miles

Highlights:

  • Short but steep (15% grade around the 1.5-mile marker), so you’ll get a good workout
  • Beautiful views of meadows and wildflowers along the way
Photo by Jonathan Chaves on Unsplash

Hard Hikes

Red Rock Canyon Open Space Sand Canyon, Mesa, Greenlee, Red Rock Canyon Loop

Parking: 3550 W High St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

Elevation Gain: 882 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 5.4 miles

Highlights:

  • Varied terrain and interesting geology
  • Lots of sun as shade is limited
  • Good views without too difficult an elevation gain

Pike National Forest The Incline Trail

Parking: Barr Trailhead, 98 Hydro St, Manitou Springs, CO 80829

Elevation Gain: 1,978 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 4.0 miles

Highlights:

  • The most popular trail in the Pike National Forest
  • All the elevation is in the first mile – at the hardest point, it’s an extremely challenging 61% grade!

North Slope Recreation Area Limber Pine, Mule Deer, Mackinaw, and Ridge Trails Loop

Parking: Catamount Recreation Area, 3168 Co Rd 28, Woodland Park, CO 80863

Elevation Gain: 1,036 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 8.4 miles

Highlights:

  • Challenging trek around the North Catamount Reservoir with a bunch of elevation changes
  • At times follows the water, and at other times, you’ll be in the forest

North Cheyenne Cañon Park Columbine Trail

Parking: Starsmore Discovery Center, 2120 S Cheyenne Canyon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Elevation Gain: 1,607 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 7.6 miles

Highlights:

  • Great views of the surrounding mountains
  • Plenty of wildlife (don’t forget to check out the Starsmore Discovery Center at the trailhead
  • Gradually inclining slope, no huge scrambles
  • A Top 5 Pick! Learn More.

Pike National Forest The DeCaLiBron: Mounts Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross Trail

Parking: Kite Lake Trailhead, Co Rd 8, Alma, CO 80420

Elevation Gain: 3,136 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 7.0 miles

Highlights:

  • Ability to summit three 14-ers, the highest being Mount Lincoln at 14,295’ (Note that Mount Bross is private property and illegal to summit)
  • Real right of passage for serious Colorado hikers

Final Thoughts

Before you hit one of these awesome hiking trails in Colorado Springs, be sure that you are well prepared for your trip. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and other essentials that we cover in how to pack for a day hike. Happy trails!

Bike Maintenance Basics – How to Clean Your Bike

When you think about hitting the trails with a mountain bike or e-bike, maintenance is never top of mind. However, bike maintenance is a very important part of any ride, and in fact, every ride. Skipping the bike maintenance basics not only leads to more wear and tear, but it can even be dangerous to you as the rider. 

That’s why we’re here to discuss bike maintenance basics to make sure you keep your gear in peak condition. It might seem hard, but taking a little time to learn how to clean your bike and how to complete a pre-ride inspection will save you a lot of hassle down the line. So let’s get to it.

Don’t want to worry about bike maintenance? Join our Cog Up/Bike Down Pikes Peak experience or a guided mountain bike tour in Colorado Springs to reap the benefits of our perfectly maintained bikes and expert guides. Or alternatively, utilize our bike rentals in Colorado Springs to use for your own adventure.

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

How to Do a Pre-Ride Bike Inspection 

A quick check before each ride is essential bike maintenance to keep you safe and keep your bike functioning optimally. Many people call this the ABCs of bike maintenance. If you remember that, you’ll be able to keep track of these critical steps of the pre-ride inspection.

Air in the Tires 

Look closely at the sidewall of your bike tires, and you will find a range of recommended tire pressures (PSI). There are a lot of factors that go into deciding what pressure within this range you want. You can begin at a pressure in the middle of the specified range to start, and learn your preferred tire pressure by feel as you get more experience. But in short, a more inflated tire will have less resistance and allow you to go faster (best for road cyclists), while a less inflated tire will absorb more shock (best for trail riders) and achieve better grip (safest for riding in wet conditions).

While you are inflating your bike tires to the desired pressure, be sure to inspect the tires for damage or deformities, and make sure the quick release lever or thru-axle (depending on your bike) are securely tightened. Finally, don’t forget to bring your pump and tire repair kit or patch kit on the ride with you in case of emergencies.

Brake Check

Your bike’s manufacturer can tell you how often you need to replace your brake pads and rotors, but it is also important to use your own judgment and look for excessive wear. In addition to a visual check, be sure to spin the tires and apply the brake mechanisms. 

Here, you want to make sure they move smoothly, don’t get stuck anywhere, and clamp down strong on the tires. If you feel a hitch or resistance, you may need to lubricate the parts. These cables and assemblies need lubrication to function correctly, and that’s ongoing maintenance we’ll discuss in the post-ride section covering how to clean your bike.

Chain Inspection

Bike chains are one of the most important pieces on the entire bike, and unfortunately, they’re also one of the most fragile. Before every ride, you should turn the pedals slowly and examine every chain link. 

Check to make sure the bike chain is not dirty or rusted, that there is no gunk or other impediment, and that the chain moves smoothly. Also, check the gears and the drivetrain, making sure the bike shifts without a hitch. 

The Nuts and Bolts of Bike Maintenance Basics

The last thing to do pre-ride is to ensure that the bike’s many nuts and bolts are tight and secure. Especially with mountain biking, it is normal for these to loosen over time as you maneuver the bike over obstacles and force different stressors on it. 

