Woodland Park, which is located at an elevation of 8,465 feet, has always been one of my favorite places to visit. Growing up in Colorado Springs, Woodland Park was always the gateway to the mountains. Being 18 miles from Colorado Springs, it is a prime spot to stop for a snack at the Donut Mill, a meal, or just a restroom break. The mountains beyond Woodland Park are gorgeous and just beckoning for exploration. My aunt and uncle also lived in Woodland Park when I was growing up, so I have many fond memories of exploring their large pine tree-covered property and being envious of their large cabin-like home. Woodland Park has grown since my childhood and now that my family and I live in Colorado Springs again, we often find ourselves in Woodland Park. It is a welcome escape from life down here in the big city. There is plenty to do in every season. Here are 50 great things to do in Woodland Park, CO.
Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
My children have actually been begging me to go back here again recently. We have been many times, and they always have a wonderful experience. There are dinosaur bones, dinosaur teeth, dinosaur reproductions, movies, and great hands-on area. Kids can dig for dinosaur bones, make fossil rubbings, read books, and create funny dinosaurs with magnets. There are also many special events that happen at the resource center throughout the year. Beware of the gift shop if you do not want to buy anything. There are lots of cool things in there and it will be hard to get the kids away without major whining. If you are open to buying something for your child, they are going to walk away very happy.
My husband is big into fly fishing, and he is always looking for ways to introduce the kids to the sport. Manitou Park Lake is a great spot to go fishing and for a walk. Just be aware that swimming and boats are not permitted. We took the kids fishing here and it was a great choice. We could fish in one spot for a while and then when they got bored, walk around the lake a bit to find a new spot. There are also rocks to climb on, restrooms, and places to picnic. There is a fee to use this area.
Eleven Mile Canyon
This is one of my husband’s favorite spots to fly fish, but that is me being goofy in the picture. This section of the South Platte River is one of the most picturesque canyons in the state and is home to a healthy trout population as well as many species of birds, deer, and otters. The stream is surrounded by large granite walls, which are popular with rock climbers. There are three campgrounds, and the area is available to day-users for a fee.
Woodland Aquatic Center
This place always catches my eye because of the curvy slide that goes outside the building. This center is pretty new, it only opened in 2017 and it is great for all ages. There are six lap lanes, a leisure pool, lazy river, zero-entry, and plenty of gadgets and gizmos for the kids to play with.
The Donut Mill has been around since 1983. That has to say something about a business. The doughnuts are not only delicious but huge. The atmosphere is friendly and the donuts are affordable, starting at $.95. I am a chocolate lover, so I always go for something chocolate frosted, but the huge cinnamon rolls and apple fritters are often raved about.
This is from my husband, the fly fisherman. From Woodland Park, most fly fishermen will seek trout in the South Platte River drainage, including Eleven Mile Reservoir and Spinney Mountain Reservoir. The South Platte, because of its locality to Colorado Springs and Denver, draws more anglers annually than any other river in the state. Don’t let the crowds deter you: the waters of the South Platte run clear and cold, and the plentiful insect life year-round allow the trout to grow to considerable size. Hook one of these healthy fish and hang on for a challenging fight!
There are many great campgrounds in the Woodland Park area. Find sites that are well established with access to toilets and showers, primitive sites, and everything in between. Although there are some private campgrounds, most of the campgrounds in the area are within Pike National Forest and reservations can be made over the phone or online.
I have admittedly never tried snowshoeing, but it is on my list of things that I would like to try. There are many trails in the area that are good for snowshoeing. These include The Crags Trail, Homestead Trail, Revenuer’s Ridge, Rainbow Gulch, and Peak View, Elk Meadow, and Livery Loop Trail.
If you are interested in trying snowmobiling, there are places to do it near Woodland Park. Stop in to or call Pikes Peak Polaris or Big D Motorsports to gather more information. Both of these businesses are located in Woodland Park.
Great Outdoors Adventures operates out of Woodland Park and offers guided and unguided experiences. This company offers a variety of off-road vehicle types Choose from a two, four, or six-seat enclosed ATV. Go for a two-hour ride or four-hour ride along trails in Pike National Forest.
I love to hike. It is one of my favorite forms of exercise and appreciates the chance the rejuvenate in nature. There are many trails in the Woodland Park area to choose from. Some have a fee to use and others are free. The trails in Mueller State Park require a fee, but most in Pike National Forest do not. Check the trail conditions before heading out, especially during the winter. On some trails, it might be advisable to wear crampons or microspikes.
