Colorado Springs



Colorado Springs is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and most populous city of El Paso County, Colorado, United States. Colorado Springs is located in the center portion of the state. It is situated on Fountain Creek and is located 65 miles (105 km) south of theColorado State Capitol in Denver. At 6,035 feet (1,839 m) the city stands over one mile (1.6 km) above sea level, though some areas of the city are significantly higher and lower. Colorado Springs is situated near the base of one of the most famous American mountains, Pikes Peak, in the eastern edge of the Southern Rocky Mountains. The city is often referred to as “The Springs.”

With a population of 416,427 as of the 2010 Census,[5] it is the second most populous city in the state of Colorado, behind Denver, and the 41st most populous city in the United States,[6] while the Colorado Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area had an estimated population of 645,613 in 2010.[7] The city covers 194.7 square miles (504 km2), making it Colorado’s largest city in area. Colorado Springs was selected as the No. 1 Best Big City in “Best Places to Live” by Money magazine in 2006,[8] and placed number one in Outsides 2009 list of America’s Best Cities.[9]


View of Colorado Springs from Pikes Peak.

Pikes Peak, the easternmost 14er in the United States

The city is made up of the mountains to the west, the Palmer Divide to the north, high plains further east, and desert land to the south when leaving Fountain and approaching Pueblo.[10]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 186.1 sq mi (482.1 km2), of which 185.8 sq mi (481.1 km2) is land and 0.39 sq mi (1.0 km2) (0.21%) is water.[citation needed]


Colorado Springs has a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk), and its location just east of the Southern Rocky Mountains affords it the rapid warming influence from chinook winds during winter but also subjects it to drastic day-to-day variability in weather conditions.[11] The city has abundant sunshine throughout the year, averaging over 300 days of sun per year, and receives approximately 16.5 inches (419 mm) of annual precipitation. Due to unusually low precipitation for several years after flooding in 1999, Colorado Springs enacted lawn water restrictions in 2002. These were lifted in 2005.[10]

Colorado Springs is also one of the most active lightning strike areas in the United States. This natural phenomenon led Nikola Tesla to select Colorado Springs as the preferred location to build his lab and study electricity.[citation needed]

Seasonal climate

Winters range from mild to moderately cold, with December, the coldest month, averaging 29.8 °F (−1.2 °C); historically January has been the coldest month, but, in recent years, December has had both lower daily maxima and minima.[12] Typically, there are 5.2 nights with sub-0 °F(−18 °C) lows and 23.6 days where the high does not rise above freezing,[13] and extended sub-zero (°F) cold is rare. Snowfall is usually moderate and remains on the ground briefly, with the city receiving 38 inches (97 cm) per season, although the mountains to the west often receive in excess of triple that amount; March is the snowiest month in the region, both by total accumulation and number of days with measurable snowfall. In addition, 8 of the top 10 heaviest 24-hour snowfalls have occurred from March to May.[13] Summers are very warm, with July, the warmest month, averaging 70.9 °F (21.6 °C), and 18 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs annually. Due to the high elevation and aridity, nights are usually relatively cool and rarely does the low remain above 70 °F (21 °C).[13] Dry weather generally prevails, but brief afternoon thunderstorms are common, especially in July and August when the city receives the majority of its annual rainfall, due to the North American Monsoon.[citation needed]

The first freeze in the autumn and the last freeze in the spring on average occur on October 2 and May 6, respectively; the average window for measurable snowfall (≥0.1 in or 0.25 cm) is October 21 thru April 25. Extreme temperatures range from 101 °F (38 °C) on June 26, 2012 down to−27 °F (−33 °C) on February 1, 1951 and December 9, 1919.[citation needed]