With hex keys and a Torx wrench, a decent bike tool will allow you to tighten all these pieces and make sure your bike is ready for the next adventure. This multi-tool is a great piece to bring with you on the ride, too, in case something loosens mid-ride. Loosening parts are all potential sources of problems that you do not want to learn about while on the trail, so invest a few minutes pre-ride in this important bike inspection.

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

How to Clean Your Bike Post-Ride

After every ride, it pays to give your bike a quick wash. Especially if you have been hitting trails on a mountain biking tour, you don’t want to leave your bike dirty. Over time, dirt and grime accumulate and impact the smooth functioning of the bike’s fragile mechanisms. It causes rust and leads pieces to break earlier than they would otherwise.

Rinse and Dry

So, one of the most critical bike maintenance basics is also the easiest. Using good old soap and water (or bike wash cleaner), carefully wipe down the bike frame, handlebars, seat post, and brake mechanisms. You want to be gentle with these sensitive pieces, so don’t use a pressure washer. 

It’s also harmful to get soap on the brake pads themselves. Instead, use rubbing alcohol or rotor cleaner to degrease the rotors and brake pads. As noted above, you do not want to leave the bike to air dry as that can cause rusting, so use clean rags to get the bike nice and dry. 

Degreasing

For the chain and drivetrain, you want to really get in there and clean out any debris and grease. Especially for mountain bikes, these parts can get very dirty quickly, and you will find debris stuck in hard-to-reach areas. Cleaning out these parts is essential bike maintenance for preventing your bike from wearing out too rapidly and also ensuring future rides will be smooth and safe. 

You can clean the drivetrain with a rag and degreaser if it is not too dirty, or use a toothbrush to scrub off built-up grime. A bike chain cleaner is a good investment for thoroughly cleaning your chain without making a mess. Be sure to go through a couple of full rotations of the chain and shift gears a couple of times to make sure no dirt or grease remains. You can then use a clean rag to wipe away any leftover muck and clean the degreaser from the bike.

Lubrication

Once your bike is clean and dry, it is time to apply lubrication. You should lubricate your bike after cleanings, anytime it starts to squeak, and after wet rides to prevent rust. Keeping all these parts well lubricated will ensure a smooth and safe ride and keep the bike from unnecessary wear and tear. Depending on how frequently you ride, you might end up doing this weekly or more, but it is an essential step of bike maintenance and well worth the effort. 

Lubricate the drivetrain, chain, brake cables, and assemblies. When you lubricate your bike, you really only need a few drops for each component. Give the lubrication a few minutes to soak in and work it around by turning the pedals and moving the mechanisms. Then, be sure to use a clean rag to wipe away the excess. After it has soaked in, wipe down the parts gently, so it is not dripping with lubricant. Overlubricating your bike can actually hurt it, as dirt and debris are attracted to and accumulate in the excess lubrication.

Storage

Now that we’ve covered how to clean your bike, you’re ready to store your bike until the next ride. You might not have considered it, but there are actually better and worse ways to store a bike. First, don’t store a bike outdoors where it will be exposed to the elements. This will increase rust and corrosion, not to mention the fading of the paint job and increased risk of theft! 

Regarding positioning, storing a bike by hanging it with hooks or a wall mount is the best way to keep your bike in peak condition. If you are storing your bike upright, be sure to put rugs under the wheels and make sure to keep the tires inflated. Otherwise, you could find the tires have bulged or cracked over long periods of disuse.

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

Extra Notes for Electric Bike Maintenance Basics

On top of everything we’ve covered, e-bikes have some extra maintenance steps. Once you understand how electric bikes work, these extra maintenance requirements make sense since there are additional parts to consider. Specifically, we’re concerned about the e-bike’s battery and motor. 

E-Bike Battery Maintenance

Just like any battery, good maintenance procedures help extend the battery’s lifespan and optimize its capacity. First, top off your electric bike’s battery after every ride. It’s not good for batteries to sit empty for extended periods. However, it is equally bad for a battery to sit fully charged for too long as it puts excessive stress on the battery’s components. 

Therefore, if you don’t plan to ride for a while, put your electric bike’s battery in storage, so to speak, by unplugging the battery and hooking it up to a charge tender. Battery tenders allow batteries to naturally discharge and then recharge in a cycle. This keeps the battery in optimal condition no matter how long you leave it. 

E-Bike Component Maintenance

The other main consideration with e-bikes is the extra wear and tear on the drivetrains and chains. Because of this, it is important to clean, dry, and relubricate your electric bike more frequently than you would a non-electric model. 

When cleaning, be sure to avoid using high-pressure water to rinse off your e-bike. While the batteries and electrical components are sealed and waterproofed against rain, pressurized water can prove too much and cause damage. 

Final Thoughts

With a little investment in time spent cleaning and lubricating your bike, you can rest assured that it will last longer and give you a smooth, safe ride. If you struggle with any of these bike maintenance basics or feel like your bike is still not riding right, be sure to bring it to a bike repair shop for more expert repair. Also, if you are thinking about switching to an e-bike, check out e-bike guided tours in the Colorado Springs area. Finally, don’t forget that our bike rentals in Colorado Springs and mountain bike tours in CO Springs are both fantastic avenues to ride a clean and perfectly maintained bike. Happy riding!