Colorado Springs, Colorado, the seat of El Paso County. It is situated near the base of Pikes Peak at an altitude of about 6,000 feet (1,800 m) 65 miles (105 km) south of Denver. Its excellent climate and nearby mineral springs and mountains make Colorado Springs a leading tourist center. It is also a major defense center and amateur athletics center. The headquarters of the United States Olympic Committee and numerous Olympic training facilities are here. Peterson Air Force Base, the U.S. Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, and the Combat Operations Center of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) are in the area.
In the city are Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado College, and a campus of the University of Colorado. Nearby attractions include the Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, and Pikes Peak, the top of which can be reached by road or cog railway. Retail and wholesale trade, government, and manufacturing account for most of the employment in Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs was founded in 1871 by General W. J. Palmer and the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad as a resort and health center. Growth has been rapid since the mid-20th century.