Climate data

[hide]Climate data for Colorado Springs, Colorado (Airport), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 73
Average high °F (°C) 43.2
Average low °F (°C) 17.7
Record low °F (°C) −26
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.31
Snowfall inches (cm) 5.5
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 3.9 4.7 7.6 8.3 10.6 10.2 11.5 13.6 7.3 5.0 4.6 4.3 91.6
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 4.1 4.2 5.7 3.5 0.7 0 0 0 0.3 1.8 3.8 4.6 28.7
Source: NOAA (extremes 1894–present)[13]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1870 1,480
1880 4,226 185.5%
1890 11,140 163.6%
1900 21,085 89.3%
1910 29,078 37.9%
1920 30,105 3.5%
1930 33,237 10.4%
1940 36,789 10.7%
1950 45,472 23.6%
1960 70,194 54.4%
1970 135,060 92.4%
1980 214,914 59.1%
1990 281,140 30.8%
2000 360,890 28.4%
2010 416,427 15.4%
Est. 2011 426,388 2.4%

As of the 2010 census, the population of Colorado Springs was 416,427[16] (41st most populous U.S. city),[17] and the population of the Colorado Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area was 645,613 in 2010 (84th most populous MSA),[18] and the population of the Front Range Urban Corridor in Colorado was an estimated 4,166,855.

As of the April 2010 census:[19] 78.8% White, 16.1% Hispanic or Latino (of any race), 6.3% Black or African American, 3.0% Asian, 1.0% Native American, 0.3%Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 5.5% Some other race, 5.1% Two or more racesMexican Americans made up 14.6% of the city’s population.[20][nb 1]


City Hall.

On November 2, 2010 Colorado Springs voters adopted a council-strong mayor form of government. The City of Colorado Springs transitioned to the new system of government in 2011. Under the council-strong mayor system of government, the mayor is the chief executive and the city council is the legislative branch. The mayor is a full-time elected position and not a member of the city council. The city council has nine members total, four of which represent one of four equally populated districts each. Districts 5 and 6 do not have a direct representative. The remaining five members are elected “at-large”.[22] The mayor has veto authority, with the city council having the ability to override a mayoral veto by a two-thirds majority vote (6 out of 9).

Colorado Springs City Hall was built from 1902 to 1904 on land donated by W. S. Stratton.[23]


Colorado Springs’ economy is driven primarily by the military, the high-tech industry, and tourism, in that order. The city is currently experiencing some growth mainly in the service sectors. The current unemployment rate, as of June 2012, in Colorado Springs is 9.8%[24] compared to 8.2% for the State[25] and the Nation.[26]

Defense industry

The defense industry plays a major role in the Colorado Springs economy, with some of the city’s largest employers coming from the sector.[27] A large segment of this industry is dedicated to the development and operation of various projects for missile defense. With its close ties to defense, the aerospace industry has also influenced the Colorado Springs economy. Although some defense corporations have left or downsized city campuses, a slight growth trend is still recorded. Significant defense corporations in the city include BoeingGeneral DynamicsHarris CorporationSAICITTL-3 CommunicationsLockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.[citation needed] The Space Foundation is based in Colorado Springs.

High-tech industry

A large percentage of Colorado Springs’ economy is still based on manufacturing high tech and complex electronic equipment. The high tech sector in the Colorado Springs area has decreased its overall presence from 2000 to 2006 (from around 21,000 down to around 8,000), with notable reductions in information technology and complex electronic equipment.[28] Due to a slowing in tourism, the high tech sector still remains second to the military in terms of total revenue generated and employment.[29] Current trends project the high tech employment ratio will continue to decrease in the near future.[29][30][31][32]

High tech corporations with connections to the city include:

Verizon Business, a telecommunications firm, had nearly 1300 employees in 2008.[33] Hewlett-Packard is a large sales, support, and SAN storage engineering center for the computer industry.[34][35][36]

Storage Networking Industry Association is the home of the SNIA Technology Center.[citation needed] Agilent, spun off from HP in 1999 as an independent, publicly traded company.[citation needed]Intel had 250 employees in 2009.[37] The facility is now used for the centralized unemployment and social services complex.[citation needed]

