Colorado Springs has world-class parks and spots for recreation

March 3, 2021

Colorado Springs is well-known for its spectacular park system, which includes more than 140 city and neighborhood parks.

There’s world-renowned places like Garden of the Gods and North Cheyenne Canon Park, which boasts Helen Hunt Falls, a popular tourist stop.

When Gen. William Jackson Palmer founded Colorado Springs 150 years ago, he donated thousands of acres of land to ensure that gorgeous spaces to relax and play would be available for generations to come.

Here are some of the best parks in Colorado Springs that offer a variety of recreational activities for enthusiasts across southern Colorado.

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs

What can we say? Garden of the Gods is one of the most spectacular city parks in the world. Period.

A National Natural Landmark, the park features outcroppings of red, white and pink rock, structures that “pop’’ under a canopy of cobalt blue Colorado sky. Locals know the names of these natural rock sculptures as Kissing Camels, Cathedral Valley, Three Graces – and more.

A photo of Garden of the Gods, a spectacular park in Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods is spectacular and one of the must-see free parks in Colorado Springs. Photo by Rick DuVal for UCHealth.

The park has paved and unpaved hiking trails that meander through towering rock formations, pinon, juniper, aspen and pine. From many locations, there are world-class views of Pikes Peak and for the lucky, views of a herd of bighorn sheep that frequent the north side of the park. Horseback riding in Garden of the Gods Park is a splendid, American West experience.

The park is home to the Garden of the Gods Trading Post, Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, a living history museum, and the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center.

The park is free, and open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 1 – April 30 and from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 1 to Oct. 31.

Goose Gossage Youth Sports Complex in Colorado Springs

Named after Rich “Goose’’ Gossage, a Colorado Springs native and professional baseball player inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame, the complex is located in central Colorado Springs.

The park has kid-friendly playground equipment, baseball and soccer fields, one of the region’s best skateboarding parks and a BMX track. Many of the city’s hiking and biking trails either link or wind through this park.

The skate park features 12,800 square feet of bowl/street combination bowl and has a concrete berm for launching or popping in. An island is in the middle of the larger bowl. Skateboarders are encouraged to wear protective equipment, including elbow and knee pads, gloves and a helmet. The skate park is open dawn to dusk.

Fox Run Regional Park in Colorado Springs

On the northern part of Colorado Springs, Fox Run Regional Park is thick with ponderosa pine and other trees.

The park features playgrounds for children, multi-use trails, playing fields, rock climbing and picnic areas. There’s a gazebo on a lake and a postcard-perfect setting with Pikes Peak in the background.

lake and picnic area at Fox Run Regional Park in Colorado Springs.
Fox Run Regional Park in Colorado Springs. Photo courtesy: El Paso County Parks.

The park is a great place to go for a walk or take the dog for a stroll.

Fox Run Regional Park can be reached from Interstate 25, exit 156A to Northgate Road, east on Northgate for 3.5 miles, north on Roller Coaster Road to Stella Drive, west on Stella Drive.

Memorial Park in Colorado Springs

What would be referred to in many communities as City Park, Memorial Park in Colorado Springs offers an abundance of fun: hockey, ice skating, swimming, softball, tennis, fishing, football, soccer, kayaking, wakeboarding and skateboarding.

There’s a fitness circuit around a lake at Memorial Park and something that’s hard to find in Colorado – a small, sandy beach. The park serves people of all ages. For children, there’s Swing High playground, which is universally accessible and features swings, slides and a picnic area.

Memorial Park is also home to the International Association of Firefighters Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial. Each September, a poignant memorial service to honor firefighters who have died in the line of duty is held. The Pikes Peak Region Peace Officer’s Memorial Foundation also has a monument in Memorial Park to honor law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Not far from that memorial is the Colorado Springs Veterans Memorial. Five granite pillars represent five branches of the military in Colorado Springs, home to five major military bases: Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, often called NORAD.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space in Colorado Springs

Red Rock Canyon Open Space is a wonderful place for hiking, climbing, cycling and horseback riding. Located south of the famed Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Canyon has spectacular sedimentary geology and views of Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and the City of Colorado Springs.

A photo of red rocks in Red Rock Canyon Open Space, a park in Colorado Springs..
Red Rock Canyon Open Space. Photo: Getty Images.

The park features 22 hiking trails that traverse along a series of hogbacks and canyons. Some of the same rock formations that can be found in the Garden of the Gods are found in Red Rock Canyon.

The open space also includes picnic areas and a freeride bike park where riders can practice stunts to improve downhill freeriding. Two off-leash dog parks are located within the park. On trails, dogs must be on a leash. Technical climbing is allowed, as long as you have a permit.

Located off of U.S. Highway 24 between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, hiking is rated “easy’’ to ‘moderate.’’ The park trails connect to the Intemann Trail to Manitou Springs and the Section 16 conservation area to the south.

Between May 1 and Oct. 31, you can enter Red Rock Canyon between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m.; during the rest of the year, the park closes at 9 p.m.

About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.