Tucked away on the leeward face of Cheyenne Mountain, overlooking Colorado Springs and the Eastern Colorado plains, is a family-friendly animal attraction that takes full advantage of its picturesque setting with wide-open viewpoints, a thrilling aerial adventure, and more than a little slimy giraffe tongue.
A zoo with a view
At Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, you’ll begin your exploration in the African Rift Valley, where you’ll come face-to-face with the stars of the show. The giraffe herd at Cheyenne Mountain is one of the largest you’ll find in any zoo, and their viewing area is handily raised to the eye level of the happy herbivores. For a small donation, you can feed them a few lettuce leaves from your hand — likely getting an accidental licking from their long, flexible black tongues.
[See the giraffes in action for yourself on the live cam here!]
After the African exhibits — featuring more zoo standbys like lions, elephants, and zebras — move on the the Australia Walkabout to meet the budgie buddies and chill with the friendly wallabies. As you climb through the zoo, you’ll continue to discover regional animal exhibits, indoor and outdoor. Hear the roar of the big cats of Asia; visit the hippos at play with their hippo-sized bath toys; wave to the great apes, who have a great view of the city below from their outdoor enclosures.
Be sure not to miss a reptile and amphibian house like no other in the Scutes Family Gallery. Displays in this living art gallery take advantage of — without exploiting — the dizzying variety of beautiful colors and shapes of snakes, lizards, frogs, and toads to create an experience that even this visual art neophyte won’t soon forget. (If animals and art are your forte, consider supporting the zoo further by buying an original piece painted by one of the talented resident elephants.)
Like any responsible zoo with an eye on conservation, Cheyenne Mountain maintains a great collection of animals native to Colorado and the Rocky Mountains. (To see an inspiring example of successful-but-ongoing conservation efforts bringing a species back from the brink of extinction, look in the water in the grizzly bear enclosure to meet the state fish of Colorado: the greenback cutthroat trout.) Learn more about how you can responsibly and sensitively keep your own domestic animals, even in an urban setting, in the nearby My Big Backyard exhibit.
Besides the always-busy giraffe encounter, the biggest thrills of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo can be found on the Mountaineer Sky Ride. In true Colorado style, this ski-style chairlift carries guests up and over the animal exhibits of this linear zoo, offering stunning views of the sheer mountain faces on the way up and the Front Range foothills and the city of Colorado Springs on the way down. Before you end your own zoo visit, make sure to take this thrilling ride, but hold on tight to your camera! (Purchase your Sky Ride ticket with your zoo admission to receive a discount on the walk-up price.)
Nuts and bolts
- The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is located south of the Broadmoor resort on the face of Cheyenne Mountain, about 15 minutes’ drive from downtown Colorado Springs. The zoo is open year-round from 09:00–17:00, adjusted hours on holidays; $19.75 adult, $14.75 child, adjusted prices for peak days and value days.* Admission includes entrance to the Will Rogers Shrine farther up the mountain on the day of your visit.
- The animal exhibits at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are particularly recommended for groups and families, but check the zoo’s website regularly for special event announcements for more grown-up activities.
*Hours of operation and prices updated August 2016 and are subject to change. Check the zoo’s guest information page for up-to-date details before your visit.