LSI Corporation designs semiconductors and software that accelerate storage and networking in datacenters and mobile networks.[citation needed] Atmel (formerly Honeywell), is a chip fabrication organization.[38] Cypress Semiconductor Colorado Design Center is a chip fabrication research and development site.[citation needed] The Apple Inc. facility was sold to Sanmina-SCI in 1996.[39]

Top employers

According to the City’s 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[40] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer Percentage of County Employment
1 Fort Carson 10.20%
2 Peterson Air Force Base 4.11%
3 Schriever Air Force Base 2.86%
4 United States Air Force Academy 2.29%
5 Memorial Health Services 1.65%
6 Colorado Springs School District 11 1.40%
7 Academy School District 20 0.97%
8 Penrose-St. Francis Health Services 0.93%
9 City of Colorado Springs 0.81%
10 El Paso County 0.70%

Military Installations

The United States Military plays a very important role in the city. Colorado Springs is home to both Army and Air Force bases. These military installations border the city, to the north, south and east, aside from Schriever Air Force Base, which is located farther east of the city, still in El Paso County.[citation needed]

Fort Carson

Main article: Fort Carson

Fort Carson is the city’s largest military base, and until mid-2006 was home to the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, which relocated to Fort Hood, Texas. In 2009, Fort Carson became the home station of the 4th Infantry Division, which nearly doubled the base’s population.[citation needed] Fort Carson is host to various training grounds for infantry, armor, and aviation units. Fort Carson is also the headquarters of the second and third battalions of the 10th Special Forces Group.[citation needed]

Peterson Air Force Base

AFSPC Headquarters, Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs.

The Air Force has critical aspects of their service based at Colorado Springs which carry on missile defense operations and development. The Air Force bases a large section of the national missile defense operations here, with Peterson Air Force Base set to operate large sections of the program. Peterson AFB is currently the headquarters of the majority of Air Force Space Command and the operations half of Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT).[citation needed]

Peterson is also headquarters for the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), one of the Unified Combatant Commands. USNORTHCOM directs all branches of the U.S. military operations in their area of responsibility which includes the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, and Mexico. In the event of national emergencies the President or Secretary of Defense can call upon USNORTHCOM for any required military assistance. Service members from every branch of the US Military are stationed at the command.[citation needed]

Schriever Air Force Base (formerly Falcon AFB)

Schriever Air Force Base is home to the 50th Space Wing, which controls warning, navigational, communications and spy satellites. It is also the home of the Space Warfare Center and the home for the 576th Flight Test Squadron.[41] It is the location of the Global Positioning System (GPS) master control station and GPS Operations Center[42] and the US Naval Observatory Alternate Master Clock,[43] used to synchronize GPS satellite time. Schriever is also developing parts of national missile defense and runs parts of the annual wargames used by the nation’s military.[citation needed]

Cadets in front of the Academy Chapel

United States Air Force Academy

Just north of the city lie the vast grounds of the United States Air Force Academy, where cadets train to become officers in the Air Force. The campus is famous for its unique chapel and draws visitors year round. Most of the Air Force Academy’s sports programs belong to the Mountain West Conference.[citation needed]

NORAD and Cheyenne Mountain Air Station

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), a component of America’s missile defense system, is located in Cheyenne Mountain Air Station. When it was built at the height of the Cold War, NORAD caused some anxiety for the residents in and around Colorado Springs, who believed the installation would be a primary target during a nuclear attack. Although NORAD still operates today, it is primarily tasked with the tracking of ICBMs, and the military has recently decided to place Cheyenne Mountain’s NORAD/NORTHCOM operations on warm standby and move operations to nearby Peterson Air Force Base.[44]


The city’s location at the base of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains makes it a popular tourism destination. Tourism is the third largest employer in the Pikes Peak region, accounting for more than 13,000 jobs.[citation needed] Nearly 5 million visitors come to the area annually, contributing $1.35 billion in revenue.[45]

Colorado Springs has more than 55 attractions and activities in the area,[46] including Garden of the GodsUnited States Air Force Academy, the ANA Money Museum, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo,Colorado Springs Fine Arts CenterOld Colorado City and the U.S. Olympic Training Center.[47]

