Colorado Springs sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains' magnificent Pike's Peak, surrounded by the red rock monuments of the Garden of the Gods. The town was founded in 1871 by General William Jackson Palmer who envisioned a resort destination for this Rockies community. The temperate, dry weather made this a popular destination for health spas and sanitariums. In the 1890's the Colorado gold and silver rushes brought a stream of ambitious settlers to the area and Colorado Springs soon became the top mining exchange center in the world. By 1904, the 'city of millionaires' was home to 35 out of the nation's 100 millionaires, made rich by the Colorado Gold Rush. Today, Colorado Springs is still thriving, with tourism and the military as the city's biggest industries
At 6,035 feet (1839 m) the city stands over one mile (1.6 km) above sea level. It is the second most populous city in the state of Colorado, behind Denver, and the 41st most populous city in the United States. Colorado Springs was selected as the No. 1 Best Big City in "Best Places to Live" by Money magazine in 2006, and placed number one in Outside's 2009 list of America's Best Cities.
Colorado Springs features a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). The city receives approximately 16.2 inches (41 cm) of annual precipitation, which includes rain and snow. Summers are typically very warm with occasional heat waves and generally arid, with episodic heavy rainfalls and large hail. The summers in Colorado Springs are generally hot and dry, but afternoon thunderstorms are common especially in July and August when the city receives the majority of its annual rainfall.