It seems appropriate that Colorado Springs, which draws more than 5.2 million overnight visitors annually, was itself founded by a visitor. In 1870, Civil War hero General William Jackson Palmer, on first seeing the region, wrote to his wife: “Could one live in constant view of these grand mountains without being elevated by them into a lofty plane of thought and purpose?” Almost immediately, Palmer began planning the city of his dreams, one that would become a major resort community. Today, more than 140 years later, people by the millions continue to come from all over the world, drawn by the same beauty that forever changed Palmer.
The Colorado Springs region's first inhabitants were American Indian people. The Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other tribes gathered at the base of Pikes Peak¬America’s Mountain, near its abundant springs and in what is now called Garden of the Gods Park. The Ute name for Pikes Peak, Ta¬Wa¬Ah¬Gath, translates to "Sun Mountain Sitting Big", for the way its slopes collect and reflect the sun's rays. During their seasonal migration following vast herds of bison, the Ute would camp in nearby red rock canyons and visit the bubbling springs that we enjoy today.
The region lies along the extreme southwestern edge of what was the Louisiana Territory, which was purchased by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803. Prior to this purchase, both French and Spanish flags flew over the region. In 1795, several hundred Spanish colonial soldiers from Santa Fe, NM under the command of Juan Bautiste de Anza, traveled down Ute Pass in search of Comanche raiders. The Spanish name for Pikes Peak was "Almagre," a reference to the reddish color of the granite. This name is still used for the high, snow¬capped ridge just south of Pikes Peak.