Manitou Springs is a charming town in Colorado known for its natural mineral springs which have been attracting visitors seeking healing and relaxation for centuries. There are 8 natural spring sources located around town and you can bring a bottle to fill up water and drink from these springs.
The town is also renowned for its stunning location at the base of Pikes Peak and its proximity to other popular attractions in the Colorado Springs area, such as the Garden of the Gods and the Cave of the Winds.
It’s a perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway, especially for those seeking outdoor adventures and relaxation. From hiking trails to hot springs and art galleries to historical landmarks, there are plenty of things to do in Manitou Springs that cater to every interest.
Manitou Springs Spa: Sunwater Spa
Seven Minute Springs located directly across the street from Sunwater Spa is the source of the hot tubs of this spa.
The spa heats the water up to 104 degrees so although it is not a natural hot spring, it resembles the experience, except with warm mineral water.
Hot Springs in Manitou Springs
While there are not any natural hot springs, the town of Manitou Springs has a natural mineral spring that runs underground and sources the day spa hot tubs at Sunwater Spa for a hot spring-like experience. During your soak in the tubs, you will be absorbing the minerals that compose 7 Minute Spring: Calcium, Chloride, Fluoride, Iron, Lithium, Magnesium, Potassium, Silica, Sodium, Sulfate, and Zinc.
Fun fact: 7 Minute Spring got its name because a geyser erupted every seven minutes back in the day.
Sunwater Spa Prices
It costs $45 per person to soak in a tub at Sunwater Spa and each reservation is 90 minutes. Tubs all accommodate up to four people but I personally feel like that would be a bit crowded. The spa reservations also give you access to the first-floor amenities which include a traditional dry sauna and an indoor saline pool area to cool down.
Best tub at Sunwater Spa
All of the hot tubs at Sunwater Spa are the same in size, build, and water; the difference would be in the location and views. The best tub at Sunwater Spa is Mary’s Mountain because it is the only tub that has privacy as it is slightly separate from all of the other three levels of hot tubs, and there is a newly built private dry sauna for two attached to the Marys Mountain tub reservation.
However, the best tub for photos of the hot tub and unobstructed mountain landscape views at Sunwater Spa would be Red Mountain or Eagle Mountain. These tubs all have close neighboring tubs.
The iconic hike in the Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs region is the Manitou Incline, also known as the Manitou Springs Stairs. The steps are about one mile in length and gain 1,950 ft of elevation which is comparable to climbing up the Empire State Building! The Manitou Incline starts at 6,600 ft and tops out at 8,550 ft. It is not pet-friendly.
If you haven’t worked out in a while, your legs will definitely feel this hike.
Manitou Incline Steps: How many steps is the Manitou Incline?
The incline has 2,768 steps and you can hike down the Barr Trail (3.5 miles) to the base if you want to save your knees the pain of taking the stairs down.
The steps can get very steep in certain sections. I took the stairs down where the Barr Trail connected with the Incline Steps at step 1800 and moving at a quicker pace, I stayed on my toes most of the time – my calves got quite the workout and were burning for days after.
How long does it take to do Manitou Springs Incline?
They say the average person takes about 1 to 2 hours to hike the complete steps and 30 mins if you’re a seasoned incline climber or athlete. If you’re relatively fit though, it takes about an hour to hike up the steps. I was consistently moving and also on the first day of my period so I took many quick little breather breaks, but I got up in exactly an hour.
Hiking down the Manitou Incline steps will be faster than hiking the Barr Trail down and there are points of connection the trail meets up with the stairs if you want to change it up and do a little of each.
Manitou Incline Reservations: How much does Manitou Incline cost?
It is free to hike the steps but an advance online reservation is required! There are anywhere from 25-65 reservations available every half hour depending on when you go.
Manitou Incline Parking
There is no free parking at the base. It cost $10 (cash) and there are signs for fines if you park in the other lots or residential spots. However, there is a free shuttle you can take from downtown Manitou Springs to the incline. Route #33 runs all year round and picks you up at the east end of Memorial Park near the statue.
