Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, Colorado Springs
Quite by accident, my husband, Ken, and I discovered one of the most breathtaking attractions in Colorado Springs, Colorado--the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun.
We were driving up into the Rockies, when a magnificent medieval-style tower came into view, high above us on Cheyenne Mountain. We had to investigate!
At the shrine's Visitor Center, we learned that America's beloved cowboy philosopher, noted for his folksy but astute commentary on life, people and politics, is buried in his native Oklahoma. But in 1937, a grieving friend, philanthropist Spencer Penrose, dedicated this tower to the entertainer who never met a man he didn't like.
Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 114-foot-tall tower was built from blocks cut from a slab of gray-pink granite quarried from Cheyenne Mountain. Inside the tower, we found colorful floor-to-ceiling murals vividly depicting the history of the Pike's Peak region.
As we climbed the 100 steps to the top of the tower, we also saw photographs of Will smiling with family, friends, politicians and entertainers.
Finally, we stepped out onto an observation deck and were rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of Colorado Springs and the plains of Colorado. This indeed is a truly inspirational tribute to the man once hailed as "America's unofficial ambassador of goodwill".
Before You Visit... Colorado Springs is in central Colorado, where I-25 meets U.S. Highway 24, about 36 miles north of Pueblo.
The Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun is about 6 miles southwest of the city via the Russell Tutt Scenic Highway. Weather permitting, the shrine is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from April through October; it closes an hour earlier the rest of the year and is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Days.
The cost includes admission to the nearby Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, also founded by Penrose. For more information, call 1-719/578-5367.
More to See... Colorado Springs is also home to beautiful Seven Falls. For details, see page 19 of the Nov/Dec 2003 issue.
Amazing Bishop Castle is about 35 miles southwest of Pueblo; from I-25, take Exit 74 and head northwest on State Highway 165 and watch for the sign.