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Living in Manitou Springs

Posted by Sarah Steen on July 10, 2019
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Many visitors remember Manitou Springs fondly from a previous visit to the Colorado Springs area. It’s cute, cozy and has a flair and quirkiness that many people fall in love with. A visit to Manitou is often times the motivation that makes people decide to move to Colorado or Colorado Springs.

Manitou is nestled in a canyon so many of the homes have been built into the mountainside. This required quite a bit of architectural and engineering ingenuity. This is also the reason why there are hardly two homes alike in Manitou Springs, and it contributes to Manitou Springs’ very unique character.

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History

Manitou Springs has been a tourist town from the very beginning in the early 1870’s. Tourism grew when visitors discovered the healing qualities of its natural wells. Tourists and residents drink from the wells that are rich in minerals and slightly carbonated. You will see residents bringing milk jugs to fill them up with the valuable well water.

Manitou Springs made headlines in 2012 with the outbreak of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire. Those were scary times and the whole town was evacuated. Flashfloods are not uncommon after a wildfire because the lack of vegetation prevents the water from seeping into the ground. Manitou was no exception and experienced flashfloods. It was quite devastating, but Manitou Springs survived and thrives again.

Manitou Springs is a local government within the Colorado Springs Metropolitan area. Manitou Springs has a very rich and colorful, caring community. It did not surprise anyone that the residents voted in favor of recreational marijuana sales. Here you can find the only two stores selling recreational Marijuana in El Paso County.

Location

This little town is located west of Colorado Springs in a canyon. In the winter, the sun disappears behind the mountain as early as 3pm and it gets cold quickly.

You can reach Manitou Springs by taking either Colorado Avenue or Hwy 24. If you need to go to the west end of the town, driving through it can be quite unnerving with the amount of traffic you’ll find there every day.

A large portion of Manitou Springs is older and built into the mountain, so the streets are narrow. Parking can come at a premium and is very tightly restricted. There are only few areas in Manitou Springs where parking is free. All other locations are paid parking or require a residential parking pass. There is a shuttle to take you from the free parking to anywhere along Main Street. Pay attention to parking restrictions if you hoping to buy a home here (especially a multiplex).

Attractions

Manitou Springs is home to many attractions, including Briarhurst Manor, The Cliff House, all the mineral springs in town, and Rainbow Falls.

Some of the most popular attractions include:

 The Manitou incline might be for you if you love a good stair stepper workout. Test your endurance with this .88 mile long, 2500 ft  vertical feet workout. This trail is a former railway that was constructed as easy mountain access. Shortly after construction it was turned into a tourist attraction and was operated until 1990. The owners decided to forgo repairs when heavy rains washed out the tracks. Slowly but surely the remaining railroad ties were discovered by local outdoor enthusiasts. Parking is very expensive close to the incline, but you can opt for the free shuttle from the free parking lot off of Old Man’s Trail. Alternatively, you can park at the Iron Springs Chateau for $10.

image of Manitou Springs incline

Manitou Springs Incline

The Cog Railway Station is located off of Ruxton Road near the trailhead for Barr Trail and the incline. This train will take you up to the summit of Pikes Peak.  Unfortunately, the tracks are being refinished and serviced so there is currently no service. As of the publishing date for this article, the Cog is set to reopen in May 2021.

black and white image of people on Cog Railway in Manitou Springs, CO

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are a group of relocated Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and museums located just west of Colorado Springs, Colorado, on U.S. Highway 24 in Manitou Springs. The Anasazi Museum was established and the cliff dwellings were built starting in 1904, and were opened to the public in 1907.”

 

 

Explore these beautiful underground caverns that stretch deep into the mountains and provide a glimpse into other eras of the earth. Outside the park offers many more fun attractions like Via Ferrata tours, zip-lining and VR tours.

If you drive past Manitou Springs and towards Ute Pas,  you can find Santa’s Workshop  and the Pikes Peak Highway.

Outdoors

Pick a short trail like the Incline or Barr Trail for a day hike. For a little adventure, take Barr Trail to Barr Camp, stay overnight, and hike down the next day. You can make reservations for Barr Camp on their website. Bring a water filter to fill up your water packs as there is no potable water up there.

