Friday, September 7, 2007

WCHA Roadtrip Town No. 3 – Colorado Springs

About one month ago, the WCHA Blog kicked off its list of which WCHA towns make for the best roadtrips. For my list, I’m basing this off five criteria (Access, Bars, City Experience, Hotels, and Ticket Cost / Availability). For a detailed list of what these five items mean to me, click here.

Here is a list of the cities the preview has previously covered up until today:

10. Houghton
9. Grand Forks
8. Mankato
7. St. Cloud
6. Madison
5. Anchorage
4. Minneapolis

This week, its city No. 3: Colorado Springs, Colo., which is home to the Colorado College Tigers.


Most fans that visit the Colorado Springs area will likely need to fly. The city of Colorado Springs does have an airport, but I’ve always found that flights directly to the Springs are generally pretty expensive, and that flying into Denver’s international airport is often a better option.

If you’re flying from the Twin Cities to Denver, you can usually find a flight for less than $250, which is a pretty affordable rate for airfare. Denver’s airport is easy to get around and it’s on the outskirts of the city, so you’re not dumped into a traffic mess as soon as you land. It’s also very easy to head south to Colorado Springs right when you leave the airport, although make sure you have change with you, since it’s quicker to take the toll-road as opposed to cutting through the city of Denver.

Regardless, you’ll travel south on I-25 for a majority of the trip if you fly into or come from Denver. As of last spring, there is some construction on the road the closer you get to Colorado Springs, which does result in some pretty heavy traffic. But, the speed limit for most of that stretch is 75 MPH, so you can make some pretty good time. It’s about 70 miles from Denver to the Springs.


Downtown Colorado Springs features several cool bars and restaurants. My personal favorite is the Jack Quinn Irish Ale House, which is located in the heart of downtown and near several other popular establishments. As the name would suggest, it’s an Irish bar that features some unique beer choices and also has a great food menu.

Just down the street from Jack Quinn’s is Sam’s, which claims to be the world’s smallest bar. And, after seeing the place in person, I can’t argue with them. It could probably hold about six people comfortably, and even that may be pushing it. There are several pictures on the wall of various visitors to the bar. If you visit downtown Colorado Springs, this is a must see.

If you want to stay close to the World Arena (which isn’t in downtown), there are a few options, but nothing special. The two most popular pre and post-game hangouts – an Outback Steakhouse and a Carrabba's Italian Grill – are adjacent to the World Arena. These places will fill up very quickly before and after the games, so make sure you get there early.

City Experience

This is one area where Colorado Springs really excels, as its right up there with Denver and Anchorage in terms of WCHA cities with the best “touristy” things to do. My personal favorite is the Air Force Academy, which is an awesome thing to see. It’s very easy just to drive through the base, although you should make sure you have I.D.’s on-hand for as many people in your group as possible, since they are somewhat inquisitive when you first enter the base.

Once you get in though, the scenery is great, and there are plenty of items that are worth seeing, including the football stadium, the hockey rink (nothing special, but worth checking out since you’re presumably a hockey fan), and the Cadet Chapel, which I haven’t personally seen up close yet but plan on doing that in October.

The U.S. Olympic Complex is located near the Colorado College campus which is a little north of the World Arena, and this is another good thing to see. They have a solid gift shop and lots of historic pictures, along with the actual facilities where Olympic athletes have trained in the past.

Finally, you can also make the drive up into the mountains and head toward Pike’s Peak. You can drive up towards the top, but this drive is, not surprisingly, not meant for those who are afraid of heights. There isn’t much between your car and the side of the mountain. Even if you didn’t want to make the drive all the way to the top, just driving in the general area of Pike’s Peak will give you plenty of photo opportunities.

Click here to visit Colorado Springs’ visitor’s guide.


There is several lodging options right next to the World Arena, which makes for a great setup. Three hotels – a La Quinta Inn, a Fairfield Inn, and a Residence Inn – are located right next to the restaurants I mentioned earlier. They are solid options, but I usually stay at the La Quinta since it’s generally a bit more affordable that the other two options. Regardless, I highly recommend that you stay at one of these three places, since they are so close to the arena and won’t crush your wallet.

Ticket Cost / Availability

Unless you are going to watch CC play Denver, tickets are pretty easy to get for a Tigers game, although you should probably be online or calling when single game tickets go on sale to ensure that you get seats. Most of the lower bowl at the World Arena is made up of season ticket holders, and some of the seats in the upper-level get kind of crappy the more up in the corners you get. If you plan on flying to make a trip though, you should do yourself a favor and make sure you get good seats to watch your squad.

Tickets are about $18-25 each.


Along with Anchorage, this is another trip that all WCHA fans should try and make at some point. The hockey is always solid, since CC is generally a very good team, but even if there was zero hockey on the trip, it’s just such a great town and area to see. There are lots of fun bars / restaurants and lodging in downtown and near the World Arena, and the city experience is right up there with Anchorage in terms of scenery and fun things to do.

Overall Grade: A