The original 1885 North Cheyenne Cañon Park grew by 480 acres thanks to a 1907 donation by city founder, General William Jackson Palmer. If it hadn’t been for his vision, which included the preservation of the beautiful scenery and the provision of public parks, residents and visitors would have fewer open spaces for our enjoyment and edification. Colorado Springs voters supported this vision in many, but not all instances, which is why today you can visit North Cheyenne Cañon for free, but have to pay a fee to enter its neighbor, South Cheyenne Cañon.
Both canyons are named for creeks, both creeks form waterfalls, and both waterfalls have a connection to famous author and American-Indian activist, Helen Hunt, a Colorado Springs resident from 1873 until her premature death in 1885 at age 54. Not only did her writing sing the praises of Colorado Springs in general, she loved Cheyenne Mountain and its canyons in particular, and, like many locals, made frequent excursions to the area with horse and buggy, to enjoy the magnificent landscape, vegetation, and cool mountain streams. The Helen Hunt Falls in North Cheyenne Cañon bear her name, and South Cheyenne Cañon once bore her burial site, though her remains have since then been relocated to Evergreen Cemetery.
Both Cheyenne Cañons have always been popular destinations for hikers and sightseers alike, and shops selling souvenirs have existed at both locations since the early days of tourism. Colorado College, North Cheyenne Cañon’s first owner, built The Bruin Inn as a retreat, as well as a smaller building, known as The Cub. Located adjacent to Helen Hunt Falls, this was repurposed into a visitor center once the area became a public park. Its successor opened in 2013.
South Cheyenne Creek tumbles down a narrow box canyon, 191 feet in seven separate, picturesque falls. A 224-step staircase parallels the cascading waters and leads to an observation platform as well as forested plateau with several hiking trails. They are also accessible via a 170-foot elevator whose shaft was drilled through solid rock by the family of Al Hill, the penultimate owners, whose daughter, Lyda Hill, is a major benefactor of Garden of the Gods. The Seven Falls property changed hands several times, until it was purchased by The Broadmoor, following the devastating 2013 flood which necessitated major repairs. Guests find gift shops, a creek-side restaurant, and zip-lines.
Generously Submitted by Tanja Britton, CSPM Volunteer Educator