Everyone knows about Vail. And even more people know about Denver. But Colorado Springs has a charm all its own, and while there are plenty of cute towns nearby, this area is, more than anything, a great introduction to the types of landscapes you can experience all across the Western half of the United States. And the places where natural beauty abounds really are the best places to take pictures in Colorado Springs.
Being from the East Coast (I feel like we’ve said this a LOT in our talks about this area), land of mountains and hills so densely wooded you often can’t see the rocks beneath, we had gawked and oooohed over photos on Pinterest and Instagram. Even so, we were both blown away by how gorgeous this place is. So, come prepared with a tripod (like our trusty GorillaPod!), a camera, and a thirst for landscapes – here’s just a taste to whet your appetite:
Get at least one shot of Garden of the Gods
This is probably the biggest gimme of all of our favorite photos spots, because COME ON. You could drop your camera on the shutter button and still not take a bad shot of Garden of the Gods. But, to make it more challenging, make sure you search out a few examples of each type of rock formation, or try to capture each of the named formations in the park. It’s tougher than you think and a great way to get to know the place.
Don’t miss photography and hiking at the Paint Mines
Of all the places we stopped to visit and take pictures in Colorado Springs, this was by far my favorite. While not as magnificent as some of the formations in Zion or Joshua Tree, the hoodoos and spires at the Paint Mines will still take your breath away. Plus, because it’s about an hour outside Colorado Springs, there are significantly fewer people than you’ll find at most other attractions in the area, so your feet and your camera can have the place to yourselves.
Photography at Red Rock Canyon Open Space practically takes itself
This was our first stop in Colorado Springs (after brunch, of course), and we were both aghast that none of the guides we’d consulted while planning the trip had suggested visiting this spot. It’s open, it’s walkable, and there’s an endless supply of rock formations and critters to snap all year round. You can’t go wrong!
Shots of Pikes Peak Highway are both easy and stunning
Paying the “passenger tax” has never been more fun for me than it was on this trip. One of the challenges of getting shots from the car is speed, but because you have to slow down so much to take these hairpin turns, it makes snagging beautiful shots orders of magnitude easier. And, even better, there are scenic overlooks peppered all over the drive up, so you’ll never be at a loss for spots to grab a view.
Everyone should take a picture of Pikes Peak summit
There’s no denying that mountaintops are the stuff of photo dreams. And taking pictures in Colorado Springs gets no better than the Pikes Peak summit. If you make it up there – and aren’t blown away by the wind before the view! – definitely make time to stop and snap a few shots of the summit views. And if possible, make sure you grab shots from a few different angles. This snap looks lonely and striking, but others just stretch on and on across the landscape. The possibilities are endless! (And if you’re lucky, you might get a bighorn sheep in the viewfinder!)
Don’t miss photographing Crystal Creek Reservoir
At the base of Pikes Peak, you’ll find Crystal Creek, a lovely spot to stop for shots at any time of the year. The shot above was taken in late fall, and we love how ghostly the whole place looks. In summer, it brightens up, and you’ll find fishermen out on the reservoir, as well as families “panning for gold” up by the lodge to make for some even more interesting shots.
Underdog: don’t pass up Manitou Cliff Dwellings!
While these dwellings were moved to this spot for preservation purposes – which rubs off a little of the magic – the Manitou Cliff Dwellings Museum is still a fun and affordable place to visit, the museum is respectfully educational, and the views of the surrounding area are beautiful. And since it’s right down the street from Old Manitou Springs, and just a tiny bit further from Colorado Springs, you won’t have to go far to enjoy it!
Take pictures anywhere that faces mountains 🙂
Maybe it’s kind of a no-brainer, but shots like this facing the mountains are the ones you really remember seeing and taking. We set our GorillaPod up on the roof of our truck to catch this shot, and are so happy we get to have this souvenir of our time exploring out West together. Because this was taken in fall, the colors are subdued, letting the mountains really show up. But in the spring and summer, you’ll find shots like this much brighter and even more beautiful. Definitely Insta-worthy!
If you’re not huge on planning some of these outings yourself, that’s perfectly okay – plenty of tours will get you and your camera right where they need to be!