On June 26, 2012, as a firestorm rushed down the mountainside into the city of Colorado Springs, I watched in shock just like the rest of the community did. We couldn’t believe that something so horrible was happening here. Natural disasters happen in other places far away, but not here.
But it was happening, with 65-mile-per-hour winds fueled by very dry conditions, the fire burning in the foothills became a firestorm rushing into the city and many of the people I know were running for their lives from the flames and smoke. Thankfully I was not one of them; it was bad enough to think that the fire was only 10 miles away and if the wind shifted, the fire could be headed my way. You start to think, “what would I take with me?” and “what will be left of my home?” but what you don’t immediately think about is “what will the fire take from a community or region once it is out?” Unless you have lived in a community or region that has experienced a hurricane, flood, fire, or other natural disaster, it’s hard to imagine the answer to that question.
During the disaster many people rushed to the area to help. Fire fighters arrived from all over to help battle this fire, Red Cross workers, and other relief workers were here to help in the aftermath, but what we are not seeing are the tourists rushing here to help us recover. Of course, safety should always be a top priority when visiting a destination impacted by a natural disaster, but I can tell you that the fire is now 100% contained.
We are still as beautiful as ever, Pikes Peak towers over the city with the morning sun reflecting off its slopes, the red rock formations of Garden of the Gods are bright and beautiful; the animals at our spectacular Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are waiting to greet you and your family. The Chapel at the Air Force Academy is open and waiting for visitors. We do have many of our hiking/biking trails open to the public; yes, there are a few that may not be open because of safety, but those that are open have breathtaking views. The historic city of Manitou Springs and historic district of Old Colorado City have many local restaurants and shops waiting to welcome you back with open arms.
When you are thinking about a vacation this year, think about visiting Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region: we are open for business!
Here are just a few of the great events that I know are still planned for the month of August and into September.
I look forward to seeing many new faces coming to Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region to enjoy these events and the beauty of Colorado.