If you are ambitious, rest and continue all the way to the top of Pikes Peak.  The hike can be done in one day, but be sure to summit before noon to avoid thunderstorms.

Manitou Springs is surrounded by many other trails worth exploring. A few of our favorites:

Related Reading:
10 Easy Hiking Trails in Colorado Springs
Things to Do in Colorado Springs

Shopping

Cute shops, small businesses and local restaurants are found all along Colorado Avenue. You can stroll, rest, eat ice cream, or stop for a cold one all along this quaint and appealing road.

Be transported back in time when you visit the Penny Arcade and find all of the arcade games from your youth!

Who lives here?

  • Maintou Springs is the 50th largest city in Colorado with about 5,300 residents.
  • Median age is 44, which is older than what you’ll find in the rest of Colorado where the median age is about 36 years.
  • The population density in Manitou Springs is also much higher than the rest of Colorado, and even higher compared to the rest of the nation. The city’s expansion possibilities are limited by its location and topography. You’ll be close to your neighbor in Manitou.
  • The quality of life is considered high, with a more relaxed lifestyle that comes at a higher price of cost of living.

Related Reading: Is the Cost of Living in Colorado Springs High?

Character of Manitou Springs Homes

The town works very hard to preserve its feel and overall vibe. There are restrictions on whether you are allowed to rent, how long and the number of rentals you can own.  Ensure that you have clarified all of the restrictions when purchasing a home Manitou Springs. It’s important to do your own research even if a listing agent claims a rental is permitted.

These restrictions are not just for the property use, but also apply to any home updates. The guidelines put in place for certain homes could dictate which siding or windows are permitted. They also provide necessary rules for grading, drainage and sewer that are geared toward the many homes built into the mountainside of Manitou Springs.

Like other areas of the westside of Colorado Springs, there are many centenarian homes in Manitou Springs. These homes provide rich history and character, but also demand constant maintenance. New (newer) construction is fairly limited, but still available if you go higher up the mountainside.

Manitou Springs stretches east to west so all of the homes and developments are to the north and south of the main street going into the mountains. The north is limited by Hwy 24, the mountains, and some of the tourist attractions. The south side is built up into the mountain with most homes in close proximity to the downtown area. This makes it very convenient for many to get a hometown, cozy feel.

Gated Communities

The north and south sides of Manitou Springs both have exclusive (and quite expensive), gated communities.

Crystal Park is on the south side of Manitou Springs. There are two major parts to this subdivision and they only accessible from a long drive along their winding roads. Living in the very back and top of the mountain could put you about 45 minutes from Manitou Springs. Expect steep driveways, wells, and septic systems. The management company keeps the main access roads well maintained and neighbors will help each other with snow removal. The $165/month Home Owner Association (HOA) fee is not excessive for a manned gate and the road maintenance. This might be your neighborhood if you seek solitude, a phenomenal view and trees. Prices currently range from $324,000-$1 million. There seems to be something for everyone in Crystal Park.

Cedar Heights is on the northwest part of Manitou Springs. This neighborhood is in an open space area with high desert vegetation. The lots are open and most have spectacular views of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs.  Cedar Heights is less rustic because it is connected to municipal water and the city sewer system. This subdivision was started in 1995 with luxury custom homes. The least expensive listing in the neighborhood is currently $679,000. The HOA fee is $250/month.

Homes

You are correct if you are under the impression that Manitou Springs is not inexpensive.

ProTip: Take a look at Crystal Hills where the homes are not quite 100 years old. They will probably need updating, but the price tag is just a tad lower and more feasible compared to the Victorian palaces downtown or the newer custom homes up in Cedar Heights.

Overall, expect higher home prices, higher taxes and special assessment as well. That high price tag means you do get to live in quite a unique location. Once you have offered on a home, make sure you have the home tested and reviewed by as many inspectors as possible to address any concerns you have. A structural engineer should be on your speed dial when you are looking to buy a home in Manitou Springs.

Manitou Springs Real Estate At A Glance

infographic of current Manitou Springs, CO real estate stats

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