August 1, 2008

Rocky Mountain High 2

John Denver had it right. It is very easy to get high in Colorado! We took a short family vacation about one hour south of Denver, visiting many places we have taken for granted over the years.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of the most unique and best themed zoos I have ever seen. Set in the mountainside of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, it is easy to get happily lost in the numerous paths that wind around the open air animal exhibits. The giraffe area (below) is almost Disney quality in its execution- including elevated viewing areas and a very up close and personal petting and feeding patio.

Of course, the alligators were an unexpected find at about 6200 ft. above sea level!

At the base of the zoo, a chair lift takes you to the top of the mountain and back down for some spectacular views, including the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel, built in an elegant 1920s style. The Spanish style resort buildings are gorgeous up close but still very impressive from a distance.

The last shot is of the Seven Falls. It is quite a hike up to the top, but the payoff is being in the midst of a lush forest next to the falls. If you look at the top of the photo, you can see one of the suspended bridges.

This is only a small glimpse at what can be found in "The Springs". There are Indian cliff dwellings, the Cave of the Winds, the breathtaking The Garden of the Gods- a red rock paradise with climbing and hiking, and the wonderful Flying W Ranch- picture a dat at an authentic old school Knotts Berry Farm western town and ending with an evening outdoor BBQ dinner with live music under the stars. It's always nice when a real vacation from home can be just an hour away!

(Photos copyright Mark Taft.)

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