The Air Force Academy + Pikes Peak (Day 37)

After a L-O-N-G day in the car, and a solid night’s sleep, we woke up Friday morning ready to explore Colorado Springs! The weather reports threatened thunderstorms, but the sky over our hotel was bright blue and cloudless when we headed out.

Our first destination was an exciting one for me: the US Air Force Academy, my dad’s alma mater!

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The campus, nestled in the foot of the Rocky Mountains, is absolutely gorgeous. The buildings look very modern, even though it was built in the 1950s.  I thought it was cool that the aluminum building exteriors were intended to suggest the outer skin of aircraft or spacecraft.

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Most of the buildings on campus are very low profile, which I loved because they didn’t distract from the beautiful scenery.

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And the low profile of the surrounding buildings makes the striking Cadet Chapel’s row of 17 spires an instant focal point.

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The inside is gorgeous too, with unique, modern stained glass.

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And of course we had to stop and take a picture of the impressive B-52 Stratofortress at the North Gate. The plane, Diamond Lil, served in the Vietnam War, and flew over 15,000 hours and more than 200 combat missions from 1957 to 1983.


Once we were done touring the Air Force Academy, we headed towards Pikes Peak, the 14,115 ft “fourteener” just outside Colorado Springs. The gorgeous blue skies had turned cloudy, and we weren’t sure what the weather held — but we were determined to try to drive up the mountain anyway.

At the bottom of the mountain we were told we could only travel about 13 miles up the 19 mile road to the top — a little over 11,000 feet altitude. The upper 6 miles of road were blocked off due to snow.

While the lower portion of the mountain looked like this …

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… suddenly, around mile 9, it started to look like this:

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And soon it looked like this:


We were just getting to the point when fearless driver Ryan was starting to think it’d be smart to turn around when we encountered the ranger blocking off the road at mile 13. He told us the barrier was about to move back to mile 11, confirming our suspicions that conditions were getting worse.

In New Hampshire, bumper stickers proclaiming “This car climbed Mt. Washington!” are very popular. I had told Ryan we should get one boasting about our trip up Pikes Peak … but sadly, it would have to read, “This car climbed 75% of Pikes Peak!” #fail

After descending the mountain we headed back to Colorado Springs, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Hacienda Colorado. Then we returned to our hotel room for a little R&R. The long days of exploring and driving were starting to catch up with us, and the rainy weather made it the perfect day to relax in our cozy hotel room. (Did I mention it has a fireplace?!)


I’m the oldest of 12 crazy kids and two pretty awesome parents. My love of travel developed during my early years traveling the globe as an Air Force brat. I’m a runner, a writer, and a reader, and I love cooking up good food and cozying up our camper.


  1. so, did you know that you ‘climbed Pikes Peak in utero! oh yes, I have pictures to prove it. I thin we took a tram up to the top, on our way to California, I was about 7 mos. along with you! <3

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