Drive to Look at Fall Colors
Fall in the Woodland Park area is not like New England where there are a variety of colors, however, the aspen trees in the Colorado Mountains are gorgeous when they turn a golden yellow. My family used to make a day out seeing the colors when growing up. There are some great spots to see the colors along Highway 67 on the way to Divide and then on the way to Cripple Creek on Highway 61.
There are many places to sled in Woodland Park. You can bring along a sled while looking for a Christmas tree in Pike National Forest or try Trailblazer Elementary School or Jenkins Middle School. One of the most epic hills is located about four miles northeast of Woodland Park. Follow Rampart Range Road (called S. Baldwin St. in town) out of town. The hill will be located a bit before reaching Carrol Lakes Road.
Play Broomball on a Frozen Lake
The church that I go to holds a youth retreat every winter break for the teens. They rent out Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp, located just outside of Woodland Park in Divide, for a few days. The lake at the camp would be frozen and everyone would enjoy an intense game of broomball (like hockey, but with brooms, a ball, and tennis shoes). There would undoubtedly be a few injuries, but it is a blast to play.
Spend Time on Main Street
There are many quaint shops and restaurants located along historic Main Street in downtown Woodland Park. I have highlighted a few of them here and some on the dining page. In addition to visiting the shops and restaurants, there are several self-guided tours available. You can download a map to go on a historic walking tour or a nature guide to view native wildflowers, birds, mammals, trees, and shrubs all in the downtown area.
Colorado Wolf Adventures
Get up close and personal with wolves on a walk and learn more about them through educational programs with Colorado Wolf Adventures. All activities need to be booked in advance. Wolf walks are available and participants go for a one and a half mile walk that lats about an hour. Photos are taken on the walk with participants, the wolves, and the gorgeous scenery.
Tweed’s Fine Furnishings
Even if you are not shopping for new furniture, Tweed’s Fine Furnishings is a fun place to stop. This store only stocks high-quality furniture that lasts. The store offers complimentary design consultation and has many sample rooms set up in which to get ideas for your own home. The store is located in the downtown area and offers lovely views of Pikes Peak.
This brewery is an especially nice place to stop on a crisp fall day when they have the fire pit going, but it is nice any time of the year. There are many beers to choose from and a limited wine selection. They also offer Colorado sausages and Wisconsin cheese for food, but often have other food trucks stop by to serve guests.
Shining Mountain Golf Course
I am not a golfer, but always see this course when we head out of town on Highway 67. It looks pretty neat to be able to play a round of golf at such a high elevation in the mountains. The hours for this course are limited during the winter because of the weather. In addition to regular golf, there are disc golf courses as well as a bar and grill.
The Cowhand is located downtown and a fun palace to stop to experience Western wear. Shop for high-quality clothing, hats, boots, belt buckles, and more, or simply try on some cowboy hats and imagine yourself wrangling cattle in the Old West.
Olla Terve Healing Studio
Olla Terve Healing Studio is a donation-based studio that offers healing services, pain and stress relief, yoga, and an oxygen lounge. Walk-ins are welcome. In addition to these services, this establishment offers many products for purchase. Stop in for essential oils, detox products, jewelry, lotion, and apparel. Most of the items are made by or support local businesses.
This is a fairly new business in town, only open for about a year. This is the place to stop for high-quality gear and apparel for outdoor adventure. There are both retail and consignment products available. The staff is friendly and ready to answer questions and offer suggestions for planning your adventures in the Woodland Park area.
Playground at Gateway Elementary School
If you have kids and happen to be in Woodland Park when school is not in session, stop into Gateway Elementary School to let your kids play on their playground. It is a really awesome playground. It looks like a huge wooden castle and kids have a blast running around and playing on it.
Team Telecycle is a family-owned shop. They sell high-quality mountain bikes, apparel, and other cycling equipment. They also repair bicycles and offer rentals. If you experience bike problems while exploring the area, bring it here. Also, stop by if you would like to rent a mountain bike to hit the great trails nearby.
Woodland Park Mayor’s Cup
This has been an annual event in Woodland Park for over 30 years. There is a 10/K and 5K run and a 5K walk, as well as a kids’ fun run. When the running is all done, the community comes together for a free concert on the green. This event takes place at the Ute Pass Cultural Center in August.
If you use firewood in your home, consider getting a pass and cutting your own in the Pike National Forest. Keep in mind that you do need a permit, which can be obtained at a U.S. Forest Service office. There is one in downtown Colorado Springs that we always go to. The staff at the office can tell you all the guidelines and give you a map of areas where cutting firewood is permitted.
