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Day 1 – Arrive in Denver, CO. Check into the Drury Inn for a two night stay. On arrival your group can take advantage of Drury Inn’s 5:30 Kick Back with free food and drinks.
Day 2 – This morning, head to Georgetown (at 8,500 feet she was once known as the ‘Silver Queen of Colorado’) here your first train ride is on the Georgetown Scenic Railroad. This old-time steam locomotive chugs its way up the canyon, hauling your train past the remains of several gold and silver mines. This open car train takes you between Georgetown and Silver Plume, over 2 miles apart, over mountainous terrain, requiring trestles, cuts, fills, loops, and curves totaling 3.1 miles of narrow gauge track.
Then tour the Lebanon Silver Mine, taking you 500 feet into a mine tunnel bored in the 1870s. Your guide will point out rich veins of silver and tell you about early-day mining. The temperature inside the mine is a constant 44 degrees Fahrenheit, so bring a jacket. The tour also includes visits to the manager’s office, the miners’ change room and the tool shed.
This afternoon you return to Denver for a sightseeing tour. This City is almost like two different towns. While she is very much a thriving metropolis she still sports a lot of old west charactor. You’ll drive past the elegant Victorian homes on Larimer Square including the mansion of “Unsinkable Molly Brown.”
Next, tour the Coors Brewery. Since 1873 the Coors brewery has thrived on a legacy of quality, innovation and customer service. The tour showcases the company’s history and passion for brewing. Your tour takes place in the world’s largest single-site brewery. The brewery experience includes a 30-minute self-paced tour highlighting our malting, brewing and packaging processes. Cool off in the “fresh beer room,” where you can sip a cold sample and rest on ice-cube benches in a refrigerated room. Dinner tonight is included at a local restaurant.
Day 3 – This morning, head to Colorado Springs and tour the USAF Academy (as available). At the Visitors Center you’ll see displays about the Academy and a movie on Cadet life. There will also be time to walk to the Cadet Chapel.
Then ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the 14,110 foot summit. Keep your eyes open for big horn sheep and yellow bellied marmot once you get above the timberline. In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates, a visiting professor from Wellesley College in Massachusetts joined a wagon expedition to the summit of Pikes Peak. Electrified by the beauty she saw from the pinnacle she wrote the poem that later became known as “America the Beautiful.”
This evening you check in to the Drury Inn Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs for a two night stay. Later afternoon you arrive on the grounds of the Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off, the largest hot air balloon festival in the Rocky Mountains. Here you will find food vendors (for dinner on own), souvenir stands, live music and over 100 Hot Air Balloons preparing for the Night Glow where the hot air balloons are filled with air at nightfall but do not launch. They glow huge and beautiful against the evening sky.
Day 4 – After a pre dawn hotel departure you return to the Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off. This morning is the highlight the mass ascension as over 100 hot air balloons take to the air. Did you know air balloons are 8-10 stories high? And in Colorado Springs, Balloonists are by invitation only assuring that the festival has one of the most exciting and safest competitions in the world.
Following the Morning Ascension you travel to nearby Canon City for a ride on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. This is an exciting ride alongside the winding, tumbling Arkansas River deep within the soaring, 1,000-foot granite cliffs of Colorado’s Royal Gorge. The Royal Gorge Route is a quality, Colorado attraction – no thrill rides or cotton candy – just rugged scenery. It is also Colorado’s oldest scenic railroad and has brought back a touch of class to rail travel.
Late afternoon you tour the Garden of the Gods Park, a Registered National Natural Landmark in Colorado Springs. Your visit starts with a 14 minute movie on the history. Then a narrator will show you the sights and teach you a little about the park’s geology and Native-American culture.
At the conclusion of your tour you visit the Garden of the Gods Trading Post for souvenirs, Native American Art and Crafts. This is a large wonderful shop, almost a museum and it is filled with treasures. Dinner tonight is here on the patio, under the cottonwood trees. You will also enjoy a local musician performing during dinner.
Day 5 – After breakfast, depart for home.