Cave of the Winds Mountain Park
Cave of the Winds Mountain Park is known for its intricate and stunning underground caverns. The park offers several guided cave tours that take visitors deep beneath the surface to explore the unique geological formations that have been formed over millions of years. The caves are home to a variety of stunning formations including stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstone, and cave bacon. Some of the most popular caves in the park include the Discovery Tour, the Lantern Tour, and the Caving 101 Tour. The Discovery Tour is the most popular and offers visitors a chance to explore the most accessible sections of the caverns with an experienced guide. The Lantern Tour is a more intimate experience, where visitors explore the caverns by lantern light. The Caving 101 Tour is a more adventurous experience, where visitors get to climb, crawl and rappel through unlit sections of the cave. Overall, the caverns of Cave of the Winds Mountain Park offer visitors a unique and unforgettable underground adventure that showcases the natural beauty and geological wonders of the region.
Additionally, the park’s scenic hiking trails and thrilling zipline rides provide visitors with ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and adventure
Pikes Peak 14,115 ft
Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern front range of Colorado, and one of only two Colorado 14ers you can drive up to – the other is Mt Evans, It is a must-visit destination on a day trip from Manitou Springs. The majestic mountain offers stunning views, outdoor activities, and historical significance. You can take a scenic drive up the Pikes Peak Highway, hike to the summit, or enjoy a thrilling zipline ride.
Timed entry reservations are also required to access the summit from May 26 to September 30.
Fun fact: The mountain is known for inspiring the famous song “America the Beautiful,” and for being the site where the first recorded sighting of gold was made in 1858, which sparked the gold rush in Colorado.
Best Hotels in Manitou Springs
- Luxury Hotel: Cliff House at Pikes Peak – this upscale hotel is in downtown Manitou Springs, close to Garden of the Gods, Manitou Incline, and Sunwater Spa. It offers airport shuttle service and amazing dining.
- Loft Apartment VRBO: great for a family or group, modern style full apartment also conveniently located in historic downtown Manitou Springs.
- Luxury Rental Vacation Home: very spacious 2400 sq ft home with incredible views of the mountains
- Budget-friend Inn in Manitou Springs – small but clean and within walking distance to downtown and Manitou Incline
- Budget-friendly and pet-friendly inn rental between Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs *rare find*
Garden of the Gods Colorado
Garden of the Gods is a breathtaking natural landmark located in the city of Colorado Springs, only ten minutes from Manitou Springs. It is a unique geological formation that features towering sandstone rock formations that have been sculpted by wind and water over millions of years. The park spans over 1,300 acres and offers visitors a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, rock climbing, camping, or just a scenic drive around the park.
Things to do in Garden of the Gods:
- Visit the Visitor & Nature Center: I love visitor centers – they are the perfect starting point for any visits to parks as they are the most knowledgeable about trails, conditions, and current must-sees. The nature center here features interactive exhibits of wildlife and geological formations!
- Hike one of the popular trails for close-up views of the rock formations and the surrounding landscape. It gets warm when it’s sunny so don’t forget to hydrate, apply sunscreen, and wear appropriate hiking shoes!
- Perkins Central Garden Trail: This is an easy 1.5-mile loop trail that takes visitors through the heart of the park, offering stunning views of the towering sandstone rock formations. It is a great trail for families and those who want a more leisurely hike.
- Siamese Twins Trail: This moderate 1.1-mile loop trail leads visitors to the Siamese Twins rock formation, which is a popular spot for taking photos. The trail offers stunning views of the park’s unique geological formations and the surrounding landscape.
- Chambers/Bretag/Palmer Trail: This moderate 3.5-mile out-and-back trail takes visitors to the top of a ridge, offering panoramic views of the park and the surrounding area. It is a great trail for more experienced hikers who want a longer hike and a more challenging climb.
Read about my must-have summer hiking essentials.
- Take a guided tour: Consider taking a guided tour of the park to learn more about its history and geology.
- Rock climb: Garden of the Gods is a popular spot for rock climbing. If you’re an experienced climber, consider hiring a guide to take you up one of the park’s famous rock formations.
- Visit the Trading Post: The Trading Post is a historic building that was once a stop for travelers along the Ute Pass. It now houses a gift shop and a restaurant.
- Visit the Balanced Rock: This iconic rock formation is one of the most photographed spots in the park.
If you’re visiting Denver and looking to explore Colorado Springs for a day, take a private tour guided by a local to see Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and Manitou Springs!
Hotels Near Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
- Cheyenne Mountain Resort: 4-star resort with incredible views offering spa services
- SCP Hotel: Budget-friendly, clean, and central location
- Quality Inn: Closer to the Garden of Gods and cheaper
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