Colorado 2022

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Seven Falls

Day 5

The Exchange

First thing in the morning, we all drove over to The Exchange on Tejon in downtown Colorado Springs to grab some breakfast and coffee. It’s a hip coffee shop with industrial décor and lots of plants. We got a blueberry muffin, some cinnamon bread, and a Tostada Cubano (toasted buttered Cuban bread). Unfortunately, after we left I realized we never got the toast; very sad. To drink, Faith got a lavender honeycomb white espresso, and I got a Café Cubano (espresso with some honey, brown sugar, and milk). My coffee was excellent, but Faith’s was extrememly lavender-y…she finished it nonetheless. The cinnamon bread was very good, but the blueberry muffin left a lot to be desired.

The Lincoln Center

Next, we drove over to the north end of town to an old neighborhood with some gorgeous historic homes. The boys had gymnastics, so Faith and I planned to walk around the neighborhood for the hour. However, at The Lincoln Center, we noticed a long line, and decided to see what was going on. Turns out, it was for a bakery. By this time we were thoroughly disappointed in the blueberry muffin from The Exchange on Tejon, so we decided to grab something else to eat.

While I waited in line, Faith went in Building Three Coffee next door and got a less herbaceous drink. At Nightingale Bakery, we got a white chocolate rhubarb scone, a chocolate roll, a poppy seed chive popover, a chive and cheese roll, and some granola to go. The pastries were superb, particularly the rhubarb scone and the chive and cheese roll. They rank up there with some of the best I’ve ever had. We tore off a couple bites of each kind, and saved the rest to snack on later.

We walked a couple miles through the neighborhood and admired the houses, and then headed back to the house to scrounge up some lunch (which was mainly pastry leftovers).

Seven Falls (Failure)

After lunch, Faith and I headed back out for a quick adventure before our next outing with Ian, Abby, and the twins. We planned to go to Seven Falls, a local, private, waterfall located in one of the canyons surrounding Cheyenne Mountain. Unfortunately, we didn’t anticipate such a large crowd (and extremely limited parking), so we decided to put it on hold until later. Instead, we filled up with petrol and waited until it was time to drive up Cheyenne Mountain to meet Ian and Abby. If you’re keeping track, this is our third waterfall failure this trip.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

About halfway up Cheyenne Mountain, at 6,718′, sits one of the best zoos in America. We bought tickets for everyone the night before, and had an entry reservation between 15:00-15:30. The Zoo is divided roughly by continent, in the following order (if you follow the loop as suggested): Africa (lowlands), Australia, Asian Highlands, Rocky Mountains, Primates, and Africa (coast).

African Land Animals

The Zoo’s main attraction is a large herd of giraffes (also called a “tower” of giraffes!). You can feed [very expensive] lettuce to the giraffes; the excess funds goes to conservation, so I guess it was a good reason to drop an exorbitant amount of money on a head of romaine. We fed the giraffes, and it was a fun experience – their tongues are extremely long, black, and feel like sandpaper. They were very friendly and clearly loved the curbside service; they would basically take the entire bunch of lettuce out of your hand if you weren’t careful. We also saw some monkeys, zebras, meerkats, red river hogs, vultures, lions, hyraxes, porcupines, and elephants.

Australia Walkabout

The in “Land Down Under” section, we saw peacocks, wallabies (think mini kangaroos), alligators, an emu, and a few other miscellaneous animals not pictured. This section had a nice view of downtown Colorado Springs.

Asian Highlands

Next up, we headed to the mountains. We saw various big cats (see if you can spot the tiger in the photos below), and some small bears.

Rocky Mountains (Part 1)

We spent a while watching the two grizzlies play in the water, though they didn’t interact with each other.

A Brief Aside

About halfway through our Zoo tour, we discovered that Ian and Faith had never had Dippin’ Dots growing up, so they each got a cup of cookies and cream for a snack.

Another side note: there’s a highly secure government facility on Cheyenne Mountain, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. Originally built to house NORAD, it now hold the Missile Warning Center, which alerts US and Canadian forces of a potential nuclear or air attack. It’s built 2,000′ under the mountain, and is capable of withstanding an EMP and a 30 megaton nuclear explosion. As of 2021, its official name is the Cheyenne Mountain Space Force Station.

Rocky Mountains (Part 2)

Now through with our Dippin’ Dots break, we walked through the remainder of the Rocky Mountain animals. We saw goats, otters, porcupines, mountain lions, and a young bull moose.

Primates

Running short on time, we made a quick pass through the primates section, and then headed on to the African Coast section.

African Coast

This section housed pelicans, penguins, lemurs, hippos, and more.

We left right at closing time; Abby and Ian took the boys home, and Faith and I headed off to retry our Seven Falls excursion.

Seven Falls (Success)

This time around, we found a place to park, and walked a mile up the canyon towards the falls, rather than waiting potentially hours on a shuttle. It may not have been the “Grandest mile of scenery in Colorado”, but it was beautiful, and was probably one of the best landscaped miles in that part of the world. The falls and canyon are privately owned, so you must purchase an entrance ticket to hike the canyon. Technically, you’re supposed to take a shuttle from the Broadmoor Hotel (which requires a lengthy wait on both the departure and return trips), but we just parked in one of the North Cheyenne Cañon Park picnic areas and hiked up the road to the entrance gate. Since it was later in the evening, most of those parking spaces were vacant.

There are two viewing platforms at the falls: one is accessible by an elevator cut into the rock, and the other requires a significant climb up many flights of stairs. We opted to just take the elevator and skip the climb, not for lack of willingness to ascend the stairs, but because we needed to get back soon for supper. The views were very nice, but if you don’t feel like spending the money, Helen Hunt Falls (see Day 1 post) was extremely similar, and free.

Steak Dinner

Ian grilled some steaks for dinner, with some mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts on the side.

Evening // Dutch Bros

In the evening, Faith and I babysat the twins (not a difficult task, since they were in bed) while Ian and Abby went out to see a movie. I made a Dutch Bros run for some drinks (a mango smoothie, an Orangesicle Dutch Frost, and a cookie dough cold brew freeze to split). We also polished off the final two mini eclairs from La Baguette. I briefly ventured out to snap some photos of the sunset, while being followed by a seemingly-out-of-place duck.

Video

Here’s a video of some of today’s adventures:

Conclusion

Stay tuned for more…tomorrow we’re headed up to Pike National Forest for some hiking.

– Isaac and Faith

6 Responses

  1. Lots of pastries on this day!
    Great pictures of Seven Falls!
    The video of you and Faith feeding the giraffes was so funny!

  2. Enjoyed the pictures from the zoo-giraffes and lions are my favorites.
    Glad you finally saw Seven Falls-beautiful. Enjoy hearing about all the foods and drinks you sample. YUM!

  3. Forgot-I’m 71 and have NEVER had dippin’ dots! I’ll have to find some and give them a try!

  4. I don’t think I knew Peacocks were from Australia. Never too old to learn something new.

  5. Enjoyed the stories, as always, and the fun pictures and videos. However, that one close-up peacock picture is gallery quality! Simply beautiful!!

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