Anyone who enjoys great scenery and prime tailwater fishing (and who doesn’t!) will enjoy Manitou Springs, Colorado. Located near Pike’s Peak and surrounded by national forest, this beautiful small town of under 5,000 people has a lot to offer fly fishing aficionados as well as other outdoor enthusiasts.
Within a few miles of town it’s possible to reach some of the finest trout fishing in Colorado, if not the country, on the South Platte River. The three top sections along the Platte easily reached from Manitou Springs are Cheesman Canyon and Deckers, northwest of town; the Dream Stream, which runs between Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Eleven Mile Reservoir, and the Eleven Mile Canyon stretch that runs downstream of its reservoir.
There are other great choices as well. The Middle Fork of the South Platte is designated as both a Gold Medal and Wild Trout Stream while the South Fork of the South Platte is blessed with Gold Medal status. These waters are defined as being able to produce at least 60 pounds of trout per acre, and at least twelve 14" or larger trout per acre on a sustained basis. Only 316 miles of Colorado's 9000 miles of trout streams, and three lakes, carry the Gold Medal label. Spinney Mountain Reservoir is one of the few still waters in the region to carry Gold Medal distinction. Downstream from Cheesman is another good section that runs next to the town of Deckers. Deckers has good public access and can be fished throughout most of the year.
While Manitou Springs is now a historical town that attracts tourists and sports minded visitors, it began as a mining town and spa, made famous by its natural mineral springs. Founded in 1872, it became known as a place to go to “get the cure” from the town’s healing waters and serene setting. Situated on the Ute Pass Trail, covered wagons eventually gave way to rail cars when in the late 1880’s the Colorado Midland Railway succeeded in getting tracks through the passage. Today the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to any number of outdoor activities, the town also hosts entertaining events. Concerts, speaker series and arts and crafts festivals are well attended. Perhaps the most famous is the Pike’s Peak Ascent and Marathon, so difficult and physically taxing, that runners must pass a qualifying test before being allowed to enter the competition.
There are several ways to get to Manitou Springs, including:
- Fly to Colorado Springs Municipal Airport and drive for approximately 20 minutes
- Fly to Pueblo Memorial Airport and drive for approximately 45 minutes
- Fly to Denver International Airport and drive for approximately 1½ hours
- Fly to Albuquerque International Airport and drive for approximately 5 hours