City, seat (1873) of El Paso county, central Colorado, U.S. It stands on a mesa (6,008 feet [1,831 metres]) near the eastern base of Pikes Peak, east of Pike National Forest. Founded in 1871 as Fountain Colony by General William J. Palmer, builder of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, it was renamed for the nearby Manitou mineral springs. Growth of the area followed the Cripple Creek gold strikes in the 1890s and the promotion of tourism related to the health-resort trade. In 1917 Colorado Springs consolidated with Colorado City (founded 1859 as El Dorado City). The establishment of military installations gave further impetus to development.
The city is the site of Colorado College (1874), the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (1965), and Nazarene Bible College (1967) and is well served by rail, road, and air links. The Garden of the Gods, a 1,350-acre (546-hectare) natural park with red sandstone monoliths, now a National Landmark, is one of many scenic attractions in the area. Of cultural and historical interest are the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum,the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and the May Natural History Museum. The U.S. Olympic Complex, near the city centre, is the headquarters of many national amateur-athletic associations and a training ground for athletes preparing for Olympic competition.