5 Things to do Before You PCS to Fort Carson
Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is often one of the most requested military posts in the country! If you are one of the lucky ones who gets orders there, here are five things you should do before moving to Colorado Springs.
1. Get a pair of hiking boots
If you love to hike and be outdoors, then Colorado Springs is the perfect place for you. If you don’t like the outdoors, then you better learn to love it! Just kidding. But seriously. Colorado Springs is surrounded by the front range of the Rocky Mountains and offers so many hiking, mountain biking and camping spots, not to mention gorgeous views. No matter where you go in town, you can always see America’s mountain, Pike’s Peak, towering above, often covered in snow.
Within the town limits, Colorado Springs has trails nearby in the Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Cheyenne Mountain State Park and much more. Plus, within a day’s drive there is Maroon Bells (one of the most photographed places in Colorado), Ice Lake Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Hanging Lake, and the Great Sand Dunes National Park. You’ll never be bored in Colorado, that’s for sure.
2. Develop a taste for beer
Colorado is well-known for its beer. There are so many craft breweries all over Colorado, and more and more are popping up each week. Some of our favorites in Colorado Springs are Peaks N Pines, Phantom Canyon Brewery, and Red Leg (owned by a military veteran). The owners of Bristol Brewery in Colorado Springs turned an old elementary school into a brewery and now serve food and beer in the old classrooms.
Don’t forget the big breweries like Coors in Golden and New Belgium in Fort Collins. They offer tours to the public as well as free beer to sample. Budweiser has factories all over, but the factory in Fort Collins is home to the Budweiser Clydesdales and is worth a visit when the horses are in town.
Lots of breweries means there are lots of beer festivals, especially in the summer. The Great American Beer Festival in Denver is one of the largest beer festivals in the country. Get your tickets early if you plan to go this year, October 5-7, 2017.
3. Learn to ski or snowboard
If you don’t know how to ski or snowboard already, Colorado is the place to learn. Resorts in the mountains are within a two-hour drive from Colorado Springs and are packed every weekend in the winter. Make a trip with a group of friends to the resort towns of Aspen, Vail, or Breckenridge and ski with the elite on some of the best mountains in the country. Après ski, grab a beer and explore the towns’ bars, restaurants and exciting nightlife. And feel free to quote Dumb and Dumber over and over again when visiting Aspen. Everybody does.
Check out the Fort Carson MWR for discounted lift tickets and discounted gear. Or if you are a first-timer you can also rent gear from the MWR. Also, if skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing, there’s always snowmobiling, dog-sledding, snow-shoeing or tubing.
4. Get a Subaru or all-wheel drive vehicle
The Subaru Outback is the most popular car in Colorado for a reason. In the summer you might want to go off-roading in the mountains or you may need high clearance to get to trailheads for hiking or biking. You’ll want a vehicle that can handle those situations before you try driving on a rocky dirt road in the middle of nowhere in a sedan. We know from experience. In the winter, snow can hit Colorado Springs pretty hard. Fort Carson and most of the bases nearby are pretty good about allowing snow days. Sometimes it could be snowing where you live, but not snowing at Fort Carson (again, we know from experience) and you still have to get into work. A snow-capable vehicle will help you do just that.
Yes, we bought a Subaru Outback. Yes, it is totally worth it. But, I will say the weather in Colorado Springs is mostly pleasant. It is sunny in Colorado almost 300 days a year and usually when it does snow, it melts within 24 or 48 hours. No complaints here. There is a short monsoon season in the summer, but overall sunny and no humidity. Perfect.
5. Start training your lungs
In Colorado Springs you are 6,000+ feet above sea-level. This makes simple tasks like climbing stairs a challenge for some people. There is a reason that Colorado Springs is host to the Olympic Training Center; you will get in great shape here since there is less oxygen in the air. Plus, you might want to climb a 14ner as many Coloradans do. A 14ner is a mountain more than 14,000-feet elevation. Pike’s Peak is one of the most popular 14ners to hike. There is even the Pike’s Peak Ascent and Marathon where crazy people run to the top of Pike’s Peak.
And one of the hardest hikes in the country, the Manitou Incline, is right outside Colorado Springs. This hike is a mile long, but has a 2,000 feet elevation change. It is basically a stairmaster. Only the fittest hikers should attempt this hike.
If you are PCSing to Fort Carson, congratulations! If you aren’t, keep crossing your fingers that you will soon.
All photos taken by Laura Frasse
about the author
Laura Frasse lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Chris. She works for the Air Force and Chris serves in the Army. Together they have created the blog Passports and PCS's to document their many duty stations and travels across the world.