Just up the hill from Colorado Springs is Manitou Springs, which was built up around a series of natural mineral springs beginning in 1872. Eight free-flowing fountains are scattered around the town now. Most of the city is included in the Manitou Springs Historic District.
The Gold Camp Road runs through the Rocky Mountains south of Pikes Peak in Colorado. For over a hundred years, it has been traveled by tourists, first on passenger trains and later in automobiles. The Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway was built around the turn of the twentieth century to bring gold ore down from the mines around Cripple Creek and Victor. By the 1920s, the railroad was out of business and the route was soon converted into an automobile toll road for tourists.
It remains a popular destination. We rented a couple of KHS mountain bikes from Challenge Unlimited and they drove us in their van up the unpaved and potholed Old Stage Road to St. Peters Dome, roughly halfway between Cripple Creek and Colorado Springs. Our driver dropped us off with a couple water bottles, a photocopy of a hand-drawn map, and a little backpack with a pump and repair kit, in case we got a flat tire. From there, it was all downhill.
The first eight miles or so are closed to automobiles, and we were riding on a Monday after the summer tourist season ended, so we had the gravel road to ourselves. We rode through two tunnels, stopping several times to take in the views. After about an hour and a half, we reached Tunnel #3. In 1988, this tunnel collapsed (which is why cars are no longer allowed), so we had to walk the bikes along a trail that goes over the tunnel. Below Tunnel #3 there was a parking lot, cars, and more hikers and bikers, but it was definitely not crowded. We continued downhill through more tunnels and rock cuts.