The downtown Colorado Springs Visitor Information Center offers free area information to leisure and business travelers.[46] The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR), also located downtown, supports and advocates for the arts throughout the Pikes Peak Region. It operates the PeakRadar website to communicate city events.[48]

Parks, trails and open space

There are 136 neighborhood, 8 community, 7 regional parks and 5 sports complexes totally 9,000 acres managed by the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services. They also manage 500 acres of trails, which are 160 miles of park trails and 105 miles of urban trails. There are 5,000 acres of open spaces in 48 open space areas.[49]


One of the most popular areas in Colorado Springs is Garden of the Gods. It is a National Natural Landmark with 300 foot sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of the snow-capped mountains of Pikes Peak. The park offers a variety of annual events. One of the most popular events is the Starlight Spectacular. It is a recreational bike ride held every summer to benefit the Trails and Open Space Coalition of Colorado Springs.[citation needed]

Colorado Springs has several major parks, such as Palmer Park, America the Beautiful Park (Confluence Park), Memorial Park, and Monument Valley Park.[50]


Three trails, the New Santa Fe Regional Trail, Pikes Peak Greenway and Fountain Creek Regional Trail, form a continuous path from Palmer Lake, through Colorado Springs, to Fountain, Colorado. The Urban Trails system has more than 100 miles of multi-use trails for biking, jogging, roller blading and walking. The trails, except Monument Valley Park trails, may be used for equestrian traffic. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails. Many of the trails are interconnected, having main “spine” trails, like the Pikes Peak Greenway, that lead to secondary trails.[52][53][54]


Olympic sports

The United States Olympic Committeeheadquarters and training facility.

Colorado Springs is home to the United States Olympic Training Center and the headquarters of the United States Olympic Committee. In addition, a number of United States national federations for individual Olympic sports have their headquarters in Colorado Springs, including: United States or USAbobsledfencingskatingbasketballboxingcyclingjudofield hockeyhockeyswimmingshootingtable tennistaekwondotriathlonvolleyball, andwrestling associations and organizations and the United States Anti-Doping Agency.[citation needed]

The city has a particularly long association with the sport of figure skating, having hosted the U.S. Figure Skating Championships 6 times and the World Figure Skating Championships 5 times. It is home to the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame and the Broadmoor Skating Club, a notable training center for the sport. In recent years, the World Arena has hosted skating events such as Skate America and the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.[citation needed]

Local teams

Professional teams

Name Sport Founded League Venue
Colorado Springs Sky Sox Baseball 1988 Minor league; Pacific Coast League Security Service Field[citation needed]
Colorado Springs Blizzard Soccer 2004-Folded in 2006 United Soccer LeaguesUSL Premier Development League Security Service Field[citation needed]
Colorado Rush Men’s Premier Soccer 2007 Premier Arena Soccer LeagueNational Premier Soccer League (National Division III) Security Service Field[citation needed]
Colorado Springs Rugby Football Club Rugby 1969 Eastern Rockies Rugby Football UnionUSA Rugby; (National Division II) Bear Creek Regional Park[citation needed]
Colorado Springs Cricket Club Cricket 1999 Colorado Cricket League Rose Bowl, Memorial Park[citation needed]

College teams

The local colleges feature many sports teams. Notable among them are the following nationally competitive NCAA Division I teams: United States Air Force Academy (Fighting Falcons) Football, Basketball and Hockey, Colorado College (Tigers) Hockey, and Women’s Soccer.[citation needed]

Colorado Springs and Denver hosted the 1962 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships.[nb 2]

The Mountain West Conference is based in Colorado Springs.


Colorado Springs is home to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and the headquarters of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Colorado Springs was the original headquarters of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) from its founding in 1992 until 2005, when the organization was moved to Pueblo; the PBR used to hold an annual Built Ford Tough Series event at the World Arena from 2001 until 2005 when the organization made the move to Pueblo.[citation needed]