By Tara Alexander | Staff Writer
Can’t stand the concept of spending Spring Break sprawled on the couch… but also nagged by the notion that traveling could spread coronavirus and other illnesses? You canceled your vacation, and now you’re an expert in the stay-cation by choosing to “social distance.” As long as you’re not feeling sick, it’s time to get out of the house and see the city in the safest way possible. This is your handy guide to a Stay-In-The-Car-Cation around the Colorado Springs area.
While you might taste some take-out food, grab a gift or visit restrooms, the stops on this list do not require leaving the vehicle. Therefore, you can see some sights without exposing yourself to outside germs and vice versa. While this may seem extreme, keep in mind that it’s recommended to keep six feet between people, and avoid gatherings of 10 or more. This limits many tourist and event attractions, but there are still plenty of places, right here in Colorado Springs or nearby, that can be enjoyed from the comfort and relative safety of your own vehicle.
So wipe that windshield until it sparkles, top off the gas tank and hit the road for your Colorado Springs Stay-In-The-Car-Cation.
Garden of the Gods – If you’ve been too busy studying to check out Garden of the Gods Park, now is the time to enjoy a visit. You can drive a loop, with several parking options, and see many excellent views of the formations without needing to exit your car. You may currently hike trails and walk the paved trails, although keep in mind that if it’s busy, some of them won’t allow for strict social distancing. The Visitor and Nature Center is closed temporarily due to the virus. Park hours are 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit https://www.gardenofgods.com/ for the latest information.
Pikes Peak America’s Mountain – Pikes Peak is a distinguishing feature of this region, as the tallest mountain for nearly 200 miles and its beauty inspired a national song. You can drive your own vehicle to the summit at 14,115 feet. The highway is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last entry at 3 p.m. Due to coronavirus concerns, gift shops and food services including The Summit House are temporarily closed, and visitors must pre-purchase tickets at https://coloradosprings.gov/pikes-peak-americas-mountain. Check out the latest information including road conditions and purchase tickets before you hit the road, because there’s not much cell service on the highway.
*Tech Tip: Download the TravelStorys app [https://www.travelstorys.com/] before your trip and search for “Pikes Peak.” It’s like having your very own highway ranger tour guide for the drive.
Downtown Colorado Springs – You can use resources compiled for “walking tours” for your extra-safe auto tour as well. Just make sure to park before you start reading about a particular piece of the past! Check out GPSMyCity [https://www.gpsmycity.com/gps-tour-guides/colorado-springs-1050.html] for a drivable religious building tour and ColoradoSprings.gov [https://coloradosprings.gov/planning-and-development/page/historic-colorado-springs-districts-virtual] for prepared walking tours of historic districts downtown.
Old Colorado City – This unique neighborhood often stands out for its local eateries and shops, which unfortunately are affected by public health concerns at this time. However, some are offering curbside service, so cruise through the area or call ahead. Old Colorado City has its own app (available at https://shopoldcoloradocity.com/tour-occ.html) for diving into the history of these buildings and businesses, so use this lower-traffic time to park, learn and take pics.
Explore Emergency Services – How long is the drive to the nearest hospital? Is the closest police station east or west? Is that an actual fire house or a BBQ joint? These are good questions to ask long before you need the answers. It’s easy to think that health and safety services are always accessible in an urban area like Colorado Springs, but do you (and the people you live with) really know where are the closest ones in your community? Use this self-isolated Spring Break to drive from your home to the nearest services. In times of emergency, it may help to have routes and drive-times to these places practiced and memorized. This is a great activity to share with your family even if they are not able to drive. Talk through the routes using landmarks as well as directions, and create your personal or household’s safety map to increase visual and spatial awareness. Suggested stops include nearby police stations, fire stations, gas stations, hospital/emergency rooms as well as urgent care clinics.
Sunset (or Sunrise) Challenge – Find your favorite spot to watch the sunrise or sunset around Colorado Springs. Challenge yourself (or others) to find five new or best places to watch our wide open sunrises and rugged sunsets. While we’re on these journeys of self-isolation or social distancing due to coronavirus, it’s helpful to see through new perspectives. Even something simple like driving to the top of a hill might give you a fresh take on a long day at home.
We hope this guide to your Colorado Springs Stay-In-The-Car-Cation gives you some inspiration for ways to keep your Spring Break 2020 healthy and happy. But just stay home if you don’t feel well! Visit https://www.ppcc.edu/covid for the latest COVID-19 updates from Pikes Peak Community College.