Colorado for kids: Cave of the Winds day trip from Denver

The Cave of the Winds origin story is pretty appealing to kids and adults who fancy themselves adventurers: “In 1881, two brothers went exploring….”

A nice view from the balcony at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
A nice view from the balcony at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
A nice view from the balcony at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)

Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs is one of those places that is pretty into its origin story. To be fair, the beginning is pretty appealing to kids and adults who fancy themselves adventurers: “In 1881, two brothers went exploring….”

Here’s what it looks like. (Also don’t miss our Garden of the Gods trip.)

After you park, you’ll see the challenge course.

It’s a “You Must Be This Tall” kind of thing, and the employee we saw there gamely measured our kid, who was too short by a good foot or so. “Almost!” he said. Costs $20 if you’re big enough.

The Wind Walker Challenge Course is the first thing you'll see upon approaching Cave of the Winds from the parking lot. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
The Wind Walker Challenge Course is the first thing you’ll see upon approaching Cave of the Winds from the parking lot. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Let’s get into the cave.

There are two different tours that happen multiple times every day. The Discovery tour is 45-60 minutes, relatively well lit, and not strenuous. $20 for adults, $12 for ages 6-12, free for 5 and under.  The Lantern tour is advertised as lasting 90 minutes, lit by lanterns and going deeper into the mountain. Kids under 6 aren’t allowed on that one, 6-12 cost $15 and adults $30.

Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
We did the Discovery tour.

There were several kids on our tour. The two youngest, both under 5, had a tough time with the length of the tour. One actually left early, with the guide calling in an escort out.

Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
A rope ladder in the ceiling at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
It’s not a hard walk — just a lot to listen to for the very young kids.

There’s plenty of ducking for anybody over 5 feet tall, though. And one room, near the end, is completely dark. One kid on the tour didn’t like the dark, but didn’t freak out — just kind of murmured about not liking it for the short duration before the guide turned the lights back on.

Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Once you’re out of the cave, there are other attractions.
There's a wooden box to crawl through if you're under 5 feet tall at Cave of the Winds. More fun than it sounds. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
There’s a wooden box to crawl through if you’re under 5 feet tall at Cave of the Winds. More fun than it sounds. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
You can buy a bag of rocks and sift through it for treasures.

Or — and hear me out on this — you can skip the buying of the bag of rocks, and just sift the worthless rocks that somebody else has left behind. Probably depends on how old/discerning your kids are.

You can pan for gems at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
You can pan for gems at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
For older kids with $20 to burn, there’s the Bat-A-Pult.

And for $50, the Terror-Dactyl.

But the biggest hit for the kid we were traveling with was this thing, which could have been anywhere.
The "Time Freak" game at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
The “Time Freak” game at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Throw in $1, run around a room slapping blinking lights.

If I could put this in my basement, I’d do it. I bet this would be just as popular if we came back every summer for the next several years.

The "Time Freak" game at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
The “Time Freak” game at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Have fun out there!

Hours vary by month, so check the official site for details.

Dave Burdick can be reached via email at dburdick@denverite.com or twitter.com/daveburdick.

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Dave Burdick

Author: Dave Burdick

Dave Burdick is the editor-in-chief of Denverite, after stints at the Denver Post, Boulder Camera, Huffington Post and GOOD. He was born in Boulder, grew up in Los Angeles and south suburban Denver, and lives in central Denver with his family.