Will Rogers Shrine to the Sun

Colorado Springs Travel Blog

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The Shrine from the zoo

If you've been to Colorado Springs then you have probably seen the Shrine sitting on the mountain.  It's a tall white tower that reflects the sunlight or is illumined manually.  Back in the day, Spencer Penrose (Penrose Hospital, Penrose Public Library, Penrose St...) was one of Colorado Springs' greatest benefactors.  Because of this man we are able to enjoy a five-star hotel that hosted this year's PGA Senior tour, a zoo that you can hand feed the giraffes and of course a tomb up in the mountains that has amazing views.  The castle houses Penrose's remains but to avoid yet another namesake he honored his good friend Will Rogers (1879-1935) instead.

  Inside this castle you will find an homage to his beloved friend and learn a thing or two while you're at it. 

I could bore you with all the gory details of Will Rogers' life, but if you're really that interested Wikipedia does a fine job of explaining (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers).  Instead I'll describe my day at the zoo...

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is just past the Broadmoor.  When you enter the park you will be tempted to go to the right after you feed a giraffe or two but I suggest you cut away from the crowds and venture left up toward the bears and lions.  You'll beat the crowds and get to see the primate house and the hippos without an audience.  Definitely worth it.  I must warn you, they keep the creepiest monkey-cousins on display there: Ring-Tailed Lemurs (lemures-latin for "spirits of the night).
Young giraffe sunning
  Their menacing red-orange eyes (they might even glow) and tiny pupils, stare at you as if they want your liver...ugh...not something I would want to encounter on a cool dark night.  Stick to the big cats--at least you know their motives. 

When you get the day pass to the zoo you are also invited to drive on up to the Shrine to the Sun.  The tall pines and formidable gate give a sense of reverence and beauty.  Walk through the gate and you'll be on a graveled path that ends at the cut stone landing at the base of the Shrine.  From here you can already see so much-possibly the entirety of eastern Colorado.  The air is hot (to be expected from a Shrine to the Sun) even though you're probably more than 8,000-9,000 feet above sea level.
Battle cat
  I haven't actually measured and really have no concept of spacial relationships-sorry.  Anyway, stepping inside the mausoleum the temperature cools considerably and becomes quite comfortable.  The smell of stone greets you and the sounds of voices richochet down the staircase from above.  I'm curious so up we go!

As we ascend the stair each landing is a room stuffed floor to ceiling with photographs, newspaper clippings and other regalia heralding Mr Rogers.  We continue up the tight stairway.  Its stained glass windows that punctuate the walls much like my commas and ellipses perforate my e-mail messages.  The sunlight is filtered into red, blue and yellow hues by these porticos.  It's a little disappointing when you try to peek at what lies outside only to find the windows have been soldered shut (see photo).

Wanting the quickest way out
  Let's hear it for mysteries.  Continuing on, the air gets noticeably warmer and the diffused light is gradating back toward the white.  When you reach the top your eyes need just a moment to adjust. 

Stretching out for miles is Colorado Springs perched at the foot of the Rockies.  It's breathtaking.  The rocky crags jutting out of the trees with the combination of Aspens and pines have the perfect contrast.  Glancing down the hills are the terra cotta bisqued rocks that wind and crest through the ground.  Known as Garden of the Gods, these rocks are unmistakable and remnicent of a time of explorers and pioneers.  Continuing around you'll see the downtown with the old BKD building that mirrors the colors of the red rocks and the Broadmoor with its acres of green accented with rose colored buildings.  It's unnatural to see so much grass in the west, but I guess if were trying to recreate the east I would use a lot of terf, too. 

The descent is anti-climatic since you exit the way you came.  Still, you come away with a feeling that yeah, it was worth the $20.


Sunflower300 says:
Very well written, I can't wait to see it myself one day. I agree with Sweetski, I'd love to see some photos of the view. :)
Posted on: Nov 14, 2008
Sweetski says:
Such a wonderfully told story. While reading the anticipation grew. You describe the view so well, yet it's a petty you didn't include some pictures of it. Ah well, all the more reason to go and visit it myself one day, I guess. :)
Posted on: Oct 18, 2008
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The Shrine from the zoo
The Shrine from the zoo
Young giraffe sunning
Young giraffe sunning
Battle cat
Battle cat
Wanting the quickest way out
Wanting the quickest way out
Homeless at the Shrine?  Nope just…
Homeless at the Shrine? Nope jus…
Will Rogers Shrine to the Sun
Will Rogers Shrine to the Sun
Colorado Springs Sights & Attractions review
Ode to Will Rogers' Life
To get to the WRSS, you will need to purchase a ticket to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Not a bad marketing idea, if you ask me since it is not likely I… read entire review
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