Colorado’s First Cultures

Long before Colorado Springs was founded as a resort town in 1871, it was inhabited by American Indian tribes.


Known as a “cultural crossroads,” the area is notorious for inspired natural beauty, warm hospitality, a rich history, and unforgettable experiences. The Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other tribes who lent their beliefs and influences to the region, gathered at the base of Tava or “Sun Mountain,” now called Pikes Peak - America’s Mountain. They drank the waters of nearby Manitou Springs and took shelter in Garden of the Gods Park during the winter months. 

The human history of the Garden of the Gods commenced many centuries ago. Stone hearths and fire rings found in the Garden, dating over 3,000 years ago, indicate the presence of early inhabitants. The Ute people lived in this area prior to their relocation to reservations in southwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah. Today, visitors can experience the history and beauty of the free, national natural landmark on horseback, Segway, e-bike, Trolley or with a guided Jeep tour.  

colorado springs tribes

Ute legend says that the people here were created on Pikes Peak. Roaming nomadic hunters were the first to experience the beauty of Colorado’s most famous mountain. Today, travelers can take in the amazing views from the 14,115-foot summit. Many drive the twists and turns of the Pikes Peak Highway. Those looking for an all-day adventure can hike the Barr Trail to the top.

During their seasonal migration, following vast herds of bison, the Ute and Great Plains would visit nearby Manitou Springs. Legend declares that the tribes believed the area’s natural mineral springs were a medicinal gift from the Great Spirit Manitou. Visitors can sample eight springs that are open to the public, each with its own distinctive flavor and effervescence. Home to charming boutiques and art galleries, this charming mountain town is a popular destination.

The Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings Museum offers a glimpse into the lives of the Southwest Indians and their fine architecture. The three-story structure showcases the works of the Pueblo Indians, descendants of the Cliff Dwelling Indians. Further west, the Ute Pass Historical Society and Pikes Peak Museum showcases how the Southern Ute people contributed to the development of the Woodland Park area and beyond.  

 

Those making the trip to this Rocky Mountain city will enjoy the same attractions, natural beauty, and heritage as those who came hundreds of years before them.