The Cliff House of Manitou Springs Colorado


Manitou Springs Colorado, about six miles west of Colorado Springs and about 70 miles south of Denver, is one of the Wests most popular travel destinations and one you’ll surely want to visit if you’re in the area. The main road that runs through Manitou Springs is one of the main routes to Pike Peak. This alone made it a bustling town.

the cliff house at pikes peak
The Cliff House, Manitou Springs CO

Manitou Springs grew as a direct result of the mining going on in the Pikes Peak region during the late 1850’s. Like with many western towns, Manitou Springs has a very rich history and much of it’s history has been preserved to this day allowing travelers from all over the world enjoy.

When you’re looking for things to do in Colorado, one very interesting site is that of today’s Cliff House. If your travels take you to Colorado you will definitely want to add Manitou Springs and the Cliff House to your vacation planner.

The Cliff House

Many historic structures you visit in the west were at one time something else altogether. The Cliff House is no exception. The twenty room boarding house was at one time named simply “The Inn“. The Inn also served as a stage coach stop. Between the mining and the trapping and hunting going on in the area, many people passed through Manitou Springs. Hotel history tells us that at time the traffic through the area was so large that tents actually had to be erected around the inn grounds.

the cliff house manitou springs colorado
Patio at The Cliff House

Over the years this historic hotel has gone from a retreat for the rich and famous to barracks then to apartments and then was abandoned. When mining activity died down in the mid 1870’s The Inn lost a lot of business. After not too many years the mineral springs became quite popular and The Inn enjoyed a renewal of business. The Inn was purchased in 1886 by a man named Edward E. Nichols who had moved to Manitou Springs for health reasons. Nichols changed the name to The Cliff House and converted the structure into a luxury resort. The Cliff House gained quite a big reputation as a retreat for the wealthy. It’s guest list included such names as Theodore Roosevelt; Ferdinand, Crown Prince of Austria; William Henry Jackson; Charles Dickens Jr.; P.T. Barnum; Thomas Edison; Clark Gable; F. W. Woolworth; and, J. Paul Getty.

The structure went through a total renovation in 1999 and now is one of the finest resort hotels in Colorado. The Cliff House in Manitou Springs is a traditional olde world hotel with twenty-first century amenities along with elegance and charm and that Victorian feel.

mineral water at manitou springs
One of the public mineral water outlets at Manitou Springs

If your Colorado vacation includes spending time in Manitou Springs or if you’re headed to Pikes Peak, the Cliff House is one of your best choices in the area. Along with it’s Victorian era charm and it’s over 100 year history, you’ll find the Cliff House is within easy walking distance of everything in Manitou Springs. Another interesting fact is that The Cliff House is older than the state of Colorado itself. The Cliff House has also received the AAA Four Diamond Award.

The Birth of the Mineral Springs Industry

Manitou Springs, as it’s name clearly implies, is located near the springs. A this writing there are eleven springs open to the public.

According to the Manitou Springs Visitors Guide, the process which created the mineral springs begins with rainwater and snow melt from Pikes Peak and surrounding mountains  soak into rock fractures. As the water penetrates to a great depth, it then becomes heated and mineralized. The warm water naturally flows up into cavernous limestone where it becomes carbonated. At that point the water flows upward within the numerous natural and drilled springs throughout Manitou Springs.

manitou springs colorado dining
Outdoor dining at The Cliff House

Native Americans during the 1800’s respected the springs for their spiritual benefits. Anglos eventually traveled to Manitou Springs for the therapeutic benefits of mineral baths.

In the early 1900s, Manitou Springs was well known as a destination for people suffering with tuberculosis. In demand was the clean mountain air and the therapeutic mineral springs. A dry climate which the southwest is noted for was thought to help sufferers with this illness. Doctors prescribed a move west to many patients. Several other locations in the general area were recommended to sufferers such as Las Vegas New Mexico and Santa Fe New Mexico.Some relocated to southern California for the same reason.

miramont castle at manitou springs
Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs

Another site in Manitou Springs you’ll want to add to your Colorado vacation planner is the Miramont Castle. The Miramont Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places in May 1977. The historic structure was built beginning in 1895 and is filled with great Victorian era artifacts which take you back to the very early years of Manitou Springs. Miramont Castle is located at 9 Capitol Hill Ave.

Links to three additional Trips Into History articles you’ll enjoy include a Visit to the Historic Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas New Mexico…..Historic Hotels of America and Could Be The Best Hiking Trail in Sedona Arizona

You’ll also enjoy our photo article…Ghosts in Historic Hotels

Visiting The Cliff House

If you visit The Cliff House you’ll also have many other attractions to enjoy. If you haven’t taken it already you do want to take the Cog Railway up to the top of Pikes Peak and it’s open year around. The Cog Railway departs from Manitou Springs.

The Cliff House offers fifty-four guest rooms including suites. Among the suites are named rooms such as the Teddy Roosevelt Suite and the P.T. Barnum Suite. The hotel’s address is 306 Cannon Avenue, Manitou Springs CO

If you’re visiting the Manitou Springs Colorado area you’ll definitely want to make a stop at The Cliff House, a trip back to the Victorian era.

(Photos from author’s private collection)