Mueller State Park
Mueller State Park is a great place to visit in the summer or winter. Hiking is fun in both seasons, just keep in mind that you might need microspikes in the winter because of the ice and snowpack or try snowshoeing. There is camping available in this park year-round. There are also some great sledding hills, opportunities for fishing, cross-country skiing, and wildlife viewing. A day-use fee or State Park Pass is required to visit the park.
The small town of Deckers is located north of Woodland Park on Highway 67, and overlooks the section of the South Platte directly downstream of Cheesman Dam. The area, as with most sections of the South Platte, is popular with fishermen, and the cleverly-named fly shop, “Flies and Lies” will be happy to help you with your pursuits. There is also a grocery store and a bar and grill in town, conveniently placed for those wishing to make a day trip to this gorgeous area to view wildlife, hike, and steep in the natural beauty.
Cheesman Canyon rivals Eleven Mile Canyon for one of the most beautiful natural areas near Woodland Park. Perhaps most heavily used by fishermen, the canyon offers several miles of stream punctuated by house-sized boulders and deep pools favored by the large brown and rainbow trout that live here. The Gill trail accesses the canyon after a short hike from the parking lot at the trailhead and parallels the river in its entirety from Wigwam Club (a privately owned section) to Cheesman Dam. The hike is easy to moderate in difficulty and I enjoy going for a hike while my husband fishes.
Meadow Wood Sports Complex
This is a popular place in the summer for sports teams to practice and have games, but it is also a great place to stop even if you are just passing through. There is a playground, open fields, tennis courts, and a trail that circles the park. This park also has an outdoor ice rink that I talk about later on in this article. This picture was taken in the winter, so imagine it lush and green in the summer.
Go Out to Eat
We often treat ourselves to a meal out after a hike and Woodland Park is the perfect place to stop. There are many options, including My Sweet Escape Bakery and Cafe. My personal favorite after a hike is Mexican food. I think it is the fact that I am starving after a hike, and they give me chips and salsa right away. Fiesta Mexicana Family Restaurant and Casa Grande Mexican Restaurant are both places we have stopped and enjoy.
Woodland Park Public Library
This branch is part of the Rampart Library District. Of course, you would need to be local to have a library card here and checkbooks, movies, and music out, but it is still a great place to stop. If the weather is not so great and your kids need a place to unwind a little, this is a great option. You can check to see if there are any special events going on, or just hang out with books and play. There is a nice teen room as well as a fun children’s area.
Enjoy Views of Pikes Peak
Reaching into the sky an impressive 14,115 feet, Pikes Peak, known as America’s Mountain, is the tallest peak in the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. There are taller peaks in Colorado as you travel west, but when you drive along the plains toward Colorado Springs, it is an impressive sight. The views of Pikes Peak from Woodland Park and Divide are gorgeous, especially surrounded by the mountain terrain of the area. It is neat to see the other side of the mountain, and it is especially lovely when blanketed in snow.
Memorial Park is going to be a lovely place to visit, it is currently under construction. There will be a little lake with a fishing dock, a playground, basketball courts, a gazebo, and picnic shelters. There will also be large grassy areas and a performance shelter in which many special events will be held. It will be a nice place to stop for a picnic, to enjoy a walk around the lake, or to let the kids run around in the grass or on the playground.
The Woodland Park Farmers Market is one of the many events held at Memorial Park throughout the year. This market takes place on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. from early June until late September. Expect to find more than 100 vendors at the market. Purchase fruits and vegetables, jams, baked goods, honey, flowers, handmade birdhouses and other crafts, natural meat, eggs, hot food and drinks, and so much more. This market has won awards and is definitely worth checking out.
Pikes Peak Museum at Ute Pass History Park
Learn more about the fascinating history of this area at the Pikes Peak Museum, located on the north side of the Woodland Park Public Library. There are six historic buildings here with many displays to learn about the Ute people, pioneers, the history of the railway, and much more. Take a guided tour, which is available each Saturday at 11 a.m. June through August, and imagine what it must have been like to endure the harsh mountain conditions as a pioneer. Private tours are available as well if you call ahead to make arrangements. Be sure to stop into the gift shop if you are looking for some unique souvenirs.
Situated in the windy, open plains of South Park, Spinney Reservoir holds much attraction for boaters and fishermen. Opening day is usually around the first day of spring, and there is always a long line of boats and cars eagerly awaiting the opening of the gates long before the sun is up. The reason for this is clear: trout in this large body of water often grow to trophy size. Boaters not interested in fishing can still enjoy the open water and unparalleled views of the Collegiate Peaks.
Eleven Mile Reservoir
Eleven Mile Reservoir is home to large trout and also to a population of pike. Fisherman, at key times of the year, like to target these predatory fish in the shallows with large flies or lures, hoping to hook one of these brutes. Ice fishing is popular here in the wintertime, but bring plenty of warm layers and a hot thermos, because this area can be unrelentingly cold! There are many camping spots in Eleven Mile State Park, as well as boating access.
Woodland Music Series
The Woodland Music Series has been going strong since 2005. This event takes place every second Saturday of June, July, August, and September. Residents and visitors are all invited to experience this free live music at the Ute Pass Cultural Center. It is always a great time and a fun casual atmosphere in the summer mountain air. A few vendors usually set up to sell their wares and all are invited to bring blankets or chairs to set up o the lawn.
Bring your telescope and drive a little bit out of town, perhaps to Rampart Reservoir or into Pike National Forest to get away from the city lights and get a clear view of the sky. Being at a higher elevation should give better views of the stars. It is very peaceful to be surrounded by the quiet mountains and gaze up at the stars and ponder the universe.
Cut Down a Christmas Tree
This has become a tradition for our family every year. Permits are sold at U.S. Forest Service Offices during a designated time frame in December. We go to the office that is located in downtown Colorado Springs. When you get a permit, you will also get a map of the areas in Pike National Forest in which it is permitted to cut down Christmas trees. Our family always has a blast wandering through the woods looking for a tree, cutting it down, and playing in the snow.
Meadow Wood Sports Complex Ice Rink
The outdoor ice rink at Meadow Wood Sports Complex provides fun during the winter. The schedule is jam-packed with open skating times, open hockey, a youth hockey league, parks, and recreation hockey, skating lessons, an adult hockey league, and high school use. Even if skating is not your thing, it is fun to stop by and root on those who are out playing games.
Kids love coming out to Meadow Wood Sports Complex for Touch a Truck. Children can climb and crawl around on fire engines, street sweepers, police cars, backhoes, school busses, snow plows, ambulances, dump trucks, and more. This event happens each year during the summer. This event can get a little noisy, so bring along some earplugs or noise-canceling headphones if your child is sensitive to loud noises.
Mountain Arts Festival
2020 will be the 35th year for the Mountain Arts Festival. This event takes place the first weekend in August at the Ute Pass Cultural Center. Admission is free to this event and there is art from both local and national artists. It is a juried event with vendors, a silent auction, food, and lots of fun for the whole family. Expect to see paintings, photographs, jewelry, woodworks, fiber works, metal, and pottery.
Another popular annual event that takes place in Woodland Park is Oktoberfest. This event also takes place at the Ute Pass Cultural Center and includes fun for the whole family. There are many vendors, bounce houses, face painting, and, of course, beer, food, and wine. Shuttles from Woodland Park High School are available for this event since parking is limited.
Red Mountain Adventure Park
Red Mountain Adventure Park is an impressive skate park and BMX course. The park contains about 8,000 square feet of concrete terrain as well as 16,000 feet of dirt for BMX riding. There are lots of interesting features such as steps, rails, and more to make this a unique experience to skateboarders and BMX riders.
Rampart Reservoir was created when a huge dam was built in 1969. The lake spans 500 acres and contains about 13 billion gallons of water, which is used by Colorado Springs for drinking water. In addition to the drinking water plan, the reservoir has always been meant for public recreation. There is a boat launch and opportunities for fishing from a boat or from the shore. There are also nice picnic spots and trails in the area. It is usually windy on the lake and the sun is intense at 9,000 feet, so be sure to slather on the sunscreen. I burned the tops of my legs while sitting in our boat the last time we went out there.
Elk are magnificent creatures. It is amazing to see how big they truly are. I honestly prefer just to go for a drive in the fall to look at the colors and for elk, but I have to mention that Woodland Park is one of the best areas in the country to hunt for elk. Go out on your own with a permit or opt for a guided hunting trip. A Perfect Hunt is one company that will provide guided hunting experiences near Woodland Park.
Charis Bible College
I mention Charis Bible College because it is the main campus for a string of bible colleges across the country. There are often, lectures, conferences, music performances, and other events going on here. There are always many performances leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye on their calendar.
Paradox Beer Company
Paradox Beer Company is located in Divide and a great place to stop when going to or coming from Mueller State Park. Paradox beers are unique and rest in barrels until they are ready to be blended with enhancements. Stop in for a bottle or a drink from the tap as well as some food. The menu includes sandwiches and flatbreads. Beer enthusiasts will enjoy stopping here to enjoy the brews created at 9,000 feet.
Marie grew up in the Colorado Springs area, moved away as a young adult, and then moved back to raise her family. She has always loved the mountains and the Woodland Park area is a place she loves and visits often.